A scandal has hit South Korean Baseball, and it’s a bad one. It’s match-fixing, where the result of a game is predetermined to benefit a certain group of gamblers. This particular scandal is huge, with South Korean police accusing 21 people of some level of involvement.
Of the 21 people accused by the South Korean police, seven are current and former players. Of the current players, two are pitchers: Yoo Chang-sik of the Kia Tigers and Lee Sung-min of the Lotte Giants. Both played for other teams at the time of the illegal activity. (Yoo played for the Hanwha Eagles and Lee played for NC Dinos.)
So what exactly happened here? Well, the police are asserting that in 2014, the two pitchers received money from brokers in exchange for purposely issuing walks in specific innings. In fact, The Gulf Today is reporting that Lee received three million won (about $2600 US dollars) for “deliberately walking a batter in the first innings of a game in 2014.” Yoo received a similar payday for walking batters in two separate games.
According to ESPN, Lee has already confessed to at least some match-fixing activities in 2014. One other player, identified only as Kim (his surname), has also admitted to match-fixing, but it’s not clear if it’s related to what the police are accusing him of. (Kim has been accused of trying to persuade other players to take part in match-fixing.)
When NC Dinos team officials found out about what was going on with Lee and Kim, they released Kim and allegedly covered up Lee’s activities before trading him, afraid of tarnishing the club’s image if the news of the scandal got out. Those team officials have also been accused by police, so their efforts certainly backfired on them in the worst way possible.
There have been other match-fixing scandals in Korean baseball in recent years, but this one is different. This is the first time that team officials have been accused of any involvement. In the past, punishments have ranged from convictions to lifetime bans, and even some jail time. A scandal like this, with 21 people including current and former players accused of wrongdoing, makes Pete Rose seem like small potatoes.
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