What’s wrong with Wang?
Wang Chien-ming (王建民), the Taiwanese pitcher for the New York Yankees, became well-known after winning a record 19 games in 2006 and 2007. His brilliant performance also won him the title “The Glory of Taiwan.” Last year, after winning eight games, he was injured running the bases and missed the rest of his scheduled games.
Now, after fully recovering from his foot injury, he is on the mound again and many of his fans in Taiwan and the US had been looking forward to seeing him continue his excellent performance.
However, he has disappointed and surprised everyone by struggling in his appearances so far. He has lost two games in the past two weeks with a surprising 28.93 ERA.
As I’m writing this, he still hasn’t overcome his nightmare of being blown-out in the first two innings. He only pitched 1 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits, including a three-run homer. He allowed all eight of his runs in the second inning with an unbelievable 34.5 ERA.
It was the third straight poor game for Wang, who has now allowed 23 runs in a total of six innings this season. What’s wrong with Wang? What makes Wang unable to deliver his trademark “sinker”?
One reasonable explanation for his poor performance is that he has not fully recovered from his foot injury. Even though his coaches assure the press that Wang is physically fit for the competition, his surprisingly poor pitching makes their assurances questionable.
As a Taiwanese with a shy and taciturn character, Wang might not really speak out about his physical problems for fear that he might be demoted to the minors. The Yankees should give Wang a thorough physical checkup.
Another reason for his poor showing may be that he is under great pressure and has lost his confidence.
Burdened by the titles of “The Glory of Taiwan” and “Ace,” Wang is eager to hit high points to demonstrate his value. The keener he is to win, the greater pressure he is under and the higher the chance he could mess up his outing. Perhaps the Yankees might consider sending him to a professional counseling center to help him chase away his fears and regain his confidence.
A final reason Wang is not throwing his familiar “sinker” after resting for 10 months is he might have “forgotten” how to pitch a sharp sinkerball.
If that’s the reason, after three straight poor outings, the Yankees might consider stopping Wang’s regular pitching rotation for a while, demoting him to the minors, or putting him on the injured list.
As a faithful Wang fan, I hope he will make a strong comeback. After all, his past wins have soothed and lifted the mood of Taiwanese and allowed them to temporarily forget the political turmoil and the bad economy.
Most of all, his winning helped ignite the hope of Taiwanese for a better future.
Carry on, Wang! Trust yourself, you can make it!