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The Orioles have “pissed off Korea”

This according to Baltimore baseball blogger, Barry Petchesky.

After the Orioles signed young Korean lefty, Kim Seong-Min, right out of high school, the KBO has come down hard on both the Orioles and the young pitcher.

First, Kim was suspended indefinitely from ever playing in South Korea, no small penalty considering very few prospects make it in America—only 12 have reached the Big Leagues. Then, the whole Orioles scouting department was banned from the country. This is not an exaggeration: no Orioles employees are allowed to attend amateur baseball games anywhere in South Korea.

Even worse for the kid:

Despite an official apology from Dan Duquette (Orioles exec-VP), MLB caved to South Korean protests and declared Kim’s contract with the Orioles null and void. Kim will stay in Korea, where presumably his suspension will be lifted, and the O’s have nothing to show for their efforts except a travel ban.

But…

The Orioles broke none of their (The KBO’s) rules. Sure, Korean rules prohibit Korean teams from signing high schoolers, but there’s nothing on the books stopping an American team from doing it. All Baltimore violated was a gentleman’s agreement—“a breach in protocol”—not to negotiate with Korean players before alerting the KBO.

Let’s hope the kid, who just lost a half million dollars, still gets a chance to at least play in the Korean big leagues and not get screwed by this one-sided pissing contest.

And if you are an Orioles fan, you might consider leaving the jersey and hat at home the next time you might be passing by a high school ball game in Korea.

UPDATE: Thanks to Robert, who was contacted by Yonhap copy-editor Tracie Barrett. According to Ms. Barrett, the Kim contract was not, in fact, declared null and void but only delayed for 30 days, during which he can stay in the United States but must train on his own, not with the team. “No lost job, no lost half million dollars.”

About the author: Founder/CEO of Meme Communications Korea – www.memecommunications.com

  • http://josephjsteinberg.wordpress.com/ Hume’s Bastard

    The local paper is downplaying this pissing contest, and -surprise – the South Koreans sound like drama queens.

    There’s nothing here that says the Orioles still won’t get Kim at the end of the day. I’m not sure other teams would want to touch this situation. If the Orioles wait, they can still get their man. Back in 2008, the Angels’ contract with South Korean pitcher Pil-Joon Jang was also not approved for 30 days because they didn’t conduct a status check, but the Angels still ended up signing him to a $650,000 signing bonus.

    Is Kim an indentured servant?

  • http://www.busanhaps.com Bobby McGill

    And…does the KBO even have that kind of power to ban people from doing anything in Korea?

  • DLBarch

    This is one of those relatively minor brouhahas that reveals the medievalism still at root in some dark, nasty corners of Korea, and becomes a real “nara mangshin” moment.

    What a disgrace…for the KBO and, frankly, for MLB and the Orioles as well. And all for not breaking any actual, formal rules at all!

    Pretty heavy stuff for any 18-year-old kid to deal with. Again, what a disgrace!

    DLB

  • jkitchstk

    An Orioles jersey is in order, I’m going to buy one and walk around the streets of Seoul. Hell, I might even go to my first KBO game with it on.

  • jkitchstk

    The KBO will probably not allow MLB stores to operate or at least sell Orioles gear. That’s okay, I’ll go to Japan and get it. I wonder if Incheon airport bag check will let me bring one into Korea?

  • slim

    Seinfeld fans will remember how an Orioles cap got Elaine in trouble.

  • characteristic

    How could a private organization ban anyone (who’s not their employee or has signed any contract/agreement) from doing anything that’s not even illegal? When’s the kid ever going to make US $500k playing for the KBO, unless he’s also engaged in game-fixing? http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2012/02/17/2012021700205.html?news_Head1

  • jkitchstk

    # 6 slim,
    Gosh you’re lazy…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIOI-Rs-eo0

  • Granfalloon

    Membership in the minjok trumps individual freedom. We’ve seen this before, no?

  • DLBarch

    I don’t know if Korea has the equivalent of “tortious interference with economic opportunity,” but it so, the KBO should be made to PAY!

    Time to get litigious!

    DLB

  • ulsanchris

    In the future what is there to stop the kid from jumping on an airplane and going to the US to play baseball?

