Tag Archives: hank conger

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers

Hank Conger Traded to Houston Astros

by JAMES S. KIM

Catcher Hank Conger will be hanging up the halo and heading across the division to the Houston Astros. In return, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will receive the Astro’s No. 13 prospect, pitcher Nick Tropeano, and catcher Carlos Perez, the teams announced Wednesday.

The Huntington Beach native and fan favorite spent his entire major league career with the Angels, but he can look forward to working with a solid pitching staff in Houston. Astros manager A.J. Hinch, a former catcher, said his skills will definitely benefit the team.

“The best catchers really take it personally, interacting and working with pitchers on the staff,” Hinch told MLB.com. “What they do behind the plate is always going to impact the game at a higher level than the bat. … Talking to Conger, he has that mentality, that selfless side of being a catcher that can really elevate what a pitching staff brings to the table.”

Conger, who was taken in the first round (25th overall) in the 2006 Draft, was touted as a switch-hitting offensive catcher as he came up through the Angels’ minor league system. His bat, however, didn’t make too much of an impact when he was promoted in 2010, and he was sent down to the minors in 2011 to work on his lack of defense.

In 2012, the Angels recalled Conger, but he would only play in seven games due to a logjam of catchers. He came back in 2013 with a solid season, batting .249 and posting his best numbers offensively, but his improvements on defense was what earned him the blessing of Manager Mike Scioscia, a former catcher.

During the 2013-14 seasons, Conger backed up and eventually formed an effective platoon with fellow backstop Chris Ianetta. He developed a reputation in the baseball sabermetric community as one of the best pitch-framers in the league: he ranked 6th and 3rd, in respective seasons, in framing runs saved per 7000 pitches.

Ultimately, it was his lack of offensive numbers that allowed Chris Iannetta to edge out Conger in starts in the second half of the 2014 season. Iannetta went on to start all three games of the American League Division Series the Angels played this past postseason.

Here are some notable moments from Conger’s tenure with the Angels.

Dancing in celebration of the Angels clinching the playoffs

Hank Conger won the Angels dance contest last night.

A video posted by Arash Markazi (@arashmarkazi) on

Conger hits a clutch 9th-inning home run

The most unorthodox bunt hit ever

Image via USA Today

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Cover Story: Why Texas Rangers’ Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo Will Never Give Up

THE CHOOSEN ONE

Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has proven himself a powerful player, who also commands an impressive multimillion-dollar contract. But what he and his fans are most proud of is the resilience Choo has displayed time and time again, first as an 18-year-old prospect from South Korea coming up through the minors, and now as a veteran major leaguer trying to come back from a challenging season.

written by STEVE HAN
photographs by MARK EDWARD HARRIS

DON’T FALL BEHIND THE COUNT, SHIN-SOO CHOO TELLS HIMSELF.

 

He’s leading off the sixth inning at Angel Stadium with the Texas Rangers down 2-0. The left fielder gently gnaws on his bubble gum as he walks to the plate. He swings effortlessly to loosen up, enters the batter’s box and sets his feet. Then, he stares in at Hector Santiago, who’s so far throwing a shutout.

Santiago’s first pitch is a 91-mile sinker through the middle. Choo swings hard, smashes the ball and sends it arching toward center field. Angels outfielder Mike Trout runs back, back and back a little more. Trout jumps desperately for the ball, but crashes into the wall and tumbles onto the warning track empty-handed. As the cliché goes, that ball is history. Game on.

Inspired by Choo’s homer, the Rangers come from behind and take a 3-2 lead. In the next inning, Choo rips a line drive to center field to bring in another run to extend the lead. Texas would go on to win, 5-2, giving themselves a 16-13 record, the second best in the American League and only two games behind the Oakland A’s.

A month into the 2014 season, Choo is looking like the worldly free agent signing he was expected to be for the Rangers. After that May 2 game, he is batting an impressive .325, with a .446 on base percentage.

Indeed, when Choo first signed with the Rangers last December, the front office, Texas media and fans alike all touted him as the final piece of the puzzle—the player who could finally push the perennial underachievers over the top. Instead of losing in the World Series, which the Rangers had done twice in the last four years, the team just might finally bring home their first championship trophy.

