The 2014 season so far has proved professional baseball games in South Korea can take an extremely long time. Despite all the rule changes made this past offseason targeted to “speed up” the game, we have already seen 23 games (out of 59) take more than 3.5 hours.
Last year a game took an average of 3 hours and 20 minutes, which was an increase of nine minutes from the previous year. The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) decided to make the changes fearing the prolonged games may push away fans and potential fans, after a season in which they suffered their first a drop in attendance since 2006.
Whether it be control issues of pitchers, or players not hustling on the field, or whatever, these prolonged games in South Korea seem to continue to a point where we may have to generalize this as a cultural phenomena.
Last Friday’s game between the Changwon NC Dinos and LG Twins at Jamsil Baseball Stadium fell short of making history as it was ranked third on the longest 9-inning game in the history of the Korea Baseball Championship (Korea’s top professional baseball league). It took 4 hours and 40 minutes to complete the game. NC Dinos Mo Chang-min’s (모창민) go-ahead home run in the top of the ninth prevented the game from going into extra innings, or more than that, breaking the Guinness World Record. The (in)famous rivarly between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees caused a regular season game on August 18, 2004 to hold the world reknown title.
Truth be told (and I know a lot of you folks are sick and tired of hearing Korea is number one in this, and Korea invented that), not one, but two professional games in South Korea took longer than the Guinness record. One of them was set just last season.
So, in case you were wondering, along with the two aforementioned games, I leave you below a list of the longest nine-inning games (more than 4.5 hours) in the history of the Korea Baseball Championship:
- 5:00: KIA 15-13 LG @ Jamsil on May 24, 2008
- 5:00: LG 13-12 KIA @ Mudeung on Apr. 18, 2013
- 4:40: NC 12-11 LG @ Jamsil on Apr. 11, 2014
- 4:39: LG 22-17 Seoul @ Mokdong on May 15, 2009
- 4:38: Lotte 6-6 MBC @ Jamsil on Jul. 8, 1988
- 4:38: Doosan 8-9 Hyundai @ Suwon on Aug. 29, 2003
- 4:37: Lotte 12-11 KIA @ Mudeung on Aug. 18, 2001
- 4:37: SK 17-12 Samsung @ Citizen on Aug. 19, 2003
- 4:36: Doosan 12-11 Samsung @ Citizen on Jul. 16, 2009
- 4:33: Hyundai 11-8 Doosan @ Jamsil on Jul. 18, 2000
- 4:33: Samsung 5-5 LG Twins @ Jamsil on May 14, 2004
- 4:33: LG 12-15 Doosan @ Jamsil on Jul. 26, 2013
- 4:32: OB 18-12 Ssangbangwool @ Wolmyeong on Jun. 12, 1995
- 4:32: Hanwha 16-8 KIA Tigers @ Mudeung on Apr. 24, 2012
- 4:31: Lotte 15-8 KIA @ Mudeung on Jul. 25, 2007
Alike the longest game list, most happened after the new millenium. So, there definitely is an issue with the length of the game. Also, notice some of the games remain tied without extra-inning play. In the past, there was a time limit. So, if a game passed a certain time, it would not go to extra innings. And, do note that a certain team is a regular in the top 5, and that team was formerly known as the MBC Chungyong.
Here is the twist. The longest nine-inning game ever to be played in this planet did not happen in Korea.
- Baseball Almanac: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox, August 18, 2006 Box Score
- Guinness World Records: Longest Baseball Match of Nine Innings
- Ilgan Sports: 701만 관중 동원, ‘경기 스피드업’에 달렸다
- Korea Baseball Organization: 2014 Official Record Book