If the KT Wiz are a team of destiny, as at least three dozen American fans have hoped, they'll fulfill it by taking a circuitous route. Down 2-0 to the Doosan Bears in a best-of-five series after yet another punchless showing at the plate, things look especially bleak. The perennial power seems destined for yet another date in the Korean Series while the plucky upstarts seem destined for the offseason and any of Suwon's finest golf courses.
In the eternal argument of rust vs. rest, oxidation is currently winning. KBO's unique playoff structure rewards regular-season excellence with byes. But the other side of that is the possibility sluggishness will have those teams waving bye-bye to title aspirations. KT, which overcame a slow start to earn the No. 2 seed, waited over a week for an opponent. In that time, red-hot bats suffered an autumnal chill.
And yes, at least three people are wondering aloud while reading this. When is this blogger going to address the real elephant in the room: Lee Kang-chul's perplexing managerial decisions. The answer? Right now.
Shuffling the lineup like a kid playing Boggle boggles the mind. Changing up the leadoff position sends the wrong message. It looks panicky and gimmicky and it certainly hasn't worked out. Nor did the perplexing decision to go against the percentages by using reliever William Cuevas in Game 1 — a choice that didn't make sense in real time and proved misguided.
But strategy is not primarily responsible for the quick sprint to the edge of the cliff. The global truth is that scoring three runs in 18 innings is simply not a recipe for success. Sure, the Atlanta Braves could have gotten away with it for an extended period last month. Yet even that proved to be an unsustainable situation.
Give credit where it's due. The Bears' arms have exercised their rights. Chris Flexen posted 11 punchouts in 7.2 innings of work to become the first player in league history with back-to-back double-digit strikeout games in league history. Today, the bullpen strung together 6.1 innings of shutout ball. Rallies have been few and far between and they've managed to find a way to face future MVP Mel Rojas Jr. with bases empty almost every time. Case in point: a solo homer represented the Wiz's only run in Game 2.
In short, there's been precious little evidence presented that KT can go full Dodgers and win three straight. Perhaps the only glimmer of hope is a day off tomorrow and the potential that Doosan will catch whatever rest-induced sickness that's befallen the Wiz.
If this all sounds like grasping at straws, well, it should. Getting worked up about a baseball game at 5 a.m. may, in fact, not be conducive to one's health.