Well before his contract with the Cincinnati Reds expired after last season, the Rangers had begun scouting the South Korean native, with the intention of making him their marquee signing. Choo’s ability to get on base (second in on-base percentage last season in the National League at .423), his speed (over 20 stolen bases in four of the last five seasons), and his hitting power (104 career home runs), not to mention his rifle of a throwing arm on defense, made him one of the most coveted free agents on the market. The Rangers competed with none other than the New York Yankees for Choo, who turned down a seven-year, $140 million offer from baseball’s most storied franchise because he felt Texas would give him the best shot at winning.

But it was that very game in Anaheim this past spring when things both got off to such a bright start and yet also began falling apart. After giving the Rangers a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning, Choo left the game with soreness in his left ankle. He hasn’t been the same since. Nor has his team, ravaged by a slew of player injuries.

Fast forward six weeks to June 20, and the Rangers are back in Anaheim. With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Choo steps up to the plate with the Rangers down by four runs. He swings at Joe Smith’s first pitch, but this time, misses. He swings on the second, and misses again. On the third pitch, he swings even harder—and misses.

Angels win, 7-3. The Rangers, more than 10 games behind the A’s, are now one of the worst teams in baseball.

Tilting his head back in frustration, Choo loiters around home plate before walking feebly back to the dugout, dejected.

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* * *

I CAN’T help it. I don’t have that personality where I just say, ‘Who cares?’ and move on when I play bad. It just doesn’t work like that for me.”

Choo tells me this during a private interview in the Anaheim clubhouse on June 20, a few hours before the disappointing game. He’s referring to past games, of course, though his remarks could easily apply to his performance later that day.

Sitting hunched over on a folding chair in front of his locker, Choo is wearing a blue, fitted, long-sleeved shirt and black fleece shorts, with his Rangers hat pulled down to his eyebrows. Before our interview, he offers a handshake and makes a slight bow, a traditional Korean way to greet someone you meet for the first time. As he speaks, the 32-year-old often pauses for several seconds before answering my questions, as if deeply engaging each one. He comes across as thoughtful, honest and humble—even for an athlete from South Korea, where modesty is expected of public figures. It’s hard to imagine that this is a man who is set to pocket $130 million over the next seven years.

“I know better than anyone that I won’t be a Hall of Famer, ever,” Choo says in Korean. “I’ve heard people say that I’m a five-tool player, but I’m a five-tool player who’s average at all five things. Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen are the real five-tool players. For me, if people who’ve seen me play just remember me as a player who gave it his all every game, I’d be more than happy with that.”

Those appear to be the words of an athlete who has been seasoned by struggle, hard work and more struggle before tasting success. Out of the 14 years he has lived in the U.S., Choo spent nine in the major leagues and the remaining years bouncing around in the minors trying to prove himself. After signing with the Seattle Mariners in 2000, he would play for seven different teams over a five-year period, before finally getting his first at-bat in the big leagues. Those were humbling years spent living in places like Appleton, Wisconsin, and San Antonio, Texas—cities with no sizable Korean community. Choo and his wife Won Mi Ha, who spoke limited English at the time, struggled mightily in those days—so much so that putting food on the table for their son, Alan, was a challenge.

“There were times when we couldn’t afford a hamburger,” Choo recalls. “I’ll never forget my years of desperation in the minors. I haven’t played well lately, but this is nothing compared to what I dealt with back then.”

Choo also knows full well that he freely—and controversially—chose this more arduous path. Had he stayed in Korea, after all, stardom seemed all but guaranteed.

The burly, 5-foot-11 athlete from the port city of Busan was a promising 18-year-old pitching prospect, with a 97-mile fastball in his repertoire, when his hometown team tried to sign him.

The Lotte Giants offered him a contract with $420,000 in guaranteed money, which would’ve made him one of the highest paid rookies in Korea. Even his own parents told him to take it. (After seeing him at spring training in 2001, they famously told Choo his Seattle teammates were too tall for him.)

It was an all-or-nothing deal. Had he tried and failed to make it in the U.S. and returned home, Choo would have been banned from Korean professional baseball for two years. It’s part of the Korea Baseball Organization’s policy to deter the country’s best prospects from leaving to play elsewhere and shredding the native talent pool.

Choo still left.

“This is how I am,” he says. “Whatever you do, don’t you want to take a chance at becoming the best at it? I wanted to play with the best in the world.”

Choo, however, didn’t anticipate that, when he got that chance with the Mariners, they would turn the hardthrowing left-hander into a corner outfield prospect.

“Our intention was to make him an outfielder from the start,” says Pat Gillick, the former Mariners general manager who signed Choo. “Choo had an outstanding arm. We just thought he was more valuable as an everyday player in the outfield.”

