Row deepens over 10th team
Players want details for KBO refusal
By Jung Min-ho
Tensions are mounting between the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) and its players over the latter’s decision not to participate in July’s All-Star Game, after the sport’s authorities decided against adding another club to the league.
Although the action by the Korea Professional Baseball Players Association (KPBPA) could seem drastic, the crux of the problem is the KBO has failed to convince fans and related-organizations, including the KPBPA, that there were good enough reasons not to create a 10th team.
“Rumors are mounting. However, since there is no clear evidence, no one can say what the real reason for the objection (to another team) may be. Nonetheless, one thing is clear. The reasons they gave at the meeting are not at all convincing,” KBS sports commentator Lee Yong-chul told The Korea Times. “The fans want it and local governments are stepping up to help. Besides, running the league with an odd number of sides will certainly create huge problems. So, why not? The bottom line is they have to make a case for their decision.”
Lee said the issue and the relationship between the KBO and KPBPA will only worsen until real reasons for turning down the expansion proposal at the perfect time to form a new club. He added some teams’ selfish behavior goes against what the fans want and even KBO Commissioner Koo Bon-neung’s will.
Shortly after the KPBPA’s boycott was announced, the Ilgoo Club, an association of retired baseball players, issued a statement in favor of it saying, “We support wholeheartedly the decision and we will roll up the sleeves to make a 10th team.”
With the outcry from fans and the related-organizations, the KBO is now in a tough spot. Although the current KBO regulations say players who refuse to play without reasonable excuses are subject to a 10-game suspension, it will be hard to punish absentees since the KPBPA said its members will boycott the remaining games in face of the second half of the season if the KBO punishes even one player.
At the same time, KBO seems reluctant to reverse its previous decision only a week after the June 19 meeting on forming a new team because it will lose face, especially having said the matter will not be addressed again anytime soon.
At the meeting, baseball’s governing body decided not to add a 10th baseball team, saying it was concerned that a lack of quality players could lower the league’s overall quality, especially after adding a ninth team, the NC Dinos, next year.
If the KBO keeps refusing to consider adding a 10th team, the fans won’t see the All-Star Game for the first time in KBO history.