Sunday, January 08, 2006

WBC Weirdness, Part II

So I always thought it was weird (and typical) that A-Rod wanted to play for the Dominican in the World Baseball Classic, given he was born in New York City. But then I looked at the other players' eligibilities. Right now, fourteen current or recent MLB players are eligible to play for Italy: Frank Catalanotto, David Delucci, Mark DeRosa, Mike DiFelice, Tony Fiore, Mike Gallo, Jason Grilli, Matt Mantei, Frank Menechino, Doug Mirabelli, Val Pascucci, Mike Piazza, Joe Vitiello, and Pete Zoccolillo. None were born in Italy. Instead, each is eligible because he has a parent who was born in or is (or was, if deceased) a citizen of the country. (Click here for a FAQ with the elgibility rules.)

So maybe everyone else knew this rule but me, but I find it interesting for a couple reasons. (1) I have to say, I'm surprised that so many MLB players of Italian descent are (on one side of the family at least) first-generation. In fact, I'm hard-pressed to come up with many MLBers with obviously Italian surnames who aren't on the list - only Giambi, Fasano, and Graffanino come to mind. (2) I wonder how many of these 14 guys speak Italian (I imagine some, but not all); I also wonder how many of the other 46 players on the team speak English. Again, probably many but not all of them - so it could be an interesting team dynamic. (3) I just thought of another guy not on the list - Jason Simontacchi. But he played for Italy in the Olympics. So...huh? (4) Valentino Pascucci is an awesome name, and if he ever returns to the majors deserves consideration for the Arquimedez Pozo Award.

Update: Okay, so I'm stupid. Thanks to X (in the comments), other non-elgible players with obviously Italian last names include: Rocco Baldelli, John Franco, Barry Zito, Jeff Fassero, Ricky Bottalico, Craig Biggio, Lenny DiNardo, Lou Merloni, Carl Pavano (?), Mike Mussina, Rich Aurilia (?), Ron Villone...


  1. Awesome list Earl.

    Who knew that Andruw Jones was Dutch?!

    Plus how does one become "unaffliated"? Macro Scutaro is registered as unaffliated. Is this like being a conscientious objector?

  2. Yeah, Andruw's from Curacao, part of the Antilles (technically part of the Netherlands). Ponson and Randall Simon, from Aruba, are also eligible.

    No idea about Scutaro. He was born in Venezuela, which has an impressive team; maybe his citizenship is somewhere else?

    And Bruce Chen is Panamanian, which I didn't know.

  3. I think you forget a few obvious ones like John Franco, Rocco Baldelli (you can't get more Italian than that),Pavano, Sal Fasano, Paul Bako, Zito, Konerko(?), Nick Punto, Brett Tomko (maybe) .

    Not to mention, Raul Casanova. I know he is from somewhere in the carribbean, but with a name like that there should be an exception.

  4. Wow, good point. I left out a ton; I've updated the post.

    Lot of managers/coaches, also. Torre, Francona, Mazzone, Mazzili, Perlozzo, LaRussa, LaSorda, Scioscia.

    If we're including "Raul Casanova" based on name alone, then we have to include Placido Polanco.

    There you go -- Valentino Pascucci, Raul Casanova, and Placido Polanco. The next Three Tenors.

  5. Wow. So in the last few days, you have called me a traitor, GR crazy and yourself stupid.

  6. You said "Call me a traitor". GR said "Call me crazy". I just did what you guys asked.

    Call me Ishmael.

  7. Ish, I know that we asked for it. But you didn't even need to - you just did it.

  8. you guys can call me whatever you want, just not late for dinner!

    Hah... So funny