For Choo, the thought of becoming an outfielder never crossed his mind until the first day of spring training.

“I was a pitcher all along,” he says. “But all of a sudden, I was told to play in the outfield. I didn’t know what to do.”

But, in a way, overcoming obstacles would become something of a specialty for Choo—and so would exceeding expectations.

“He had tremendous power,” remembers Steve Roadcap, the manager of the minor league Class-A Inland Empire, which Choo led to a California League title in 2003. “He also ran well. He had the tools. With a lot of kids with talent, many of them have the tools, but they can’t find the toolbox to showcase their talent. Choo wasn’t one of them.”

Still, by 2006, the Mariners would trade the outfielder to the Cleveland Indians for first baseman Ben Broussard, because with franchise star Ichiro Suzuki manning the outfield, earning anything more than a pinch-hitting role for Choo was a mission impossible. He played just 14 games with the Mariners in a season and a half. Little did the team know that Choo would become one of baseball’s brightest outfielders after leaving Seattle.

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“Unfortunately, I was already gone when they traded him,” says Gillick. As a team’s top personnel executive, Gillick won three World Series titles, two with the Toronto Blue Jays in the early ’90s and the other with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, and he led the Mariners to playoff appearances in 2000 and 2001.

“I can tell you, honestly, I wouldn’t have traded him,” adds the 76-year-old Hall of Famer.

Between 2006 and last year, Choo’s batting average fell below .280 just once in eight seasons and eclipsed the .300 mark from 2008 to 2010. In 2009, he became the first Asian player in the majors to join the 20-20 club, hitting over 20 home runs and stealing over 20 bases in one season. He would go on to be a member of that distinct clique two more times, including last year with the Cincinnati Reds.

“He did all the little things right,” says Matt LaPorta, Choo’s former teammate in Cleveland. “It’s funny because I thought I was an early riser. During spring training, I always showed up at the ballpark at 6 [a.m.], but this guy … when I got there, he was already dressed.”

LaPorta and Choo became close friends. The two would work out together every day at 5 a.m., and invited each other’s families over for dinner.

“We can all work hard, but sometimes, if you don’t have talent, it’s hard to be successful,” says LaPorta. “But he doesn’t take that talent for granted … he commits to his talent. And when you see a guy who’s having success by working hard, I want that success as well. Hard work is contagious. People saw him and said, ‘I want to do what he’s doing.’”

Choo’s success in the U.S. also hinged on how well he could adapt to the American culture, according to Gillick.

“Baseball is the same everywhere,” says Gillick. “Playing the game, being on the field, competition and all that, it’s the same anywhere. But the cultural change is what’s difficult. When a young man like him reaches his potential, we’re not only happy for him, [but] we’re also happy that we made the right decision 14 years ago.”

Choo, however, says he is well received by his peers not because he fit in so easily, but because he always showed that he’s willing to make the effort.

“Even now, my English is not at all that great,” he says. “But one thing my teammates do give me a lot of credit for is that I’m one of very few Asian players who doesn’t have an interpreter.

“To this day, I still mumble and stutter when I’m giving interviews in English, but they respect my efforts. If I can’t explain something, I’ll use my arms and legs to do it. If that’s not enough, I’ll get my dictionary out.”

** *

ENTERING August, the Rangers are in a free fall. With the worst record in all of baseball at 43-65, their post-season hopes are all but shattered. Still bothered by his ankle, Choo is batting just .240, the lowest his batting average has ever been in the major leagues since his 2005 debut.

Yet, despite such woes, Choo remains optimistic. The benefit of having a career like his, dotted with its many stops and starts before finally reaching success, is that it gives him perspective—and a track record.

“He has proven himself,” says Rangers manager Ron Washington. “As long as he’s able to go out there [despite his injury], he’ll come back around. I’m not concerned.” Choo’s fans seem to share this long-range view of the player, whom they respect as much for his perseverance as for his baseball talent.

“We appreciate him because he comes from a background that resonates with the community,” says Ted Kim, the president of the Korean Society of Dallas, which has already organized two trips to Globe Life Park in Arlington to support Choo this season. The group also participated in the Rangers-hosted Korean Heritage Night on July 11, complete with bulgogi, Hite Beer and the Korean national anthem sung by the Wonder Girls’ Yenny.

“When he came from Korea, he was unproven,” Kim says of Choo. “He built his reputation through the minor leagues. He earned it the hard way. That’s what we’re really proud of.”