  • CactusMcHarris

    #11,

    My thought, too, but wouldn’t he have to have some sort of work visa first?

    DLB,

    Thanks for the nara mangshin, man – that’s some funny romaji.

  • Creo69

    I said this kid was free, clear and gone….I was wrong and stand corrected :(

  • http://www.wm3.org/Updates iheartblueballs

    I don’t know if Korea has the equivalent of “tortious interference with economic opportunity,” but it so, the KBO should be made to PAY!

    Korea Supply v Lockheed Martin is a great CA case for interference with economic advantage. LH went Korea-style and used hookers to bribe Korean govt officials on a large arms contract. Korea Supply was a competitor for the contract and sued under the CA Unfair Competition Law and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Oh the irony of being protected by American law for “illegal practices” that are the norm in Korea, and I’m sure Korea Supply had indulged in plenty of it themselves.

  • CactusMcHarris

    #14,

    For billion-dollar (?) such as that, could it be done in Korea without the bribes? That’s what I’d like to think….

    My company does business everywhere in the world, and one of the presidents told me that Korea was, relatively, tame wrt corruption than Greece, for example (his idea of the worst).

  • http://www.wm3.org/Updates iheartblueballs

    In the future what is there to stop the kid from jumping on an airplane and going to the US to play baseball?

    He could play in an independent league not affiliated with MLB without any problem, but MLB has a vested interest in keeping a healthy relationship with the KBO, so they likely wouldn’t allow him to sign with any team unless the issue was resolved.

    It sounds like the KBO requirement that they are “notified” of an MLB team’s interest in signing a Korean player is code for “get their cut in white envelopes.” They want to be the gatekeeper between MLB teams and ALL Korean players, so that the correct “protocol” of paying off the right people in Korea for the privilege of springing the kid from their claws isn’t interrupted and other MLB teams won’t get similar ideas about bypassing their scam.

    I’m guessing the price the Orioles have to pay probably went up, but they’ll eventually sign him to a contract once all the right Korean palms are greased and sufficient compensation for the breach of protocol has been arranged.

  • slim

    O/T but in the ballpark: http://deadspin.com/gary-carter/

  • http://www.wm3.org/Updates iheartblueballs

    For billion-dollar (?) such as that, could it be done in Korea without the bribes? That’s what I’d like to think….

    This was in 1996, and Lockheed Martin paid the intermediary Ms. Kim $10 million to distribute in bribes and pay for sexual favors on a $225M contract. As it mentions in the article, she was later sent to prison for using “similar techniques of persuasion with other clients,” so it appears she, her bearded clam, and her briefcases full of money were doing a bustling business with Korean govt officials. I’m sure Lockheed saw it as a cost of doing business with Korea.

    Given the propensity for those in power in Korea to use their positions as personal ATMs in requiring a cut of everything that passes through, it makes sense that the higher the value of the govt contracts, the more lucrative it becomes. Minister of Defense has to be the most coveted position in terms of pulling in the lucre.

  • gbnhj

    Scouting overseas absolutely requires local assistance. The job is challenging – determining who, among a bunch of high-school students playing really well on the local level, will have the talent and capacity to play well against players from across the US. Considering that the prospects are only seventeen or so, and haven’t finished maturing mentally, physically, or socially, that’s no easy pick.

    In the case of overseas scouting, you’ve also got to consider the prospect’s potential for adjusting outside his own macro-culture, and making it in a country where he may not even speak the same language as his teammates. That requires a lot of face-to-face time with the prospects and their families, in order to figure out if a player – despite however well he might play at home – can continue to do well in a radically new environment.

    That’s not going to happen in secret. If Baltimore hopes to continue looking for talent in Korea, they’ll have to operate with the knowledge of, and perhaps some assistance from, the KBO.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    WTF?
    We have an irresponsible regurgitation of a know-nothing baltimore blogger’s uninformed blather and everyone starts doing pirouettes of unsupported speculation. I don’t follow baseball, and couldn’t care less, but simply fro hearing some broadcasts from some reliable newscasters, i’ve learned that

    1. The contract was not voided by MLB, which in fact has explicitly affirmed its validity; all they have done is ordered a 30 day delay in its effective date and imposed some sort of pro forma financial penalty on the otioles – it must be very small since they won’t say what it is, apparently out of a concern for further antagonizing the kbl ( with ghe sort of wridt slap that is budiness as usual in korea)

    2. This sort of thing has happened before, with the similar imposition of trivial delays and de minimis fines, with the korean player joining the team after 30 days per contract.

