Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mama Mia!

One of the reasons I can't take the World Baseball Classic too seriously is that even if you take it at face value -- as a battle between nations -- the relatively lax citizenship rules undermine that by giving it a decidedly mercenary flavor. Take Italy, for example:

In 2009, Italy will have a new manager -- Marco Mazzieri, who became manager of the Italian national team in 2007, will replace Matt Galante -- and a new chance to make a name for itself on the international stage. Italy will likely lose some star power with the recent retirement of Mike Piazza, but the team has current Major Leaguers who are willing to participate. Officially, no roster spots have been filled, though several players have made their desires known. Rangers utilityman Frank Catalanotto, for one, wants in again . . .

. . . Angels catcher Mike Napoli, Angels reliever Justin Speier, Astros first baseman Mark Saccomanno, free-agent catcher Paul Lo Duca and free-agent lefty reliever Mike Gallo are also among those being considered by Mazzieri for the Classic club. Rays outfielder Justin Ruggiano, who played for the U.S. in the 2007 World Cup, said he would play for Italy if asked . . . One player who has already turned down the opportunity to compete is Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Places of birth of the aforementioned players:

Piazza: Norristown, Pennsylvania
Catalanotto: Smithtown, New York
Napoli: Hollywood, Florida
Speier Walnut Creek, California
Saccomanno: Houston, Texas
Lo Duca: Brooklyn, New York
Gallo: Long Beach, California
Ruggiano: Austin, Texas
Saltalamacchia: West Palm Beach, Florida

That's Italian!

(thanks to ShysterBall's European Correspondent, Ron Rollins, for the head's up)


Daniel said...

Just FYI, Craig, West Palm Beach is actually in Italy. It's a common mistake, I know.

Seriously, it seems the only qualification for being on the Italian team is if your surname includes a double consonant and a vowel at the end. Someone must have messed up on the Justin Speier invitation.

Jimmy said...

Ok, Italy and South Africa are kind of "stretch" teams to fill out a field of 16 but the rest of the teams are a lot more legit. You're going to get the same kind of filler in just about any other international sports tournament anyway.

Brew Crew News said...

I agree it is just a way to make countries get their name endorsed by the baseball community. I never watch the WBC because of this. If it was based on people of the country the U.S. and Japan would dominate.

Craig Calcaterra said...

The Dominican Republic and Korea are pretty spiffy too, you know.

Mark said...

This sort of thing happens a lot in international sports, and even though it's a way to pad out the tournament to however many teams they need, it doesn't bother me.

I was surprised to find myself actually getting into the WBC last time. I'm looking forward to it again.

mooseinohio said...

So who will be playing for the throw back to imperialism Kingdom of Netherlands team? Curacao has produced Andruw Jones and Sidney Ponson but not really sure you want them on your team and I cannot recall lots of talent coming out of the Netherlands itself. Bonaire does have some awesome scuba diving for what it's worth.