[SPORTS VIEW]Can Twins survive without a heart?

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[SPORTS VIEW]Can Twins survive without a heart?

This was a bad year for Korean baseball, with interest and attendance down, but the playoffs almost made up for it. The LG Twins, written off earlier in the year, managed to squeeze into the playoffs, then win two series before losing in the Korean Series to the Samsung Lions. At the heart of this great story was LG's manager, Kim Seong-geun, 60, who was credited for getting the utmost out of each of his players. After the Korean Series, I predicted that LG would be at or near the top of the standings next year.

I guess I have to re-evaluate that opinion, because the heart of the franchise has been removed. News was released Saturday that Kim had resigned the post, disappointing and perplexing LG's fans and players. But Kim didn't resign so much as he was forced out: Eo Yun-tae, LG's general manager, never liked how Kim ran the team and played the game. In fact, Eo and Kim started off on the wrong feet at the beginning of the season; the general manager did not hesitate to remind Kim whom he was working for.

In order to run a team effectively the manager has to have total control over the coaching staff and the players. The front office has to have confidence in the manager and allow him to make decisions on how to play the game.

But Eo was like a Korean George Steinbrenner all season. He constantly stirred up talk concerning the trading and signing of players. At the end of the Korean Series he told Kim that the front office would select the assistant coaches from now on. Kim was shocked -- that was some thanks for guiding the team to an astonishing year.

Last Friday, Kim telephoned LG's front office and announced his resignation.

Eo favors an aggressive style of baseball, but Kim realized that the Twins weren't that kind of team. So he opted for a style more suited to the abilities of his players. He outfoxed opponents with a lot of bunts and emphasized the defensive side of the game.

All the while Eo told Kim to play "LG style baseball," whatever that means. While watching LG win a tight, low-scoring game might be less fun than watching a slugfest, nobody can deny that Kim got the job done.

Fans of the team who are still shocked at Kim's departure have bombarded the Twins' homepage with complaints. They even plan to hold a rally this Saturday at Jamsil Stadium to show their support for Kim.

The fans know that Kim took a team that was supposed to be rebuiding and led it to the Korean Series. If the front office is interested in calling the shots, why should they hire another new manager? Why not let Eo run the team? Not likely. They need a manager who knows the game.

It will be interesting to see who takes over for Kim. I feel sorry for whomever it is, because I think Kim's resignation will hurt the team's camaraderie, and chemistry is everything in team sports.

The job of the front office is to hire a good manager, give him good players and then back off. The team needs to be centered around the manager because he is the guy down there in the trenches.

by Brian Lee

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