Friday, December 20, 2013

Chien-Ming Wang is a Red, and somewhere old George's statue is weeping

Chien-Ming Wang, the last great homegrown starting pitcher for the Yankees, took a minor league deal yesterday with Cincinnati. It's cheap, but larded with incentives. Basically, the Reds are willing to roll the dice on Wang, and we were not.

I have no clue if Wang can still pitch. Last year, Toronto neatly shoplifted him from our system, and he fell apart after two half-promising starts. At a certain point, a struggling 34-year-old pitcher walks into the sunset, and unless Wang can pitch in relief, he's probably there. But I hate to think of it being the Cincinnati horizon.

For all his foibles - old George Steinbrenner loved to orchestrate curtain calls for ex-Yankees. He did it with David Wells, David Cone, Tino Martinez, Mike Stanton, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Ramiro Mendoza, Jeff Nelson - just to name a few. It became a punch line, like when Batman "dies" in a comic book: Old Yankees always returned, at least for the end. It didn't make them young again. But it was nice to see them, to cheer them one last time.

If old George were kicking, I don't think he would let Cincinnati host the final acts of Chien-Ming Wang's career. But George is a statue, and young Hal is earning a reputation as a boring, suburban, fiscally prudent weenie. George's showmanship and bombast genes seem to have gone to Hank, the chain-smoking, public relations lump. Hal is the spreadsheet brother, invoker of the infamous $189 million rule goal (It was a rule last year, now it's a goal).

Maybe Hal inherited his dad's impatience. Supposedly, he's ordered changes throughout our failed farm system. (No firings, though.) And now the $189 "goal" might go bye-bye. Joel Sherman says A-Rod's salary - if Alex isn't banned - will push us beyond $189 million, prompting Hal to go hog wild on spending: In for a penny, in for a pound. This would create a brief diversion for critics who would eventually note that Hal inflicted third-place austerity last season - apparently for nothing. Also, what is there to buy? The lone free agent superstar this winter signed with Seattle. How many Bronson Arroyos can we sign?

So Chien-Ming Wang takes his last walk in Cincinnati. I, for one, hope he's not done. He was a great Yankee starting pitcher, the last one we've known. Back then, we chased all the international free agents. Back then, the Yankees were always the gold standard. I'm hoping Wang throws well enough to warrant for a final call - back to where he belongs. I think old George's statue would be smiling. Wouldn't we all?


JM said...

"A boring, suburban, fiscally prudent weenie."

Yeah, but how about that Stepford wife of his? Grrrrrroowwwwlll.

Leinstery said...

I have been waiting for the Wang comeback since his career took a nose-dive in Houston. I'm still holding out hope.