Late Life: The Chien-Ming Wang Story (2018) Movie Script

[children chattering]
[girl] Whats a Yankee?
[boy] Yankees is a baseball team, Yankees.
[girl] Oh.
[Chien-Ming Wang] Cool.
-[Chien-Ming] Hello.
I was going to tell you,
hes Justins dad.
-[Chien-Ming] Yeah?
-Oh, my God.
My mom told me...
Uh, us that youre famous.
My mom told me that.
Before, not now.
[children laughing]
[male commentator 1]
Think about the Yankees,
you think about
all that money in that big payroll,
and who gets the ball in Game One?
Chien-Ming Wang,
who has been, without a doubt,
the best starter down the stretch
for the New York Yankees.
[male commentator 2]
That sinker goes down,
a lot of hitters talk about hitting it,
and it feels like a bowling ball.
What a description
of a tough sinker from Wang.
[male commentator 3]
One of the best sinkers during his era.
[male commentator 1] One, two, pitch.
-Ordonez strikes out.
-[crowd cheering]
[male commentator 2] He was fun to watch
for a couple of years,
and it was exciting.
-He's struck him out.
-[crowd cheering]
[male commentator 1] Hes a great pitcher.
A lot of the guys who come here,
they cant stand on that mound.
And theyre great any place else,
but they come in and stand there,
he had that.
[male commentator 2]
He won 19 games two years in a row,
and he was like
the next great pitcher for the Yankees.
[male commentator 1]
Wang rounds third, he scores.
It is a two run base hit
and Wang got hurt running the bases.
Wang is bent over at home plate,
and the Yankees
will have to go to the bullpen.
He can barely walk.
[man] Too early.
He hurt himself
and never came back from it.
He seemed like he had it...
and it wasnt there.
It was sad.
[male commentator 1] Hes not pitched
in the Major Leagues since 2013,
when he made
six appearances with the Blue Jays,
and has not been the same guy since.
[male commentator 1]
Right after Spring Training,
he was the first ever
Yankee starting pitcher
at the new Yankee Stadium.
Now, it was an exhibition game,
it wasnt a regular season game.
That was the first game
the Yankees played in their new home,
and he was the
starting pitcher on the mound.
[male commentator 2] Thats something
nobody can take away from him.
[male commentator 1] Thats right.
[male commentator 2]
Thats a pretty cool experience.
[Chien-Ming in Mandarin] This is
my sixth team in the past two years.
The last time I was in the
Majors was two years ago.
My sinker does not have the late life
like it used to,
the velocity is slower now
at 86 or 87 mph.
[male commentator 1]
Heres the one off pitch,
and theres a drive
to the gap in right center field.
Thats got some steam.
I just want to continue to pitch
and see if I could get my groove back.
[male commentator] One run, two hits,
and nobody left on base.
[man] Its tough to see
good guys struggle,
especially from what he was
to what he is now.
He was throwing low to mid-90 sinkers,
and probably throwing it
90% of the time, it was nuts.
[male commentator]
Drive to right field, its in, its a hit,
this is going to score two runs.
Navarro scores,
all the way around third
into score is Parmelee
in a double and its three to one.
Chien-Ming Wang now
has given up four hits.
Throws home...
swings and bloops one to left,
thats going to drop in
and will score another run.
[man] I... I wish he never got hurt.
He would've been...
He would've been...
He wouldve been
still here with the Yankees,
tell you the truth.
Yeah, definitely.
[door creaking]
[Alan Chang] The day he got released
by the Triple-A Braves,
I hear hes very calm, and...
Um, but yet, you know, that day
I could sense in the voice
in his phone call
that he could have tears in his eyes,
and hes never been released
in mid-season.
So I just tell him, uh,
"Hey, dont worry,
do you want to continue to pitch?"
You know, youve had a great career,
if you dont want to pitch anymore,
you can go home,
and youve already done so much.
And he just tell me that, hey, you know,
keep looking for teams for him, um,
he wants to continue to pitch.
And at that time,
all the other 29 Major League teams,
their Triple-A rotations are full, too.
There were two teams,
San Diego Padres and New York Mets,
but they decided to pass on Chien-Ming.
And I explained to him that
if he wants to go home
to Florida and rest,
and, you know,
wait for a Major League team
to come up with a spot in the
Triple-A roster, he could do that.
But the risk is, if he goes home,
he would have to restart up
the throwing program again
once a spot opens.
[Chien-Ming] I struggle
with the thoughts of calling it a career.
If I ended this...
at least I could return to Taiwan,
and spend some time with my parents.
Im getting older, too,
sometimes I do think about this.
They are in Taiwan,
and its just the two of them there.
We talked to Chien-Ming
about, you know, what he wants to do
and totally respect him.
I know... You know,
hes had a storied career,
and I told him that, "Hey, you know,
after all youve been through,
if you want to hang it up...
Youve had such a, you know,
unbelievable career already,
you know, and its such a good example
to little kids like my son...
You know...
We love you and...
You know, you can..."
Even if theres no opportunities
in the affiliated organizations,
you still need to stay in shape.
Alan found an Independent League team.
The level is in between
Double-A and Triple-A
with a lot of good players playing there.
I told him whatever the team is, Ill go.
Im running out of options.
This has got to be the lowest point,
theres not even a Minor League spot.
So, I have to go to
the Independent League.
What I worry about is,
whether Ill ever make it back
into the MLB system.
[in Mandarin] He is well aware
of how much time he has left.
After all, he is a pitcher
of a certain age.
You want to support him,
sure, give it all youve got
and keep going.
But on the other hand,
you feel sorry for him
hes no longer the same pitcher.
The only thing that remains is his spirit.
[indistinct conversations on TV]
[Wellington Wang grunts]
[Charlene Wu] Okay, Kolby, let's see
where your brother is.
[children chattering]
[car door opens]
I totally understand
the heart and soul of ballplayers
is on the fields.
Watching him struggle
these past few years,
I am really torn, too.
I want him to keep playing,
but I dont want him
to miss out on our family this much.
[indistinct commentary over PA]
[indistinct chatter]
[Patrick Day] They all got their
backs up against the wall.
