Thursday, April 15, 2010

A sticky situation

Baseball, as we all know, is a global game. Many players from many different countries move around in search of a job, or a chance to play in the various leagues. These players are usually called "imports", probably because of the financial aspects of it. Who knows? There is a team, there is a contract, and players come. The Korean Baseball Organization is one of those leagues that is "importing" players from other places. One import from the Dominican Republic, by way of the major leagues, is pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was imported to play baseball. One of the things he imported was steroids:
It turns out former KIA pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez was not let go due to injury. He was let go because he was caught doping. The article doesn't state what he was caught with, but it probably wasn't Flintstones chewable vitamins.
Hey, free trade, right. Its not surprising that a player was caught using steroids, particularly a Dominican player, as they have been hit hard by the testing. This, however, was surprising:
This is the first time a player(non-Korean or Korean) has been caught using PEDs.
The Korean league has been well-established since the 1980's, and been importing and exporting players to the Major Leagues for a few years now. You would have thought this might have happened before, but I guess not. I'm pretty sure it won't be happening a lot more, as the league is doing steroid testings. I don't personally care about the steroids anymore. Let them juice, and damage their health if they want. They are grown men. But the testing is a fact of life, and they need to abide by or be punished. There is one issue I have with the testing, however:
The KBO started mandatory testing of non-Korean ballplayers last year and has random testing for Korean players.
So Korean players are tested differently than the foreigners who come over and play. Odd. But not really. I lived in Korea for a year. I had a good time, and the people are nice. I never had any issues with any of them, but there is one thing I do remember. The Korean people are very xenophobic, and have a marked tendency to look down on non-Koreans. This doesn't really surprise me at all.

The main issue I have is the different treatment for foreign players. I can't see this being allowed anywhere beyond Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. In other words, the Asian leagues treat the Asian players differently than foreign players. Think Orlando Hudson would have something to say about that? It's their country, and they can do what they want. They can even tie it to immigration laws if they want, but they really can't. I'm an immigrant and I didn't have to get tested for steroids to play ball over here.

The Korean league is a good one, and it provides a good product. But while they discriminate against foreign players, they will never be considered a premium league, or a great place to play. The playing field is supposed to be level. So should the steroid testing.

H/T to True Stories of Korean Baseball

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