Dave Roberts Enjoying South Korean Baseball Atmosphere In Gocheok Sky Dome

The Los Angeles Dodgers had their first taste of baseball in South Korea as they faced the Kiwoom Heroes in an exhibition game at the Gocheok Sky Dome that saw them come away with a 14-3 victory.

Prior to the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he expected the exhibition games to feel less like Spring Training and more like a real game, but part of that was due to their proximity to the regular season.

“I think they’re going to be more intense,” Roberts said. “I think certainly with the pitching and running out different relievers and the position players sort of piggybacking and mixing and matching, is one part of it.

“But we’re three days away from playing real Major League games to open our season, so there’s already a different vibe in our clubhouse. Guys are starting to hone their focus, which they have to.”

As the first game was played, Roberts’ expectations proved to be true, but there may have been even more of an influence from the crowd than he anticipated.

“The environment, atmosphere was great,” Roberts said after the Dodgers’ win. “A lot of energy. We’re not used to having cheerleaders during games, so that was exciting for everyone. It just seemed like everyone kept their energy up throughout the whole night.”

In the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), games have a lot more cheering than those in MLB, and teams also have their own cheerleaders. Those cheerleaders dance, chant and sing throughout the half inning while their team is batting, and there’s also a drum that goes with it.

Shohei Ohtani, Jason Heyward, and Mookie Betts had special chants made for them, which were sang throughout their at-bats, even while the pitch was being delivered. The most similar thing players experience in MLB are chants such as “MVP” or “Fred-die,” but none go to the lengths of the KBO cheerleaders.

While some players may find that distracting, Roberts viewed it all to be a positive. “No, no. I don’t think it was distracting,” he said.

“It’s probably a better question for (Max) Muncy and Kiké (Hernández) over there at third base. But no, I think it’s great. I think the energy, like I said, for nine innings they kept it up there. I couldn’t follow all the cheers. It’s different, but that was a good thing.”

Dodgers games remaining at Gocheok Sky Dome

The Dodgers will continue to experience Korean baseball culture with one more exhibition game against the Korean National team. Following that, the Seoul Series begins against the San Diego Padres to begin the 2024 regular season.

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