Is the way they view it. Um...
And its true, their...
Their worlds get crushed a little bit.
You know, theyre inside
of an organization,
feeling really good about themselves,
then all of a sudden...
they get released.
Theres 1,400 free agents out there
all the time, and theres
only 200 spots in this league.
[Stan Cliburn] A lot of them had been
to the Major Leagues.
I think 80 of the 200 players
last year in the league
all had Major League experience.
So this is a league where guys
whove been to the Major Leagues,
theyre back here for whatever reason,
whether it was injury,
their age might have caught up with them,
weeded them out of the
Major League system they were in
because of the youth movement
coming in with the younger players.
But their backs are against the wall,
and the... and the thing is,
to put up the numbers,
to get out of here,
and to be seen by Major League scouts
and to get back, they have to perform.
[man] Come, get it. Ready.
[crowd cheering]
And Chien-Ming was one of the guys
that felt like his quickest way
back in Major League Baseball
was through the Atlantic League
and through Southern Maryland.
[train horn blaring]
-[Chien-Ming] Chien-Ming.
-[man on phone] How are you?
[Chien-Ming] Good, how are you?
[man speaking indistinctly on phone]
No, I get released. [chuckles]
-You got released?
[man speaking indistinctly on phone]
Oh, I dont know, no team, now...
Can I go see you?
-And I take you to dinner.
-[man speaking indistinctly on phone]
Okay, I see you in a little bit.
All right.
[dog barking]
[indistinct conversations]
[dogs panting]
[indistinct conversations]
Chien, how are you?
-Good, how are you?
-Nice to see you.
Did you hear... What is this?
No, the...
Merry Christmas.
Oh, okay.
Look at you, the picture on the wall.
-[donkey snorts]
-You hear the donkeys?
[Chien-Ming] Yeah.
He brought some apples.
[in Mandarin] Look at his room.
Isnt this incredible?
I dont think that there is a collection
of Major League stuff quite like this,
-Uh, Billy?
[man] Does... Does your arm feel strong,
[Chien-Ming in English] Yeah,
I feel strong, but this year, different.
And every time I throw one game,
like 100 pitch,
next day I dont feel nothing.
No soreness, nothing.
Thats good.
-Its good?
-Hes done it in the past...
Been a great pitcher,
and hes young enough
that he can still do it.
Theres some signs that--
You never give up on a guy
whos already done it.
If somebody hasnt done it,
then you dont worry about it.
Theres a lot of scouts probably,
you know...
mentioned that hes...
They... They think he's done.
Hell never recover.
Well, thats bullshit.
[Billy Connors] Well, hes, number one...
When I first...
I saw him pitch his first game...
in Staten Island.
He's, uh... Not only
he's a tremendous pitcher,
but hes a tremendous person.
Hes a hard worker,
great kid...
and I fell in love with him. I just...
I knew we would make it
to the big leagues.
He had 19 wins, 19 wins,
and the year he got hurt,
he wouldve won 20.
Right, Chien?
I try.
Hes a special person,
and I love him to death.
[Chien-Ming in Mandarin]
Ive never thought of how good
I could become.
Didnt think much of it when I was young.
Just thought by playing baseball,
I could go out and have fun.
I never thought I would play in the States
or Japan or anything.
Never thought of it.
[male commentator]
In the pitcher, from Taiwan,
is Chien-Ming Wang,
whos making his 12th start of the season.
Six-three, 185 pounds
and flawless mechanics,
and here is his pitching coach
Neil Allen to talk about him.
Pitching for us today would be
the young man from Taiwan
Chien-Ming Wang.
Hell be throwing a fastball,
curve ball, slider,
change, and split-finger.
Uh, hes got a lot of confidence
in all of his pitches right now,
and he throws them all
at any time in the count,
and hes having a lot of success for us
so we hope that he will continue.
[crowd cheering]
First and foremost,
I was like his United States dad, I guess.
Cause I knew
he was a long ways from his dad,
and I wanted to be there for him
-if he wanted to talk.
-Thats okay.
We dont want to give them anything
to hit a big home run right there, okay?
I was always there for him,
trying to put a smile
on his face every day,
and he started trusting me.
We developed a relationship
and thats how it all started.
[male commentator]
Signed by the Yankees
for a $1.9 million bonus two years ago,
and then blew out his shoulder
after 14 pro starts
here on Staten Island.
[Neil] We always knew he had a big arm,
and he could throw it by people,
but it was straight.
So we knew in time,
that we had to do something
to create some movement for him.
He got to Triple-A,
you got more experienced hitters.
And there was a point in time
where he would be giving up
some hits and things like that.
And I said, "Okay, its time.
We need to start teaching you a sinker."
And he kind of looked at me like,
You know, and I go, "Yes,
were gotta get the ball to do this."
He grabbed it, and he ran with it.
[male commentator]
Hes got the sort of stuff
that projects him out to be
a three or two starter in the rotation,
and this is the first day
of the rest of his career.
Chien-Ming Wang...
will start his Major League career
with this pitch.
Its a strike.
I cried.
Cause he was such a great kid.
And, um...
I cant even imagine what it was like
to go that far from home
and work so hard for so long
through injuries,
and accomplish what he had accomplished.
That... When he came
and warmed up for that first game...
And I remember, in New York,
there was a Taiwanese section,
they were holding signs,
and they were going crazy for him
and everything like that.
And in my own mind,
I just reminisce
and thought about the past...
the hard road that kid traveled
to get to where he got to that night.
[male commentator] Chien-Ming Wang winds,
kicks, and hes ready to deal.
Lets do it at the new Yankee Stadium.
[Brian Cashman] On the mound,
he was a beast for us,
he was a ferocious competitor,
he had some of the nastiest stuff
that weve acquired since Ive been here.
And it was great to see that
our belief in him paid off,
you know, because eventually he won
19 games two straight years for us.
It was exciting and very proud for us.
[male commentator 1]
Listen to the ovation.
[crowd cheering]
[male commentator 2]
Oh, If youre thinking about Taiwan,
its a country that is, uh,
slightly smaller than, uh,
Maryland and Delaware combined,
but 22 million,
almost 23 million people live there.
