The Goyang Wonders Bite the Dust
Who are the Goyang Wonders, you may well ask. They are, or were, an independent minor league team in South Korea. For the last three seasons, they existed on the fringe of the KBO’s Futures (minor) League, playing a full season of “friendly” (they didn’t count in the standings) games against Futures League teams, but the KBO would never fully incorporate the Wonders into the Futures League, which eventually led to the team’s demise.
Frankly, I think the KBO’s failure to allow the Goyang Wonders to become a full-fledged member of the Futures League was just stupid. The team provided a valuable function in that it created the opportunity for undrafted players and players who had been released by KBO organizations to get another chance at establishing themselves as professional baseball players.
With each KBO organization having only one minor league team and no independent professional leagues, there was certainly a need for the Wonders. In fact, more than 20 Wonders players made it back into the KBO in its short history, including three players currently playing in the Championship League, the KBO’s major league.
Further, the Wonders were competitive, winning well more than half of their eighty “friendly” matches with Futures League teams this past season.
The Wonders were largely the product of Hur Min, a South Korean billionaire who owned and funded the team and even pitched occasionally (he throws a knuckle-ball). However, he apparently got tired of the costs involved in light of the fact that the KBO simply refused to commit to any kind of regular schedule between the Wonders and Futures League teams around which the Wonders could develop a sustaining fan base.
The KBO’s refusal to incorporate the Wonders is short sighted, and South Korean baseball will be just a little bit poorer without them.