A new Verb - To Jokbal - The Team Jokbal Way
We had just been told to shut up and sit down by some Samsung fans annoyed by Marcus and George waving their Doosan Bears flag after another home run went against the Lions. It wasn't an aggressive warning but just a fair enough comment given that we were behind enemy lines. Out from the group that was seemingly displeased with us stepped a foreigner in a Samsung jersey. It turns out, he is a real nice guy. He was as curious as everybody tends to be about our strange outfits and rowdy behavior. Long story short, he was keen to help us. He wanted to be "Samsung Jokbal". Meet Rodney Hambel. Who it turned out had met Samsung legend Lee Seung Yeop earlier in the day. Rodney donated the gift that he got from the superstar and has since offered to help us in any way that he can. It seems a fitting time to answer the burning question.
"How do I Jokbal?"
So often people ask us "How do you Jokbal?" or "How can I Jokbal?" So I thought that I would enlighten you about the weird world of Team Jokbal by guiding you through our final long-haul trip of the season as we went to Daegu to meet with Samsung Lions' Darin Ruf, formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies.
The process usually involves contacting players online and then meeting up in Seoul for an in-person verification of us not being either a 15year old kid in a PC room or a 32 year old Korean female deluded into thinking she can marry a baseball player. Then we usually head to the players' home stadium and stand/sit in a parking lot waiting for the players to arrive. Simple. In fact, we now have a verb for the whole process: to jokbal or be jokbaling
This meeting was possibly our most straightforward jokbaling experience to date but it wasn't without its' own frustrations.
A change to the team jokbal routine
Samsung Lions Park is a nice new stadium. But it has kind of been built in farm land. It has a subway station and concession stands in the stadium but really nothing else. Usually, when we go jokbaling, the parking lot is busy with autograph hunters, stalkers and super fans. But this place was a ghost town! Nobody! I guess that is nice for the players but it was an ominous sign for Team Jokbal.
Firstly, fans had given up trying. These seems to be because the players enter in an underground VIP parking lot with no access allowed. So very little hope for folks to meet their heroes. This is also coupled with some over zealous security that seemed like it had been borrowed from Pyeongyang. This was the first stadium that presented this problem. Luckily, I had been in contact with Darin and I was sure that he would meet us and keep his promise.
Secondly, regular readers of the Team Jokbal Blog will know that we usually enjoy some beer while jokbaling. Sadly, with nothing around the stadium and nothing open in the stadium, we had no chance of refreshment. It would be our first stone cold sober jokbaling experience.
Darin Ruf - An Efficient Jokbal!
Darin Ruf was easy to deal with from the start. He read about us on instagram, he knew what I was talking about when I first met him and he was well prepared for us when he arrived at the stadium. All of the players have had good intentions over the year but they are busy guys who get asked a lot of things. We understand when we have to wait several hours because the coach has called a team meeting or the player has visiting family or needs treatment on a newly acquired injury. We are patient. It is part of jokbaling. We are usually happy to wait. We usually just grab a few beers, but in Daegu that wasn't looking possible.
Security had tried to move us on several times. We had been chased around Lions park with varying levels of friendliness. But we had been told that Darin "Walks to the stadium and goes in by the ticket box." To be honest, it was a tip that we were suspicious of. However, after about an hour, Darin showed up in exactly that spot. Thank God! This seemed like it was going to be a fast encounter.
Darin told me that he would return in 20 minutes. Sometimes these 20 minutes have turned into 2 or 3 hours due to factors beyond the players' control. But bang on 20 minutes later, Darin returned with an armful of goodies. He had also spoken with teammate Zach Petrick, formerly of the Cardinals in MLB. Zach also gave what he could and also seemed to be a good guy. Both players gave boots and hats. Ruf also added one of his bats and a pair of batting gloves.
Thanks to both guys! Two good new Jokbals for Team Jokbal!
The Team Jokbal Stadium Verdict
Samsung Lions' Park is a newer stadium. In fact it was only opened last season and for the most part Team Jokbal enjoys trips there. This time we treated ourselves to "Pub Zone" seats. For $15 you get a game ticket that comes with a free craft beer. The beers are about $5 at the bar so it works out as a $10 ticket. What makes the deal even sweeter, is that you get a $10 voucher to spend at the pub for each home run that is hit into the "pub zone". Guess what happened! Yep, it happened. We got our vouchers so essentially our tickets were free. The beer is decent but nothing special.
We were happy with our seats and the entertaining pitching shitfest of a game but we weren't happy about the pub food.
Usually at other stadiums, we just wonder into the local area and grab dinner but because this stadium is in the middle of nowhere and because we had our pub vouchers, we were forced to eat in the stadium. Our advice is to basically avoid the stadium pub. I had a cheese-steak in a soggy hot dog bun with 5grams of meat while George and Mark were told that there were no sausages for hot-dogs and were forced to order a "pizza" that came without a base or bread. The french fries were under cooked on all orders too.
A good Day for Team jokbal overall
So overall it was a great day. Lots of good new things for our charity auction thanks to Darin Ruf and Zach Petrick. Some excellent game seats and an entertaining game. We also made some new friends and may soon be able to tell you about a new team member! Just bring your own beer if you want to do some jokbaling and don't eat in the D First Pub!
Thank you for reading and hope that you can spread the word of the work and adventures of Team Jokbal and how we are trying to help disadvantaged kids.
more about Darin Ruf
New Team Jokbal player Darin Ruf has been in excellent form this season for Samsung Lions despite a difficult start. Here are some of his highlights.
Darin Ruf Phillies
A group of guys enjoying the KBO and raising money for orphanages.