On the other side of the world, you know,
you hear the stories about
he might be the most popular
or the highest celebrity profile
in the country of Taiwan.
That was... You know, its kind of cool
to hear that type of stuff.
-[man screaming]
-Lets go, Chien-Ming Wang.
[in unison] Lets Go, Yankees.
[whistling in rhythm]
[Jessica Kung in Mandarin]
The rise of Chien-Ming Wang
brought along a projection
of national pride.
A Taiwanese kid, born and raised
with a personality that encompassed
all that is Taiwanese,
hard working and humble,
just an encapsulation of
Taiwanese workingman culture,
all projected through Wangs personality.
He is our national pride.
[male commentator]
The main newspaper in his city
would sell 300,000 more copies
the day after he pitched. Wow.
[Jessica] When he became the ace
of the Yankees, the whole world saw it,
it was as if the whole world
also saw Taiwan.
All of this national pride exploded
and projected onto him.
[crowd cheering]
[in Mandarin] I think its because
he really reached a level
that nobody could have ever reached.
I believe there will never be
another player from Taiwan
who will reach his level
of accomplishment.
He gave people in his generation
a lot of hope and confidence.
Including us ballplayers, so that we know,
you can actually make it that far.
It was a wonderful process.
Of course, I do miss it sometimes.
But the road of life
doesnt go forward all the time.
[male commentator]
Wang rounds third, he scores.
It is a two run base hit
and Wang got hurt running the bases.
He can barely walk,
the Yankees take a five to nothing lead,
but they lose their
starting pitcher as a result.
[Brian] Well, it was "Oh, no,"
certainly worried,
but never expecting it to have
the... the long term effect
on his career that it wound up having.
It was a career defining moment.
We lost our ace.
You know, that injury
cost us a great deal,
it certainly cost him a great deal, too.
[crowd chattering]
[male commentator 1] Problem
for Chien-Ming Wang here with nobody out.
And that ball is hit in the air
to center field and hard.
It looks like that sinker
is just not sinking.
[male commentator 2] High fly ball
deep right backing up is Cabrera.
[male commentator 3]
One of the worst pitches Chien-Ming Wang
has thrown today, to the wrong hitter.
I believe that all pitchers
are one pitch away from
never pitching again.
And, um...
You know, Chien-Ming,
I mean, he had the foot injury,
never was really able
to get back on track,
and I think thats what hurt him.
[male commentator] Now, theres
something wrong with Chien-Ming Wang.
What could that be?
I felt pain pushing off the rubber,
and I was really anxious,
so I threw even harder
and my delivery went out of form,
I was throwing only with my arm.
[indistinct chatter]
[groans softly]
[man] All the way up, breathe.
Good, bring it down.
Keep your wrists straight, okay?
[in Mandarin] When you stitch up
after a shoulder surgery,
there will be at least
four suture anchors.
As a whole,
wed call that a major surgery.
But in his case,
there were 13 anchors.
Its not just a line or a surface,
its the entire shoulder being opened up,
reconstructed and cleaned up.
Id always heard about his injury,
but I was never fully aware of it,
except hearing about it
being really serious.
But when he took off his shirt
and you saw the scars,
you knew...
it was really serious.
Ive been in rehab a lot myself,
and Ive seen many players
with shoulder surgeries,
when he took off his shirt,
I was moved.
I wanted to cry.
But I had to tease him, I was, like,
all these scars and marks,
you wouldnt think he is a pitcher.
You wonder how he can still throw
with that shoulder.
He must have withstood a lot of stress,
and had lots of motivation,
to keep doing what hes doing.
[crowd applauding]
[Ping-Huang Wang] He really persevered.
Youre in the Minor League,
or the Independent League,
and not in the Majors,
I told him this is the business of sports.
Its going to be a tough road,
but if you want to keep playing,
you have to endure it.
[in Mandarin] When he was young,
he would complain his arm hurt.
He would have a hard time
climbing up the stairs after workouts.
He would come home exhausted,
but he continued to play on.
Sometimes he would say
his arm was sore or something,
but it was just him talking,
he just kept on playing.
I think theres a stubborn side of him
that carried him through this day.
[crowd applauding and cheering]
When I started my rehab,
everything I did hurt.
I had trouble stretching,
raising my arm,
it all had to be really slow, really slow.
[John Hsu] I remember he would tell me,
even when driving,
hed feel pain pulling the wheel,
turning the wheel.
The injury he had
was a first in all of baseball,
nobody knew if he could make it back
with an injury like this.
He exhibited his stubbornness
throughout his rehab.
I think rarely you see
a person capable of
persistently doing something
as repetitive as he did in his rehab.
I think getting to know him
made it a little easier for me
because I knew what buttons to push.
Chien-Ming definitely sets goals,
he just wanted to pitch again.
I think he wanted to do it
to prove the Yankees wrong.
[John Hsu]
He had started throwing Live BP,
which means
he started facing live batters.
He pitched a little bit and said...
"It didnt feel right."
He couldnt continue to pitch.
From what I know of him...
its impossible for him
to stop halfway through.
He just, "Very bad pain, very bad."
And I was, like, "Okay, yeah, you know,
get your glove, Ill go throw with you."
"No, you know, listen, very bad pain."
And Im, like, "All right,
get your glove."
"Im not throwing today."
I said, "Okay, well, then,
you should quit.
You know, why dont you retire?"
He said something very serious to me,
he said
"If youre hurting, then go home.
Just give up."
[Steve Cober] Hes a big guy, you know?
So he gets up, you know,
"Im not, I no quit."
And I was like, uh-oh, you know,
what if this guy come over
and punches me.
I kind of touched a nerve.
He walked out,
and I dont think he played
catch that day.
I... Im sure I probably insulted him,
I really am.
Of course I didnt want to give up.
I was not going to concede.
I wanted to be back on the mound.
And the next day or so,
one of the conversations,
he wanted to make sure that I knew...
that he was all in.
From then on,
I really started following the program
he designed for me
and threw hard.
And slowly but surely,
I started to feel better.
I know a lot of guys
that Ive been around,
they probably wouldve quit.
