News Archive Italy
Thursday, September 11, 2008 |14:00 |Age: 5 yrs
A thrilling Italian Series
This time I really got emotional. I did, when the 7.000 people in Nettuno’s “Steno Borghese” stood to their feet and tribute a standing ovation at the end of game seven of the Italian Baseball Series. I did, because Danesi Nettuno had just lost (7-5 the game, 4-3 the series) against T&A San Marino, leaving a couple of runners (eventually, the tying runs) on board after starting their ninth at bat trailing 7-2.
“This way” I proclaimed through the national TV of the Republic of San Marino (I was broadcasting the game for them, also through the web, while Pino Cerboni and Giancarlo Mangini were commentating on Rai Sport Più) “Baseball does win”.
And baseball indeed won. Nettuno averaged over 5000 people in the four games played at the “Steno Borghese” and San Marino almost had a full house in the three games they hosted in “Serravalle”. Let’s say San Marino averaged 1000 people, it must be seen as a huge success, since San Marino didn’t get much attention during the ‘regular season’ and the semi final round robin and the last time they made the final (2005, but it was early October with very bad weather) they hardly had 300 people, almost everybody coming from Bologna, the city of their opponent Italery.
Baseball in August and early September has a lot of potential in Italy and in all of Europe. This is why I insist: Leagues in Europe should be over by the first week of September and leave the rest of the month (and maybe the first week of October) to international competition. CEB and IBAF tournaments should not force National Leagues to stop during the months of June, July and August. At least, for no longer than a week each season.
So T&A San Marino is the Champion of Italy. This may sound weird, since San Marino is an independent Republic. In fact, San Marino is the preferred goal for Italians who want to buy tobacco avoiding the high VAT imposed by the Republic of Italy.
There’s no border between San Marino and Italy (actually, the first village…or Castle, as they call it in San Marino…you meet is called “Dogana”, that in English means “customs”). You do not even need to dial any international access code when you call San Marino from Italy or vice versa (but Vodafone welcomes you with a SMS, like they do when you travel to Germany or France or Spain). In San Marino they speak Italian with an accent that reminds you of the nearby (20 KMs) Rimini area. For Italians San Marino is another country (and natives of San Marino could not be candidates to FIBS board of directors, for instance) but it’s not really abroad.
Nobody has in fact ever questioned the fact that the Motorbike World Championship race of the Republic of San Marino happens in Misano Adriatico or the Formula One Grand Prix of San Marino happens in Imola.
T&A San Marino is in fact an Italian team. Nine of their regular position players (Rovinelli, Francesco Imperiali, Sheldon, La Fera, Buccheri, Albanese, De Biase, Suardi) are Italians; Matamoros is from Nicaragua, Vasquez is from Venezuela. Rovinelli, La Fera and Buccheri were born in America, but are dual citizens and Rovinelli and La Fera are even players of the Italian school of baseball (ASI). Also Sheldon (a hero: he was born in 1963, like me) is an ASI, since he has played in Italy forever and naturalized in 1998 after his marriage to an Italian woman. Max De Biase was born in Argentina and he also is an Italian citizen. San Marino is the only team in the IBL with three import pitchers (Figueroa from the Dominican Republic, Estrada from Venezuela and Looney from the States). They are also the only team who has a Brazilian pitcher: Tiago Da Silva, who is married to softball player Boscarol and naturalized this Winter. He plays as an Italian player, but cannot play as an ASI yet (six years in the Italian Leagues are needed, if your baseball education happened in another country).
But, as you see, San Marino has no player from San Marino. They actually have their manager Doriano Bindi, the assistant coach Pietro Lonfernini and young prospect Ercolani (a pitcher).
T&A San Marino has played great baseball, this is a fact. With great pitching, a lot of power (ten homers in seven games!), and with a lot of heart. Take a look at Seth La Fera. He is the only player I know who has won a championship in Italy (actually two: 2002 with Rimini and 2008 with San Marino) and Holland (with Neptunus Rotterdam in 2003) and has won the Champions Cup for an Italian team homering against a Dutch side (with Parma in 1999) and a Champions Cup in Italy against an Italian team wearing the uniform of a Dutch squad (in 2003 in Rimini with Neptunus against Rimini). La Fera played all of the 7 games at shortstop and finished a couple as a pitcher. Take a look at Max De Biase. He played on a torn muscle in his thigh and turned out to be the series MVP (ten runs batted in!). San Marino definitely deserved to win.
Danesi Nettuno couldn’t have done more. They came back from a 1-3 deficit in the series and gave all they had to give in the rubber match.
Manager, and former Team Italy’s, captain Ruggero Bagialemani could not hide tears after the third out in game seven. It is hard to lose two final series in the seventh match in a row. But Ruggero must be proud. His Danesi made as all proud. And the people in Nettuno made us even prouder.
I’ll become emotional again, when I see that banner welcoming me in Nettuno and stating “This is the city of baseball”.