Unlike MLB in the United States, the Korean Baseball Organization does not release many statistics to the public, the Delian reports. As the article makes clear they prefer that people have to pay for that info — and I’ve heard that they charge some $20,000. Fans are apparently taking the matter into their own hands.

The best way to enjoy baseball is to play it, but the best way to enjoy watching baseball is to use statistics. Statistics help make baseball more interesting.

Which pitcher holds up best with the bases loaded, which pitcher is toughest against lefthanded batters, which batter hits side-armers the best — you can enjoy the game without knowing all this. But your interest in the game will vastly increase if you understand why the manager puts which player in in which situation.

Baseball isn’t a sport like soccer, basketball, or volleyball where players get covered in sweat and are always in tense situations. When one play finishes, the next begins with a clean slate.

That short time between plays to catch your breath makes the game more interesting and greatly increases fans’ suspense. People might feel like they’re on a high-speed rollercoaster, but in fact it’s when you slowly ascend the hill that you feel the most suspense.

At these repeated calms, the fans turn to the manager. They think, “in this situation he has to use this tactic, he has to put this player in”. And what’s on the fans’ minds at that moment is the statistics of that situation and player.

This massive amount of compiled information isn’t just for the managers and players, but is an important tool for fans too. It makes fans into baseball experts. It’s one way to increase their enjoyment of the game a hundred-fold.

Korea Baseball Organization fans can pick up statistics from the KBO’s homepage or from the websites of the various teams. But they can only get limited data, not high-level data. There is clearly more than there was before, but is not good enough to slake the thirst of baseball fans.

At the KBO’s statistics room, you can’t learn how Yang Jun-hyeok does against left-handed hitters, or why Ryu Taek-hyeon is a “left-handed hitting specialist”. Worse, you can’t even find the results from the first-ever 1982 Korea Series.

It’s not that the KBO doesn’t recognize the importance of this data. The KBO posseses this information but doesn’t release it to fans. When you think about the importance of statistics in baseball, it’s clear that the KBO is making a mistake.

Websites with contracts to receive KBO statistics are not allowed to release them to the public. They charge fees for the data so as to generate profits, but if you’re not the media or in baseball you can’t get near it. It seems KBO statistics are to be treated as if they were some kind of national secret. This is a considerable contrast to how MLB makes statistics freely available to fans.

In September 2006 secretary Ha Il-seong went on the TV show “KBS스카이 방송예술원 스포츠학부 특강” and recognized the problem of poor management causing fans to become angry, and said that next year the KBO homepage would be re-done for the fans. But so far little has changed.

How can fans slake their thirst for stats? Amazingly, some fans have started creating statistics themselves. Baseball fans have voluntarily gotten together, created statistics, and made them open to the public.

I-stat (www.istat.co.kr) and Inning (http://www.inning.co.kr) have compiled statistics on the mammoth subject of pro baseball and made them available to fans.

Their data is so meticulous and refined that it even lets you know how well a pitcher does with certain umpires at the plate. The man who runs the statistics room at Inning under the nickname “Numbers Wizard” (수의마법) said, “we want expert, detailed statistics to satisfy fans. Our statistics room has not been open for long and is still inadequate, but once the season begins there will be much more information made available.” Fans are doing the work that the KBO should be.

The KBO can’t manufacture Major League-quality stadiums, but it does have the ability to attract fans with Major League-quality statistics. That is one small reward the KBO could give to its fans, who saved Hyundai by keeping baseball passion alive through a cold winter.

Anybody interested in Korean baseball should do themselves the favor, if they haven’t already, of checking out the East Windup Chronicle and the KBO discussion forum.