The scene outside the Nationals' clubhouse after Chien-Ming Wang earned his first major league win in more than two years was one of jubilation for the hundreds of Taiwanese baseball fans who came to watch the comeback of one of their national heroes.
Over in Taiwan, Wang is considered the "Michael Jordan of baseball." The way the fans reacted to him last night, he may be more like Michael Jackson. Watching Wang after the game was like watching a rock star after a concert. The 31-year-old graciously signed autographs while Taiwanese fans snapped photos and cheered like crazy outside Gate D at Wrigley Field.
As the team bus pulled away from Wrigley Field, one player said Wang is "The Taiwanese Strasburg," referring to Stephen Strasburg, the Nats phenom who finds large crowds following him wherever he goes.
The way Wang has persevered here in the United States is a wonderful baseball story and it is one of determination, perseverance and the love of baseball. During his comeback, Wang had setbacks, but he continued to work hard. Jordan Zimmermann spent many hours working alongside Wang during his own comeback last year and he told me that he noticed how diligent Wang was with his workout routine.
"He was the first one there and the last one to leave," Zimmermann recalled.
Now all that hard work in the weight room and on the back fields of Viera, Fla., is paying off. Wang took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. He looked confident and effective on the mound. His sinker was simply spectacular and he earned his first win as a member of the Washington Nationals in front of his wife and young son.
After the game, he admitted his sinker wasn't as effective in his last outing, but on Tuesday night it was back, to the tune of 12 groundball outs. He was throwing very free and easy.
The Taiwanese fans cheered for Wang before, during and after the game, and the Nats pitcher truly appreciated their support. It may be fitting that there were so many Taiwanese fans sporting the red curly W hats and t-shirts. After all, red in Chinese culture is a symbol of luck and while the curly W actually stands for Washington, the Taiwanese fans believe it means winning.
To Wang, at least it did on this summer night in Chicago.