[Chien-Ming] And at the end,
I was really able to pitch again.
Its a miracle
that I can still pitch today.
[male commentator]
And hes back in the Major Leagues now
for the first time since July 4th of 2009.
It was kind of a big day for me.
I mean, it was... I felt almost like
a proud parent, you know.
Standing up in the box,
first inning didnt go so well,
I remember, you know, he gave up
a couple of runs, wasnt throwing strikes,
gave a couple of hits, and just...
I think a lot of that
was more his nerves than anything else.
But at the same point,
I could remember being up in the box,
like pacing back and forth, and...
You know, I was nervous,
it was like I was waiting
to have my first child.
In the waiting room pacing around...
and being nervous.
I was kind of like,
"Hey hes finally here,
hes going to make it."
[male commentator]
Pitch is over, strike three called.
Outside corner
with a sinker from Wang
who picks up the strike out,
thats his first of the night.
[Alan] When that opening came up,
we continued to push the Mariners
to consider Chien-Ming
and after several days,
its decided to, uh, move forward
and buy him out of his contract
with Southern Maryland.
[Chien-Ming] After Alan told me,
he gave me two or three days
to pack.
I had to pack up everything
I had over there.
A whole year worth of stuff.
All shoved into my car,
and shipped the car over from Maryland.
This is the third team of this year,
its tiring,
but if not for the Independent League,
I might not have made it over here.
[crowd cheering]
Ive been in the States
for so many years now,
and stayed in many places.
From Staten Island at the beginning,
to Trenton...
and Columbus.
In recent years,
from Toronto to Buffalo...
suburbs of Atlanta,
to the Independent Leagues,
and then Tacoma.
Id been moving places every year...
to the point where I didnt know
where I was.
Its like, when Id wake up,
I would forget where I was.
[man singing in foreign language]
[tape running]
[Su-Chen Yang]
This is all Taiwanese cooking,
Taiwanese tastes.
-[in Mandarin] Mrs. Wu.
-[in Mandarin] Ming, here you are.
-Havent seen you for so long.
-Its been a while.
We missed you.
Are you feeling better?
Wasnt too good for a while,
but much better now.
I heard you fell from the stairs.
Yeah, I did. [laughing]
But Im good now, my son fixed me.
I fell and couldnt get up.
You had makeup on today.
I did that to welcome you,
just a little lipstick, something light.
When will you come again?
Ill take you to some king crabs.
You have to come on Tuesdays.
King crabs are on Tuesday,
Wednesday is lobster day,
remember that.
These are all for you.
Its not good if it gets cold, come.
Its okay, I can wait for them.
Well eat together.
Thats your baby, take care of it.
Its all on that arm.
All on this arm.
[speaking unintelligible]
[baby cooing]
Why are you crying?
[door bell dings]
[indistinct conversations]
[in Mandarin] Come, sit there.
[Michael Wu] When he made it
to the Major Leagues,
everybody was reporting on it,
I was like, this guy looks
like my classmate.
At the beginning, he told me his name
I vaguely remembered,
and slowly I drew the connection to him.
I think the one thing I did right was
refer him to Dr. Wu
so he could treat him.
At first Michael gave
Chien-Ming my number
and he called me up.
We went through some checkups,
he would drive up from
Tacoma for treatments.
It was a Saturday after a treatment
when he flew out for a game.
We were all wondering
whether he would struggle
or perform?
[kids screaming]
We watched as he kept on pitching
into the 9th inning about
to finish the game. [chuckles]
[male commentator]
Swing and a grounder right side,
OMalley to his left up with it,
throws over to first base
in time, that will end the game,
as Chien-Ming Wang pitches
a complete game, three hit shutout,
as Tacoma snaps the Dodgers'
five game winning streak.
He finished and won,
we sent a message and said,
"What a game you pitched."
Yeah, and he just said...
Hed felt very energized.
[in heavy accent] Hes been outstanding
his last, you know, two three starts.
Hes being consistent,
he have a lot of good stuff to show,
he have the stuff now.
[Chien-Ming] Everything felt right
in that game.
You go out there and pitch,
everything felt smooth.
The late life on my pitches, the angles,
they were all where I wanted them to be.
Wonderful, that was beautiful to watch.
[indistinct conversations]
[Albert Wu] Then he came back,
came here for dinner,
and from the car he said
he had shoes for me.
He gave me a look,
he said, "These are the game shoes
from that game."
I was like, "Oh."
It made my day. [chuckles softly]
[indistinct commentary]
[Jaime Navarro] He have everything
going for him right now,
and thats a good thing,
now he just got to stay on it,
and then, thats going to take him
to the big league
faster than you think it will.
[man yelling]
[Pat Listach] If a guy still feels
like he can still contribute
at the Major League Level,
hes going to give it all hes got.
And thats what hes doing.
And with the way hes pitched lately,
I really dont think hes that far away
from a Major League job again.
[Albert] Towards the end of the season,
he hardly mentioned any discomfort.
Its great there were
no pains or anything,
so he could really give it a final push.
[interviewer in Mandarin]
You sure do hope he makes
the Mariners Major League team.
Very much so, very much so.
We watch all his games,
and hope that he throws
complete games every time.
I went to Taipei for high school,
and college,
after that, I came to the States.
half of the time Ive been away from home.
I never got to spend...
enough time with my parents
during this time.
Theyve always supported me,
keep going out there
and explore when you are young.
I dont know how much longer
I will stay in the States,
and one day if I return to Taiwan,
they will be old.
[Ping-Huang] Your home is in Taiwan.
Just take good care of yourself
when you are there...
your mother and I,
well take care of ourselves, dont worry.
As long as hes happy and healthy,
and takes good care of his family,
I always tell him,
take care of your family,
and we will be okay.
We live a simple life here in Taiwan.
We will take care of ourselves.
As long as you stay
mentally tough and want to
make another run at the Major Leagues...
If it happens, great.
If not, well just walk away.
[crowd cheering]
[Ping-Huang] Youll have
to walk away sooner or later,
you dont need to
keep trying to climb the ladder.
I told him, you look at flowers,
after full bloom, they wither and fall.
