Nobody, nobody but Choo
It was South Korea’s answer to Babe Ruth meeting South Korea’s answer to the Spice Girls.
This was, by Korean standards, a major meeting that took place in front of the Indians’ dugout Sunday morning at Progressive Field, when Shin-Soo Choo met the Wonder Girls, the girl group whose smash hit single, “Nobody,” sounds suspiciously like an homage to the Tribe’s right fielder (“I want nobody, nobody but Choo!”)
Here in the States, Choo is still an up-and-coming outfielder proving himself in his first full Major League season. And the Wonder Girls are opening acts for the Jonas Brothers on their world tour, which recently stopped next door at the Quicken Loans Arena.
But in Korea, Choo and the Wonder Girls are sensations.
“What just happened here,” said Tribe bullpen catcher Dave Wallace, “is going to be on the front page of every paper and in all the magazines in Korea.”
It was Wallace who bailed Choo out when the Wonder Girls asked Choo to dance with them for some publicity photos (credit for this one goes to Dan Mendlik of the Indians).
“I’m not a good dancer,” Choo said.
So in stepped Wallace to show Choo the “Nobody” dance.
“That was the highlight of my year,” Wallace joked.
A red-eyed Choo was battling jet lag after returning to Cleveland late Saturday from a quick trip to his home near Phoenix for the birth of his second son, Aiden. So he probably wasn’t in much of a dancing mood.
But Choo, who was in Sunday’s starting lineup, seemed relieved after meeting the Wonder Girls, who gave him a hat, a T-shirt and a CD.
“I was nervous,” Choo admitted. “Playing the game will be easier [by comparison].”
Choo will play his game and the Wonder Girls will sing their songs (they were set to perform at the Taste of Cleveland later Sunday) with pride in their native land.
“They told me, ‘Don’t give up, show everybody we are Korean,’” Choo said. “When I play good, everybody sees and says, ‘Where is he from?’ And when they sing, everybody sees and says, ‘Where are they from?’ We’re from Korea.”
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- The CastroTurf Commenters (who are nearly as popular in Korea as the Wonder Girls) seem, by and large, to fall in line with those who believe Grady Sizemore should have been shut down sooner. And I certainly think the concern that a guy playing through those injuries could be opening himself up to further damage or a longer rehab by playing every day is a valid one.
- But I also think that this issue wouldn’t be getting nearly as much attention if Sizemore wasn’t the one involved. Kelly Shoppach, for instance, played last season with a bum knee that required arthroscopic surgery at season’s end, and no one paid it any mind. Of more precise comparison is Travis Hafner’s elbow issue that hampered him throughout the 2004 season. Pronk had surgery at season’s end to remove bone spurs and loose bodies from the elbow joint. He recovered in plenty of time to post one of his finest seasons in 2005.
- My point is that players gut it out through pain all the time — often unbeknownst to us — and perhaps a professional team of doctors and trainers has a better feel for this kind of thing than the rest of us do.
- If anything, fans’ concerns should be pointed toward Sizemore, who waited more than two months to tell the training staff he was dealing with the elbow issue.
- CF Michael Brantley is off to a nice start — a five-game hitting streak to open his Major League career. He’s batting .368 (7-for-19) with an RBIs, two runs and a steal.
- On the other end of the spectrum, Chris Gimenez, who gets a rare start behind the plate today, is 2-for-39 and 1-for-23. Also of note: Hafner is 2-for-17 with a homer, Matt LaPorta is 2-for-20, Andy Marte is 1-for-16 with a homer and Luis Valbuena is 2-for-19.
- Joe Mauer has hit safely in all 11 games against the Indians this year. He’s batting .512 (22-for-43) with three doubles, four homers, 12 RBIs and eight runs scored. If you go back to last year, he has a 14-game hitting streak against the Tribe.
- Jason Kubel also kills this team. He is batting .404 (19-for-47) with six walks, four doubles, six homers, 15 RBIs and nine runs scored against the Tribe.
- The two things I’ve heard most in and around the ballpark the last few hours are: “Did you hear the Wonder Girls are here?” and “Who are the Wonder Girls?”
- Finally, it needs to be said: I love that Shin-Soo and Woon Mi Choo have named their sons Alan and Aiden. They must be embracing their Gaelic side. Aiden, for the record, was born at 12:38 p.m. Saturday and weighed in at 8 pounds, 3 ounces.
UPDATE: I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble, but not only do the Wonder Girls lip synch, but they use not one, but two fake microphones. They wear the McDonald’s drivethru-style mic headset, and they have microphone stands in front of them. Talk about overkill.