Sun, May 15, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Our baseball stands to gain

By Roger Cheng

Seven-and-a-third innings, four hits, three runs, three earned runs, three strikeouts and no home runs at Yankee Stadium in front of a crowd of 39,780 last Tuesday.

This historically significant chapter in Taiwanese baseball is being written by Wang Chien-ming (王建民), who has put Taiwan into a state of ecstasy with his first victory in the US Major League. Local media immediately celebrated, saying Taiwan had now proved its international competitiveness to the baseball world.

Before his Major League debut late last month against the Toronto Blue Jays, the 25-year-old Tainan native spent years in the Yankees farm system, where he was trained by coaches whom most young Taiwanese young talent hardly have the opportunity to meet.

The 190cm, 90kg Wang is definitely Major League material, a godsend you might say, but without the hard work that he put in during his Minor League years, he probably wouldn't be the Wang standing before us and Yankees fans today.

We all know that Wang may not be the most talented ballplayer from Taiwan, but he's got the right stuff and he's had the right training. All of this has contributed to his first win, apart from his psychological strengths that many baseball pundits have noted.

Due to an injury-plagued pitcher being thrown onto the disabled list, Wang joined the pitching rotation of the most invested-in pro baseball team on earth. But the bad news was that before the win over the Mariners, the Yankees suffered its most embarrassing moment when its millionaire pitchers couldn't find the strike zone, and its award-winning and yacht-loving hitters lost all of their eye-hand coordination.

So New York's conquest of Seattle was not only a battle between two megacities, but also a critical step for the Yankees organization, for Wang himself and particularly for Taiwan, where it is now time to think about what kind of training made Wang what he is today.

Roger Cheng


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