And so, the 2010-2011 off-season begins. The New York Yankees will be debating how many millions they will overpay Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, while not blinking at the 150 million or so dollars they throw the way of former Indians ace, Cliff Lee.
The Boston Red Sox will spend their typical off-season in the midst of their quaint Red Sox Nation, debating how many millions they will or won't throw at Adrian Beltre or former Indians catcher Victor Martinez, while discussing whether they will dally in the discussion for Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford and/or Prince Fielder.
The Indians? Our off-season will be focused on one player, and one player only: Shin-Soo Choo.
Let's face facts, Tribe fans, as far as players go, Choo has been the main topic of Cleveland Indians discussion for the better part of 2 1/2 years. You could make a case that he's really the only major league player worth talking about with any sort of consistency. Not only has the Tribe right-fielder been far-and-away the best player to put on an Indians jersey since he's become a regular, but there's also been a rather large question hanging over Choo's head: Will he have to leave by July of 2012 to serve a mandatory two-year military service in his homeland of South Korea?
Let's just say that Choo is doing everything he possibly can to avoid that service.
Choo is currently spending his off-season at the Asian Games in China, trying to earn what could be a reprieve from joining the South Korean army. Should the South Koreans win the gold medal at the games, the South Korean government would give every member of the team an automatic exemption. Choo is taking this possibility seriously.
On Saturday, in the opening game for Korea, they faced off against the defending Asian Games gold medalists, Chinese Tapei, and promptly blew them out of the water by a score of 6-1. The clear star of the game was Choo, who went two for four with two homers and four RBI. Choo didn't stop there.
In game two on Sunday, he went one for three, with a double, a walk and two RBI in a 15-0 shellacking of Chinese Hong Kong. The game was stopped in the fifth inning, thanks to the long-lost Little League ten run rule.
Yesterday, Choo went two for two with a walk and a double, scoring in three runs and driving in two. He added a stolen base as the Koreans blitzed Pakistan 15-0.
You guessed it, the Pakistanis were ten-runned in this one as well, as Choo was taken out after the fourth inning.
Overall, Choo is batting .556 with two homers, two doubles, two walks and a stolen base. I would guess you could call that motivation.
The South Koreans will face off in the semi-finals tomorrow against the host country, China. It should be a win, but the game could get interesting. You never really know what to expect when you're playing the hosts, who are 2-1, with two dominating wins. Their only loss came to gold medal favorites, Japan. Japan is playing in the other semi-final against Chinese Taipei.
Choo is two games away from closing the door on one of the most hotly discussed topics over the years within the Indians community. Of course, if they do win gold, then what will we have to talk about?
Oh yeah, Choo signed with agent Scott Boras, so then we'll get to start worrying about how to sign him. One step at a time folks, one step at a time...