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Posts Tagged ‘Baseball

Episode 209 (Part 1)

Date 2010.12.01

Golden Fishery is a two part talk show.  Part one is called “Mu ru pak Dosa” aka the Knee Drop Guru.  The guru Kang Ho Dong is a former Korean Wrestling champion who successfully crossed over into the entertainment world.

Every week a well known Korean figure is invited to the show and addresses a problem or wish they have in their lives.  Its like Oprah, if Oprah was a 200 pound Korean man with red stickers on his cheeks.  Part two is a different show called “Radio Star” where singers come and get grilled by several douchebag-like hosts (this part won’t be recapped).

The guru begins the show by telling Choo how hard it was to book him.  The producers had invited Choo to the show a year ago but at the time, Choo replied that he would attend after the Asian Games.

Immediately after Korea won the 2010 Asian Games, one of the producers tried to call him but his phone, his managers phone and all his handlers phones were unavailable.

As a hail mary, the producer obtained an American phone number for Choo and tried calling.  Choo picked up and for ten minutes straight the producer tried to convince Choo to come.  He answered with one sentence:  “Talk to my manager” and hung up.  Talk about persistence.

After the initial introduction and small talk, the guru gets down to business and asks Choo to reveal his worries.

Many people think I live a worry free life but because I am so busy playing baseball I feel like I’m not a good husband, good father, or good son…unless I quit, it would be hard.

Choo has two sons who at the time of taping were age 7 (6 in American age) and age 15-months.  They live in Arizona while he plays baseball in Cleveland.  The season is seven months long and if there is spring camp, that’s another 2 months so there isn’t any time to be with his family.

The guru points out that as a new father himself, even if he’s gone for two days its a bit awkward and wonders if its the same considering Choo is gone for several months.  Choo says that its not but he feels that his son must really miss him because when he comes home, his son constantly cries.  As a boy he grew up watching and learning from his dad but the fact that he can’t do the same for his children is hard for him.

Also, people at school think his wife is a single mom and guys are giving their numbers to her thinking she’s available.  Apparently his wife looks young for her age (both Choo and his wife are born in 1982) and even when she’s with him, teenagers come up to her and flirt.  So Choo’s always telling her to have the kids with her when she goes out (lol).

What bothers Choo the most about being away is that his son is too mature and is more responsible than a kid his age should be.  His son is always taking care of his mom, protecting her, making sure everything is alright when he’s only 7 years old. Yet when Choo comes home, his son becomes attached and constantly cries.  Choo believes that its because he isn’t at home and feels a lot of guilt because of it.

Also, because Choo isn’t always there for his kids, he tends to spoil his son by buying him every toy in the toy store to the ire of his wife.  I’m sure Choo is just glad if his 15 month old even recognizes who he is.

The guru then changes subjects to the 2010 Asian Games in China.  The guru wonders whether Choo began to feel nervous considering the Games were extremely important to Choo.

In Korea, all able bodied men must enlist in the army and serve for approximately 2 years.  However, the Korean government will waive service for certain athletes.  Winning gold for Korea in the Olympics, Asian Games, etc guarantees a waiver.

Since Choo was an able bodied Korean man, he had to either quit baseball and enlist  or obtain American citizenship to continue playing baseball in America.

Draft dodging in Korea is highly frowned upon and Choo would have been a national pariah if he had chosen the latter.  Moreover the Korean laws have changed in recent years and even if Choo had obtained his American citizenship, if he stepped foot into Korea, the Korean government had authority to detain him and force him to serve the two years.  Therefore he would have been for all intensive purposes banned from Korea.

Choo says that during the Games, he wasn’t nervous or burdened at all.  He just felt like everything was going to go well, that whatever they threw at him he’d be able to hit.  In fact, he was more nervous running the bases than coming up to bat.

One of the more interesting things during the Games was the conditions some of the countries were playing in.  The Mongolians had literally one baseball bat, the Pakistanis were sharing spikes, and the starstruck players and coaches from Hong Kong were taking videos and pictures of him during the game.  Choo understands how they feel because he was in their position at one point in his life and because of his past he tries to appreciate what he has now.

The guru then made fun of him for striking out against pitchers who were throwing at high school speeds.  Isn’t he a major league player?  Choo tried to defend himself by saying he’s used to fast pitches and that it was strange trying to time the slower ones.  (Excuses excuses lol).

When asked about Choo’s pitching abilities (he was a pitcher in high school), he says that he threw at 153km, around 95mph.  No one believes a high school kid could throw at 153km and Choo clarifies that he threw 153km around three times but his average was bit lower.

After a small break the guru begins to ask him some tougher questions.  There were rumors that Choo would have gotten his American citizenship if he had failed to get gold.  Choo admits that he really did think about it.  For the longest time, every interview he did, every time he had a meeting with his team, all hey wanted to know was whether he was going to enlist or get his citizenship.

It was extremely stressful for Choo.  All he had done for twenty years was play baseball.  Not only that, Choo had found his stride and was producing great numbers .  Any runner can tell you two weeks let alone two years without training can hinder their performance.  For an athlete to give up two years is basically career suicide.

However in the end, Choo believed that leaving Korea that way would be a disgrace and that he would never be able to face his parents or hold his head high for his sons.  Good thing for Choo, he never had to choose.

Part 2 of the interview coming soon…