Dodgers Report: Shin-Soo Choo
July, 27, 2013
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- Saturday's game at Dodger Stadium was far from meaningless -- two good teams with something to play for easing into pennant races -- but hardly the crux of these teams' seasons. Those days will come in August and September, inside their divisions.
It was, however, a colossal sporting event for South Korea.
It was the first time Hyun-Jin Ryu ever faced Shin-Soo Choo.
And, make no mistake: Ryu felt it.
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsHyun-Jin Ryu admitted to more nerves than usual Saturday night as he faced countryman Shin-Soo Choo for the first time.
"I was definitely more nervous than before a normal start," Ryu said after dominating Choo and the Cincinnati Reds in a 4-1 win for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ryu was the Randy Johnson of the Korean major leagues before signing a six-year, $36 million deal to join the Dodgers in December. Choo was signed out of a Korean high school by the Seattle Mariners 13 years ago and established himself as a borderline star in Cleveland before being traded to the Reds last December.
The two men were friends and former teammates on the Korean World Baseball Classic team and they had dinner Thursday night. Who paid?
"The owner of the restaurant actually paid," Ryu said through an interpreter.
Not surprising given their star power back home. The Korean TV station MBC sent commentators for the first time since Ryu's U.S. debut and beamed the game live back home, where first pitch was at about 10 a.m. Sunday. The Dodgers credentialed 90 members of the Korean media and sold about 8,000 tickets just in Korean group sales.
And, yes, Psy was in the building.
"This is really big. Historical," said Jongwan Kwak, who works for the Daily Sports Chosun, a Korean sports newspaper. "Chan Ho Park faced Choo in the past, but both those players were not in their heyday at the time. This is two Korean players in their primes and it's viewed with a lot of patriotism."