It’s a hard-won record that Angels’ Korean American catcher Hank Conger, who made his debut in 2010 after spending years in the minor leagues, can fully appreciate and admire. He met Choo in 2010 when he got called up to the majors for the first time and remembers Choo coming up to him to say congratulations. “Just watching him come through the minor leagues, he’s definitely a role model,” says Conger. “Especially because he understands the difficulty of playing in the major leagues.”

Of course, Choo’s biggest fan—the one who has stuck by him through all the struggles, from the early years in the minors to now—has been his wife, and she eloquently captured on her Facebook page last spring what the journey has been like for the couple, who now have three children:

“Exactly nine years ago, I was here while fully pregnant with our first child to watch a Mariners game, because my husband was in camp. He was never a starter, so I waited even as my stomach was aching badly. Whenever the starters were taken off and he came on, I chanted for him off the top of my lungs, and a fan sitting next to me worried that I would give birth at the game.

Today, my man is a proud starter on a major league team and every fan here is cheering him on. The baby I was pregnant with then is now here, chanting daddy’s name, just as I did then. I’m so proud. No matter what obstacles we face or how much happier our lives become in the future, I will never forget. I will never forget what we always dreamed of!”

Choo says there’s only one thing he’s done that’s better than baseball: marrying his wife. “There wouldn’t have been me today without my wife. She pushes me from behind and pulls me from the front,” he says. “She’s given me so much more than I’ve given her. I’m so thankful.”

For Choo, to be able to call himself an everyday major leaguer now, let alone one of the highest paid players on a team with World Series aspirations, is a tremendous sense of pride.

“The road wasn’t easy,” he says. “I rarely admire my abilities as a ballplayer, but I’m hugely proud of what I’ve been through and what I’ve endured to be able to play in these games with these great players.

“My initial goal was to play one game in the big leagues, so for me to have this kind of contract now, getting treated so well and to be where I am … I never thought this would happen, but now I’m here.”

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And though he left his native country for a chance to play in the major leagues, he hasn’t forgotten where he came from. He has already laid the groundwork for a foundation that will provide funding for public sports facilities for children in Korea.

“I want Korea to be a place where the most common, and even underprivileged children, have access to ballparks,” Choo says. “It shouldn’t matter if their parents are rich or poor, or if these children are physically disabled. I want to build ballparks that any child can go to and play as much as they want.”

In a way, Choo’s gritty rise to success away from home starkly contrasts the road taken by his fellow countryman Hyun-Jin Ryu, who was heralded as a star even before he threw a pitch in the majors. Years before Ryu joined the Dodgers, he had already become a bona fide superstar back home in South Korea, where he was far and away the best pitcher, perhaps even an all-time great, in the country’s professional league. On the other hand, Choo came to the U.S. when he was still an 18-year-old ragtag amateur, a hillbilly from Busan, a place he says he wanted to escape, because he didn’t want to become a “frog in a small pond.” So even when Choo and his team struggle badly, he knows that better days are ahead. He realizes that things were much worse not long ago. Gaining that wisdom and perspective took years of trials and tribulations, which Choo says he used as “transportation” to get to where he is today.

“It’s not an experience you could buy with money,” he says. “Without that experience, I’d have a much tougher time dealing with my recent struggles, but I’ve made it this far by getting stronger and stronger and stronger. I have what it takes to not break easily.”

Epilogue: Days before this magazine went to print, Choo began to display the resilience that has made him such a sought-after player, going 10-for-25 in six games between August 4 and 10—a streak during which he reached 1,000 career hits with a ninth inning single versus the Houston Astros on Aug 9. On Aug. 25, he chose to undergo elbow surgery to remove a bone spur and has been ruled out for the season.

This article was published in the August/September 2014 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the August/Sept. issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).

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Pic of the Day: Angels’ Hank Conger Trips, Crashes and Burns

by JAMES S. KIM

Who said baseball was a boring sport?

The diehard fan? Never. But maybe if the MLB hired special effects teams or had Michael Bay direct baseball broadcasts, the number of viewers would go through the roof. Except Dodger fans, though, because they still can’t watch their boys in blue on the tube.

In a game against the Baltimore Orioles last year, Los Angeles Angels catcher Hank Conger laid down a perfect bunt to beat the defensive shift. With no one covering third base, Hank had all the time in the world to stroll up to first base, but it was anything but easy.

Sometimes, life throws curveballs at you, and in Hank’s case, that meant a defective cleat or, according to the GIF below, an airstrike. Just a few steps out of the batter’s box, he trips and crashes spectacularly, made all the more brilliant with the addition of explosions.

