A 29-year wait or the magic of the youngest reversal?
Whether it’s a twin’s 29-year wait or the magic of a youngster dreaming of an upset, the Korean Series (best-of-seven, best-of-four) to determine the best team in the 2023 Korean Professional Baseball League will pit the regular season champion LG Twins against the second-place KT Wiz. The two teams will kick off the series with Game 1 (LG’s Kelly vs. KT’s Ko Young-pyo) on Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul.
LG has been in the KBO for 42 seasons, from its inception as a professional organization through its predecessor MBC Cheongryong (1982-1989) to its acquisition by Lucky Geumsung Group (now LG) in 1990. The team’s heyday was in the 1990s, when it emerged as one of the league’s most popular clubs with its so-called “New Wind Baseball,” winning two consecutive championships in 1990 and 1994.
However, after 1994, LG did not win a regular season or Korean Series title for some time. The team advanced to the Korean Series three more times (1997-1998, 2002), but finished as runners-up to the mighty HaeTae, Hyundai, and Samsung. In particular, after the 2002 runner-up finish, the team entered a ‘dark period’ and recorded the first black history of failing to advance to the fall baseball for 10 consecutive years (2003-2012).
After the ‘lost decade’, LG started to return to the fall baseball stage in 2013 (2nd place). From then until 2022, LG became a fall baseball regular, advancing to the postseason seven times during the “decade of revival. But the championships didn’t come easily. Since their 1994 title, LG has failed to win the regular season-Korean Series for a whopping 28 consecutive years. It was the second-longest drought in KBO history, behind the Lotte Giants’ 31-year streak (last won in 1992).
In 2023, LG was more desperate than ever to get back on track. The team finished the regular season with 86 wins, two ties, and 56 losses (.606 winning percentage), finishing 6.5 games out of first place and clinching the regular season title for the first time in 29 years since 1994. It was their first trip to the Korean Series in 21 years. The offense was so balanced that it dominated the nine major pitching categories (batting average (.279) and ERA (3.67), as well as on-base percentage, runs scored, stolen bases, slugging percentage, 무지개토토 on-base percentage, fewest runs allowed, and holds).
Coincidentally, both the U.S. and Japanese professional baseball leagues, whose champions were crowned before Korea’s this year, had something in common: teams that hadn’t won a championship in a long time broke the chain of inactivity. In the U.S. Major League Baseball, the Texas Rangers, who were led by Park Chan-ho and Choo Shin-soo, won the World Series 62 years after their founding. In Japan, the Hanshin Tigers, led by Oh Seung-hwan, won the Japan Series after 38 years. If LG also succeeds in winning the Korean Series for the first time in 29 years, 2023 will go down in history as the year that Korean and Japanese baseballs broke the “curse of the uninspired.