The biggest star of the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) is definitely Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani, a member of the Japanese national team, arrived at Miami International Airport on March 17 (Korean time) on a chartered flight for the final round match. At his entrance, Ohtani was wearing a Czech national baseball team cap. The Czech Republic was a team that deserved respect from the world’s best baseball players.
Most of the WBC participating countries, except for East Asian teams where professional leagues are active and Cuba, whose national flag is baseball, fill their squads with major league or minor league players. However, there was no active minor league player in the Czech Republic. Nevertheless, they beat China 8-5 in the first match of the first round. Despite losing 2-10 to the host country, Japan, it scored one point with two hits from Japanese starting pitcher Roki Sasaki, who threw a fastball at 164 km/h. Starting pitcher Ondray Satoria treated Japan’s hard hitting line as a three-way offense in the first inning. The two out counts were strikeouts. In the second inning, he struck out Munetaka Murakami, who hit 56 home runs in Nippon Professional Baseball last year. also flawless. In the 3rd inning with 1 out and 2nd base, even Ohtani struck out on a swing. Afterwards, they failed to overcome the power inferiority and lost by 8 points, but it was better than expected.
In the game against Korea the next day, they trailed 0-6 until the second inning. However, in the next 7 innings, he showed good performance with 3 runs and 1 run. In the final game against Australia (Australia), it was tight with a score of 1-1 until the 6th inning. Commentator Jang Seong-ho, a professional baseball slugger who relayed Czech matches on KBSn, said, “It was different from the European teams we met in past international competitions. I felt that the Korean team could lose after 10 years.”
The Czech Republic, which was their first appearance, set their biggest goal in this tournament to be one win over China. So, we put the best pitchers in the game against China. Still, it did well against strong teams that were unparalleled in baseball history and industry scale. It wasn’t even the best power. Seo Young-won, a member of the Korean Baseball Association, has been helping the Czech national team as a volunteer since the end of last year. He said, “Most of the hard hitters in the top 10 in their home league, Extraliga, did not participate. Because he was not given time off from work.” In sports, it is not uncommon for a weak team to catch a strong team. However, the Czech propaganda this time is not a surprise. It was a prepared result.
The history of baseball in the Czech Republic dates back to 1919. However, meaningful baseball activities began only after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The most popular sport in the country is ice hockey, followed by soccer. Baseball is far below the rankings. By analogy, it is a developing country. But the growth rate is steep.메이저사이트
When the Korean national team was eliminated again in the first round of the WBC, some media and baseball players suggested the answer, “We need to train harder.” There are also voices calling for revision of the government policy that has strengthened the right to study for students and athletes. However, the Czech Republic did not become a strong team through hard training. The Czech national team conducted group training in their home country from January 1 to 11. The day started at 9:30 am and ended at 4:30 pm. Tomas Ovesny, Vice President of Competition Management of the Czech Baseball Association, said, “We selected the best players. The coaching staff and associations only provide adequate guidance. Individual training is free after the schedule is over, but it is not right to hold and train players at the team level.” In the field training in Valencia, Spain, the schedule was mainly focused on practice games. Players belonging to Extra League are usually office workers and students. So, games are usually held on weekends, which are holidays. There is no time for ‘hell training’.
An interesting finding is found in the training schedule of the Czech national team. From the fourth day of the convocation, four lectures were given over four days. Topics include psychology, training methods, nutrition, and fitness. The coaching staff held a separate seminar. I read and discussed papers on how to maintain player condition in short-term matches.
Although the Czech Republic is at the periphery of world baseball, it has active exchanges with the US Major League Baseball. In Prague, the capital, and in Brno, the second city, complexes with multiple baseball fields have been built. Along with Regensburg, Germany, it is the best facility in Europe. Here, the research results accumulated in the United States, the center of baseball knowledge in the world, are accepted and fostering programs for each age group are operated. Experts are sometimes invited under the support of the major leagues. There are many cases in which Czech Baseball Association staff, coaches, and players receive training at American clubs or universities using the European Union (EU) or the Czech government’s educational sports training programs. Prior to the WBC, we discussed countermeasure tactics by obtaining video footage of competing countries and tracking data of pitches and batted balls. It is very unlikely that the Czech Extraliga will grow to the size of the Korean KBO League. However, in terms of ‘intelligence’, Czech baseball is far ahead of Korea, which prides itself on being a baseball powerhouse.
Is increasing training time the solution to innovation in Korean baseball?
Economist Paul Krugman pointed out that before the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout crisis erupted in 1997, the East Asian economy would “reach its limits as growth relied on quantitative input of labor and capital.” One factor that Krugman saw as lacking in East Asian economies is technological innovation. World baseball is undergoing innovation at a frightening speed. Despite three consecutive WBC failures, it is still a valid point in the Korean baseball world, which insists on expanding working hours, that is, ‘more training’.
The Czech achievement shows what a disruptive force ‘standardized information and knowledge’ can have in international sport. The tracking data measurement equipment used by the Czech national team was first introduced by Major League Baseball in 2000, and is now being adopted by all Japanese and Korean professional baseball teams and some Taiwanese professional baseball teams. Commissioner Jang Seong-ho said, “It seems that world baseball is becoming one in data and analysis methods.” Of course, data is just data. But it shows objective facts. As data accumulates, analysis becomes possible. Based on this, new theories and training methods have emerged by combining with related studies such as biomechanics. Since the 2000s, the speed of fastballs has risen sharply in the major leagues, and pitchers throwing 160 km per hour are appearing one after another in Japan Professional Baseball (NPB). Much of this information and knowledge is publicly available and shared on a global level. In a situation where baseball in each country was cut off, the larger leagues were able to have more competitiveness. However, in an environment where standardized information and knowledge lead innovation, even a country like the Czech Republic can secure competitiveness in a short period of time.
Korean baseball managers and coaches are experts who have honed their fields for decades. However, it is difficult to express his own experience in words or numbers. Their achievements remain in ‘tacit knowledge’. So it is difficult to share, and there is no development. An official from the Orix Buffaloes said about the recent change in NPB, “Coaches have started to write data about players. Even if the manager or coach changes, this data is shared. I embraced the American baseball style.” Most domestic clubs do not leave data on how coaches guide players. When running a large factory in the United States or Japan, Korean baseball remains at the handicraft stage. Here, outside of Korea, innovation based on information and knowledge is taking place.
The crisis of Korean baseball is right here. A former professional baseball team leader said, “There are many coaches who work hard. But there is no progress from past theories or methods.” Min Kyung-sam, CEO of SSG Landers, asserted, “There is absolutely little ‘input’.” This means that leaders do not study. It is not an individual problem. There are many leaders who have no learning experience because they were deprived of the right to study during their school days. This is why Japanese professional baseball, which is much more conservative than Korea, has already accepted innovation from the United States, but the pace is slow in the KBO League. The weakest competency in Korean baseball right now is coaching, which lacks the ability to accept innovation. It is also a bond created by the past that has nurtured ‘exercise machines’ nationally.