I write this article as Italy is prepared to go up 2-0.
They beat the spaghetti out of Mexico and are about to beat the manicotti out of Canada.
Chi poteva aspettarselo? (Who saw that coming?)
The Italian contingency is feeling pretty good. They did not advance past the first round in the first two World Baseball Classics. However, this time around is different. They scored an early upset this year by rallying for two runs in the ninth inning Thursday to defeat Mexico, 6-5, in their WBC opener at Chase Field in Phoenix. Now, they invaded Canada.
Is it ironic that their uniform is Dodger blue? A franchise whose origin is beset in Italian-American lore (i.e. Brooklyn)? A couple of Dodgers — and another with a Dodger connection — were right in the middle of the action of Italia’s 2013 WBC journey.
Dodgers utilityman Nick Punto ignited Italy’s rally with a one-out double against Mexico (and San Francisco Giants’) closer Sergio Romo. However, even in the loss, Mexico (and Dodgers) first baseman Adrian Gonzalez had a big game. He reaching base in all five plate appearances with two hits, a pair of walks and by getting hit with a pitch. Gonzalez’s older brother, Edgar, didn’t fare as well. Playing left field, he got a poor jump on Punto’s double, which should have been caught. Anthony Rizzo‘s game-winning, two-run double also should have been caught, going off Gonzalez’s glove.
Mexico Manager Rick Renteria lamented to the Associate Press afterward that both plays “would have just been typically fly-ball outs.” Edgar Gonzalez had a hit in four at-bats, but also struck out three times. He wasn’t the only one to blame. Mexico (and Dodgers) third baseman Luis Cruz was 1 for 4 with a walk hitting third, in front of Adrian Gonzalez.
Italy wasn’t that much better for most of the game. Punto was 1 for 5 batting lead-off for Italy, which has former Dodgers slugger Mike Piazza as its hitting coach. However, they still eeked out the win. This afternoon, Italy played Canada at Chase Field. (Mexico will try to seek redemption against the United States later on today.) Nevertheless, Italy came out swinging even stronger. With folks like Pat Venditte, born in the beautiful Italian Villa of Omaha, Nebraska, Canada (Italy’s opponent) was looking straight into the barrel of a mercy rule. Let’s face it. Even with the controversial home run turned ground-rule double call, it was still a certainty.
I wonder if Russell Martin is sitting in Pirates’ camp somewhere, pretty excited…excited he missed out on this mess.
Somewhere, even Joe DiMaggio is pretty excited. My family lineage is finally in the news for something more than the lack of Pope or “Big Ang” from Mob Wives.
Seriously, Italy deserves credit. It wasn’t like they were knocking off Team France. (Sorry, they didn’t make the preliminary round. If any country is rife to be made fun of, it’s France.) Team Canada isn’t a bunch of stiffs. This might not be hockey but Canada is pretty good at our national past time. Canada features strong major-league talent, including the Reds’ Joey Votto, Justin Morneau of the Twins, and pitchers John Axford, Philippe Aumont and Shawn Hill. However, this time around, Italy was just a little better.