So it’s a fake, it’s not like I’m wearing it to FenwayShopping in Korea can be, at times, the best and worst activity in the world. Last Sunday was a prime example.
There it was. A shimmering navy-blue-and-red Boston Red Sox jersey bearing the name and number of Nomar Garciaparra. And for just 28,000 won (about $22.25).
To most people, Nomar is just another ball player. A great baseball player, perhaps, but still just a baseball player. But to me, “No-mah” is the closest thing to God. Nomar is everything I could ever hope to be personified in a perennial All-Star with the potential to be the first major leaguer since Ted Williams to bat over .400. Finding his jersey for less than half of what it would cost me in the States, I began to wonder if this was my lucky day. Korea truly is a shopping mecca, I thought.
It seemed too good to be true. I had to get a closer look. That’s when I began to notice the subtle little details that made it seem like it might not be such a good deal after all. It was like seeing a cover girl without her makeup or a barfly in the light of day.
I had run across one of Korea’s famous knockoffs.
Walking down the streets of Itaewon or Dongdaemun, the number of peddlers boggles the mind. As you peruse their wares, brand names jump out like it’s roll call at the Fashion Hall of Fame. Dior, Sean John, Prada, Nike. All at prices so low that you wonder what’s wrong with them. And the answer is, not much. An askew logo here, slightly off styling there, the odd loose threads. It’s imperfections like these that make a Chris “Weeber” jersey such a bargain at 5,000 won.
While no true fan would be caught dead in a knockoff, I began to ponder the pros and cons of buying the fake Nomar jersey. By buying it, I would be promoting a black market trade at the expense of the folks who toil in Major League Baseball-licensed sweatshops. But by buying the licensed goods, I would be pumping more cash into “the machine” that pays a washed-up pitcher like Mike Hampton $9.5 million a year.
So I reasoned that by buying the fake I would be doing my duty as a true baseball fan to help make the game more equitable and maybe even rein in some of those ridiculous salaries.
So, after a brief personal ethical struggle, I made up my mind. Besides, it’s not like I was going to wear the shirt at Fenway. So after double-checking the spelling of Red Sox and Garciaparra, I said, “I’ll take it.
“And toss in that Weeber jersey, too.”
by Steven Lee
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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