I hope Jung-Ho Kang never steps foot onto the field at PNC Park ever again. Let’s just get that out of the way right off the bat. When Kang first came to Pittsburgh, there’s no debate that he was an immediate fan favorite. I’m not here to talk about his stats, and how great of a ballplayer he was for the Pirates the past two seasons. I’m here to talk about Kang and his behavior off the field.
It all started in the summer of 2016 when it came out that Kang was being investigated by Chicago police for an alleged sexual assault that occurred when the Pirates were playing the Cubs in Chicago. For the Pirates, this should have been the first warning sign for Kang. While Kang hasn’t been charged in that case, it was just the beginning of him being in the news, and once again, not for the right reasons.
In early December, Kang crashed his car while under the influence of alcohol in his home country of South Korea. Unfortunately, more reports showed that this was Kang’s third DUI in his home country. DUI’s are a very serious matter, and serious enough that he was left off of South Korea’s team for the World Baseball Classic, and denied a work visa to come back to the United States to play for the Pirates. And you know what? I’m totally okay with that.
Baseball is just a game when it comes down to it. Sure, you want to put your best players on the field that give you the best chance of winning. It’s no secret that having Kang on the field would do that for the Pirates. However, this is bigger than the game itself.
Kang has brought nothing but negative publicity to the Pirates since last summer. Allegations of sexual assault and a third DUI are not a matter to take lightly. This isn’t a time where the Pirates should be throwing out second chances for Kang. It’s time the organization makes the right decision and Kang never plays another inning for the Pirates. Sure, he was our first true third baseman, both offensively and defensively, in a long time. But that doesn’t matter here. What matters is that this is a person who represents the organization and has done so in a negative light. This is a man who is supposed to be a role model for young fans of the Pirates. And in my opinion, this isn’t a man who any child should look up to. Your behavior off of the field should mean just as much as your play on the field. Jung Ho Kang doesn’t deserve to wear the Pirate uniform anymore. This decision is about way more than the game of baseball. It’s about who you want representing your team, and doing the right thing. If the Pirates want to set the right example about prioritizing a man’s character and behavior over winning a few more ballgames, this should be an easy decision.
Andrew McDermott – Editor