Youd still need to come back down
once youve climb the tallest tower.
Age is always an issue.
You get old...
you cant fight it.
Thats what I always tell him.
[audience cheering]
Chien-Ming, he totally understands
his role through the years
as the Pride of Taiwan.
You know, thats a title thats given him
a lot of pressure,
and he does understand
the social responsibility
that hes carrying on his shoulder
what he meant to Taiwan.
[Chien-Ming] This title is what
the media created.
Personally, I think everyone
has his or her specialty
they just havent been discovered.
So, this name is, its superficial.
Eventually, it wears on you.
Because everyone...
is watching you with eyes wide open.
[crowd cheering]
With those expectations,
it forces you to try so hard
to perform for everyone.
Whats so great about Chien-Ming Wang?
Im just a ballplayer.
How is that different from everyone else?
Id rather not have this
"Pride of Taiwan" title.
[Jessica] As his career has continued,
it has forced him to begin
accepting things that
he wouldnt have before,
play for teams he would have
no interest in playing for.
Reality sets in,
forcing him to make adjustments.
As he bounced around the Minors,
there was less attention
and pressure to be the "Pride of Taiwan."
No more reporters, no more spotlights.
He got to slowly rediscover himself.
[Chien-Ming] Its a change,
my thought process changed.
I dont have so much pressure anymore,
its more like...
Im just pitching for myself
and it made my life simpler.
From the beginning,
thats all I ever hoped for.
To live like everyone else...
to just be the best that I can be.
Stay true to myself...
stay true to my profession,
and thats all there is to it.
What I need to work on now
is how to make my arm recover faster
between each game.
From game to game this season,
I was not consistent.
Lots of ups and downs.
The good stuff that he flashed
in the last three,
four weeks of the season,
in those games,
you know, it kind of
gave him some hope.
That... His late life stuff flashed back,
now how do you extend it.
[Chien-Ming] Alan said,
"Youve been training on
your own in the off-season
for the last few years,
and theres no consistent results,
only significant ups and downs."
[Alan] We heard a lot about Ron Wolforth
and the Texas Baseball Ranch
program had done
for several high profile pitchers
making comebacks,
he knows what he is doing with pitchers.
[Chien-Ming] So Alan told me,
"Youve got nothing to lose.
You should go try this out,
maybe you can learn something new
and one day be able to teach others."
The first time I walked in, I wondered...
is this a baseball school?
It was just tucked in a small plaza.
[Alan] You know, Chien-Ming looked around
and I said, "Hey, you know,
a lot of magic happened
in this room, I bet." [chuckles]
Randy gave us
a very informative presentation, and...
About the ways that the Ranchs program
will help Chien-Ming get his
consistency back
and help with his recovery
and maintaining a late life
on his sinking fastballs.
Go, quick, quick, quick.
[Ron Wolforth]
He has a couple mechanical inefficiencies.
You get in the mid-30s,
you start to lose some mobility.
And when your body doesnt quite
move as athletic as it did
when its 21 or 22,
you can develop movement pattern,
flaws or inefficiencies
that the body starts to unravel sooner.
And when you get to Chien-Mings level...
a five percent drop in performance
can get you just whacked.
The first time he talked about this...
"forearm fly out"...
But Ive never heard of
this phrase in baseball.
He said hes never heard about it.
And... Really? I was like, really?
How about any of your
Major League organization coaches,
have, you know, they mentioned
about this forearm fly out issue?
You know, and he said, nothing.
Hes never heard of it.
...changed to just enough...
Forearm fly out means
when you throw while your foot lands,
your arm is open and extended,
not at the normal 90 degrees angle.
When you throw like that,
its all throwing with the shoulder.
It puts pressures on it,
and its easier to get hurt.
Everyone has a balloon,
trying to find that 90% angle
and to stabilize it.
Now, with one on one off,
so he doesnt even have to think
about forearm fly out,
hes working on...
on one off one on one off...
[Ron] It was forearm fly out,
its a little bit of
out of sequence in his glove,
and not using his lower half
as much as he needed to.
The core of our body
from mid-thigh to lower back,
very important in pitching.
And the arm just goes along
for the ride until its there.
And Chien-Ming
was not using this very much.
[Randy Sullivan]
We were having him doing a drill
to try to get a little bit more
lower half initiation.
A little bit more glut activation.
And he wasnt crazy about the drill,
he told us that,
"It feels like Im pushing the ball
when I did this drill."
[Alan in English] If you dont think
this suits you, you should tell him,
he needs to understand you
and how your body responds.
[Randy] There is always skepticism
and doubt, and we welcome it.
We dont need to be right,
if you believe what you believe,
Im not going to try to change you.
Im just going to give you
heres what I know,
and then let you...
put you in an environment
where you can begin to experiment
and see what works.
-No? Okay.
[Randy] All right, lets come up
with a different alternative,
thats... that's what we do.
We are not going to take
a Major Leaguer whos throwing
at the high level that he has
and make wholesale changes.
I dont know if hell be better than
when he was winning back to back 19 games.
He could be.
But I dont think thats the point,
my point is to get him back,
he doesnt have to be better than that.
Just get him back to near that,
and I think there is no question
that he could do that.
[whistle blowing]
-So were good, no tear, but strain.
[Chien-Ming] Theres a bit
of disappointment and doubt.
The body is still learning to adjust
to the layers upon layers
of pressure stacking up.
And every day you are learning...
to communicate
with the new soreness of your body.
Trying to make it as cogwheels
with each cog fitting perfectly.
So right now, the body is experimenting
with these new mechanics.
It feels as if theres a void,
a disconnect.
Unlike before,
when it was like
a perfectly fitting cogwheel.
-Hey, thank you.
-Thank you.
I cant wait for you to get back,
youre going to be like Iron Man
when you come back.
Maybe I get softer when I come back.
No. [laughing]
Oh, man.
[man] We have an awesome staff here,
guys with a ton of experience
who are here to help you.
And the way that you guys are going
to get the most
out of the next four days,
is if you take advantage
of those guys who are here
and ask as many questions as you can.
