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[The Spin]Why only one person in the KBO is to blame

Nov 21,2008
The Korea Baseball Organization continues to take incompetence and ineptitude to a new level.

Its Commissioner Shin Sang-woo has absolutely no idea what he wants to do, or what he is allowed to do in his jurisdiction, and this is his third year at the league’s top job.

As has been documented over the past week, the KBO has three times postponed reaching a verdict on a controversial trade. And we’ll spare you the details of the trade here.

First things first. The whole episode shouldn’t even have gone this far. The KBO didn’t need the grandiose board meeting with the team presidents in attendance.

The issue at hand is whether the said trade, which saw lefty Jang Won-sam go from the Heroes to the Samsung Lions in exchange for another pitcher and 3 billion won ($2.1 million), was conducted legally or not.

When the Heroes joined the KBO for 2008, the league stipulated that for the first five years of their existence, they require the KBO’s permission before making trades.

So all Shin has to determine is whether the trade principals received prior permission before making the deal.

Though the whole issue may appear complicated, it’s actually that simple.

Anyone in his position could have made the call. If I were the commissioner, I would at least know if teams asked for or received permission before a trade. There are only eight teams in the KBO and so it’d be hard to miss something of that nature.

So why is Shin being so hesitant? He has appeared to be too scared of upsetting individual team executives, of appearing to favor one side over the other. While the Lions and the Heroes have said the trade is valid, six other teams have been on the opposite end and even threatened to boycott their games against the Lions in 2009 should the trade be allowed to stand.

Shin, perhaps unaware that he is the commissioner and thus reserves the absolute right to okay or veto trades, called in all the team presidents on Wednesday so that they could find out for themselves how far they are apart.

That only confused Shin, who initially said he would make the final call by yesterday and postponed it until today. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been too surprising that Shin couldn’t make up his mind by yesterday.

And now no matter what he does, he will make someone unhappy.

Allow the trade to stand, and the six other teams may file a court injunction. Nix the deal, and the two principals will go berserk.

Here’s what Shin should have done: the trade took place last Friday and he should have reviewed it right away and ruled on it before giving any more time to both sides to air out their grievances in the media.

It will have been a full week since the trade when (or if) Shin does reach his verdict today. The teams have had the entire week to engage in a he-said-she-said spat.

What’s a commissioner to do other than flex his muscles from time to time and let everyone know who the boss is?

The saga should never have reached this juncture. Shin has only himself to blame. He hinted he may just step down and that’d be a huge cop-out.


By Yoo Jee-ho Staff Reporter [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]



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