The Kiwoom Heroes suffered a shocking franchise-record ninth straight loss in 5196 days. The team has been crumbling since Lee Jung-hoo (24) was suspended with a 1-to-1 win ratio. It’s time to find a survival mantra.
Kiwoom lost its regular-season home game against the Lotte Giants of the 2023 KBO Baseball League 1-3 at Gocheok Sky Dome on Aug. 8. With the loss, Kiwoom fell into a nine-game losing streak, the longest of the season since July 29 against Samsung Electronics in Gocheok.
By extending their losing streak to nine games, Kiwoom set a new franchise record. He tied the record for the longest losing streak in Heroes franchise history in 2009. In terms of days, it was the longest losing streak since the first game of the LG doubleheader on May 17, 2009, which took 5,196 days.
Kiwoom finished the season with 41 wins, three draws and 57 losses for a winning percentage of 0.414 and narrowly avoided falling to the bottom of the table when the last-place Samsung Lions lost on the same day. However, the team’s mood and flow seem to have subsided to the point where it’s hard to find hope right now.
First and foremost, the absence of Lee Jung-hoo, who was the centerpiece of the team, is a huge void. In fact, Kiwoom has only won two, drawn one, and lost 11 of the 14 games they’ve played since Lee’s departure on the 23rd of last month, giving them a win percentage of just 0.154. Kiwoom is the only team in the league that hasn’t won a single game in August.
On August 8, Kiwoom was in desperate need of a fixer, the role Lee Jung-hoo played before his injury. On the day, Kiwoom pounded out eight hits, not far behind Lotte’s 10, but went hitless in numerous scoring situations. The only run scored was a solo home run by Kim Hwijip with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Ki felt the absence of Kim even more acutely when she was hit by a foul ball during the game and had to be replaced. Luckily, Kim’s CT scan revealed a simple bruise, giving Kiwoom some much-needed relief, but for now, the team’s offense is at a low point that won’t be easily fixed even if Kim returns.
In the period since Lee’s departure, Kiwoom is actually last in the league with a team OPS of 0.633. They haven’t scored double-digit runs in any of their 14 games and have only scored five or more runs in five games. Furthermore, the mound, which has sustained Kiwoom through a difficult season since Lee’s departure, has suffered a double whammy as the team’s 5.53 ERA ranks last in the league.
Kiwoom’s current struggles are comparable to the team’s early years, when it struggled to find a name and official sponsor after its founding in 2008. In fact, in 2008, the Heroes finished seventh out of eight teams with a record of 50 wins, 76 losses, and a winning percentage of 0.397 in 126 games. Even in 2009, when the Heroes had no official sponsor and were outsourced by the KBO, they finished sixth with 60 wins, one draw, 72 losses, and a winning percentage of 0.451.
A simple comparison with Kiwoom’s current winning percentage of 0.414 shows that the team is performing better than in 2008 (0.397) but worse than in 2009 (0.451).
With the exception of 2022, when they finished second in the Korean Series as runners-up, Kiwoom has consistently finished in the upper-middle of the standings, making them a prominent dark horse in the KBO. Since the 2020s, the team hasn’t had a single season with a winning percentage below 5%, except for this year.
The darkest period in the Heroes’ history was 2010-2011. After two consecutive seasons with a win percentage in the low teens, the Heroes have been over 5 percent since 2013.
The 2017 season, with a .486 winning percentage, is about the only disappointing season baseball fans can recall. Unlike the Heroes, who have been invited to play in the Fall League every season and have maintained the appearance of a solid powerhouse team, this year they are having a disappointing season.
When asked by reporters about the circumstances surrounding the team’s eight-game losing streak before the 9th game, and the drop in the team’s winning percentage after Lee Jung-hoo’s departure, KIUM Heroes head coach Hong Won-ki spoke with a serious, almost somber expression.토토사이트
“In the end, I have to accept this,” he said, “if the team collapses so easily just because a certain player is missing, it means I didn’t prepare well. “In the end, if we want to become a stronger team with more team depth, we shouldn’t be able to collapse so easily just because one or two players are missing,” he said.
“We have to play without Lee Jung-hoo next season as well, and if we want to be a stronger team, I think we need to prepare better for that,” Hong said, emphasizing Kiwoom’s ability to stand upright without Lee Jung-hoo.
As hard as it may be for fans to swallow, the reality of parting ways with Lee Jung-hoo has become a reality, not a fantasy. And that reality came in the form of a colder-than-expected nine-game losing streak, a franchise record. It’s up to Team Heroes to resolve this ordeal and move on to a stronger team.