You might not realize it from the USA's roster, but many countries think the World Baseball Classic is important. One of those is Taiwan, which is expecting big things. After failing to get out of a group of death in the 2009 tournament, they enter this year's WBC ranked fifth in the world—just a spot behind 2009 runners-up South Korea. Taiwan is hosting its regional, beginning a week from Saturday, and one thing stands in its way—poolmates South Korea.
Last week, the Taiwanese tried to send scouts to Korea's training camp, but they were turned away. Yesterday, they tried a little espionage. The Korean national team played a practice game against a Korean pro club, so four Taiwanese scouts posed as umpiring trainees and talked their way into the ballpark. The plan was foolproof! Except,
Once inside the umpires' room, the scouts began timing the delivery of the national team's pitchers, which drew the suspicions of KBO officials.
"We had our suspicions because there seemed to be too many people in the umpires' room," one KBO official said. "They kept saying they were umpire trainees. But we later learned that they were really scouts and we ejected them from the stadium (in the fourth inning)."
Heading off an international incident, the Taiwanese baseball federation apologized to their Korean counterparts and promised the four scouts, who were supposedly acting on their own, would be punished. Taiwan and South Korea face off on March 5.