Korean Baseball Organization

The Unwritten Rules, Written Down … in Korean

KBOSo my first unwritten rules post of the young season comes out of Korea. Of course it does.

This is what happens when a professional baseball league tries to eliminate the unwritten rules by, you know, writing them down and stuff.

If one is to believe Kim Euong-yong, manager of the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization, his players recently refused to steal bases while holding a six-run lead—not because it was unseemly, but because their players association had instructed them against it.

The directive seems to have banned such thefts when a team is up by at least six runs, in the sixth inning or later.

This, of course, is ludicrous, and the Korea Professional Baseball Players Association denied it outright. They even called it “ludicrous” themselves (a clear triumph of translation).

Moral imperatives lose some heft when turned into actual legislation. Doing something because it’s the right thing to do—or even after a nudge from a veteran teammate—is different than being ordered to do it from a bureaucrat. A mom can tell her kid to play nice, but when she starts giving him step by step directions, at some point it starts to look less like play and more like following a script.

And that doesn’t even account for the subtleties of game play—things like the offensive potential of one’s opponent, and one’s own ability to hold a lead through the late innings of a game—that means a seven-run lead might not be enough one day, while a five-run lead the next could be just fine.

(Even if the KPBPA is telling the truth about not laying down such law, they did mention that, oh, by the way, their members have agreed cut down on excessive celebrations. Their toe is clearly in the water …)

In related news, KBO alum Ryu Hyun-jin gets the start for the Dodgers tonight in their home opener.

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