[Chien-Ming] Pitching starts
from the bottom to the top, to your arm,
your legs are stronger than your arms.
You are still learning about your body,
you are not using
your lower half correctly yet,
to gather yourself
and drive the force forward.
When you step out aim at your target,
step, stabilize yourself.
Turn back a little bit,
your toes, yes.
Use your hip,
slide out...
lift up
and slide out.
Its very important to pass these on.
The hope is to take
what Ive learned overseas
and share them with these youngsters,
make Taiwanese baseball better.
Looking at these
young players working so hard,
Im quite moved.
I thought of when I was little,
working on utilizing the lower half
and arm angles...
what Ive learned at the Baseball Ranch,
its like revisiting these
fundamentals from the past.
[both speaking in Mandarin]
[Alan] Including the time
he go back to Taiwan,
hes gone all in.
And execute the plan,
so there wasnt a break,
there was a continuance
in building up his foundation
to push through this program.
[Chien-Ming] By training with
Chi-Hung Cheng in Tainan during this time,
he shared his experiences with me
and I shared mine,
slowly I started to feel progress.
All those feelings of disconnect earlier
slowly faded.
[Ron] Your body, kind of learning it,
kind of learning it,
its just like youre building a house
with little sticks, right?
And it takes a while.
[Chien-Ming] And Ron told me
that I can start throwing
bullpen sessions.
Is that four or two?
That really sunk.
Balls are constantly going
where theyre supposed to go.
-[Randy] Yeah.
-For him...
-[Randy] Mmm-hmm.
-That sink is just... its it.
[Randy] Yeah, thats his niche.
[Ron] So be really good at that. Right?
And Ill let you know
when were going to Spring Training,
-if you want to fly out--
-[Randy] Thatll be great, Id love to.
[Ron] So my critique of you in the video
was that you dont use
a lot of your lower half,
and, uh, now its much better.
I... I videoed you in your bullpen.
That means two things:
Potentially, I think you can get it
back up to 95mph with that,
and the second thing is,
and probably more importantly,
in the long run,
is theres less stress to the shoulder.
Start revving it up, Chien.
Start revving it up, baby.
Lets go, lets go.
[Randy] Today, is Velo-Push Day.
This means hes just going
to push the envelope and throw hard.
Its time to ramp it up,
get him ready for the season.
So that when the lights come on
-and Spring Training starts...
-[woman] 85.7 mph.
[Randy] ...he kicks the door down
at about 93, 95,
so that they have no choice
but to put him on the team,
no choice.
He cant go there
and ease his way in,
hes got to go there on fire.
Hes got to go there
and be so good that they have no choice.
And so, hes been ramping up
for about two months now
to get ready for this.
What we learned about Chien is that
-without competition...
[Randy] ...hes not as good.
-87.0 mph.
-[Randy] Yes!
Hes coming on!
So we, uh...
We arranged our 12th rounder
from the Red Sox,
Kevin, to come in and throw against him.
[Randy] If Kevin beats Chien
by four miles an hour,
then Chiens out, 100 bucks.
88.1 mph. [screaming]
[Randy] His first few throws,
it was quiet,
and theres nobody competing with him,
hes on his own,
and he was like 81 mph,
then he got to 84 mph.
And when he started competing,
he went from 84 to 87 mph,
to 90 mph.
94 mph.
[all cheering]
90.2 mph.
Most of the players leave home
when the season starts.
Youd miss out on...
seeing your kids grow
and everything they do.
[in Mandarin]
Daddy can you put these on for me?
[children chattering]
My dad has these eyes...
they can turn into this...
Daddy, can you do those eyes for me?
Like when you do this.
[in English] Do it.
[Charlene] He would tell his schoolmates,
"My dad is a ballplayer,
hes always playing."
Kids who play baseball would ask him,
"Does your dad hit home runs?"
And Justin would say,
"No, because hes a pitcher."
Dad play baseball for real...
not for fun, for real.
[Charlene] Hed leave in January
and come back around October.
When we say Daddy is going to work,
it means its for a long time,
more than 200 days or so.
[panting, yelling]
[interviewer in Mandarin]
When Daddy goes to work...
[interviewer in English] What do you...
What do you tell him on the phone?
Uh, when are you going to come back?
thats all.
[interviewer] What does he tell you?
Uh... He doesnt know yet.
[in Mandarin]
Sometimes parents would go to school
to see kids play violin or something,
and I couldnt be there.
He would feel sad...
he would call and say,
"You didnt come to see my performance."
He would tell you, and hed be in tears...
It makes you sad, too.
[Charlene] At the beginning,
he would ask for Daddy,
"When will he be back?
When will he be back?"
Then slowly...
he doesnt ask as much...
and then he stops asking.
Thats when you feel,
hes grown up a little.
[in Mandarin] I like Daddy...
being home.
[Charlene] Chien-Ming drew this...
and Justin drew that.
When he misses Daddy,
he would look at the photos,
and he would draw.
I would tell him to think
when Daddy finally gets off work,
what you would like to do with him
and draw that.
All he wanted is
to spend more time together.
He and Justin are Ninja Turtles.
We receive packages
from Daddy all the time...
Its probably an act of compensation.
Because Justin sometimes
would tell him on the phone,
what he wanted,
what he had seen recently,
what other kids are playing with.
So in his mind...
because he couldnt be by his side,
when he sees stuff for kids,
he would buy them
and send them our way.
Hed write Justin Wang on the package,
and when he received them,
he would be overjoyed.
Wow. This came from Daddy,
he would bring them to school,
telling his friends that
his dad sent him something.
[both speaking in Mandarin]
When Chien-Ming
is about to leave for work,
there will be a haircut session
for our sons.
But when he does this,
Justin knows...
what it means.
An hour before I leave,
he would start crying.
He would stand by the door and wave,
and say
"Daddy, you can come
visit me when you are free."
Because Im committed to keep playing,
I had to sacrifice the time
I wouldve spent with them.
I gave myself a two-year goal,
but that was two years ago
and now going into the third.
I just want to prove that I can pitch
in the Major League again.
Just for one day. [chuckles]
-[interviewer in Mandarin] Just one day?
I dont know, one day,
Im back.