    3. Korean players who in the past have been banned by the kbl on such grounds all have been welcomed back when they played out their mbl shot but had demonstrated the talent to play in the kbl.

  • red sparrow

    “Then, the whole Orioles scouting department was banned from the country. This is not an exaggeration.”

    Yes it is. The scouts are simply barred from attending amateur ball games. That is a rather big difference from being denied entry to the country.

    Either way, this case still makes Korea looks like shit.

  • cm

    Big freaking deal. So the KBO forbids some scouts from the MLB to attend some amateur games, and all of a sudden it’s morphed into an “Americans have been banned from entering Korea!”, followed by long details of Korean corruption and how rotten Koreans are.

    The only ones who are really making a big deal are you guys. Nobody in Korea cares, certainly not the man on the streets of Seoul who really wouldn’t mind to see on of their boys to play in the American big leagues someday – angry KBO or not. This story hardly made even 5 lines in the Korean paper, yet here we have this story, twice in a week.

    Jesus Christ, some days this place is a joke.

  • slim

    “all of a sudden it’s morphed into an “Americans have been banned from entering Korea!”, followed by long details of Korean corruption and how rotten Koreans are.”

    Yes, we must hold the line against baseless exaggeration!

  • bumfromkorea

    Hate to tell you guys… but no one cares except the Orioles fans… who, according to a Red Sox fan, are figments of the Orioles’ owner’s imagination.

  • cm

    “Yes, we must hold the line against baseless exaggeration!”

    Yes, that’s exactly my point with this topic. Exaggerations started off by the title “Orioles pisses off Korea”. Reading through the responses, I don’t think I’m the only one exaggerating here.

  • monkhughes

    @22 – I like baseball. Was glad to read an article about the KBO. Why get worked up over other people getting worked up? Try: read the posts, not the comments.

  • cm

    “Hate to tell you guys… but no one cares except the Orioles fans… who, according to a Red Sox fan, are figments of the Orioles’ owner’s imagination.”

    Or figment of imagination of those who want to emphasize “victimized foreigners versus the group think Koreans”.

  • jkitchstk

    # 16,
    Summarization:
    “…is code for “get their cut in white envelopes.” They want to be the gatekeeper between MLB teams and ALL Korean players, so that the correct “protocol” of paying off the right people in Korea for the privilege of springing the kid from their claws isn’t interrupted…”

    Pimps or Human ownership(before the deal) Wannabees — For Sale

  • http://pawikoreapics.blogspot.com/ pawikirogii 石鵝

    ‘Jesus Christ, some days this place is a joke.’ cm

    just some days?

    .

  • http://pawikoreapics.blogspot.com/ pawikirogii 石鵝

    ps did you guys know if you put your arrow over any gravatar here, it will enlarge?

  • CactusMcHarris

    #30,

    If only that worked for other ‘news’ organs, eh, Pawi?

  • doctoroh

    16 – “Yes, we must hold the line against baseless exaggeration!”

    It’s no exaggeration. The O’s offense is pretty baseless.

  • doctoroh

    Sorry, #16. #23.

  • jkitchstk

    Bobby, or anyone else know the black foreign baseball player who played in S. Korea about 10-15 years ago, maybe hit a home run during a KBO World Series game against Samsung Lions, fans started throwing stuff at him as he rounded third base? I’m thinking it was Tyrone Woods but can’t find it on Youtube where it was once available?

  • http://www.busanhaps.com Bobby McGill

    Couldn’t find anything video-wise on him other than the one of him punching a Japanese pitcher after charging the mound. Interestingly Tyrone Woods won the KBO MVP in 1998 with the OB Bears, the first year that the KBO allowed foreigners.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFPoLYlsEpo

  • http://www.busanhaps.com Bobby McGill

    Just talked with Matthew Dewoskin, creator of the blog, “True Stories from Korean Baseball.” (http://koreabaseball.blogspot.com).

