[FOUNTAIN]In praise of diamond guerrillas"It was like fighting against a god. Their pitching changes and pinch-hitting were amazing. I thought our team was going to lose. I have never experienced this kind of game," said Kim Eung-yong, the head coach of the Samsung Lions professional baseball team, about Game 6 of the Korean Series last Sunday night. Those who watched the game can understand what Kim meant. His remark was no formality coming from a winner's generosity. Game 6 was a breathtaking game. Both Samsung and the LG Twins put up a good fight until the final out.
Samsung was favored by everyone to win the series. The team was superior to the Twins in general strength. And the Twins' players, who had played seven games more than the Lions on their march through the playoffs, were already exhausted. Facing the mighty Lions, Kim Seong-geun, the head coach of the Twins, employed guerrilla tactics. Indeed, a famous Chinese military strategy instructs the weaker to aim at the blind spots of the stronger.
The essence of a guerrilla war is surprise attacks. Kim very effectively used all his available pitchers in the series, ambushing his opponent. It was different from the strategy used during the regular season, when about five pitchers rotate as starters. Lee Seung-yeop of the Lions, the best hitter in Korean baseball, had just 2 hits in 20 at-bats during the series until his final trip to plate in Game 6. The ambush pitching strategy of the Twins held him in check.
The surprise attacks of the Twins worked well. The Twins were daring on the basepaths, attacking the loose defense of the Lions. That boldness earned the Twins victories in games 2 and 5. A good example was the squeeze bunt in the eighth inning of Game 5, when the Twins were already leading 7-4. Using Kim Jae-hyeon, who was hobbled by an injury, as a pinch-hitter in Game 6 was another example of a surprise attack. Kim drove in two runs with a base hit.
The praise by the Lions coach, Kim Eung-yong, for his counterpart's maneuvering was sincere and straightforward. And for those who watched this series, coach Kim's remark touched their hearts. The protagonist of a play shines brighter when there is a great performance by a supporting actor. If there had not been such an excellent performance by the Twins, the Lions' victory would not have been as glorious.
The writer is editor of Forbes Korea.
by Sohn Byoung-soo