Im not doing this
for the retirement pension.
Because no matter how long
youre in the Majors,
you will get a pension.
Its just a difference in the amount,
so no one is doing this
for the pension.
Im in this for an opportunity
to prove myself,
prove to the people in the industry,
the general managers.
They said Im a damaged goods,
that I wont come back.
I just want to prove
that I can still stand on that
Major League mound.
Im not sure how much longer I can go on,
but I will do my best.
Maybe until I can no longer throw,
then Ill stop.
For the Royals, he was essentially
like a 35-year-old lottery ticket.
Hes a guy they saw
in the off-season was available.
I just think that they thought
hed been in the big leagues before,
hed had success, you know,
why not give him a shot.
Well, obviously, hes coming off a season
you know, that he struggled
quite a bit result-wise,
so this is a more difficult off-season
to land on a spot for Spring Training.
The Major League regulars are all set,
so theres only one or two spots
for everyone else to fight for.
So when the team asked Alan
if I could pitch in relief,
Alan and I discussed it and thought
whichever gives me
more of opportunity for a spot,
I wouldnt mind trying.
[man] Come on, Wang.
Get over there, nice and easy.
He was one of the first starter candidates
we signed for Triple-A.
And it was a guy that, if you could use
the phrase "catch lightning in a bottle,"
it would fit perfectly.
[Jeffrey Flanagan] There wont be
many spots available in the bullpen,
because two of the guys
that will lose out to the rotation
will likely shift
right into the bullpen.
Theyve already got four guys set,
you know, in the back end of the bullpen.
So, if you carry seven pitchers
going into the season,
you can do the math,
youre looking at one spot
thats available.
Hes in the mix,
uh, its gonna be an uphill climb
for him, though, [chuckles]
because theres so many bodies in camp.
[Dave Eiland]
Chien-Ming is going to pitch,
hes here because we feel like
he has something left.
I really dont look at a guys age.
You can either pitch and get guys out
or you cant.
But the tell-tale sign
is when he gets in a game,
he starts to face hitters.
Im going to do all I can for him,
Im going to pull hard for him.
But ultimately, its up to him,
and how he goes out and pitches
and how he goes out and performs.
[male commentator 1]
Chien-Ming Wang,
former Yankee on the comeback trail,
signed a Minor League deal
with Kansas City is pitching.
[male commentator 2]
That very first pitch was 93 mph.
I didnt expect that.
Was really expecting 88 to 91 max
in his first game,
with all that training building up to it.
[male commentator 1]
Good to see him back on the mound.
[male commentator 2] Heres the next pitch
grounded sharply down to third.
Reymond Fuentes is the new centerfielder
and Jorge Bonifacio is the right fielder.
So Wang is getting that sinker to work,
hes retired three in a row on the ground.
[Jeffrey] They talked about him
as a starter,
they talked about him as a reliever,
but with his increased velocity
in this camp, uh,
hes raising some eyebrows for sure.
-[man] Whoo!
-[crowd cheering]
The cuts they made
are mostly just Minor League guys
who are gonna go there anyway.
They still got the veteran guys in here,
well just have to see how it plays out
in the next 15 days.
Chien-Ming has been
a very pleasant surprise for us,
I mean, hes throwing the ball,
its coming out of his hand really well.
[male commentator 1]
I had to triple check this,
is this the same guy?
But it is. Its Chien-Ming Wang,
who ten years ago
was a 19 game winner for the Yankees.
[male commentator 2]
He has forced himself in the discussion,
not only with the way hes pitched,
but the way his velocity has come back.
Look at the movement on that pitch, wow.
[man] Im not saying hes on the team yet,
but Im, you know, I'm pulling for him,
hes kind of fun.
[male commentator]
Chien-Ming Wang,
his sinker ball is going to play well
with this defense.
[Dayton Moore] You know we dont have
a pitcher really with his type of skillset
in our rotation or in our bullpen.
Hes still competing,
but we like what weve seen thus far.
[Rustin Dodd] He doesnt have
an opt-out until May 1st,
so hes almost going to have to perform
even better during camp
to force his way onto the roster,
because they couldve easily
sent him down to Triple-A
and... and kind of looked at him
for a couple of more weeks.
Watching him since November
when we first saw him,
just make continual steady progress.
The... The world out there
is a little mystified
about how he could do it,
but we saw it happen every day
and it was no surprise to us.
Yes, Im nervous.
Its like watching one of your own kids,
you know, when they get up,
you know how hard they worked,
you know how much they want it,
you just want that satisfaction for them.
They released Brian Duensing,
Peter Moylan,
I dont think they had
as good a camp as Wang did.
So, definitely, with those guys leaving,
it, sort of, opens up a spot
at the end of the Royals bullpen.
The number of the pitchers in camp
is dwindling
and hes still here,
so thats a good sign for him.
[male commentator]
With that 93 to 95 mph sinker hes got,
man Ill tell you,
hes a groundball machine,
and that bodes well when you got gold
all over that infield for the Royals.
Look at that sinking action,
hes found his arm slot.
[Jeffrey] I really think the best team
they can put on the field on Opening Night
would have Wang as the 12th guy...
it could happen. [chuckles]
Chien-Ming Wang took the last spot
on the pitching staff
and he did it the right way,
he earned it.
[Charlene] The last day
of Spring Training, he got a notice.
I knew what it meant:
he made it.
Hes on the Opening Day roster.
He was ecstatic,
because its been such a long time
since he last saw this.
Ill be traveling
with the team this morning
on the first flight to Kansas City.
Last time I was on the Opening Day roster
was seven years ago,
when I was with the Yankees.
After all this time,
Ive made it again.
It is a surreal feeling
because its been so long,
all the work Ive put in,
its well worth it.
[Neil] Hes still like a son to me today.
Im so happy hes here with the Royals,
Im so happy hes back in the big leagues,
Im very, very happy for him.
[Brian] Hes given everything he's had
to a job he truly loves.
And the ability to fight back,
and overcome all that,
its something to be very proud of.
Hes a gentle giant,
but a fierce competitor,
and that type of drive
had him overcome a lot
to get back to the big leagues.
