Kang Baek-ho (24), a ‘genius hitter’ who suffered a lot in the past due to controversy over his attitude and carefree play, is disappointing baseball fans with his extreme poor batting this time. At this point, it doesn’t seem to have much to do with international competitions.
Kang Baek-ho started as designated hitter No. 4 in the second game against Chinese Taipei in the Group B group stage of the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games held at the Shaoxing Baseball Softball Sports Center in Zhejiang Province, China on the 2nd, and was silent with no hits in four at-bats and one strikeout.
Kang Baek-ho went through the humiliation of going 0-hit in 4 at-bats and striking out 3 against an amateur-level Hong Kong mound on the 1st. The second game was not much different. He was given the important responsibility of being the national team’s fourth hitter, but his bat was dull and even his starting pitching plan lost its sharpness.
Kang Baek-ho swallowed his disappointment by recording a pitcher’s ground ball after two pitches in the first inning with two outs and a runner on first base. He struck out while trailing 0-1 in the 3rd inning with 2 outs and runners on first base, and appeared as the lead in the 6th inning when he was trailing 0-2, but was lethargic again with a grounder to 3rd base after 2 pitches.
There was no twist in his last at-bat either. He had a chance to score with 2 outs and 2nd base on Noh Si-hwan’s double in the 8th inning when he was down 0-2, but he hit a grounder to shortstop after 2 pitches, forcing the inning to end.
Ryu Joong-il, who was the 4th hitter with no hits in 8 at-bats in 2 games, suffered a shock 0-4 loss to Chinese Taipei and recorded 1 win and 1 loss in the group stage. The batting line completely failed to attack Taiwan’s mound, which continued to throw 150km fastballs, and Kang Baek-ho was at the center of it all.
Kang Baek-ho went through the most difficult time since his professional debut two years ago (2018). With his team KT Wiz, he once boasted a good batting ability, challenging the batting average of .400, and even won the Golden Glove as a first baseman following the combined championship, but he was at the center of controversy after chewing gum once while on the Tokyo Olympic team.
Kang Baek-ho became embroiled in controversy over his attitude when he was caught chewing gum in the 8th inning of the bronze medal game against the Dominican Republic when he was down 6-10. At the time, commentator Park Chan-ho, a Korean baseball legend, said, “You can’t show up like this. The situation escalated as he bitterly said, “We must shout out more fighting,” and after his return to Korea, Kang Baek-ho said, “It was an action worthy of criticism.” He officially apologized, saying, “From now on, I will be recognized as a human being.”
Two years later, Kang Baek-ho once again brought trouble to Korean baseball. In the 2023 WBC (World Baseball Classic) held last March, in the first game against Australia, which was considered a watershed for advancing to the quarterfinals, the ‘ceremony death’ caused public outrage. He put cold water on the chasing atmosphere with his unprofessional bone head play, and after the game ended, he became a laughingstock of world baseball.
Kang Baek-ho, who hit a double, was celebrating while looking at the third base dugout with the ball in play, and his foot briefly fell off the second base base. And in the meantime, he was put out by a tag on second baseman Robbie Glenn Dinning’s glove. The initial decision was safe, but after video review, it was confirmed that he had been tagged the moment his foot fell, and he was given a ceremony with an unfamiliar name. As Yang Eui-ji hit a follow-up hit, Kang Baek-ho’s regret and criticism for his mistake grew even greater, and Korea, which lost the game to Australia, was eliminated in the first round with 2 wins and 2 losses.
Kang Baek-ho went through a difficult time with his team KT this year, his 6th year as a professional. He was expunged from the first team due to a cold and a rapid decline in physical condition, and then complained of mental fatigue and disappeared from the first team for a while. In 2023, he suffered from public criticism after making a series of mistakes in the national team and his team along with the forced march starting from the WBC, so he did not play in games for a while and focused entirely on rest and recovery.
Kang Baek-ho finally made his comeback on September 5 and hit a batting average of .333, 2 home runs, and 7 RBIs before being selected to the Asian Games national team. The hitting was so good that KT coach Lee Kang-cheol said, “It’s a shame that (Kang) Baekho has to go to the Asian Games.” 메이저사이트
However, once again, the international competition did not welcome Kang Baek-ho. With manager Ryu Joong-il’s infinite trust, he took on the number 4 hitter in both the Hong Kong and Taiwanese games, but failed to play the role of a problem solver at all.
If Ryu Joong-il wins against Thailand on the 4th, he will receive the right to advance to the super round where he will meet the first and second places in Group A. He lost the match against Chinese Taipei on the 2nd and has to go into the super round with one loss, but if he wins both games, he can aim to advance to the finals.
As we saw in the match against Taiwan, no matter how well the pitcher pitches, if he doesn’t score, he can’t win. Fourth hitter Kang Baek-ho’s performance is desperately needed to win the Asian Games for the fourth time in a row.