Fun for fans as KBO All-Stars collide

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Fun for fans as KBO All-Stars collide

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It may not have many major implications for players and teams like in the MLB, but the KBO All-Star Game retains many of the entertaining aspects of the U.S. version, and all will be on display in this year’s version tomorrow, at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul.

The KBO’s eight clubs have been divided down the middle into east and west and they couldn’t be more different on the diamond.

The Eastern League team - consisting of players from the SK Wyverns, Samsung Lions, Doosan Bears and Lotte Giants - would make even the less-dedicated fans smile, mainly because of the players’ tendency to hit home runs.

Giants first baseman Lee Dae-ho, who earned the most fan votes, leads the league in homers with 20 and has a .354 batting average and 70 RBI at the break. Lions outfielder Choi Hyung-woo isn’t far behind with 19 home runs and 63 RBI.

The Western League team - consisting of players from the Kia Tigers, LG Twins, Nexen Heroes and Hanwha Eagles - is more of a pitch-first team, with league leaders in wins, strikeouts and ERA. Tigers starter Yoon Suk-min is first in strikeouts and second in ERA, for example. But that’s not to say they don’t have good hitters. Lee Yong-kyu of the Tigers and Lee Byung-kyu of the Twins have been stellar for their teams this year.

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The East team will have the ability to hold a lead late in the game thanks to strong bullpen pitchers such as Lions closer Oh Seung-hwan, who leads the league with 26 saves, 15 more than the 11 that Wyverns pitcher Jung Dae-hyun has at the break.

While many players don’t care too much about the score, the MVP award is always enticing.

Perhaps it’s luck, but throughout the 30-year history of the KBO All-Star Game, Lotte Giants players have mostly lifted the MVP trophy. Since Kim Yong-hee won it in 1982, 11 players on the Busan-based club have collected the award.

This year, the Giants have four representatives starting for the Eastern squad - Lee Dae-ho, Hong Sung-heon, Kang Min-ho and Jeon Jun-woo - but Lee and Hong are considered to have the best shot for the MVP.

Both have already won All-Star MVP honors twice and will fight for their third award - no player in KBO history has ever been named All-Star MVP three times. Hong, 34, is the reigning MVP.

Lee, 29, is currently the leader in three batting categories and gobbled up 837,088 votes - the most in KBO All-Star history.

“First, I want to thank fans who voted for me,” Lee told Yonhap News Agency after he was announced as the top vote-getter on July 10. “My response to fans will be to play well at the All-Star Game.”

But Lee and Hong might get a run for their money from the Lions. The Daegu-based club will have five starters in the game, more than any other KBO club.

Lions left fielder Choi, 28, is the man to watch, with his 19 home runs and destructively high slugging percentage of .574. The Lions haven’t captured the MVP award since Kim Si-jin, current manager of the Nexen Heroes, won it in 1985.

On the Western team, two Lees from the Kia Tigers might have a shot at the MVP award. Lee Yong-kyu is first in bating average (.367) and on-base-percentage (.455), while Lee Bum-ho is the league leader in RBI (72) and runs scored (59).

Pitchers are generally considered to be outsiders for the MVP award because they usually pitch a limited number of innings. But the two All-Star Game starters - Ryu Hyun-jin of the Eagles and Cha Woo-chan of the Lions - might have an outside chance.

But in the end, it’s all about fans, and there should be no shortage of events for fans to enjoy, especially considering this year is the KBO’s 30th anniversary.

There will be an autograph session with KBO legends today at 2 p.m., followed by a signing by current players at 4 p.m.

The KBO has also prepared what it calls the “Enjoy Baseball Zone” in front of Jamsil Baseball Stadium. The display will show 30 years of Korean baseball history.

“I hope it will be an opportunity for all Koreans to enjoy baseball,” KBO Secretary General Lee Sang-il told Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday.

Fans will also have the chance during the game to earn various prizes, including a new car, a smart TV and gift cards.

And fans will get a treat after the fifth inning, when the final round of the home run derby will be played. Eight players are vying to qualify, including Lee Dae-ho, Choi Hyung-woo, Lee Byung-kyu and Cho In-sung.

There will be a qualifying round tomorrow at 3:50 p.m., and two of the eight sluggers will make it to the final in the middle of the All-Star Game. The winner will get 3 million won ($2,845) and a trophy.


By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [CBS노컷]
프로야구 올스타전 23일 잠실서 `30년 기념 최고 별잔치`
2011 프로야구를 빛낸 최고이 스타들이 잠시 순위 경쟁을 잊고 축제의 장을 만든다.

오는 23일 5년만에 서울 잠실야구장에서 열리는 2011 롯데카드 프로야구 올스타전은 프로야구 출범 30년을 맞이, 팬들과 호흡하는 다채로운 행사가 마련됐다.

12시부터 진행되는 장외행사로는 프로야구 30년 회상 터널을 제작하여 프로야구 30년 역사를 한 눈에 볼 수 있는 사진을 전시하고 8개 구단 마스코트와의 장외 포토타임이 준비되어 있다. 오후 3시부터 시작되는 식전행사에서는 그라운드 팬 사인회와 포토타임, 프리허그가 진행되며 유키스가 노래한 야구송도 발표될 예정이다.

오후 3시50분부터는 G마켓 홈런 레이스 예선이 펼쳐진다. 현재 리그에서 홈런왕 경쟁을 벌이고 있는 이대호(롯데), 최형우(삼성)를 비롯해 박정권(SK), 강민호(롯데),조인성(LG), 이병규(LG), 강정호(넥센), 최진행(한화)등 총 8명이 7아웃제로 결승에 진출할 1,2위 선수를 가린다. 결승은 본경기 5회말 종료후 치러질 예정이다.

타자 중 최고 구속을 겨루는 타자 스피드킹 행사도 새롭게 마련되어 눈길을 끈다. 한 선수당 3번의 기회가 주어지며 한국프로야구에서 가장 강한 어깨를 가졌다 자부하는 최정(SK), 김상수(삼성), 양의지(두산), 김현수(두산), 이진영(LG), 정성훈(LG), 유한준(넥센), 신경현(한화) 선수 등 총 8명의 선수가 출전할 예정이다.

올스타전 본 경기에 앞서 진행되는 공식행사에서는 2011 프로야구의 공식 타이틀 스폰서인 롯데카드에서 전북 이평중학교와 경남 원동중학교에 후원금을 전달하고, 이어서 30주년 레전드 올스타의 입장식과 핸드프린팅, 반지수여식이 있을 예정이다.

경기 종료 후에는 우승팀 및 미스터올스타 등 시상식이 거행되며, 화려한 불꽃놀이로 2011 롯데카드 프로야구 올스타전의 피날레를 장식한다.
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