Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Birth and rebirth

There is some undeniable symbolism here. Yesterday, Chien-Ming Wang's wife gave birth to their first child. Today it is the daddy's turn.

For two and one half years, Wang was the stabilizing force in the Yankee rotation. With robotic precision, he seemed to be able to control his sinker and his opponents. Victories came easily and often. Then, with one ill fated run around the bases, his footing, literally and figuratively, gave out.

What we have seen so far this year is something beyond horrible. The statistic gurus speak in terms of 'worst ever' ERAs over the first 5 starts. The numbers suggest the 8 year old who is forced to pitch against the 12 year olds.

Today, the day after the birth of his child, he is being given one last chance to prove he can be reborn as the once and future of the Yankees. He certainly has not been the present.

Sports is at its most interesting when the human drama behind it becomes the driving force of your interest. I have been to hundreds and hundreds of baseball games and have witnessed moments that rank among the most memorable. But, for me, the most compelling was watching an almost over the hill Dwight Gooden throw one of the most unexpected no hitters imaginable. Plagued by years of abuse, Gooden was on that May day seemingly headed for baseball extinction, and was facing a lineup of a young Ken Griffey and other quality hitters. As the innings wore on, and the no hitter took shape, my inner tension rose. By the end of this totally unexpected experience, Gooden was once again back in the good graces of the Yankees and the baseball gods, and the roar at the Stadium literally made the house shake.

I don't know what tonight's game may bring. But, the rise, fall and rise again of the new daddy would certainly make for good feelings and good press. I am going to the Stadium tonight with a rooting interest that deals with one, not 25. I hope I find a new Dwight Gooden in a meaningless game in June against a terrible team from Washington. It is either the best or worst of times for Chien Ming. This is when it becomes fascinating.

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