Presumably, you’re just now waking up after a sleepless night of watching Karl Ravech call Korean baseball into the wee hours of the morning. Your internal clock should — and will — adjust rapidly, as this is the only dose of live sports you’re going to get for the foreseeable future unless you wish to take up horse racing and NASCAR (which, according to this writer, are both Very Good).
However, the odds are pretty high that you’ve never watched the KBO before; so you, like countless Americans starved for escapist entertainment, are in need of a team on which to pin your hopes and dreams as well as ire and frustration.
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a handy guide that allows you to base your KBO rooting interest on which mid-major team you’re a fan of. Under each KBO team’s description is a list of teams that also applies to. Obviously it’s not exhaustive because we cover like 200 teams, but you’re smart people (you’re reading this website). Figure it out where you fit based on the description (or just tweet us @Mid_Madness and we’ll tell you). Either way, go check it out, and buy some Lotte Giants merch or something.
The mid-major teams matching up with the Bears are the cream of the crop. The best of the best. Each year, they’re at the top of their game, running through their conferences with relative ease, dispatching weaker foes and bringing home beaucoup hardware. Most comparisons stem from that dominant success as well as Doosan’s status as one of the most “well-run organizations in the KBO.” Couple that consistency with high fan support, and it’s easy to see which teams stand above all others.
Mid-major comparisons: Dayton, Iona, New Mexico State, SFA, Murray State, NC Central, Gonzaga (okay they aren’t a mid-major obviously, but they’re going on here because they are absolutely like the Doosan Bears)
Every bit of research tells me that this team is a lot like the Chicago Cubs — an abundance of losing throughout time but plenty of passionate fan support to pair with it. The mid-major level has plenty of “lovable losers,” but it’s a rarity when a consistently 14-18 Big South team is able to pack the gym every night. This is a team to root for if you want that first big taste of victory to be extra sweet.
Mid-major comparisons: Illinois State, Wyoming, Fordham (their fans aren’t that passionate, but “lovable loser” defines them better than any mid-major team on the planet), basically everyone in the Never Made the Tournament Club
Described by some as the KBO’s version of the New York Yankees, this is a team that has tons of lofty history behind its name, but it hasn’t been able to show too much for itself in the immediate present. Only a handful of mid-major teams have gotten to the point where they became a national power, and a good amount of said teams have fallen off in the time since. Yet, there remains promise with them, as the power of the Brand™ always comes through.
Mid-major comparisons: UNLV, VCU, Loyola University Chicago
Viewed as the aggressive rebels of the KBO, it’s pretty easy to gather which mid-majors match up best with the Heroes. After all, this is a team that shirks the norms of the game in order to deliver a product that is show-stopping and a bold contrast to the way that basically every other team conducts its business. Because of this strategy, as well as off-field issues such as owner-involved embezzlement, the Heroes have been viewed with a far more critical eye than other KBO counterparts. Essentially, if people joke about your team’s coach dropping the bag or for any other embarrassing thing they might’ve done, you’re a Kiwoom Heroes fan now.
Mid-major comparisons: Grand Canyon, WKU, Liberty
This is a team short on history and player experience but big on excitement. Fortunately, the mid-major game is quick to provide plenty of teams that fill this mold every single year, as the emergence of a star or two is always able to boost select teams from the sport’s doldrums to its apex. We are constantly given dozens of teams that are able to come out of nowhere every year and surprise us before potentially falling back into irrelevance. Nonetheless, what the teams that match up here lack in prestige, they make up for in promise.
Mid-major comparisons: Marshall, Merrimack, UMBC
This is essentially the otherwise successful team that just can never win the big one. You already know what joke we’re gonna make so I’m just gonna cut this one short.
Mid-major comparisons: Villanova
This franchise spends the equivalent of a cargo ship filled to the brim with money, it possesses significant historical success, it has a home stadium that is apparently worshipped by fans, and it still can’t seem to actually amount to any level of legitimate competitiveness. That sounds exactly like every Ivy League school with a multi-billion dollar endowment that only has national championship trophies from back when Prussia still existed. But at least they play in the Palestra!
Mid-major comparisons: Any Ivy League school
This team has only existed for seven years, but it has managed to make quite a name for itself in that extremely minuscule span of time. This inexplicable level of success is a wonderful twin of those very few mid-major teams that are actually able to make the jump to Division I and hit the ground running instead of spinning its wheels for years or even decades before mustering a team that can compete in whichever one-bid league it is a member of.
Mid-major comparisons: Northern Kentucky, Florida Gulf Coast, Cal Baptist
While they might have been able to command respect in years past, the Samsung Lions are a far cry from their title-engulfed salad days. While they aren’t a complete mess, it’s very evident that they aren’t what they once were, and that’s a frightful analogue for any mid-major team that wishes to maintain the relevance that often becomes too scarce too quick. Indeed, the Lions are much like those mid-major teams that once captured our attention but have since fallen to the wayside due to mismanagement and the emergence of bigger, better programs.
Mid-major comparisons: Southern Illinois, George Mason, UMass
The finish to last season was a master class by SK Wyverns in how to choke away a commanding lead in the standings, making them a relative of every mid-major team that loves to either defy expectations in the worst ways or come up just short after a season of triumph. Thus, if you’re a fan of a team that computers love but big moments don’t, these are your guys.
Mid-major comparisons: Northern Iowa (see: this year’s Drake loss), Davidson, San Francisco (when are they ever going to finish the job against Gonzaga?)