[Chien-Ming] This Spring Training
could very well be my last,
so Ive given it all,
and left nothing behind,
no matter what,
I gave all I had on the mound.
-[Randy] Welcome.
Welcome to your new training facility.
[Chien-Ming in English] Wow.
-You do that?
Im going to show your entire workout
just like we did at the Ranch.
-Youre gonna do it right in here.
Go fast.
[Chien-Ming in Mandarin]
I was touched, all by himself,
he moved the bed aside,
lifted up the mattresses,
and even set a strike zone.
Never thought you could do that.
And then step up...
-Whats your next goal?
-Jian Kang.
Jin Kong? What is that?
-Jian Kang.
-What is Jin Kong?
-[in English] Healthy.
-Stay healthy.
-Stay healthy, okay.
If I text you King Kong...
-Then healthy guy?
-Stay healthy.
-Okay, King Kong.
-King Kong.
What an inspiration youve been
to so many people.
Every kid who ever gets hurt...
will be inspired.
Cause if it can be done...
[Chien-Ming] Mmm-hmm.
I can do it.
If someone else can do it, so can I.
-[man] Uh, media?
-No, player.
-[man] Im sorry?
-[man] Player.
-[man] Player. What team?
-[man] Royals? Whats your name?
-Wang. Wang.
[man] Lets win it, bro.
Straight ahead.
Lot M, thatll put you straight down.
Okay, thank you.
[indistinct chatter on security radio]
Welcome to Kansas City.
[elevator dings]
-Thank you.
[crowd cheering]
[cheers and applause]
[male commentator]
Number 67, pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang.
[Alan] Just thought about, you know,
all the valley, um,
that weve been through,
and the appreciation,
and feeling so blessed that, you know,
um, somebody out there
is looking out for Chien-Ming
every step of the way.
You know, providing good people,
you know, in his life.
And to help him,
and as he continues this mission,
you know, one guy cant do it alone.
Whether its coaches...
his fans that went to see him
at those Minor League games,
they never gave up on him.
Chi-Hung and his wife...
Ron, Randy and their team.
You know, all of Chien-Mings friends...
they are the MVP of this journey.
It wouldnt happen without their help.
You know, were all
pulling together for him.
You know, it was just so unbelievable.
And his... His stubbornness,
or determination...
you know, gave us the story
to follow this spring.
[male announcer]
Pitching for the Royals, number 67,
Chien-Ming Wang.
[crowd cheering]
[male commentator] And this is his
first big league pitch since 2013.
August 24th...
of 2013 with the Blue Jays.
[male commentator 2] Its a lot of work,
Im telling you, and he never gave up.
His shoulder gave him some issues,
he had some problems,
had to find that arm slot again,
but he won the job out of camp
by really impressing Dave Eiland
and Ned Yost.
Hes just going to throw one sinker
in on his hands after another.
[male commentator 1]
Struck him out to end the game.
[cheers and applause]
Welcome back, Chien-Ming Wang.
Welcome back, Royals.
Power with three home runs tonight.
The Royals win their first series
of the season.
[crowd cheering]
[male commentator]
Strike three called.
Its in the movement there, 93 mph.
[low rumble]
[indistinct chatter]
[camera clicking]
Today, I made minced pork,
some Mandarin meatballs,
turnips, mushroom soup,
and the Three Cup Chicken.
[Wellington in Mandarin]
Can you carry me over?
-[Chien-Ming] Sure.
-Can you wash me?
While I carry you?
Why not?
Ill wash you if you stand.
Im getting up.
Well, you see.
[Wellington] You want to see
I washed my whole foot?
[Su-Chen] I cant smell it
if you dont pick it up.
Smells good. Who washed them for you?
[indistinct conversations]
Okay, lets eat.
Grandpa, would you dare eat this?
-Would you?
-I would.
Grandma, would you dare eat this?
[Su-Chen] Of course.
Mom, would you dare eat this?
[Charlene] Yes.
[Wellington] What is it?
[Charlene] Chicken wings.
[Wellington] Chicken wings,
so its chicken?
[Charlene] Duck.
[all chuckling]
[indistinct chatter]
Good morning.
Good morning first.
[Justin] You didnt say
good evening to me.
[Wellington] I shot it.
It shoots?
[indistinct conversations]
[Su-Chen] Because he has proved again
by making it back, hes done it.
All his wishes, his goals,
have been fulfilled.
All the effort he put in,
the energy, the concentration,
have been rewarded.
So Ive told him,
youve made it back and proved
you still have the ability
o pitch in the Majors,
so I really hope he will retire now.
I dont want there to be any more issues
with his arm again.
[car indicator ticking]
[Chien-Ming] Every year around this time,
you get into shape again
and get ready for Spring Training.
No matter if I get a contract or not,
for me, this is the time of the year
I start preparing.
So if a team comes asking,
Ill be in game shape right away.
He just showed up in November,
he just walked in, [chuckles]
we didnt even know he was coming.
He just showed up and said
"Hey, I want to try again."
And I said "Why are you here?"
And he said, um...
"I want to throw...
and I want to see if hurts."
I said, "Well, what if it hurts?"
And he said "Then I stop, Ill retire."
I said, "Okay, throw."
He threw, it hurt.
[Chien-Ming] Your body has to take on
what you want it to do.
But now...
my body is getting old.
For now...
theres some discomfort when I throw.
Youd ask yourself, why should I...
keep throwing with this pain?
But sometimes...
it feels fine again.
So I would say,
I can still throw, why stop?
One more time, really stretch it,
really stretch it.
[Randy] He just kept showing up every day.
Were just taking a day at a time
and see how far we get.
And maybe...
Maybe hell make it back.
I wouldnt be surprised,
Id be thrilled,
wouldnt be surprised.
Maybe he wont.
[Randy] Since he was a boy,
since he was a little boy,
all hes ever known
was throwing a baseball.
I dont think he wants to give that up.
And I think that its hard for him
to imagine
what his life would be like after that
if he didnt have that.
It will be really hard for me
not to throw again.
Sometimes, I just want to go outside,
find a friend and throw around...
would want to reach for that baseball.