Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Tao of Baseball: Lesson #1

Let’s take a look at the Korean flag together, shall we?What you see is an interlocking red and blue symbol at the center which represents yin and yang. Those of you who know about yin and yang, understand that it represents balance. It represents the idea that the opposing forces of the universe must act in harmony to co-exist. The forces of day and night, man and woman, and wins and losses all play by these rules. The Taoists believe that the symbol “yin and yang” teaches us the laws of “Dynamic Equilibrium” which suggests that the universe seeks to find balance. Perhaps the US loss to Korea could have been predicted if they simply examined the flag of their next opponent more closely.

Perhaps they should have considered that Japan and Korea, bitter international rivals, are like the red and blue elements of yin and yang. The intense relationship that the two nations share is an important balancing act that two sides of the same coin must perform.

Perhaps Buck Martinez should have considered his protest before he stepped out of the dugout. He should have considered that his left fielder had uncorked a little league throw to the plate on Iwamura’s sac fly in the 8th, that wouldn’t have caught Nishioka had he waited at third base long enough for Hell to freeze over. By protesting such an obviously futile play, he may have set in motion the universal chaos that only an equally chaotic mirror-event could correct. His little fist pump made things even worse.

The Korean flag provides the foreshadowing, but the Korean bats provided the action.

Maybe you’ve never heard of “The Lion King”. The Samsung Lions of the Korean Professional Baseball League is where the nickname of Yomiuri Giants player Lee Seung Yeop of Korea was born. To introduce you to this budding star on the international stage, Lee hit 56 home runs for his Korean ball club before heading to Japan to play professionally. He has proceeded to slug his way into the hearts of the Japanese fans, despite being Korean, and despite being famous for killing the Japanese national team time after time, as he did in the Asian Round of the WBC.

Lee Seung Yeop is not a household name yet in the US, but you can ask Bobby Valentine what he meant to his Japan League champion Lotte Marines last year. You can ask his opponents in the inaugural WBC what his 5 home runs (to date) have meant to a scrappy and passionate Korean club looking to put their home country’s reputation with those of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Japan, Venezuela, and the vanquished United States.

Lee is now hitting .471 after his 2-3 performance against the US, and has an OPS of an astounding 1.877. For those of you who don’t follow baseball, it means he’s kicking ass. It also means he’s righted the equilibrium of the baseball universe. Now maybe the US can get back to playing the way they are expected and perhaps stop embarrassing themselves in front of the world.