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The Koreans would have preferred the gold medal in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, but the silver version of the tournament's hardware will suffice for now. Being known as the second-best baseball country in the world, behind only two-time tournament champion Japan, is still quite an accomplishment. That's how Team Korea views its finish.
The fifth and final meeting vs. Japan in this year's tournament did not go Korea's way, as it fell to its rivals, 5-3, in extras on Monday in the World Baseball Classic championship game.
Korea left-hander Jung Keun Bong has been dominant against Japan in the 2009 Classic, and he will again get a chance to defeat Japan, but with much more on the line in the final on Monday at 9 p.m. ET at Dodger Stadium.
With the ability to hit for power, draw walks and throw out runners from right field, Team Korea's Shin-Soo Choo brings a little bit of everything to the table for his team. And He brings something else to his team that no one else can -- current Major League Baseball playing experience.
Korea led from the get-go and never looked back, easily beating Venezuela, 10-2, on Saturday to advance to Monday's Classic championship game at 9 p.m. ET.
Commissioner Bud Selig said Saturday night that the World Baseball Classic will be back in 2013 and is here to stay as a March fixture.
Despite winning the gold medal in Beijing and finishing with the best record in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, Korea was hardly considered a favorite for the 2009 Classic. But Korea is 5-2 in the 2009 Classic and finds itself just two wins from winning the title.
If familiarity breeds contempt, then unfamiliarity must breed respect. And that's certainly true for the Korean baseball team, which is largely unfamiliar with its Venezuelan counterpart because it has never faced the South American team's roster, which features 21 Major Leaguers.