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It’s monday morning- two classes today, and a large amount of free time due to exam preparation. So here’s an update from my weekend!

On Saturday I went to Seoul Racecourse, located south of the main metropolis just pushing out into the beginnings of countryside beyond Sadang. The betting is very easy to understand- there are English language form guides, a “foreigner lounge”, and lovely ladies ready to process your bet. Over about 9 races I spent around 135,000 won, and came away with around 155,000- so a moderately successful day. The racing itself was really fun, and I’ll definitely be going again!

On Sunday I was time for me to experience my first Korean baseball game– the Doosan Bears against the Hanwha Eagles. There were a number of differences to Japanese baseball, but most significantly the role of entertainment during the game. While Hanshin have choreographed chants to support batters while at the plate, the Korean entertainment seemed almost to run parallel to the game itself, at times capturing the crowds attention more than the baseball on show. Whether this makes Korean baseball more “American”ised I don’t know- I’ve never been to an MLB game so I couldn’t say. It certainly helped keep peoples spirits up during bad weather, but I think it did detract from the game itslef- I know I was heavily preoccupied with the cheerleaders whenever they took to the stage! Doosan took the lead after a lively start, 3-2 up after the first two. The game then went quiet until the seventh, when a three-run homer sealed the victory for the Bears.

Mmmm, lovely cheerleaders

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I was on the cusp of writing a “where’s it all gone wrong” article regarding Hanshin this season a few days ago. While that article may ultimately prove necessary, there’s no doubting our incredibly capacity to fight on, our at times spectacular offense, and most impressively over this weekend, our very strong pitching.

The weekends results were encouraging. On Friday the story was all Nohmi- a shutout game to give the Tigers a 4-0 victory. The resurgence continued on Saturday- a crushing 12-1 defeat of the shambolic Carp, with runs being driven in right down the batting order, and a quality pitching performance from Fukuhara. Most impressively from the offense were the number of players who “stepped up” to drive in the runs- no Kanemoto this time, but Arai, Kano, Sakurai, Toritani and the very impressive Katsuragi- 4 hits, including a home run. Sunday saw us lose narrowly 2-1, with a debut performance from Taiwanese pitcher Cheng.

And finally…Birmingham’s season will go right down to the wire after a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Preston at home, with Preston scoring two quality goals against a workmanlike but uninspiring Blues. This means we are one point ahead of third placed Sheffield United, and six ahead of fourth placed Reading who have a game in hand and could still catch us due to their big goal difference. The final games of the season kick off at 9.15pm (Korean time) next sunday, and feature Reading vs Blues, and Crystal Palace vs Sheffield United.

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