Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wang Gets The Knife

Good morning Fackers. After a clunker of a game last night, we don't have much in the way of good news for you this morning. In case you hadn't heard, as you read this, or perhaps even prior to your reading this, Chien-Ming Wang is in Birmingham, Alabama undergoing surgery on his right shoulder at the hands of Dr. James Andrews, allegedly to repair a torn labrum.

This is the latest and hopefully the last in a series of professional misfortunes to beset Wang over the past 14 months: his lis franc injury, his improper offseason rehab regimen, his historically bad three starts to start the season, his dubious trip to the DL, his botched rehab assignment and panicked return to the Bigs, his relegation to mop-up man, his lackluster return to the rotation, and then his Fourth of July shoulder injury and subsequent trip to the DL, rehab set back, and now the operation that will cost him the remainder of this year and a good chunk, if not all, of next year. What concerns me is that even if this is the last bad break for CMW, it may also be the straw to break the camel's back.

Much of this is irresponsible speculation at this stage, but look at it this way: Wang will be 30 years old come next Opening Day. He had rotator cuff surgery as a minor leaguer, and then missed time during his rookie season with another rotator cuff injury. He's a sinkerball pitcher who has a very good track record in his career, but possesses neither the peripheral statistics nor the pitching repetoire that is predictive of future success. He missed more than half of last season following a foot injury, pitched very very poorly this year, and now is having his second shoulder surgery before the age of 30. Shoulder injuries are the scarlet letters of Major League pitchers. Few survive one; Wang has now had two, in addition to another shoulder injury that was rehabbed without the knife. Chien-Ming Wang's career, or at least his career as an effective pitcher, may well be over.

Jay pondered something similar nearly two months back, but I thought such speculation was premature at that point. Wang was the rare sinkerballer who had beaten the odds and been wildly successful, and after a very rough start to the season, I thought he was primed to get himself back on track. Now rather than the scenes in Casino that Jay recalled, I can't shake the thought of Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption:

Andy: I wound up here. Bad luck I guess.

Red: Bad luck? Jesus.

Andy: It floats around. Has to land on somebody. Say a storm comes through. Some folks sit in their living rooms and enjoy the rain. The house next door gets torn out of the ground and smashed flat. It was my turn, that's all. I was in the path of the tornado. I just had no idea the storm would go on as long as it has.

CMW has been in a shit storm of bad luck of late. I only hope it gets better for him, but I don't like his chances. The fact that his current situation reminds me of a conversation between one guy who's an avowed life-long Mets fan and another who's allegedly dating his step-granddaughter can't possibly be a good sign.

Of course, Wang is being operated upon by the most famous orthopedic surgeon in the world, someone who has salvaged the career of many an injured athlete . Yet, he's also the man that allegedly ruined the career of former Yankee (as well as middle finger enthusiast and sometime Pearl Jam punching bag) Jack McDowell. The fact that Wang's surgery comes the day after the McDowell story broke just about sums up the horseshit luck the poor guy has had of late.

In the short term, the Yankees need for another pitcher - particularly with Alf now having a sore shoulder - just went way up. Unfortunately, so did the price they'll have to pay for one - particularly with the non-waiver trade deadline just over fifty hours away. As much as I didn't like the now debunked rumored Bronson Arroyo deal on Monday, the one solace I took in it was that it would have been a preemptive move before the bad news on Wang could break. As noted linguist Omar Minaya might say, that train has now sailed.

Andy Dufresne said hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. Hope is one thing, but right now optimism is quite another. Chien-Ming Wang is crawling through a river of shit. I don't like his chances of coming out clean on the other side.


  1. you are a cunning son of a bitch matthew. i expect nothing less of you, that somehow put shawshank, minaya's lingual skills and cmw's shitty luck into facker post..well done

    but tell me who has led the majors in steals the most consecutive years, and how many yrs was it?

  2. Wang out for the year is probably best for the Yanks at this weird as that is to say.