Continuing with the series, next up are the KIA Tigers. According to the infograph, KIA Tiger fans are provoked by either reminding the team’s situation in recent years or questioning the performances of their legendary stars. Do note that they had a nearly unconquerable dynasty back in the mid-80s to mid-90s as the Haitai Tigers. And, unlike the meditating fans in Daejeon, people from Korea’s south will put up a fight.
What is this series about? Check our previous post for details.
2. KIA Tigers
“Ta. Eo. Gang.”
In order to give you a good understanding about this incident would take another full article. Therefore, long story short, this was an article by baseball columnist, Park Dong-hui (박동희), posted on May 3, 2013. For Tigers fans, it must have been the most evil spell cast upon their team (not to mention the columnist becoming their public enemy no. 1). Before the article, the Tigers spent a great first month of the season and were 15-7-1 (0.682 winning pct.), just a half game behind of the Seoul Nexen Heroes. After the article, they went 36-67-3 (0.350 winning pct.), and finished eighth (among nine teams), even behind an expansion team. This was their worst finish since 2007. The Tigers have finished below sixth only twice in their entire history.
So, why “Ta. Eo. Gang.” (pronouced “TAH-OH-GONG”)? This is an abbreviation of the article’s title. The title was “타(Ta)이거즈는 어(Eo)떻게 다시 강(Gang)팀이 되었나”, which would be translated as “How the Tigers Became a Strong Team Again”.
“Ryu Hyun-jin over Sun Dong-yeol.”
Sun Dong-yeol (선동열), the current manager of the team, was one of the greatest pitchers back in the 80s and 90s. His stats is beyond sickness. However, many of the younger generation fans are more familiar with Ryu Hyun-jin (류현진), and thoughtless praises of Ryu over Sun should aggrevate a lot of the older Tigers fans.
Nevertheless, this is more than just a generational conflict. In fact, there is an actual debate whether Sun’s stats were legit. People would compare his outings to his peers back then and the playing environment in Gwangju away teams had to experience back in the 80s to back this statement.
“Isn’t Lee Jong-beom overrated?”
Nearly playing for two decades, Lee Jong-beom (이종범) is an icon and legend of the Tigers organization. Lee was THE baseball prodigy, a hitting machine who just teared up the base paths. And, when wanted to hit for power, he would hit for power. … Until he went to Japan. Lee just was not the same player after his (miserable) experience with the Chunichi Dragons. Futhermore, now with advanced analysis with the development of sabermetrics and technology, some even question his defensive skills as a shortstop… Wait. Did I say that out too loud?
Another compound pun. “Sseuregi” (쓰레기, pronounced more like “SREY-GIA” with a hard stress on the “S”) is the word for “garbage” in Korean. That has been combined with KIA (actually, pronounced more like “gia” in Korean). This is a derogatory way of calling out a KIA Tigers fan, and it sounds almost like calling out an actual person you consider garbage. The only difference is a single stroke (the former ends in “ㅏ”, while the latter ends with a “ㅑ”).
It seems the organization has yet to figure out how to solve its injury plague which has been going on for years.
- 지금 야구 보다 화내는 자, 모두 유죄!, Daehaknaeil (issue no. 691), Apr. 22, 2014.
- 타이거즈는 어떻게 다시 강팀이 되었나, Naver Magazine S, May 3, 2013.
- 선동열 방어율 기록과 진실, Naver Blog (Carpe Diem), Mar. 4, 2011.