As the playoffs and award season gets underway, we want to take a gander at some players who had outstanding seasons in 2009 but whose teams ended up just shy of making the postseason and who will (most likely) not pick up any fancy trophies. Quite a consolation prize: a round of golf and a write-up on a low circulation sports blog.
Kris Liakos is sexy and you should either mail him some money or some port wine. He writes for Walkoff Walk whenever he can snatch some square's computer while their back is turned.
Talking about an athlete's contract year is well worn territory. A guy is about to become a free agent and every at bat/shot/reception is accompanied by the sound of a slot machine unloading. There's nothing extraordinary about it, and despite what most old dudes would have you believe, there's nothing nefarious about it, either. It's human nature to perform with more focus when there's an incentive. But what about when the opposite happens?
What if no matter what a guy did this year, his country was gonna pull the conscription card and pluck him out of his career in the to join the military? In South Korea. Well that's what Shin Soo Choo could be dealing with next year, but had to start answering questions about this Spring.
Choo responded by being the brightest spot in a dismal Indians season, and (with apologies to Chan Ho Park in 2000) turning in the best MLB season by any South Korean in history.
Dude banged out 20 HRs and waltzed to a .394 OBP despite striking out 151 times. A K will not break your back, so let's be clear. He was the ONLY Indian with at least 20 HR and his 285 total bases were almost 60 more than the team runner up, Asdrubal Cabrera. Where would the Indians have been had Shin Soo Choo been taking target practice at a picture of fuckin' Kim-Jong Il? Somewhere worse than their 65-97 record, I'll tell you that much.
Word on the street is that Choo may avoid conscription and be able to stay here in the states. That's good news for him, and good news for the Indians who seem to be lacking any coherent plan for the future. Maybe they can convince the South Koreans to take Jake Westbrook. Just don't count on him to throw any grenades.