Tuesday, January 22, 2013
World Baseball Classic Preview: Italian National Team
Italy! A nation known for great food, beautiful landmarks, fantastic culture, and baseball? Yes, baseball. This spring, Italy will compete in the third installment of the World Baseball Classic; Once again, with high hopes of making it out of the first round of pool play.
That was, perhaps, a little bit cruel to a nation which prides itself in other athletic areas than the baseball diamond. However, the rude awakening might as well happen now, before dreams are shattered against the likes of the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
Yes, Italy is currently ranked 9th in the world for all nations fielding baseball programs. That being said, they are, what most would considder, generously ranked 2 spots ahead of Mexico, and 5 ahead of the Dominican Republic. Do the rankings need a facelift? Perhaps past #3. (Rankings)
Regardless, let us take the optimistic outlook on their forthcoming Pool D. performance, and review the high points of the green, white, and red roster. The most notable pithers on Italy's roster are that of Pittsburgh Pirate Jason Grilli, and former major leaguer Brian Sweeney. Behind the plate, some may recognize the name Francisco Cervelli; a Yankees minor leaguer with major league experience. In the field: Alex Liddi of the Mariners, Nick Punto of the Dodgers, Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs, and Chris Denorfia of the Padres. No, it's not comparable to the Dominican Republic or the United States rosters, but stranger things have happened in baseball than an upset. The games still need to be played.
The Italians, however, do have one of the nicest on field 59/50 New Era Caps in the entire tournament. Above, is the official WBC cap of Italy. It features a royal blue cap and crown, with a sleek looking capital "I" centered on the front. On the left side, is the Italian flag of green, white, and red. On the back is the WBC logo. HERE is where you can buy the cap if you'd like.
Tomorrow, we feature Puerto Rico. See you then.