    He said the incident you are referring to involved the Lotte Giant’s Felix Jose. He was rounding 3rd base during the 2000 season and someone threw a beer at him from the stands. Then more things were thrown at him as he approached the dugout. Jose responded by chucking a bat up into the stands. Quite a mess.

    Here is the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoC2SeWCr4A&feature=fvst

  • http://www.cfekorea.com nayaCasey

    I’m not a baseball fan but I did follow Woods’ career a bit. He kicked around the minor leagues in America for a decade before becoming a superstar in Korea and Japan for a decade.
    Here are some highlights from a 1998 article about him in the Washington Post.

    And Now, S. Korea’s Very Own Home Run Hero! Uh, Tyrone Woods?
    But tonight, in a stadium thousands of miles from home, 10,000 delirious fans chanted the Korean pronunciation of his name, “Woo-Joo, Woo-Joo, Woo-Joo,” after Woods drilled home run No. 42 into the stands in left-center field and finally became a national hero — in somebody else’s nation.

    “Woo-Joo”! Of course, that must have been before fans allegedly threw stuff at him.

    “In the States, they never gave me a shot,” Woods said in an interview after the game. “That’s all I was asking — just give me a chance to prove myself.”

    That’s something most athletes say. They just need a chance. I bet a lot are saying “I couldda did that” about Jeremy Lin…

    “It’s so refreshing,” said Kim Jin Young, 30, an office worker who was banging his inflatable Bears noisemaker in the right field grandstand, where even vendors hawking dried squid and popcorn stopped to scream for Woo-Joo.
    “The OB Bears have had a lot of home run kings but none as powerful as Tyrone Woods,” said Yoon So Yeon, 33, of the 30-member Big Bear Fan Club, who presented a set of traditional Korean dolls to Woods’s wife, Cheryl, tonight. The box was inscribed: “I love you Woods.”

    I guess the Post didn’t want to quote the guy who must have said, “I love to throw stuff at you, Woods.”

    The league began in 1982 with vigorous support from military dictator Chun Doo Hwan, who hoped baseball would distract people from the repressive excesses of his government.

    Oops! Of course, Korea’s economic success is credited to the dictators, so of course there would have never been baseball in Korea if not for a dictator.

    The big right-hander also leads the league in runs batted in, with 101, and his .309 batting average is in the league’s top 10. All that makes Woods a top contender for the league’s most valuable player award, but there is some skepticism whether the baseball writers who select the winner are ready to bestow so many accolades on a foreigner.
    “I have to say that I would have preferred that a Korean break the record,” said Roh Chee Ku, 28, a spectator echoing a common sentiment. “But I’m a huge OB fan, so I’m still very happy.”

    He did win, as Bobby M noted.

    South Korea’s introduction of foreign players has been a breeze compared with what foreign players have gone through in neighboring Japan, which has been less accommodating of its foreign players over the years, especially those threatening to break records.

    What would a Washington Post article about Korea be without a comparison to Japan?

    But its fans are just as rabid. Woods’s home run chase attracted a lot of attention here, much of it cheering for him to break the record. “On the front of all the sports papers, you’ve got Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and my husband. It tickles me pink,” said Cheryl Woods.
    Cheryl Woods said she and her husband have been welcomed warmly wherever they go in South Korea. The most awkward moment, she said, came when someone at the ballpark handed her a dried squid — which looks to the uninitiated like a very large bug that has been run over by a bus and left in the sun for a week. Woods pretended to take a bite, then stuffed the squid in her purse.

    Sitting in a locker room 6,800 miles from Boston, signing autographs like a movie star in a land where he’s the man of the moment, Woods said he wishes he could taste some of this in his home country.
    Asked if he’s following Boston’s progress in the American League playoffs, Woods nodded. “I should be right there with them,” he said.

