Kathy Li – Hi. This is Kathy Li. I am here today in Sarasota, Florida at the spring training site of the Baltimore Orioles to do an interview with Jason Woo, who created quite a sensation a couple nights ago against the New York Yankees, striking out the last seven hitters he faced in his opening performance against major league players. That was quite a display of mastery you exhibited out there. What can you say about the game?
Jason Woo – It was fun. It was all I dreamed about when I was growing up thinking about the game.
Kathy Li – What got you interested in baseball? With your height I would think you would have been a pretty good basketball player. That seems to be the sport of choice in China.
Jason Woo – Everybody tells me that, but I never developed any interest in basketball. Basketball bores me.
Kathy Li – What was your first exposure to the game. How did you get interested in baseball? It is not very popular in China. There cannot be a lot of places to get exposed to the game.
Jason Woo - My caretaker John took me to my first baseball game when they had the Olympics in Beijing.
Kathy Li – Who are some of the major league players in the United States you admire the most?
Jason Woo – Greg Maddux. I learned to pitch from his videos. Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens too. .
Kathy Li – They say you throw your fastball over 100 miles per hour. There are only a handful of major leaguers who can throw that hard with any consistency, yet even for those who can throw 100 they accomplish this skill after years and years of coaching. You have reached 100 miles per hour with no formal coaching. You have any explanation for that? Videos can’t do all that can they?
Jason Woo – Just lucky, I guess. I just threw a lot. We had a large concrete wall at the adoption center so I would throw the baseball for hours against the concrete wall as hard as I could. Lots of long toss too. When John bought me a box of baseballs I would go out into a field and throw the whole box as far as I could and then retrieve them and throw them as far as I could the other way. A girl at the adoption center named Xeng-Xeng helped me for a couple months, until a family adopted her. She never could understand my interest in baseball. She tried to convince me I should focus my interest in other areas.
Kathy Li – But throwing could not have given you the strength you need to throw that hard.
Jason Woo - We also had a huge tree in the field that sat behind our adoption center. One night lightening struck it down. After we chopped the tree up for firewood John would insist I take an ax to the stump of the fallen tree one thousand times before I could begin my throwing. I think that helped get me stronger and also developed my coordination, gave me a consistency in my delivery.
Kathy Li – Could that be the reason for the sound of thunder after each game you pitch?
Jason Woo – I don’t know what causes the thunder. I just pitch.
Kathy Li – So you have no idea why there is thunder after each of your games? It doesn’t seem to happen with the other pitchers. And you mentioned the tree was struck down by lightening.”
Jason Woo – No explanation.
Kathy Li – Okay. The thunder will remain a mystery. Let’s move to a different topic, away from the game of baseball. If you could invite three people to dinner, present or past, to talk about anything in life who would you invite?
Jason Woo – That’s a tough one. I would have to invite Mao Tse Tung. He was perhaps the greatest leader in China. John Kennedy and Babe Ruth would be the other two. Babe was a pitcher but he was brought up at an orphanage like me. There would be so much I would like to ask him about how he coped.
Kathy Li – Were you happy growing up in an orphanage?
Jason Woo – It was not a bad life. There always seemed to be something different to do there. You have to remember when I was living in the orphanage I was never really an orphan. John claimed me as his own so I was really a child growing up at an orphanage caring for the other orphans.
Kathy Li – Now that you have lived here for awhile what is your opinion of the United States?
Jason Woo – It has its share of poverty and crime. With democracy an opportunity exists for the most unintelligent people to express unpopular thoughts or take actions that are seen by the majority as offensive. Under our communist rule, a ruling party is supposed to protect the majority from those unpopular thoughts or offensive actions. There are those in the United States who want to force their moralistic beliefs into law. So I have enjoyed living here. If I want to get on the internet and watch pornography there are no restrictions against it.
Kathy Li – Do you watch pornography?
Jason Woo – This is the United States. There are no restrictions placed on what you can see. You can’t sign onto the internet without running into pornography. Yes I’ve watched pornography. Like any male I’m curious about things. I’ve never been to a strip club. Kevin and I talked about going to a strip club. He says it is something I should experience. There are a lot of things in life I want to experience. In the United States there are no restrictions that prevent me from doing what I want to do.
At that point the camera pans to Kevin. This was a shot that should have been shown earlier in the interview, when Kathy had chastised the cameraman for putting the camera on Kevin after the first response. Kathy must have thought it convenient to show his face at this point in the interview to identify the person responsible for Jason’s moral decay when living in the United States.
Kathy Li – Do you think you will pitch in the major leagues this year?
Jason Woo – That is up to the Orioles management.
Kathy Li – How about your personal life. There are a number of women in China that want to know if you have a steady girl friend or not.
Jason Woo – There are possibilities, but right now my focus is on baseball. Once I become more settled perhaps I’ll find a girlfriend.
