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Cash, cars and hookers? Another bad week for Taiwan baseball

24 are charged in game-fixing scandal, while a star pitcher makes news of a different kind.

He's been a national hero here since making it onto the New York Yankees' pitching roster, with dedicated fans staying up into the wee hours or skipping work to watch him pitch live, American time.

Wang fever hit a peak in the 2006 season, when he won 19 games and came in second (behind Johan Santana) in voting for the Cy Young award.

His star began to fade, though, after injuries and poor performance saw him dropped from the Yankees' roster of starting pitchers last year. He had shoulder surgery last July.

This week's good news: Wang, now a free agent, may be within days of signing as a starting pitcher for another Major League team.

The bad news: That team may well be the Washington Nationals — the worst team in American baseball. (They chalked up a league-worst record of 59 wins and 103 losses last year, the mirror image of the Yankees 103-59 performance.)

Baseball bloggers went nuts over the news (see a rumor roundup). Chico Harlan, writing in the Washington Post's Nationals Journal, got a hold of Wang's agent Alan Nero, who said Thursday there was no deal yet.

"Once again, I don't know where everybody is getting info," he said, asked whether an informal or verbal agreement was in place with the Nats. "There is no [deal], and won't be for another week or so." Nero said unequivocally that Wang is still open to offers from any club in baseball. "We haven't finalized anything with anybody," he told Harlan.

Taiwan media noted that the Nationals were the "worst" (zui cha) team in American pro baseball. But baseball expert (and fan) Yu said Taiwanese would likely change their loyalty to whatever team Wang played for, even if they were the Bad News Bears of the major leagues.

"I don't know if many people know about the Nationals," said Yu. "But I'm not disappointed. As long as he can start for a team, I think it will be good."