Manager, ump fined for strike-zone rhubarb

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Manager, ump fined for strike-zone rhubarb

This season’s new wider strike zone is giving players and umpires nine more inches to fight about, and LG Twins’ manager Park Jong-hoon and second-base umpire Choi Kyu-soon are the first to feel it in their wallets.

While it’s usually the players who are fined, the Korea Baseball Organization’s reward and punishment committee fined Park and Choi 500,000 won ($412) each after an altercation at LG’s game against the Doosan Bears last Saturday.

The fight started after a called strike. Park rushed home-plate umpire Kwon Young-cheol to argue the call, and ended up pushing him with two fingers. Choi rushed in from the infield area and shoved Park away from his colleague.

In past instances, managers who get into scuffles with umpires have been tossed from games, and at worst given a stern warning for their behavior. League officials said if it hadn’t been for Choi, the argument would have been business as usual.

“It should have been over with a warning, but with an officiating crew involved, we had to levy fines,” said one official who wished to remain anonymous.

Park isn’t the first manager, or player, who has had a problem with strike calls since the wider strike zone rule was implemented at the start of the season as part of a drive to reduce the length of baseball games - in keeping with the latest trends in Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball - and attract more fans.

It’s been widely unpopular. There have been constant complaints by everyone from players to coaches about the new strike zone, which has been widened by about half a baseball width on each side of the plate.

The sight of players questioning calls and grimacing after called strikes has become familiar.

“We know it’s up to the umpires to make the calls and they hold that right, but I just can’t get over the thought that we need some changes,” said one manager who wished to remain anonymous.

It’s been hard on the umps as well, with just the brief preseason period to get adjusted to the new zone.

Saturday was the first time the frustrations on both sides - and failure to keep tabs on the changes after the new rule was implemented - boiled, but KBO officials say they’d been expecting some bumps in the road.

“It’s a transitional period as the new strike zone is being applied,” said one league official.

By Huh Jin-woo []
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