A couple weeks ago, I had the strange experience of attending a Korean baseball game. The differences far outweighed the similarities to MLB, and it was really interesting to compare.
1) The teams are named after corporate sponsors, not the city in which they play.
Much like Little League teams, Korean baseball teams are named for the company that sponsors them. Lotte is a huge megastore in Korea, and the corporate sponsor for Busan’s team, the Lotte Giants. Among some of the other teams in the league: Samsung Lions, LG Twins, and Kia Tigers.
2) You can bring literally anything into the stadium with you.
Have you ever tried to sneak anything into an MLB game? Considering they frisk every single person, and examine every single bag, there is little chance of sneaking food and drink into a game. At Korean baseball games, you’re encouraged to bring concessions into the stadium. They sell everything from pizza to fried chicken to dried squid outside the doors, and anything goes. We decided jugs of beer and whole pizzas would be appropriate:
Additionally, ticket prices are much lower. We paid 7,000 won for our tickets (the cheap seats), which is equivalent to about $6.29. The stadium is much smaller (closer to that of a minor league team’s at home) so there are really no bad seats. It makes going to a game infinitely more affordable.
3) This is the view:
4) There are some trade-offs…namely, the teams suck-suck-suckity-suck-suck.
Watching professional baseball in Korea is akin to watching a AA or AAA game at home. Any of these teams would lose to the worst team in the MLB, and this does not always make for the most compelling game to watch. Home runs, for example, are few and far between, as are amazing catches/plays. It’s all pretty straightforward and a little boring to watch, even for a baseball lover.
5) The fans are what keep it interesting.
Korean fans looooove their teams. The pomp and circumstance surrounding the game is the funniest part of all. There are cheerleaders who do wardrobe changes in between innings, with a head male cheerleader organizing the chants and cheers. The fans have different chants for every (major) player, and never stop cheering. I, however, made the mistake of booing the opposing team (a common practice in games at home; Mets fans will even boo their own players sometimes). I should have known that in Korea, you should never do something so impolite. I quickly got with the program and only threw out positive feedback for the rest of the game.
All in all, it was more like being at a Renegades games than a Mets game, but we still had a great time. Hey, any baseball game that’s BYOB and BYOPizza is fine by me!