My Favorite Things about the Seoul Series

The MLB season has officially started, and this year it went somewhere it’s never been before: Seoul, South Korea!

It featured drama, dingers and scandals, but above all else, it was pretty damn fun! So here are my thoughts as a Seoul resident and attendee for one of the games.

First things first, let’s get the negatives out of the way. The first drawback of the Seoul games was having them played at Gocheok Sky Dome, the only indoor stadium in the KBO. It was necessary to play here to avoid a rainout, but it’s one of the smaller stadiums and the atmosphere just feels a little lacking compared to it’s Seoul neighbor, Jamsil Stadium, which hosts two KBO teams and can really shake during a big moment.

Also, while tickets were understandably expensive, they were a bit too difficult to attain. My partner and I had our trigger fingers on the mouse as soon as tickets were available online, but the regular season games both sold out before the site let us view seats. Luckily, when tickets for the exhibition game between the Dodgers and Team Korea became available, we were able to scoop up two in the upper decks. 

View from our seats for Team Korea vs. The Dodgers! (Author’s own)

Okay let’s get to the fun stuff. Below is a list of things I enjoyed about the Seoul Series, in no particular order. 

  1. Ohtani was Here!

He was greeted at the airport like a Beatle in the 60s. What did he do in Seoul? What did he eat? How inexpensive is Mamiko Tanaka’s purse? Why did his interpreter get fired? Ohtani is the transcendent international star of this game. People who don’t know baseball well here still know his name and the hype was real since the moment he signed with the Dodgers. 

Mini Ohtani! (Author’s own)
  1. A tasteful blend of baseball cultures

In KBO style, every team had cheerleaders, and every player had their own song. They weren’t as overpowering and loud as a KBO game but they were satisfying and catchy!

On the other side of things, fans were led to sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ and Dodgers cheerleaders even tried to get a wave going. Neither were super successful, but they were fun and did their part as a sort of baseball cultural exchange. 

Fans seemed most involved during the digital Dodgers ‘Food Truck Race’ and hidden object games, which aren’t really a thing here. When the Dodgers won, the stadium played Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” just as you would hear at Dodgers Stadium. Fun!

  1. The Time Zone

One thing the stadium can’t capture is how many people enjoyed watching live MLB games on TV in this time zone. ESPN showed clips of watch parties in Ohtani’s hometown, and every sports bar seemed to have the games on here in Korea. 

While watching in the Itaewon area of Seoul, I was with some lifelong Dodger fans who enjoyed having a beer and making friendly wagers with Padres fans at a neighboring table. These are the kinds of things one can’t usually do here as the teams play in our morning time.

  1. Korean Players Getting a Chance to Shine

Former Kiwoom Hero Ha-Seong Kim was one of the main storylines of the games. Though he didn’t get a hit in the regular season matches, he had a big multi-home run game in the Padres 5-4 exhibition game win over the LG Twins. 

Perhaps more thrilling than Kim’s homecoming was seeing KBO players getting their shot at MLB competition. Team Korea featured potential MLB prospects like reigning KBO Rookie of the Year Dong-Ju Moon, and Kiwoom second baseman Hye-Seong Kim. There were also the veteran KBO players on Kiwoom and LG who may have good stories to tell for years after going toe-to-toe with Betts, Machado and all the mega-stars. 

4. The Big Group Photos

The teams took a group pic after all four exhibition games. It was nice to see them all gather up like little league players as a reminder that this is just a fun game at the end of the day!

  1. The Wild Game Two

This one felt more like a classic KBO game. Back and forth with some errors and lots of hits! I don’t know if pitchers were just rusty in general, but even after Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s one inning debut, the runs kept coming for both sides.

And the dingers were glorious!

All in all the Seoul Series was a fun time. Perhaps see you next year in Tokyo?

Sam Dougherty is a guest writer for Bat Flips and Nerds. If you want to write for us, get in touch and pitch us an article!

Featured image – courtesy of MLB.

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