An exhibition game against the world’s best stars… But why is Doosan the only one missing?
The Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs, will play their official opening games at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on March 20 and 21. The opening game, the first official MLB game to be held in Seoul, was named the “Seoul Series.”
Dodgers and San Diego will start their seasons in Seoul a week earlier than the opening games of other teams in the U.S. To this end, the two teams will also start calling spring camps a week earlier than usual, and after the Seoul Series ends, they will manage their conditions for a few days and begin full-fledged season competition. For the globalization of baseball, holding official games in foreign countries, not the U.S. or Canada, is also the part that the MLB Secretariat is most striving to do recently.
Dodgers and San Diego are scheduled to arrive in Seoul a few days earlier than the opening game. They will also hold practice games to adjust to jet lag, sense of actual performance, and adjust to Gocheok Dome. It is a de facto exhibition game called a “special game.” The MLB Secretariat and “Coupin Play,” which will host the Seoul Series, officially announced on Wednesday that Team Korea, LG Twins and Kiwoom Heroes have been confirmed for the “special game” on the 16th.
There are a total of four practice games. Dodgers will play two games and San Diego will play two games. Details have yet to be revealed, but chances are high that the national baseball team will play one game each with the two teams, and that LG and Kiwoom will play one game each. The national baseball team will be formed with the former coach who will be appointed soon and the players of the APBC (Asian Professional Baseball Championship) held last year. APBC has formed its national team with players in their early to mid-20s. Several teams from 10 teams will be convened to face Major League players.
Among the domestic teams, Kiwoom and LG were selected. In fact, if it is a Seoul-based team, there is another team. It is Doosan. However, Doosan was excluded, and only two teams were decided as opposing teams. The decision of the opposing team was made by the MLB Secretariat, not the KBO. KBO has nothing to do with the Seoul Series, and since the national baseball team is a sparring partner, it will control only the parts related to the national team.
Doosan could be disappointed. This special game is not an ordinary practice game. It is all the more meaningful as it is an exhibition game with world-class players. The Dodgers has some of the best Major League players, including Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, as well as Japanese superstars, including Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. The same applies to San Diego. With Kim Ha-sung and Ko Woo-seok, Doosan has strong ties with Korea and boasts a luxurious lineup including Fernando Tatis Jr., Darvish Yu, Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts. Chances are high that most of these superstars will play in exhibition games as the upcoming game in Seoul is not just an event but an official opening game that reflects their team’s performance and statistics. It is a rare opportunity to play along with Ohtani and Tatis Jr. on the ground. The KBO League is also an opportunity to motivate Korean players ahead of the opening of the season.
However, the MLB Secretariat made a decision after agonizing over the opponent team. Kiwoom is the original home club of Gocheok Dome, where the Seoul Series will take place. On top of that, LG has a clear title as the defending champion of the KBO League last year. As the match against the national baseball team was also confirmed, Doosan was naturally excluded. Unfortunately, it is inevitable.