SungWoo Lee Is Not A Lucky Charm, He's a Fan
If you’re looking at SungWoo Lee and only seeing a “Good Luck Charm,” you’re doing it wrong.
If you don’t know who SungWoo Lee is, take a minute to read his story. (Rany Jazayerli has a perfect recap.) SungWoo Lee isn’t a magical creature capable of making the Royals win. He’s not a good luck charm that can propel the Royals to victory in the World Series. He is a great guy that helped a franchise, their city, and their fans remember why they love the game, and this team.
SungWoo reminded us what it’s like to be a fan. He’s full of excitement for this team. He loves the sport. His arrival in KC last August brought that excitement to a city that had all but lost their ability to get excited about the Royals. The Royals were chugging along on the verge of another medicare season - one with almost no possibility of seeing the postseason. And then SungWoo hit town, and things started to click for the Royals.
Baseball is a superstitious game. The players, the fans, they all have a tendency toward believing that random events are connected. Random Event 1: The Royals start to warm up and play some great baseball. Random Event 2: A kid from Korea shows up in Kansas City and catches a few games. In the mind of a KC Baseball fan, it’s easy to forever link those two events together. We all know that correlation does not prove causation, but after nearly 3 decades of abysmal baseball, we’ll take anything.
To say that SungWoo’s visit didn’t have a positive impact on the Royals, the city, and the fans would be to miss his biggest contribution: Fandom. He reminded us what it’s like to be an optimistic Royals fan. And I truly believe that message made it all the way to the players and management of the Kansas City Royals. What a great reminder for the team that they have fans all around the world. Fans who get up in the middle of the night to catch a game; Fans that could so easily have walked away from the Royals, jumped on the Yankees, Red Sox, or any other bandwagon out there; Fans that love and support the Royals, when frankly the Royals have done nothing in the last three decades to deserve that love. That’s a strong message, and the Royals received it and acted on it.
To take that experience, the lessons that the Royals, the Fans, and the City all learned from it, and to turn it into “SungWoo is a good luck charm” cheapens the entire experience. It’s not fair to SungWoo, who never wanted any of this celebrity. And it’s not fair to the team, that, in case you didn’t notice, made it to the postseason for the first time in 29 years and then preceded to win 8 games in a row - All while SungWoo was half a planet away. The Royals are winning - they’ve found some #RoyalsDevilMagic or something. Whatever it is, they’re winning. And they’re winning without SungWoo in the stadium/city/time zone/country/hemisphere. Don’t take that away from the guys who have worked their asses off to achieve a record setting postseason performance.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be happy that SungWoo is coming back to KC. We should be happy for SungWoo, not because we believe that his presence will further the Royals odds of winning it all. So if you’re lucky enough to see SungWoo at the stadium this week, thank him for his fandom. Thank him for his energy and enthusiasm. Thank him for reminding the rest of us how great it is to be a fan.