Prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics beginning in China, my comrade Andrew Stoeten and I received an email from a friend at the CBC who was in Beijing to cover the games. He informed us that our website, the courageous and tellingly named Drunk Jays Fans, was in fact, banned in the country. It was a cause for celebration for the two of us, a bragging point that we shared with our friends. We were a dinky little website that someone within the Chinese government had thought to have enough importance to warrant being outlawed.
How cool is that?
By contrast, the Baltimore Orioles, while perhaps the dinkiest team in their division, are one of thirty franchises in Major League Baseball. They have little in common with a fan blog about baseball, even one as ridiculously awesome as DJF. And yet, the governing body of baseball for the nation directly to the east of China has decided to ban Baltimore scouts from attending organized games in their country.
The Korea Baseball Association announced Thursday it has informed the MLB commissioner’s office and the Orioles of its decision, saying scouts from all major league teams in the future signing Korean student athletes not in the final years of their schools will be banned from KBA-sanctioned games. That will include all national high school and university tournaments, often frequented by major league scouts.
Last month, Baltimore signed 17 year old left handed pitcher Kim Seong-Min to a $550,000 contract that would preclude him from entering his final year of high school in South Korea. The Korean Baseball Association doesn’t typically appreciate contact between Major League Baseball teams and high school players that haven’t completed their studies, and in response to the Orioles involvement, banned the pitcher from playing or coaching in South Korea for an indefinite amount of time.
While the KBA has lodged a complaint with MLB over Baltimore’s actions, it’s unlikely that anything major will result from their protest. There is an agreement in place between the two parties, designed in part to protect youth baseball programs in South Korea, but it’s not as stringent as the agreement that MLB has in place with Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan.
The entire affair represents yet another misstep from the Orioles organization, who in this case have ruined any goodwill that existed between them and an entire nation for the purpose of attaining a player that ESPN’s Keith Law described as “a 5’9″ Korean HS lefty throwing 80-83 with no feel for a breaking ball.”
From overpaying for veteran free agents that blocked developing youngsters last off season, to the ridiculous quest to fill a general manager’s position that no one in baseball wanted this winter, Baltimore continues to earn its OriLOLes moniker.
Perhaps the worst part is that the money that they spent on ruining their foreign relationships could have easily paid for the jobs that the team cut when they OriLOLLOLy axed their entire pro scouting department in December.