The theme for the past week in the KBO has been the rain-outs. We went through a pretty great streak of non-cancellations, where every game was played for weeks on end. In fact the last rain-out was way back on May 26, when the Samsung/Lotte game was postponed. This current week started pretty well on Tuesday, June 21, when we got in all the games. Then things went downhill from there as only 5 of the scheduled 25 games got done.
Obviously, it would be odd to rank this week based on these random games that were played. So I guess I will concentrate on the "things" portion of the "Rankings and Things" title of this column.
If I were to pick one team for the week, it would be the Samsung Lions. They're the only team that played 4 games. Contrast that with LG Twins that only got in a single game (most other teams played 2 or 3 games). Samsung managed to actually sweep a series during this monsoon, taking out Hanhwa in the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday games.
Hanhwa had been in discussions involving a resurgence off the backs of Ryu Hyun-jin's performances and their offense. But Samsung Lions got in the way of that by sweeping themselves into the most wins in the KBO (second overall in win percentages), and sending the birds to seventh place. Particularly impressive was the June 22 game where the Lions beat the Eagles 19-5.
Samsung third baseman Park Suk-min went 5 for 5 in that game in a stunning display of ball handling ability. His at-bat by bat is as follows: First inning.. home run to the left, second inning.. home run to right/center, fourth inning.. base hit up the middle, fifth inning.. same thing, sixth inning.. same thing. Even his pinch hitter Kang Myung-gu got into the act by hitting a double in the 8th. Park Suk-min is on a personal 4 game hitting streak.
I was discussing how the Lions will need to step up their game if they want to roll with this years' elite teams, namely the SK Wyverns, Kia Tigers, and the LG Twins. Indeed they have, and with more wins than any of them, the Lions truly are threatening. Right now, the four teams got the 4 playoff spots locked down, and unless something drastic happens, these four will advance to the playoffs. LG is in the fourth place with 36 wins, opposed to Kia and SK's 38 wins, and Samsung's 39 wins.
It is indeed a very tight affair in the standings as a single series from now until the end of the season can determine who plays in the playoffs and who gets a bye. The rest of the season is shaping up to be a very compelling stretch. The trade off with this lack of parity in the league is that there may be no playoff races. 5th place Lotte has a full 8 less wins than LG. Lotte, a team that will probably be looking to find itself for the rest of the season, is the elite of the underachieving half of the league, and will not threaten for a playoff spot.
In my opinion, this lack of a playoff race is a good thing. I always wonder why it is such a big deal to see who clinches the 8th and final playoff spots in the NHL and NBA if none of them is your team. Winners should be celebrated, not teams that squeak in at the end.
Well, that's enough blabbering for the week. I am looking to post up some audio and video for our blog. You should see that up pretty soon. And thanks for reading, and here's hoping the rain goes away and all the games get played next week.