The 22-year-old’s name is Wei-Chung Wang. He hails from Taiwan, throws lefty in the mid-90s, has a spot in Milwaukee’s vaunted bullpen, and would, under normal circumstances, be quite familiar with life on a minor-league bus.
But these days, life is anything but normal with anything involving the Milwaukee Brewers. They’re the best team in baseball, having just notched their 20th win, and own a divisional league big enough to drive one of those buses through. They struck heartfelt marketing gold with Hank the Dog. And now, they are singlehandedly reintroducing Milwaukee to the wonders of 80s new wave music.
If you’re old enough to remember when Cyndi Lauper was more popular than Madonna, then you may also recall a band named Wang Chung. Clearly, more than a few Brewers do. And because of that, Wang may see more action in music videos than on the field.
Wei-Chung Wang, meet Wang Chung.
This is not a one-off thing, but an apparent trend. Brewers players debuted Wei-Chung Wang Wednesday a week ago with this video from bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel…
…and now that a second video has appeared, it brings with it the promise of so much more. That camel’s about to become old news. Hump day? Please. Wednesday’s well on its way to being Wangsday.
Here’s the thing with Wang. The Brewers acquired him in the offseason through the somewhat-complicated Rule 5 draft. You don’t need to know all the details, just this very important one: He must stay on the big-league 25-man roster for the entire season, or the club risks losing him to his original team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. If he makes it through the whole season on the Brewers roster, then he’s Milwaukee’s player with no restrictions.
The hard part is, his prior pro ball experience in this country consists of one low-level minor league season. Given that he’s so young and so early in his developmental process, the Brewers have been very careful about using him. Prior to Wednesday, he’d pitched in all of three games, all of them very low-pressure situations. Under such circumstances, it would be very easy for him to become a forgotten man, just another guy at the far end of the bench.
But other Brewers players had other ideas, and it’s a sign of the chemistry that’s percolating inside that clubhouse. They’re going out of their way to make Wang feel like part of the gang, and going somewhat viral in the process.
Good teams don’t have to be fun teams. Fun teams aren’t always good teams. But mix the two together, and you get a memorable team.
It’s not yet May, but the Brewers certainly seem on their way. This has all the promise of being a special summer in Milwaukee, and since Wei-Chung Wang Wednesdays should be with us for awhile, here’s one humble suggestion.
Wang Chung still performs, folks. The feathered hair may be gone, but the band lives on. They released a new album, Tazer Up, in 2012. In fact, they’re scheduled to be part of the Rewind music festival in England this August.
That’s their only scheduled tour date of the summer. Which means the path is plenty clear for a Wang Chung concert at Miller Park. Or Summerfest. Or both.
I spoke briefly with a Wang Chung representative today, and though nobody's quite talking concert yet, the Wang Chung folks are aware of the #WCWW movement. There's even some enthusiasm on their part to play some type of role in it. And so, it seems to me that there’s only one thing left to do.
Everybody have fun...
Update: Wang had a rough outing Wednesday afternoon, and given the state of the team's overworked bullpen, there's postgame speculation that the Brewers might be forced to drop him from the roster soon. Eighties-music aficionados can only hold their breath and wait.