Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sometimes blood isn't thick enough

Jason Grilli, a relief pitcher with the Colorado Rockies, is perparing to leave for Italy, where he wil compete for the Italian national team in the World Baseball Classic.

Personally, I have some issues with this. I'm not saying I'm completely right on the subject, but I have a hardtime accepting ballplayers going back to the country of their ancestors birth, being given citizenship, and be allowed to play in international commpettions.


who says he is "75 percent Italian" and traces his roots to Florence and Naples,

and was:

was honored with a parade in his hometown of Syracuse, N.Y., and had several
family members arrange trips to Italy to see him prepare for the Games in
You know what that means, Jason. You're an American of Italian heritage, not an Italian.

I was born in England, but wouldn't ever want to play for the English team. My grandmother was born in Holland, but I don't think that gives me the right to play for the Dutch team. I'm 1/8th Cherokee, but wouldn't ask to play for them, since I was raised as a a semi-typical white boy.

But it just isn't me. There is an overwhelming fallacy that a lot of the national teams need to bring in Major Leaguers, to make them competitive or give the team some sort of legitimacy. I disagree entirely. The fact that any of these teams can qualify for, and compete in, the Olympics, the World Cup, or the World Baseball Classic, means they are already legitimate.

And it would seem to me, if I was on one of those team, I wouldn't be happy about a couple of hired guns brought in to play in the biggest stage in the world, when they haven't paid their dues. And in fact, in 1996, when Grilli and another "American" pitcher were brought in for the Olypmics, the team wasn't quite as receptive:

when they arrived, other players on an Italian team that qualified for the Olympics without the two made it clear they didn't want them on the club, going as far as to threaten a boycott. The pitchers would leave.
Kudos to the Italian team for standing up for what is only right and fair. I mean we are all enraged about what happened in Slapshot. (I'm not going to explain, you should know).

Just so everyone knows, I'm not wanting to pick on Jason Grilli. He just happened to be the one in the article I found. As a baseball fan, if the Italian team is okay with it, or any other team, that's their business. As an American, I'm kind of dismayed that so many athletes do this. I don't agree with it, and I don't like it, and I don't have to. Just my opinion, no one is required to agree with me.

However, I did live in Italy for 4 years, as a kid, and I hope they do well. I hope Jason Grilli and all the other ballplayers, regardless of nationality, do well and make their country(ies) proud.

Just make sure you don't get confused and you stand up for the correct national aththem.

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