MLB General

Why Not Play for Us- Mike?

    On September 4, 1968, Michael Joseph Piazza came into this world via Norristown, Pa.  Ronnie Belliard was born on April 7, 1975 in the Bronx, N.Y.  And, in the great year of 1975, in the even more fantastic month of July, Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez was born in New York City.  All three ballplayers were born in the United States of America.

    As of January 1, 2006, however, Belliard was registered as a player for the Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.  Piazza?  Italy.  Alex Rodriguez, one of the world’s finest baseball players?  No team.  Is anyone else upset by this trend?
    If Ronnie Belliard and Mike Piazza were born in the United States, why wouldn’t they want to play for the American team in March?  Rodriguez told the media that he could not play in the Classic because he did not want to upset his mother, a Dominican, or his father, an American, by choosing the other’s country of origin.  Wait, what?  Alex, you were born in the United States.

    Go to the World Baseball Classic’s website, and peruse through the roster section.  Notice something interesting about, say, Italy’s team?  Well I do too.  Frank Menechino?  Born in New York.  Frank Catalanotto?  Another New Yorker.  Doug Mirabelli?  One of Arizona’s finest.  These players are all on the Italian roster, yet they hail from the continental United States.  Hey, if Italy can’t field a competitive team without American-born players, then don’t let them play in the World Baseball Classic.

    This trend needs to stop before it begins.  These players are all American.  I do not have a problem with showing your parents’ heritage love or even wanting to play for a team in need of more talent.  What I have a problem with is that the players that the American team needs to succeed, i.e. Alex Rodriguez, are shafting their own home nation.  The U.S. will probably start either Eric Chavez or David Wright at third and Derek Jeter at short.  How much better would the American team be if they had A-Rod at third, next to his Major League battery-mate Derek Jeter?  A lot better.  Does the Dominican really need Alex with their lineup of Manny Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, David Ortiz, Vlad Guerrero, and Albert Pujols?  

    This March will be an exciting time for baseball fans everywhere.  There will be a brand new, competitive addition to the game.  The World Cup brings summers (and winters in the Southern hemisphere) to a halt in countries around the world every four years.  And with baseball’s new equivalent to the World Cup entering center stage in March, the sport will test new frontiers on the global stage.  

    One thing you will notice more often than not in the World Cup, however, is that most players play for their country of birth.  There are a few exceptions, but 90% of the players in the World Cup this summer were born in the nations for which they will play.  In the World Baseball Classic, the Italian team’s stars will be American.  Mike Piazza has brought controversy, excitement, and even some quality baseball to fans across America for years.  He did it with that little American flag on his helmet.  So why not play for us Mike?

    Look, you might think I’m analyzing this too much.  Heck, you might even say I’m just an idiot American.  But really folks, all I want is American players on the American team, Dominican players on the Dominican team, and Italian players on the Italian team.  Would it be a fair World Baseball Classic for Italy without Piazza or even David Dellucci (Louisiana) and Frank Catalanotto?  Probably not.  But hey, at least Australia’s trying.

    So please Ben Sheets, don’t play for England in the next World Baseball Classic.  And Jason Isringhausen, stay with Team USA, don’t defect to Germany.  Let’s make American players play for America, the way it should be.  After all, it’s not really “Team Italy” or “Team Dominican Republic” if some of their players are actually American, now is it?

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