SSG struggled in the second half as his batting pace dropped off. The fact that the mound held up well wasn’t much of a consolation. They should have been able to capitalise on the good innings and keep the game close. If the pitching staff tired when the bats came up, that could have been a crisis.
However, not all the players were gloomy, as there was a player who was focused and focused. It was veteran infielder Kim Sung-hyun (36). A semi-state player who has played every position in the infield except first base this year, Kim was batting .324 in 10 games from 1-12 August. He didn’t just get a lot of hits, but he also did his part to open up the bases or keep the chances alive at crucial moments.안전놀이터
He had three hits against Suwon KT on the 2nd and two against Sasik Lotte on the 5th, followed by one hit and one RBI against Incheon NC on the 9th, four hits and one RBI against Incheon Samsung Electronics on the 11th, and two hits against Incheon Samsung Electronics on the 12th. SSG head coach Kim Won-hyung praised Kim, saying, “He is doing his part to be the lifeblood of our team.” It may not seem like the right words for a 36-year-old veteran, but it’s undeniably how he felt.
In fact, Kim was once an iconic infielder for the team. He was the team’s starting shortstop and the team’s starting second baseman for many years. When the team won the 2018 Korean Series, it was Kim who defended the infield, switching between second base and shortstop. While his career hasn’t been the most glamorous, in some ways, he’s been more of a “starter” than a “backup” player.
It’s not uncommon for long-time veterans to go from starter to backup, but it comes with its own set of problems. Players are sometimes unhappy about being moved to backup, and it can take some time for them to come to terms with the decision. This is especially true if the replacement isn’t cool.
If they accept it, it makes for a stronger and better team, but if they don’t, it affects the team atmosphere. If it’s a bunch of veterans, and there’s a lot of dissatisfaction among them, the team atmosphere is bound to suffer. The younger players are forced to look up, and the team can’t go in the same direction. But Kim Sung-hyun had no such complaints. He went out when he was told to go out, sometimes to second base, sometimes to the unfamiliar third base, and did his best. This season is no different. He can be described as the ‘salt’ of the team.
Kim Kang-min still holds the team’s outfield together with his athleticism ⓒSSG Landers
Kim Kang-min and Choo Shin-soo are the leaders of the team’s dugout atmosphere ⓒSSG Landers
SSG’s ‘wire-to-wire’ victory last year was largely due to a combination of good performances from the main players and the growth of younger players such as Choi Ji-hoon and Park Sung. On the other hand, it was also due to the silent support of the veteran players who gave up their positions to the younger players and those who were brought in from the outside and were relegated to backup. They didn’t think about the past, they just stuck to the task at hand.
In addition to Kim Sung-hyun, Kim Kang-min is another long-time Incheon player who has been the team’s mainstay in the middle infield. Now in his forties, Kim has been out of the starting line-up for some time. However, he has realised his task and is preparing himself accordingly. Oh Tae-gon, an infield and outfield multiplayer, is another such player. He’s always been where the team needs him, rather than wanting to be a starter. Noh Kyung-eun didn’t want to be a starter, but moved to the bullpen when the team needed him. Choo Shin-soo also wanted to play defence to give the juniors a break, so he underwent elbow surgery.
Coincidentally, it was the veterans who stepped up to the plate and did their bit when the younger players were struggling, leading to the team’s 4-0 win at Samsung Electronics in Incheon on the 13th. Kim Kang-min opened the scoring in the first inning with a double after Choi Ji-hoon’s leadoff single, reviving the momentum. The second inning started with a single by Kim Sung-hyun, and the next two runs followed the formula of Oh Tae-gon singling, stealing, and Choo Shin-soo relieving. Noh Kyung-eun pitched a scoreless first inning.
If they had stuck together with their own greed, there’s a good chance SSG would have been a mess. But because they put aside their egos and stuck together with dedication to the team, SSG was able to become a good team and slowly create a generational shift. Teams with veterans who know what they’re doing don’t go down easily. This season, SSG has proven this by holding onto the second spot despite the difficult conditions.
Oh Tae-gon, a typical utility player, had two hits and two stolen bases for the Incheon Samsung Electronics on the 13th ⓒSSG Landers
Noh Kyung-eun’s dedication continues regardless of the situation ⓒSSG Landers