The Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) are in last place among the 10 teams with 27 wins and 41 losses as of the 26th. They were in the middle of the pack until mid-May, but have been plummeting since June, finally falling to last place after a loss to the Kiwoom Heroes in Daegu on May 22.
The Samsung Lions escaped a five-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the SSG Landers in Incheon the previous day. They still trail the ninth-place Hanwha Eagles (27 wins, 37 losses and four draws) by two games. They are just 2-8 in their last 10 games. The Samsung Lions have never finished last in the Korean Baseball Organization since its inception in 1982. At this rate, a first-place finish could be a reality.
The situation is even worse for the Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the K League 1 (first division) of professional soccer. After 19 rounds of play this season, Suwon is at the bottom of the 12-team table with two wins, three draws, 14 losses, and nine points. They are four points behind 11th-place Gangwon FC (13 points). The bottom team in K League 1 is automatically relegated to the second tier, K League 2. A few years ago, it was hard to imagine Suwon Samseong, a prestigious club that won the K League 1 title four times, dropping to the second division. Even the most ardent fans are preparing for it. Last season, the team narrowly stayed in the top division after playing in the promotion playoffs. After failing to win a single game in the first seven games of this season, the team changed its coach, but there is still no sign of hope.
The crisis at Samsung Sports is not limited to professional baseball and professional soccer. The organization is also in last place in men’s professional basketball and men’s professional volleyball, both of which concluded their 2022-23 seasons this spring. In professional basketball, the Seoul Samsung Thunder finished last for the second straight season with a 14-40 record. They were four games behind the ninth-place Daegu Korea Gas Corporation (18-36). Even with expensive star players such as Kim Si-rae and Lee Jung-hyun, the team’s performance was below expectations, but five more wins than the previous season (9 wins and 45 losses) was a gain.
The men’s professional volleyball team, the Samsung Fire Blue Force, also finished last among the seven teams with 11 wins, 25 losses, and 36 points. They parted ways with “legendary” coach Ko Hee-jin and hired another “legendary” coach Kim Sang-woo, but the team took a step backward from their sixth-place finish the previous season.
In fact, basketball and volleyball are not the only sports that have been struggling. Samsung, once known for its prestigious men’s basketball team, 토토사이트 is currently going through a dark period. They’ve missed the playoffs for six straight seasons and have finished last three times in the last five years. The team’s glory days of winning eight championships since the inception of the V-League are now a distant memory. The team has finished seventh, sixth, and seventh in the last three seasons.
If the Samsung Lions of baseball and Suwon Samseong of soccer finish last this season, they will set an unprecedented record by finishing last in all four major professional sports. It’s hard to imagine a company running all four professional sports teams, but it’s even more shocking that Samsung is a candidate. The only small consolation is that its women’s professional basketball team, the Yongin Samsung Ssangyong, finished third out of six teams last season (16 wins and 14 losses).
Samsung is the undisputed “number one” company in Korea and one of the world’s leading “global companies”. Samsung’s goal was to become the number one company in the world, not just Korea. This “No. 1 mentality” of always seeking the best also applies to professional sports. No matter the sport, Samsung was synonymous with the strongest team, investing so boldly and aggressively that it was enviously referred to as “Donseong” (money + Samsung).
It wasn’t until the mid-2010s that the Samsung empire began to decline rapidly. This is when the management of professional sports organizations switched from Samsung Electronics to Cheil Worldwide. Starting with Suwon Samsung in April 2014, Seoul Samsung and Yongin Samsung Life in August of that year, Samsung Fire in June 2015, and Samsung Lions in January 2016, all came under the umbrella of Cheil Worldwide. At the time, Samsung disbanded its tennis and rugby teams.
It was argued that the investment in sports teams decreased after Cheil took over. Whenever such controversies arise, Cheil Industries responds by saying that “the operating costs of the teams are not much different from before” and that “we are trying to operate rationally.”
This is both true and false. In the 2023 season, the Samsung Lions’ total player salary (excluding rookies and foreign players) is 8.34 billion won, second only to the SSG Landers (9.48 billion won). Last year, they were also second overall with 9.82 billion won.
The same is true for professional basketball’s Seoul Samsung. Starting guard Lee Jung-hyun was fifth among all players with 700 million won in total compensation for the 2022-23 season. Kim Shi-rae also received 500 million won in total compensation. It’s not like they weren’t spending money.
Suwon Samseong, on the other hand, had a team salary of 8.875 billion won last season. They ranked eighth out of 11 teams, excluding the military team Gimcheon Sangmu. That’s less than Gangwon FC (9.48 billion won) and Incheon United (8.79 billion won). When criticized for not investing, there is nothing to say.
What matters is performance. In professional sports, ‘money = performance’. There are many teams that spend less money and still perform well. “In the world of professional sports, where results speak for themselves, the poor performance of Samsung’s professional teams is evidence of a problem with the way the team is managed,” said a professional sports official. “If the image of being at the bottom is solidified, it could negatively affect the overall image of the Samsung brand.”
“Samsung’s view that professional sports should be self-sustaining and not dependent on the parent company is positive,” said Choi Dong-ho, a sports commentator, “but it cannot be recognized without results. We need to look at our internal problems soberly and objectively.”