“Coach, save your face”
On the 12th, the players arrived at work ahead of the game against Samsung at SSG Landers Field in Incheon, and one event caused them to ‘bang’. Some players laughed out loud, while others shook their heads in disbelief. Technical coaches, club officials, and even the press had to laugh.메이저놀이터
All eyes turned to the SSG conditioning coaches. Before the game against Samsung on the 12th, the SSG conditioning coaches came out in muscleman T-shirts and wigs, drawing all eyes to them. The muscleman T-shirts were enough to create an optical illusion, and each coach had a slightly different design, causing laughter among the coaches over who was better. The Poggle wigs were equally striking, both in colour and design. They were the talk of the town before the game.
There was a reason why the coaches threw away their ‘dignity’ and dressed in ridiculous outfits. It was a way of saying, “Let’s have a laugh at least,” in the sweltering heat and with the team’s poor record in August. When it’s hot, the body is inevitably spread out, and the unpleasantness index increases, making you irritable at the slightest stimulus. In addition, SSG’s performance slumped in August due to a batting slump and a two-hit shutout. The gap between them and the top-ranked LG was widening, while the gap between them and the third-ranked teams such as KT, NC, and Dusan was narrowing.
As the smiles disappeared from the entire squad due to various circumstances, the coaches took the initiative. Last year, they wore Hawaiian shirts, but this year, they chose a more unconventional costume to upgrade their laughter. Once we had the costume, we realised that it was a bit bland, so we ordered a wig. Thanks to this, the athletes, who were physically and mentally exhausted, were able to laugh and joke with each other and sometimes tease the coaches, creating a pleasant atmosphere during training.
SSG Senior Conditioning Coach Park Chang-min said, “The conditioning department is in charge of treatment and training for the players, but as the game was not going as well as we thought in the second half of the season, we were thinking of ways to help the team atmosphere in addition to these main duties.” “We wanted to create a flexible team atmosphere through laughter, so we chose the muscleman shirt and wig event costumes. Fortunately, all the players responded with smiles from the start of the day, and we hope that this atmosphere will lead to good results.”
SSG recorded back-to-back wins on the 12th and 13th thanks to the ‘T-shirt effect’ ⓒSSG Rangers
Kim Kwang-hyun has been keeping the team afloat with his recent 20-inning, two-run performance ⓒSSG Landers
The players were well aware of the sentiment. “I’m grateful to the conditioning coaches for risking their embarrassment to do this,” said Park Jong-hoon, who wore a wig himself. It’s a good cause, and I hope our players will join in and continue the good vibes.” Seo Jin-yong, who also wore a wig, said, “I laughed at the coaches’ costumes as soon as I got to work today. I’m really grateful that I could start my day with a smile.” Thanks to them, SSG turned the tide with a dramatic last-second win against Samsung on the 12th.
With a big smile on their faces, the team is in the process of rediscovering their faith in each other. Last year, SSG achieved a feat unheard of in the KBO: a wire-to-wire victory. The intangible assets they accumulated along the way are significant, according to the team’s officials. It is the confidence that comes from the experience that ‘we can overcome the crisis’ and ‘we are the team that overcame such difficulties and won the championship, achieving the first feat in the history of the KBO League’.
However, since the team is in second place with a lower winning percentage than last year, the players themselves are starting to have doubts about themselves. That’s when the veterans step up to the plate. Choo Shin-soo, the most senior player and the one who has been spearheading the team’s offence lately, said after the win over Samsung on the 13th, “We had such a perfect season last year that we might not be used to the recent trend. The important thing is to believe in ourselves,” he said, adding, “It’s a normal part of a long season. We’ve been playing well up to this point. We just need to focus on winning today’s game instead of looking at the other teams and we’ll be fine.”
Smile, believe, and move on. With the veteran players hitting the ground running with a clear sense of what they need to do, SSG was able to take a breather last week with a three-game weekend sweep of Samsung.
It confirmed the health of the one-two punch of Kim Kwang-hyun and Kirk McCarty, as well as the stirrings of some underperforming mainstays like Hanyusum and Choi Ji-hoon. SSG head coach Kim Won-hyung is also drawing up a plan for the future, not only for the current squad, but also for the post-season training camp for young players. Six games may seem like a big difference, but if you believe in your hidden strength, you will always have a chance.
Han Yoo-seom is congratulated by his teammates after hitting the winning run against Samsung Electronics on the 12th ⓒSSG Landers