Kathy Li – I’m sure there is a girl out there who will find you Jason. Maybe the girl Xeng-Xeng will get in contact with you once she sees this interview. I appreciate this opportunity you gave us to talk. Good luck in your pursuit of a successful baseball career in the United States and may you achieve great success.
Jason Woo – Thank you Ms. Li.
Rigo took his eyes off his cell phone once the interview portion of the newscast was completed. He was multi tasking, listening to the telecast and searching the web through his cell phone to find more news or reaction to the story. “They seemed to cut a lot of Jason’s narrative. It certainly doesn’t match the translation we have of the interview.”
Larvell looked at Ruben who was still lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling. He was breathing easier now, a portion of one of the broken chair legs held tightly in his right hand as he tapped it on the floor, trying to squeeze all the life out of it. “That was not too bad. It was an interview I would have preferred not happen, but we might be able to fix things.”
Ruben stopped his steady beat of the broken aluminum chair leg against the floor, attempting to raise himself from the floor. He reminded Larvell of a turtle placed upside down on a sidewalk who is now trying to right himself up. After much trouble he was able to pull himself up to at least a sitting position. His shirt hung out from his pants and the flesh from his sides could be seen oozing from his shirt. You could also see he had forgotten to pull up the zipper to his pants. There was a giant black hole where the teeth of the zipper should be. “How are we going to fix things?” He was an embarrassing spectacle, with his hair flying in different directions.
“We shouldn’t have any problem with what was said on the tape.” Rigo was addressing Ruben’s question, but he was looking at Larvell. He was too embarrassed to look at Ruben sitting on the floor with his gaped open crotch and oozing flesh. “The reason I insisted this be done in our meeting room is it allowed us to record the whole interview. I had a camera behind the mirror. So we can just show the entire interview as a counter to the edited version Ms. Li put together.”
“Remember, you had tried to insist we accede to Kathy’s wishes to hold the interview inside the stadium?” Larvell said to the sitting Ruben, who looked like an overgrown infant sitting on the floor, a shrunken aluminum chair slumped next to him. “That is why we didn’t want it at the stadium. We had more control of the interview if we could hold it in a smaller environment.”
For the first time a smile appeared on Ruben’s face. “Brilliant.” He forced himself up from the floor using the chair leg to help himself off the ground, picking up some additional shrapnel from the exploding chair and dropping the pieces he had in his hand onto Larvell’s desk. “Good job.” He tucked what shirt was hanging out of his pants back into his pants, discovered that his zipper was down and quickly zipped it back up trying to act as if nothing was out of the ordinary. He did a quick, awkward fist pump with the air in the room, looked around the office, before fixing his gaze at Larvell. “You need to get more durable chairs.” He waddled out of the office.
Rigo, Pablo and Moose were still a little shocked by what they witnessed. If it had been anyone but the man who signed their pay check they would have burst out in laughter after he had left. Instead, they had a look of dread on their faces as they each looked at each other.
“No wonder this franchise is so screwed up,” said Rigo. “I’ve been in the same room with this man twice this month and both times he’s been on the floor. This worries me.”
Larvell did not feel it necessary to remind Rigo he was with Ruben at the press conference and he avoided the floor there. Why ruin the moment. “See what I have to put up with on an everyday basis. Rigo, send a copy of the tape to our usual bevy of beat reporters. Advise them we think the interview was heavily edited to provide an uncomplimentary light on Jason. Eventually, we may need to send someone to China to straighten this mess out. I find it very perplexing there are no hospital or school records on Jason, unless Kathy is lying about that as well. It would seem this would be an easy fact to validate so I don’t think she is lying. Maybe she just hasn’t looked hard enough. Like the announcer said, he certainly didn’t fall out of the sky. He had to come from somewhere.”
“Why would she care what hospital he was born at or what school he attended?” a perplexed Rigo asked.
“First, if the adoption center does not have a permit it could invalidate our paperwork showing he arrived at the adoption agency during a certain year. Major league baseball could nullify our signing and make him eligible for the draft. Since we have the first pick that doesn’t worry me too much, but it would be nice to have Jason plus a number one foreign pick this year rather than use it to select a player we already signed. Second, it makes it difficult to validate his age if there are no records of when he was born or that he even attended school in China. The embassy will have concerns he may have submitted false information on his visa application. That may result in a lengthy review process to verify the facts and a year’s suspension if they find the information he provided is false. The easier we can make it for them the quicker they can validate the visa or issue him a new one. That could also resolve the age issue and negate any suspension.”
One of the interns who worked for their public relations office knocked on the door. Larvell asked him to come in. “There are a number of reporters who are asking for a comment from you about Jason,” he said. “It appears all of them have seen the Kathy Li story. What do you want to tell them?”
“No comment right now. We’ll have to put out a press release that we are aware of the report, but we are waiting for all the facts to come in before we take any action.”
Larvell was upset he had lost control of the Jason Woo discovery. It was time to regain control.