Hank Conger

Don’t worry, folks. Hank made it out alive, scrambling the rest of the way to safety. That’s what gets it done in the major leagues. You can watch the full play below.

Photo by Eric Sueyoshi; Image via Imgur

Hank Conger Skips Taiwan Trip To Focus On Skills

Los Angeles Angels catcher Hank Conger was invited to take part in a series of exhibition games in Taiwan this November but declined in order to play in the Arizona Fall League, according to the Orange County Register.

For Hank Conger – one of the few Asian-Americans in the major leagues – it would have been a unique opportunity. But Conger has decided his long-range future with the Angels is more important. He will pack up and head to Arizona on Monday and play for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. Games begin there Tuesday.

“The Fall League is absolutely more important for me,” Conger told the Orange County Register. “When the (MLB) Players Association first asked me, no doubt about it, I thought it would be a great experience. But talking to Tony (Reagins, Angels GM) and Sosh (Angels manager Mike Scioscia) about it – especially the way this season has panned out for me, it’s a lot more important that I go to the Fall League and work on my catching every day. The Taiwan thing would have been fun. But the way I understand it, it’s kind of a tournament where you only play a couple games.”

The Arizona Fall League features mostly minor league prospects on six teams; the season lasts about seven weeks. Conger hopes to improve from the lowly .209 batting average he put up this year with the Angels.

“I’m actually pretty excited,” said Conger, according to the O.C. Register. “It’s an opportunity for me to make up for a season that was disappointing for me.”

The Huntington Beach, Calif., native made the Angels opening day roster but was sent down after two months. He eventually played his way back on to the major league roster but didn’t contribute much upon his return.

Conger hopes to improve his defensive skills this fall.

“The hitting thing – I’m confident in my hitting. I know it’ll always be there,” Conger said. “I think any player can tell you that if you’re only playing once every three or four days, it’s tough (to produce offensively). But I didn’t earn the chance to get any more at-bats with my defense.

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Tuesday's Link Attack: Dan Choi on Trial, Eden, Kim Jong Il

Gay former Army officer on trial in DC for protest
AP via Google News

A gay former Army lieutenant arrested for handcuffing himself to a White House fence during a protest is being treated differently because he is a prominent voice for gay rights, his lawyer said Monday.

Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and Iraq War veteran, is charged with disobeying police orders to leave an area in front of the White House during a November 2010 protest of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell policy.” During the protest, 13 people handcuffed themselves to the fence, some in uniform, chanting slogans including “let us serve.”

Choi’s attorney Robert Feldman said Monday at the start of his trial in federal court in Washington that people arrested for protesting at the White House are usually charged in local court where the penalty for disobeying a police order is a fine of between $100 and $1,000. But Choi was charged in federal court, where he faces both a fine and jail time of up to six months.

Survivor of human trafficking and sex slavery on set for film shooting in Kirkland
Kirkland Reporter (Wash.)

The movie, “Eden,” that was partially being filmed in Kirkland Thursday was inspired by [Chong Kim’s] true story as a survivor of domestic human trafficking and sexual slavery. The film stars actress Jamie Chung and actor Beau Bridges.

Japanese journalists ‘offered $10,000′ for video of Kim Jong-Il
Russian International News Agency

Japanese journalists offered supermarket staff $10,000 for footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il’s visit to their East Siberian store, a spokesperson for the supermarket said on Tuesday.

To Foreigners in Korea: Please learn a little Korean
Marmot’s Hole

A video is circulating on the Korean Internet of a black gentleman yelling at and threatening an elderly Korean couple.

His violent behavior was the result of him misunderstanding the elderly man’s comment to him. The elderly man reportedly said “니가 여기 앉아” (a sign of consideration) but not knowing Korean, the man in question interpreted “니가” as the N-word which led to his violent outburst.

“Obstructing Business”: South Koreans on the March
Huffington Post

I was in Seoul, South Korea this month at the invitation of the wonderful EBS TV Documentary Festival, and was truly, happily surprised to see a resurgence of activism among ordinary Koreans. Don’t get me wrong. Since its founding, Korea has had a tradition of fierce, die-hard activism (which Koreans themselves may attribute to a diet high in garlic and red pepper, as well as their commitment to social justice), but this ferocity seemed to have gone dormant in the mid-nineties. I was overjoyed to find that this was no longer the case.

