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Korea wins Asian Games, Choo exempt from military service?

Nov 19, 2010, 9:23 AM EDT

16th Asian Games - Day 7: Baseball Getty Images

Good news for Indians fans.

According to Jordan Bastian, MLB.com’s new Indians beat writer, South Korea defeated Taiwan 9-3 on Friday in the final of the Asian Games.  Tribe outfielder Shin-Soo Choo should now be exempt from Korea’s required two-year military service.

Choo batted .300/.401/.484 with 22 home runs, 90 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 144 games for the Indians in 2010 and he hit .300/.394/.489 with 20 homers, 86 RBI and 20 steals the year before.  With Grady Sizemore hurt, he’s probably been Cleveland’s most valuable position player over the last two seasons.

Had Korea not won, Choo might have tried to become a United States citizen in order to avoid the military stint.  But that certainly wouldn’t have gone over well in his home country and it’s far more fun that he beat the odds in a Hollywood-esque “play for your freedom” type of challenge.

Updates were hard to come by throughout the Asian Games, but we do know that Choo went 6-for-10 with three home runs and nine RBI over the first four games of the tournament.

The Indians, if so inclined, can now feel comfortable about discussing a contract extension with the 28-year-old.  He is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason.

UPDATE: Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says Choo drove in two runs in the championship game.  Can the story get any better?

  1. Lukehart80 - Nov 19, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    As an Indians’ fan, this is likely to be the biggest victory I get to celebrate for quite some time…

  2. Jonny 5 - Nov 19, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    Too cool. So when’s Cleveland going to trade him?

  3. fuggles7 - Nov 19, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    Of course now Indian fans will be subject to Bastian as well.. now if we could only get rid of Elliot and get a few GOOD baseball writers to cover the Jays.

  4. proudlycanadian - Nov 19, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    So Bastien has now been demoted and has to cover the Indians rather than the Jays! It would be nice if the Toronto Sun got rid of Elliot as often makes stuff up, but I suspect that we will be stuck with him. I do not read the Sun, but sometimes, Elliot’s dumbest stories are picked up on US sites such as this one.

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 19, 2010 at 10:16 AM

      It looks as if “Gregor Chisholm” is now covering the Jays on MLB.com.

  5. Utley's Hair - Nov 19, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    2010: .300/.401/.484 with 22 home runs, 90 RBI and 22 stolen bases
    2009: .300/.394/.489 with 20 homers, 86 RBI and 20 steals

    How about some damn consistency?

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Nov 19, 2010 at 10:16 AM

      Another reason I love baseball: cool statistical anomalies. Although, for Choo, I’m guessing this is hardly an anomaly.

      • proudlycanadian - Nov 19, 2010 at 10:17 AM

        The consistency is impressive. I hope that it does not mean that he has reached his ceiling.

      • hackerjay - Nov 19, 2010 at 11:24 AM

        That’s a pretty darn good ceiling if it is his. Throw in his great fielding, and he’s easily one of the five best outfielders in the AL.

  6. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Nov 19, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    Fightin’ for freedom. Seems pretty American to me! We should make him a citizen just for being so awesome.

  7. BC - Nov 19, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    Makes me think of that Stallone movie, “Victory”…

    • Utley's Hair - Nov 19, 2010 at 10:22 AM

      Wait…that guy made movies other than Rocky?

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Nov 19, 2010 at 10:30 AM

        DUDE! Demolition Man! Murder death kill!

      • BC - Nov 19, 2010 at 10:33 AM

        “Tango and Cash” was a vastly underrated movie, as was “Cobra”.

      • Utley's Hair - Nov 19, 2010 at 10:49 AM

        Rambo vs. Terminator

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 19, 2010 at 11:07 AM

      Victory was amazing[ly hilarious]. Michael Caine as a [terrible] soccer player, Stallone as an even worse one. Pele in his glory, beating the Nazis, cliche’s abound. And the stupidity of not escaping a war camp to continue a soccer game….

      • Utley's Hair - Nov 19, 2010 at 11:16 AM

        It was a pivotal point in history when the Brazilians cast off the oppression of the Nazis.

  8. The Baseball Idiot - Nov 19, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    Has anyone bothered to ask Choo’s fellow countrymen what they think of this? You know, the guys that have to give two years of thier lives or go to jail because their country is still in a state of war with an aggressive neighbor who has repeatedly vowed to crush and enslave them.

    Have you ever wondered what the guys living 50 to a hall, sleeping on wooden slabs, eating less food than they would get at home, and getting paid about $50 a month, while undergoing corporal punishment for the slightest offense actually think of this? Bet they’re having a lot of fun getting shot at up in the DMZ every day.

    • Reflex - Nov 19, 2010 at 4:21 PM

      Hey, if they’d lost and he didn’t get the exemption, then he’d gone and abandoned his country rather than serve, I would be right there with you. But the fact is that this is well established, its full of precedent, and he took a gamble by not serving right away at 18 and hoping he could earn this exemption and the gamble paid off.

      I’ve been on this issue from the beginning, because I feel many americans do not understand what its like to have a truly hostile neighbor on our borders and as such see something like this as akin to the draft during Vietnam. But at the same time, taking advantage of a loophole specificially designed by the government for these situations, one with a high chance of failure, does not bother me at all.

      And don’t overstate it. They don’t get shot at in the DMZ every day. Incidents between the Koreas are far more likely at sea than in the DMZ.

  9. The Baseball Idiot - Nov 19, 2010 at 4:58 PM

    “And don’t overstate it. They don’t get shot at in the DMZ every day. Incidents between the Koreas are far more likely at sea than in the DMZ”

    Time changes everything, but when I was there 15 years ago, it was pretty much a free-fire zone. That’s my experience. Lots of ‘training accidents’.

    It might be safer now than it was, but those bullet throwers they carry get a lot of use. Way more than the public ever hears.

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