It’s like wearing a crown of thorns without salvation instead of a poisoned chalice. What is the path of the Lotte Giants, who are once again faced with a mid-season managerial change, and is the head of the giants a position that can bear the weight?
The Lotte Giants announced on August 28, “Manager Larry Sutton resigned on August 27 for health reasons after the KT game, and the club decided to respect and accept the will of Manager Sutton after deliberation.”메이저놀이터 The rest of the season will be played under the acting head coach Lee Jong-woon.
Lotte’s “cruel manager” is once again in the spotlight. Sutton was Lotte’s 17th manager, which means the average tenure in the 42 seasons of the KBO is 2.5 years.
Photo by Chun Jeong-hwan
Since former manager Jerry Royster left the organization in 2010 after three seasons, citing poor performance, Lotte managers have struggled to fill out their tenure.
There have been both internal and external issues, but overall, most of the resignations have been due to poor performance. Yang Seung-ho led Lotte to a second-place regular season finish in 2011 and a postseason appearance the following year. However, he was dismissed after a scandal involving school admissions when he was head coach at Korea University. Kim Si-jin took the helm of Lotte in 2013, but resigned after two years due to poor performance.
Lee Jong-woon, who became the new Lotte coach in Royster’s absence, signed a three-year contract with Lotte in 2015, but was sacked after just one season when the team finished eighth in its first year. Cho Won-woo, the previous Lotte manager who received the baton, also finished eighth in 2016, but rebounded to finish third in the 2017 regular season. However, their upset loss to the NC Dinos in the semi-finals was heartbreaking. Cho Won-woo signed a three-year contract after the season, but was fired after the team finished seventh in 2018.
Photo by Kim Jae-hyun
In 2019, Yang Sang-moon made a comeback as the head coach of Lotte, taking the helm for the first time since 2004-2005, but he was fired without completing a full season as the team fell to the bottom of the standings in the first half.
He signed a three-year contract after the end of the season, but after finishing seventh in the 2020 season, he was sacked in mid-May 2021 after finishing last. Sutton took over the reins after Heo stepped down.
Sutton’s time at the helm did not meet expectations. After the 2021 season, Sutton was guaranteed a one-year contract extension through 2023, but the team failed to qualify for the PS for the second consecutive season, finishing seventh in 2021 and eighth in 2022. This season, the team showed such a good pace that they were called “top dogs” as they climbed to the top of the standings at the beginning of the season, but gradually slipped down the standings after their winning percentage was less than 4% in June (0.360) and July (0.294).
Under Sutton’s leadership, Lotte finally seemed to find their groove in August, winning four straight to start the month, but a recent seven-game losing streak has been painful. It’s still too early to write off the season, but they’re now five games behind fifth-place KIA. The pace of the competition is also good, with the fourth-place NC Dinos winning three in a row and the fifth-place KIA winning four in a row.
In the end, Lotte’s 17th coach, Sutton, who was unable to take charge of the game due to health reasons on the 27th, announced his intention to resign directly to the club’s leadership in the middle of the night, and stepped down in disgrace without completing his term.
Photo by MK Sports DB
Previous Lotte managers have been criticized for insisting on “pure blood” from the club and the region. At the same time, they were criticized for drifting without a philosophy after Royster’s “no peer” baseball. The ambitious revival of the foreign-manager system in Royster’s memory has been met with the same fate as other KBO clubs.
Currently, Lotte is already rumored to be looking for a new manager. However, according to a source familiar with Lotte’s situation, the club is currently focused on finishing the season with Lee Jong-woon as acting manager. It is natural to prepare for the next system, but no specific appointment has been made yet.
It’s too early to talk about giving up on the season, and it’s not a good sign for Lotte’s chances of completing the remainder of the 2023 season. The more easily Lotte’s manager and baseball are commented on, the more pressure is placed on its members.
The crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ is a Christian holy relic that symbolizes penance and suffering. Those who want the crown must bear its weight, but the Lotte managerial position seems to be more than drinking from a poisoned chalice, it’s like leading a team through constant penance to a salvation that could come at any moment.
Lee Jong-woon, Lotte’s new acting head coach, in 2014. Photo by Chun Jeong-hwan