Angels’ Conger proud of Ocean View Little Leaguers
Orange County Register

ESPN’s cameras were in the Angels’ clubhouse before the game Sunday as part of the network’s ‘Baseball Tonight’ coverage. They caught several Angels gathered around the big-screen TV, watching the Ocean View Little League team beat the Japanese team, 2-1, in the Little League World Series championship game.

While there were “friendly wagers” among a few players, rookie catcher Hank Conger had the most direct rooting interest. The Huntington Beach native played for Ocean View and reached the West Region championship in 2000 before losing.

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Slugger Hank Conger Back In The Big Leagues

by Jay Yim

After a five-week stay in the minors, Hank Conger was called back up to “the show” by the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 19.

The 23-year-old catcher was originally jettisoned to Triple A Salt Lake on July 19 due to his struggles offensively and behind the plate.

Conger’s seems to have straightened out his problems during his brief stint in the minors.

“One improvement that was tangible was his receiving was much quieter,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. “Some things got away from him. One of the things was his receiving skills. He was getting jabby, pulling things out of the zone. Just looked like he was fighting himself a bit. We know from talking with [Salt Lake manager] Keith Johnson and watching video with him that that has been smoothed out, and he feels much more comfortable receiving the ball.”

Conger said he noticed steady improvement in his game the past two to three weeks, most notably with his throws to second base, which had previously been bouncing in front of the base or tailing high and away from it by improving his release point and making sure to not rush his throws.

While at Salt Lake, Conger also made a contribution with his bat, as he hit .300 with five home runs and 26 RBI’s in his 27 games with the Bees. It was another reason for the Angels — who are chasing the Texas Rangers in the American League West pennant race — to call Conger back up as the Angels lineup featured the worst hitting catchers in the major leagues. Jeff Matthis and Bobby Wilson who were both batting well under .200.

In his first game back last Saturday, Conger made an immediate positive impression on defense but not with his arm, but with his concentration by holding onto a throw from rightfielder Torii Hunter in the top of first tinning to tag out Baltimore’s Nick Markakis who had collided with him at home plate to prevent the Orioles from scoring a run.

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Thursday's Link Attack: Margaret Cho, Korilla Food Truck, Hank Conger

Jon Gosselin Reacts to ‘Kate Plus 8′ Cancellation
The Hollywood Reporter

Former Jon & Kate Plus 8 star Jon Gosselin is glad TLC pulled the plug on its reality series that starred his children. Retitled Kate Plus 8 after his divorce from Kate Gosselin forced him off the show, the program had just launched new Season 2 episodes when it was axed on Monday.

Margaret Cho: Cho Dependent, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh
The Independent (U.K.)

The British publication gave Margaret Cho’s “Cho Dependent” show three out of five stars.

US comedian Margaret Cho has never minced her words. She once called Sarah Palin “the worst thing to happen to America since 9/11″ and her stance on gay rights has drawn fire from conservatives at home.

Despite her radical credentials, Cho’s second Fringe show (her first was in 2001) isn’t going to offend anyone unless they happen not to be too keen on smut. Rather than expand upon her activism, Cho seems more concerned with how she looked on Dancing with the Stars, the US version of Strictly Come Dancing, where Cho ended up competing against Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol.

During a relaxed set, Cho’s best moments come when she isn’t being base – and when she remembers her ability to make salient points in bona fide punchlines. See her take on the gay rights situation in the US. “How can you deny any gay man the right to bridal registry? It’s inhumane.”

The Great Food Truck Race Season 2 with Korilla BBQ Truck
channel APA

Among the food trucks competing is the Korilla BBQ Truck from New York.

Korilla BBQ, which stands for Korean + Grill, is the brainchild of Columbia University graduate Edward Song. After graduating during the country’s economic downturn, he found himself thinking outside the box — unexpectedly enrolling in cooking school and taking his passion for Korean food to the streets of New York City. His high school friends Stephan Park and Paul Lee have been with the truck since day one, and together they have made Korean food accessible to the masses in a fast and convenient way.

Hank Conger Pays Visit to Boys and Girls Club
saltlakebees.com

Salt Lake Bees catcher Hank Conger made a visit to the Sugarhouse Boys and Girls Club in Salt Lake Wednesday morning. Conger, a Boys and Girls Club member as a child, talked about his road to becoming a professional baseball player and the time he spent in the club growing up in Southern California.

