‘WBC Failure to AG Gold’ Signals Generational Change

The Thorne Baseball Team is aiming to enhance their competitiveness with the appointment of a full-time manager following the WBC failure to AG Gold.

The KBO announced on Nov. 18 that it has appointed Ryu Jung-il, who led the national baseball team to its fourth consecutive title at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games (AG), as the head coach of the team for the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) 2023, which will be held at the Tokyo Dome in Japan from Nov. 16 to 19.

South Korea’s national baseball team hasn’t fared well in recent international competition. After winning the inaugural Premier12 in 2015, the team was knocked out in the group stage of the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC) at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.

In response, the KBO introduced a full-time managerial system for the national team and appointed Sun Dong-yeol as the first full-time manager. He led the team to a runner-up finish at the inaugural APBC in November 2017 and a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang. However, a controversy over military service exemptions led to his appearance as a witness in a national audit, and he eventually resigned as the national coach.

Kim Kyung-moon, who succeeded Seon as the national team coach, stepped down after the team finished runner-up in the 2019 Premier 12, 먹튀검증 but failed to win a medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The KBO has since abolished the full-time head coach system and appointed Lee Kang-cheol, who led KT to the WBC in March this year, as the national team manager. However, the overlap between the KBO spring training period and the WBC tournament made it difficult for the team to prepare for the tournament, and the team was eliminated in the first round of the WBC.

At the Hangzhou Asian Games, which took place during the KBO season, Ryu Jung-il, who does not currently have a KBO team, took over as head coach and led the team to a gold medal. The team was comprised of players under the age of 25 or in their fourth year of play, marking the beginning of a generational shift in the national team.

“Immediately after the conclusion of the APBC 2023, the KBO and the Power Enhancement Committee will conduct an in-depth review on the appointment of a full-time head coach to lead the national team in future international tournaments such as the 2024 Premier 12 and the 2026 WBC,” the KBO said in a statement announcing Ryu’s appointment.

In response, a KBO official said, “The current plan is to officially consider appointing a full-time head coach from 2024. We are considering several candidates, including Ryu Jung-il. Like the Japanese national baseball team, the Korean national team’s long-term goal is to improve its performance through regular practice games.”

The Japanese national team, which has been performing exceptionally well in recent international competitions, has created a national team brand called “Samurai Japan” and invites national teams from around the world to play practice games every year. This is to keep the team competitive and expand the pool of players who can perform well on the international stage.

It will be interesting to see if the baseball team, which won the gold medal at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, can succeed in changing the generation and strengthening its competitiveness starting with this tournament.

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