“There are one or two players who have made fools of themselves while commentating, but I don’t think they’ve ever been held accountable.” This is what SPOTV baseball commentator Oh Jae-won said in a recent YouTube interview. “I hate the Korean express,” he said, apparently referring to Park Chan-ho, who commentates on baseball for KBS whenever there is an international game.
Yang Joon-hyuk tells the baseball team to take the duck boat
Park Chan-ho’s beef with Oh Jae-won dates back to 2014, when he was commentating on the national baseball team’s game at the Incheon Asian Games, and when Oh Jae-won stepped into the batter’s box, Park Chan-ho said, “In the past, Oh Jae-won called a ground ball hit to his body a foul,” adding that “Hollywood action shouldn’t be wrapped in wit”. Park Chan-ho was referring to the August 7, 2012, game between the Hanwha Eagles and the Doosan Bears, when, on a full count, Oh Jae-won hit a ball from Park Chan-ho for a ground ball, which was called a foul because it hit his body. If it hadn’t hit the body, it would have been an out. Oh then singled to center field.
In the past, baseball fans were outraged when Park Chan-ho was summoned for his “mouth,” and Oh Jae-won became an unscrupulous player. Later, when fans sent him a video of the game (where he was hit by a ground ball), he apologized during the broadcast, saying, “I think I made it difficult for my junior through a misunderstanding,” but the water had already been spilled. At the time, Oh Jae-won was bombarded with abuse online to the point where he seriously considered retirement.
Kang Baek-ho was also deeply troubled by Park Chan-ho’s behavior. During the bronze medal match against the Dominican Republic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, he was almost in tears after his team came up short. He later said, “I was so devastated. I chewed eight pieces of gum because I was so nervous.” But Park Chan-ho commented, “You can’t do that. Once again, Park Chan-ho’s words became a flashpoint, and Kang Baek-ho was criticized by the public.
The witch hunt was intensified by the national baseball team’s poor performance (4th place). His batting average in the KBO (0.395) dropped to just 0.294 in the second half of the season, down from nearly 4% before the Tokyo Olympics. Worse yet, whenever he made a sloppy or somewhat outlandish play, he was criticized twice as much as other players. This is largely due to the fact that he was labeled a “troublemaker” after the chewing gum incident at the Tokyo Olympics. To borrow a phrase from Oh Jae-won, Park Chan-ho became an “idiot player” because of his words.
There was another case where a baseball expert’s words crossed the line. Yang Jun-hyuk, a baseball commentator for MBC Sports Plus, commented on his YouTube channel about the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) against Japan, saying, “Korea has been competitive in international tournaments so far, and (the Korea-Japan game) was the best sloppy game I’ve ever seen,” and blatantly criticized Lee Kang-chul, the national team manager, saying, “If he runs the game like this, I think he shouldn’t be the national team manager.” Yang went a step further.
Yang Jun-hyuk went a step further, saying, “If you lose to China, don’t come here, just play social baseball in Japan and beat the national team,” 스포츠토토 and mocked the comment section, saying, “You have to come by boat, duck boat.” He said this on his personal broadcast. Although it was said in a private broadcast, it was not something that a professional baseball legend and expert would say. In response to Yang Jun-hyuk’s ‘duck boat’ comment, a baseball player said, “It was too easy to say something in private. It’s bitter that he made baseball juniors a target of ridicule just to get more clicks.”
It’s not only in professional baseball that players have been hurt by commentators’ subjective assessments. The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, also had an example of an athlete getting a bad call.