Florida K-Pop Fan Wins New York Contest
Chosun Ilbo

Citing her dream to become the first non-Asian K-pop star, 15-year-old Madison Gunst of Florida impressed judges with her song-and-dance routine to win the first New York K-Pop Contest in the city on Tuesday (local time).

The American teen, who fell in love with the genre four years ago when her friend showed her the music video for “Heartbreaker” by G-Dragon, beat off seven other finalists to claim the prize. They had been whittled down from 93 preliminary entries chosen through video clips online.

San Jose man beaten with baseball bats in Woodland
Sacramento Bee (Calif.)

Woodland police are investigating the baseball bat beating of a San Jose man early this morning.

Officers were called about 2 a.m. to the 1200 block of Alice Street where they found Bong Kim, 43, of San Jose sitting in the passenger seat of his vehicle. Bong, who was bleeding, was transported to the hospital for non life-threatening injuries.

Beaverton restaurants pack big flavor in “Little Korea”
The Oregonian

Local Korean food fans already know that Beaverton is the Oregon destination for seafood pancakes, dumplings and barbecue.

But the amount and variety available might surprise even well-traveled diners. Clustered in a 1.5-square-mile circle around the Beaverton Transit Center are more than 10 restaurants serving Korean fare.

Kim’s hit caps comeback for Bears
Yakima Herald-Republic (Wash.)

Jae Yun Kim seemed surprised Tuesday night when he entered the Bears clubhouse, equipment bag in tow, to rousing cheers and back slaps from his teammates.

He needn’t have been.

Kim’s two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning — a ball stricken with such force it might have left a vapor trail — capped a three-run uprising that pushed Yakima to its sixth victory in seven games, 5-3 over Spokane.

Prosecutors seek life sentence for doctor accused of killing pregnant wife
Yonhap News

Prosecutors sought on Thursday a life sentence for a South Korean doctor accused of murdering his nine-months-pregnant wife during a quarrel.

The 31-year-old doctor, surnamed Baek, was indicted on charges that he suffocated his 29-year-old pregnant wife while the two were fighting over his heavy computer gaming habit in January. Police found the wife lying dead over a bathtub in the couple’s apartment in Seoul.

Korean Olympic skating champ seeks Russian citizenship
CNNGo

Although it would not be an understatement to say that Koreans are perhaps some of the most nationalistic people in the world, they are proving to be surprisingly cool with the idea of losing one of their prized athletes to Russia.

Ahn Hyun-soo, three-time Olympic short-track skating gold medalist is confirmed to be applying for Russian citizenship in order to represent Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Yonhap News reported that Ahn will renounce his Korean citizenship in order to join the Russian Skating Union.

Fight ends Georgetown basketball exhibition in China
Washington Post

What began as a goodwill trip to China for the Georgetown men’s basketball team turned violent Thursday night, when its exhibition game against the Bayi Rockets deteriorated into a melee during which players exchanged blows, chairs were thrown and spectators tossed full water bottles as Hoyas players and coaches headed to the locker room at Olympic Sports Center Stadium.

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Monday's Link Attack: David Chang, Moon Bloodgood, Lesbian Korean Drama

Happy Birthday, David Chang! A Look Back at His Biggest Culinary Moments and Controversies
yumsugar

Here’s a slideshow of Momofuku chef David Chang.

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ to Film Scene With Pittsburgh Steelers
The Hollywood Reporter

Hines Ward and members of the Pittsburgh Steelers will appear in the upcoming ‘Batman’ movie.

Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, is adding some professional athletes to its cast.

Members of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers team will be filming a scene in the Warner Bros. film this weekend playing football players at Heinz Field. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and a dozen of his teammates, including Hines Ward, Willie Colon and Maurkice Pouncey, are expected to participate during Saturday’s filming. Thousands of extras will be on hand to play fans.

KBS receives harsh criticisms for airing Korea’s first lesbian drama
allkpop

A new KBS drama called ‘Daughters of Club Bilitis‘ had viewers up in arms over the fact that it contained content relating to same-sex couples.

Moon Bloodgood on ‘Falling Skies’
Crave Online

Here’s a short Q&A with Moon Bloodgood, one of the stars of TNT’s “Falling Skies,” a sci-fi hourlong drama which concluded its first season yesterday.

Crave Online: What brought you to “Falling Skies”?

Moon Bloodgood: Well certainly when you get handed a script and they tell you it’s Bob Rodat and Steven Spielberg, you’re immediately drawn to it. It’s got your attention. I was a little cautious about wanting to do science fiction again. But it was more of a drama story, more of a family story. I liked that and I wanted to work with Spielberg. I liked the idea of playing a doctor and deviating from something I had done already. And I just love the story, the family. It was simple. It wasn’t trying to hard.

