“How long will it last?” CHOO’s statement of determination? conviction? fans turned
Korea Professional Baseball (KBO) SSG Landers outfielder Choo Shin-soo (41) raised his voice about Kiwoom Heroes pitcher An Woo-jin’s elimination from the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) entry. Baseball fans turned their backs on Shin-soo Choo’s remarks, which he had made for the development of Korean baseball ever since he entered the KBO after finishing his career in the American Major League (MLB).
On the 21st (Korean time), Choo Shin-soo 메이저놀이터 appeared on DKNET, a Korean radio station in Dallas, Texas, and voiced his regret about the formation of the WBC team. He said it was difficult to understand the elimination of Kiwoom Heroes pitcher An Woo-jin and promising pitcher Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha), which were the biggest controversy when the final entry (30 players) was announced. He also said that it was regrettable that veterans in their mid-30s, such as Kim Gwang-hyun (SSG) Yang Hyeon-jong (KIA), were included.
Choo Shin-soo said, “There are many new faces in Japan. If it were me, I would have seen the future. There should be a lot of players who don’t go and a lot of players who are newly selected rather than the results right away. Until when are Kim Gwang-hyun and Yang Hyeon-jong? In Japan, there is also an article titled ‘Kim Kwang-hyun is here again’. It’s not that these players lack skills. There are many talented young players. He said, “Why can’t such a player be (selected)?”
Choo Shin-soo continued, “If you go to an international tournament like the WBC, the emotions and mindset of the players change a lot. Things to do in Korean baseball after going to a tournament. For example, Moon Dong-ju is said to have poor control, but there is no player in the KBO who throws like that. The same goes for Ahn Woo-jin. Opening up opportunities to go abroad through international competitions is what Korean baseball should do,” he pointed out.
An Woo-jin was the best pitcher in the KBO last year. He appeared in 30 games, going 15-8 with a 2.11 earned run average. He struck out 224 while pitching 196 innings. His performance was superior to that of his foreign ace. In the postseason, he forced himself to participate even with blisters on his fingers, showing off his fighting spirit and leading the team to the Korean Series (KS).
However, Ahn Woo-jin’s history of being disciplined for school violence while attending Whimoon High School has been holding him back. When Cho Beom-hyeon, chairman of the KBO Technical Committee, announced the final entry, he expressed the background of Ahn Woo-jin’s elimination in a roundabout way, saying, “The selection criteria for players were based on various factors, such as the symbolic meaning of being a national representative representing the country, responsibility, and pride, along with the player’s skills.” That was a big issue at the time.
Choo Shin-soo said, “Ahn Woo-jin clearly did the wrong thing, and it’s really unfortunate to hear and see as a third person. He is a talented player who will become second only to senior Park Chan-ho. I also play baseball in Korea, but there are so many things I don’t understand. We don’t think forgiveness is easy. When he was young, he repented of his mistakes and was punished and suspended from participation. However, he said, “I can’t go to the international competition.”
Choo Shin-soo then said, “There is something I want to say to baseball seniors. I was born early and played baseball early, so I am not a senior. When I see a player going through such an unreasonable thing, I think I have to step up. But nobody steps out. If juniors are going the wrong way or exercising in the wrong place, they should speak up and try to help, but they just watch. It’s a pity,” he added.
The reaction to Choo Shin-soo is generally cold. In the video, fans said, “National team is not only about ability”, “A player who goes against the public sentiment cannot become (national team member)”, “Forgiveness is done by the victim. Do not force forgiveness.” “Victims of school violence live with scars for the rest of their lives. He pinched, saying that school violence should not be taken lightly.