    Like so many players, he felt he just needed a chance. I’ve played hoops with plenty of former high school and college players who said they had just played in the wrong system, for the coach. I guess if they hear about someone like Woods, they might say they played in the wrong country…

  • http://www.cfekorea.com nayaCasey

    Bobby, ah, Felix Jose, that was one tough bro. He was actually an all-star player in his MLB career.

    Jose told his side of the story to the Korea Times in 2001:

    Jose: That whole series, the fans in Taegu were throwing things at the players on our team. I was hit at least five times that game but it was no problem. Even trying to catch a fly ball, there were bottles and other things thrown at me to make me miss the ball.
    I hit a home run that game and as I was coming around third base, I was hit again by a water bottle filled with ice in my balls. It really hurt and I was angry. I threw the bat not at anyone specific but just out of anger. Later, I apologized to all baseball fans. I just wish the team had found the guy who threw it. We could have signed him up. He had great control!This season in Taegu, I did notice any bad feelings from the fans there. They do not boo me or anything.

    So he gets hit in a sensitive spot and tosses his bat. The police considered charging Jose with a crime, but later decided not to when the injured fan said he didn’t want Jose punished. The police also said they took into consideration that the baseball league had fined him 3 million won and banned him for the first 10 games of the following season.

    By the way, in 2002, Jose was suspended for part of the season in Korea after charging the mound from first base (against, Samsung, again, a Korean pitcher was blatantly throwing at hitters) and in the Dominican League in 2003 he was suspended four games for hitting an umpire in the face with his helmet.

  • cm

    Thanks nayaCasey, for giving us the detailed background information. I guess the #34′s fishing post to show Koreans are racist to foreigners, didn’t exactly work out.

  • jkitchstk

    cm,
    I guess you didn’t watch the video clip. We only saw a bit(edit) of the ugliness. Just because he retaliated doesn’t erase fans behavior. Was there any effort at all at trying to find those who threw things? Have fans ever thrown cans of beer at a Korean player rounding third? I doubt Jose Felix had issues like that while playing in the MLB. Asia taught him well.

    nayaCasey,
    Got a link to that 2001 Korea Times article? I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if the KT added a phrase or two to the article to make it sound the way they wanted, other than the poor grammar.

    Thanks Bobby!

  • cm

    jkitchstk, you don’t watch too many MLB games do you?

    Foreign players in Korea have been treated very well by the fans.
    Your charges of racism are entirely baseless.

  • http://www.cfekorea.com nayaCasey

    jkitchstk #40, no direct link, audio or video of the interview.
    Korea Times
    May 5, 2001
    “Lotte’s Felix Jose Back Terrorizing KBO Pitching”
    Korea Times Sports Desk : 02-724-2352 (they may be able to connect you to the archives so you can verify it for yourself)

    Got a link to that 2001 Korea Times article? I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if the KT added a phrase or two to the article to make it sound the way they wanted, other than the poor grammar.

  • http://www.busanhaps.com Bobby McGill

    I was fortunate to build a friendship with Jerry Royster during the three years he was here in Busan. He never gave any indication that there was any racism towards himself or the foreign players at all. It was all about the “what have you done for me lately” attitude of any fan anywhere.

  • jkitchstk

    # 39 cm,
    “…fishing post to show Koreans are racist to foreigners.”
    How stupid of me to think Koreans are racist. DUH!

    # 41,
    Actually, I watch many MLB games and wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve seen 10 times more than you. During that time I’ve NEVER seen fans throw as much shyte at ONE player. I’m not saying it has never happened, just not in my time. The edited down version of the video tape speaks for itself.

    # 43,
    I wouldn’t expect a U.S. Ambassador to claim the same either.

  • Pingback: More on Kim Seong-min

  • http://www.cfekorea.com nayaCasey

    Time for KBO to grow up says By Allen Wolf in today’s Korea Times. He concludes:

    “However, as I’ve learned more about how the league operates, I’ve gradually become disgusted to the point where I’m reluctant to even support it anymore. The KBO resembles an insecure autocratic regime that is desperately clinging to misguided ways in an attempt to maintain the status quo. Let’s hope the guys running the show wake up and start moving in the right direction. ”

    “Autocratic regime”? Well, the KBO was set up by a dictator…