Congratulations are in order for Shin-Soo Choo of the Cleveland Indians. Choo led his South Korean Fightin’ Baseball Devils to gold at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. By ensuring glory for his nation, Choo earns a 30 month respite from the mandatory military service expected of all able-bodied Korean men between the ages of 20 (and a half) and 30. Choo certainly did his part, going 2 for 4 with a walk in the final game.
As intrepid MLB.com scribe Jordan Bastian reports Choo recently turned 28, meaning his 30 month “get out of barracks free” pass will push him beyond his 30th birthday and out of military service. Hooray! Wait, what?
Am I crazy or is it really strange to hear fans of the Tribe/Racist Nicknames express relief over Choo’s ability to co-opt his countries military tradition? A tradition, mind you, born of a 60 year cease-fire (the Korean War is, technically, still ongoing) to a bloody struggle pitting brother against brother with the ever-present threat literally right next door!
Think back to the World Series or even Veterans/Remembrance Day just a few weeks ago. The culture in North America goes out of its way to pay lip service to the men and women of the armed forces, admiring their sacrifices and making heroes of those who give up their status as exalted professional athletes to take up arms in the name of their nation. Until, of course, the needs and requirements of another nation might affect your favorite team’s pursuit of a pennant or, in Cleveland’s case, trying as hard as they can to avoid losing 100 games.
Far be it from me to wave the military flag or demand more of the manipulative, cheap coverage we already experience. If anything, this should serve as the perfect example of how little we value service and sacrifice. Honor those that serve, unless it impacts my afternoon at the ballpark? Something doesn’t quite add up.