[SPORTS VIEW]Riding big Wednesday's shock waveWednesday was a day full of shocks and emotions. First, my puppy Leo, a 5-month-old miniature pinscher whom I thought I had house-broken, spent the day marking his territory all over my house. He made sure that everyone would know that his domain stretches from the far borders of the kitchen to the inner sanctum of the bedroom. The punishment? No dog biscuits the next day.
A shocker came Wednesday in the world of Korean pro volleyball, albeit without any nose-offending mess. The Samsung Marine and Fire Insurance club, which had won 59 straight matches, was beaten by the Hyundai Capital squad. Samsung hadn't lost since Jan. 7, and had boasted that it was gunning to extend its streak to 100. The arrogance of Samsung had angered many officials of the league, while fans were beginning to turn their backs on the sport because of the disparity. The loss may have been bad for Samsung but it was good for the league.
Another Wednesday event that deserves a little more spotlight: Congratulations to the magician of the basketball court, LG Sakers guard Kang Dong-hee, who became the first player to pass the career 2,000-assist mark. Kang, 36, dealt out 10 assists in LG's game against the SK Knights on the night; the seventh was the one that got him to the milestone. Though 36 years old, Kang is confident that he can add to the record, saying that he plans to reach the 2,500-assist mark. He shouldn't feel any pressure, because every assist he makes represents a new league mark.
But the Wednesday sports kicker came, fittingly, in the pro soccer league, which is winding down its season. Remember how unpredictable the end of the baseball season was? Expect the same thing in the soccer league. Emotional turmoil is just waiting to boil over.
The Ulsan Hyundai Tigers, by beating the Jeonbuk Motors 3-2 on Wednesday, has picked up a lot of momentum and now has a realistic shot at taking the league crown. Incidentally, the league will have no postseason playoffs this year, because the World Cup threw the schedule off, so the team that finishes the season atop the standings will be the champion. At the very least, Hyundai has set the stage for a dramatic end to the season. If it can beat the Busan Icons in its final game tomorrow, and Seongnam Ilhwa Cheonma, the leader of the standings, does no better than a tie in its last game versus the Pohang Steelers, Hyundai will take the crown.
This is not another Wednesday special but surely is an interesting matter: As the soccer season wraps up, fans will be watching what kinds of off-season moves each team will make to enhance their chances in the next campaign.
Welcome to the age of free agency: All in all, 57 soccer players will test the waters of the free market. To name just a couple of the selections the owners will be bidding on, Lee Woon-jae of Suwon Samsung Blue Wings and Yoo Sang-chul of Hyundai will be among the biggest catches.
My bet is that Samsung's Lee will sign the biggest contract, with none other than his current team. If my prediction is on the mark, I reserve the right to remind you in my next column with a big, fat I-told-you-so. If I'm wrong then let's just not mention it again.
by Brian Lee