Select Korean-Americans to be allowed to exchange letters with their families in N. Korea
Yonhap News

North Korea has agreed to allow 10 Korean-Americans to exchange letters with their families in the communist country whom they have not seen since the Korean War more than a half century ago, a South Korean Red Cross official Saturday.

Margaret Cho ‘Cho Dependent’ Review
The Guardian (U.K.)

From innocence to experience, the cast of last year’s series of the US reality show Dancing with the Stars ran the full gamut. In one corner, sexual abstinence campaigner Bristol Palin. In the other, Margaret Cho, the Korean-American comedian who is to sexual abstinence what Caligula was to good governance. “I want to get f–ked into assisted living,” says Cho, whose Edinburgh show hymns her carnal voracity and her war against the Palinification of the US. Even as her tales of cunnilingus and geriatric sex strain for gaudy effect, it’s a cosy, congratulatory – and enjoyable – affair.

Postwar dreams in a changing Korea
Miami Herald

The Miami Herald reviews Samuel Park’s new novel “This Burns My Heart.”

An assistant English professor at Chicago’s Columbia College and author of the one-act play turned novella turned short film Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Samuel Park displays an affinity for stage and screen in his atmospheric and exuberantly filmic new novel.

Inspired by his mother’s memories, This Burns My Heart cuts a chunky swath of postwar South Korea from 1960 through the ’70s funneled through the life arc of sprightly but initially superficial Soo-Ja Choi. Each scene unfolds visually — in darkened stone interiors, busy hotels and coffee houses — with domineering mothers, maniacal fathers, familiar themes of filial piety and cultural obligation, the inevitably unhappy marriage that was never what it appeared. But since the story is centered on Soo-Ja, she is most sharply in focus and not always sympathetically.

Frenchman Who Teaches Korean Language at SNU
Chosun Ilbo

Marc Duval jokes that his love of the spicy Korean stew kimchi jjigae made him a professor of Korean language at the prestigious Seoul National University.

World-class athletes to gather in Daegu for int’l event
The Korea Herald

Usain Bolt, Yelena Isinbayeva, Asafa Powell and other world-class athletes will gather in Daegu next month to take part in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Championships.

Free Hank Conger!
ESPN.com

After moving Joel Pineiro to the bullpen, there’s only one obvious move left for the Angels to make. They must free Hank Conger.

As bad as the Angels’ offense has been, it’s their catching that has been especially atrocious in 2011.

Greg Pak’s Epic Run to Conclude with INCREDIBLE HULKS #635
The Daily Blam!

Comic book writer Greg Pak is ending his five-year run as writer of The Incredible Hulks.

Marvel Comics has released advance preview pages for The Incredible Hulk​s #635, the final issue of writer Greg Pak​’s run. The issue hits stores August 31, 2011.

Oldest foreign school in Seoul kicks off its centennial
Yonhap News

Here’s a feature story on the oldest international school in South Korea.

Seoul’s oldest foreign school is turning 100 years old next year, and the school is ready to celebrate the occasion by opening itself up to show how its pioneering academics have shaped 100 years of educating Seoul’s foreign population.

The Arms Race Intrudes on Paradise [OPINION]
New York Times

Gloria Steinem writes an op-ed piece for the Times regarding Jeju Island.

Jeju isn’t called the most beautiful place on earth for nothing. Ancient volcanoes have become snow-covered peaks with pure mountain streams running down to volcanic beaches and reefs of soft coral. In between are green hills covered with wildflowers, mandarin orange groves, nutmeg forests, tea plantations and rare orchids growing wild; all existing at peace with farms, resorts and small cities. Unesco, the United Nation’s educational, scientific and cultural organization, has designated Jeju Island a world natural heritage site.

Now, a naval base is about to destroy a crucial stretch of the coast of Jeju, and will do this to dock and service destroyers with sophisticated ballistic missile defense systems and space war applications. China and South Korea have positive relations at the moment. But this naval base is not only an environmental disaster on an island less than two-thirds the size of Rhode Island, it may be a globally dangerous provocation besides.

U.S. ignores Koreans’ protest in naming sea between Korea, Japan
Yonhap News

Despite a growing furor among Koreans, the U.S. government formally confirmed a policy Monday of calling the waters between Korea and Japan the Sea of Japan.

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