Outrage over KBO’s 2013 schedule

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Outrage over KBO’s 2013 schedule

The Lotte Giants are strongly protesting the Korea Baseball Organization’s newly released schedule for the 2013 season, claiming it puts the Busan-based club at a disadvantage because of the timing of newly introduced series breaks.

With the introduction of the NC Dinos to the league, the KBO now has nine teams for the first time, meaning one team will have to sit out while the other eight compete in a series. The Giants are scheduled to play teams coming off of two- to four-game breaks 12 times, more than any other team.

The Hanwha Eagles are set to face teams coming off breaks eight times while the NC Dinos have seven similar matchups. Meanwhile, the Samsung Lions, the defending Korean Series champions, are only scheduled to face a team coming off a break once.

Busan affirms that playing against a team coming off a rest period puts it at a disadvantage, with players refreshed and - more importantly - their pitching rotations reset.

The seriousness of this imbalance has led Bae Jae-hoo, the general manager of the Giants, to equate the schedule to “game-fixing.”

The Giants have been unhappy with the change to the number of teams in the league from the start. The Busan club has long boasted one of the largest fan bases for a professional team of any sport in Korea, in large part to its status as the only ball club in Busan and the surrounding South Gyeongsang area.

The fan base will now be divided with the arrival of the Dinos, based in Changwon, South Gyeongsang.

The Dinos, led by former Doosan Bears manager Kim Kyung-moon, have been already said that the club will be targeting the Giants, eager to stoke a rivalry in the southeast. Lotte officials are concerned that the scheduling will make it the situation worse for the Giants, as they meet the Dinos four times immediately after NC enjoys a series break.

In their first duel, for instance, the Dinos will open their season against the Giants, who will travel to Changwon after two home games. The Giants will most likely have to field their third or fourth starter against the first starter of the Dinos.

A KBO official hit back and said that the scheduling also gives the Giants the smallest number of games against teams who would soon enter a break. It could work for the Giants, the official said, as the teams could do their best in the final game before entering the break.

The Giants officially requested the KBO to revise the scheduling on Monday. Officials said they will revisit the issue at a general managers meeting tomorrow.

By Yu Byung-min, Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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