Italy in the baseball background
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — During the World Baseball Classic's colorful, noisy festival of patriotism, pride and cultural heritage, Mike Piazza has come to understand something quite valuable while bonding with his Italian teammates."We have a guy from Messina who cooks pasta for us in the clubhouse? al dente, of course," said Team Italy's marquee player. "I've learned that the pasta in the United States is cooked too soft. I don't even like them to put it in the water anymore. I just like steam going over it."
在世界棒球經典賽豐富多彩且喧鬧的節日慶典期間充滿著愛國主義、自豪和文化遺產。當Mike Piazza與他的義大利隊有緊密結合的同時，他開始了解到一些相當寶貴的事物。義大利隊的看板選手Mike Piazza說：”我們有一個從Messina來的傢伙，他在球隊裡幫我們煮義大利麵。當然，他煮得很有嚼勁。現在我已經知道，美國的義大利麵總是煮得太軟。我甚至不希望他們再把它放在水裡了，我喜歡水汽蒸過的義大利麵就好。”
Truth is, Major League Baseball made Piazza an offer he couldn't refuse: a chance to play for his ancestral homeland while trying to expand the game's scope and popularity in Italy, from where his grandparents emigrated.
Culinary considerations aside, Italians have contributed much to the civilization in art, literature and science. The exportation of baseball talent is not included. With the exception of descendants like the DiMaggios, Berras and Rizzutos, no Italian-born player of any significance has emerged in the majors.
There was Tommy Lasorda bleeding green, white and red this week with his goombahs. You think a lot of things when you think Italy. Baseball isn't one. No, the Dodger godfather said, "You think pasta."
Tommy Lasorda跟他的同伴們留著綠、白和紅色的血液<註1>。當你提到義大利的時候，你會想到很多東西，但棒球不是其中之一。道奇隊的教父Tommy Lasorda說：「你反而是想到義大利麵。」
Italy got whacked Thursday when the Dominican Republic knocked it off 8-3, which along with Venezuela's win eliminated the Italians from the 16-nation field. Some folks still were scratching their noggins regarding their presence.
"They told me ... well, I'm not exactly sure how it was chosen," said manager Matt Galante, a first-generation Sicilian.
Perhaps MLB figured it could sell out Piazza jerseys from Pisa to Palermo.
Maybe Bud Selig likes linguini di mara.
One criterion was geography. Latin America is loaded with powerhouses. The European baseball theater isn't Fenway. Italy's general competence and longtime presence at the international level was another reason. The Italian team qualified for every Olympics, finishing as high as sixth in Atlanta and Sydney.
The Dominicans and Venezuelans transformed this site into a fiesta with thousands of raucous fans. The Italian fan contingent was more like a bunch of Joe Bagadonuts from Fort Lauderdale. A woman wearing a Mets jersey had an Italian flag-type sign that read, "I flew from New York to see Italy shock the world."
For most Italians, digesting baseball is as delectable as eating borscht.
Players are limited in their development. Teams play only three games a week. The top Italian league is roughly equivalent to Class A. Last fall, Alessandro Maestri became the first Italian league pitcher to sign with a major league team, agreeing to a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs.
"They look up to us, almost in awe," said Frank Catalanotto of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Baseball was introduced to Italy in 1919 by U.S. servicemen. It is slow to flourish because soccer is the No. 1 sporting passion of Italians. Lawrence Baldassaro, professor of Italian at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, works as a translator for Team Italy. He is researching the history of Italian-Americans in baseball and the parallels to Italian immigrants.
"They mirror each other," he said. "The early immigration, the prejudice, the obstacles of media bias. It took a long time for Italians to get into the major leagues in any significant numbers. If you read the media treatment of Italian ballplayers until World War II, it's stuff you wouldn't read today."
Financial support for Italian baseball is limited because the game lags basketball, volleyball and water polo in popularity. An academy was established in 2004 in Tirrenia, but the elimination of Olympic baseball adversely affects the entire program.
"Baseball in Italy is at a turning point," said Riccardo Fraccari, president of the Italian baseball federation. "It can either take a big step forward and become really professional, or it can take two steps back."
Because Italian citizenship rules are weak, Italy could field a team with a dozen players born in Italy. Eligible Americans went through a rigorous vetting process. Their Italian lineage had to be documented through census records, birth certificates, naturalization papers.
"A lot of people thought, 'Ahhh, you're Italian. You had a slice of pizza last night so you're allowed to play,' " Galante said. "We lost players because we couldn't produce enough documentation. Tony Graffanino wanted to play; we couldn't certify him. I just want people to know it wasn't like your name ends in an 'O' so you can play."
Thanks, Skip. I already knew that
1. Tommy Lasorda的名言：「I bleed Dodger blue.」我流著道奇藍的血液。這裡是將這句話作改寫，用義大利國旗的三個顏色，綠、白、紅來取代。
2. Joe Bagadonuts是average Joe的代稱，泛指普通(美國)人。感謝Homura (喵姆拉★葬夢)幫忙翻譯此處。
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