With the World Baseball Classic getting underway, and having done the Canadians yesterday, we thought we would have a look today at the all-time Italian team.
However, given that there were only ever just six major leaguers who were actually born in Italy, we decided that in honor of the Baseball Classic we would use the same wacky rules used by the Italian team, which stipulate that at least one of a player’s grandparents must have been born Italian.
In other words, this is really the All-Italian-American team. Have a look at the starting lineup we came up with…
C Roy Campanella
1B Jason Giambi
2B Tony Lazzeri
3B Ron Santo
SS Phil Rizzuto
LF Rocky Colavito
CF Joe DiMaggio
RF Carl Furillo
What a lineup! OBP and power up and down the lineup, as well as rock solid defense! And the Italians have so much talent to spare that their bench is rock solid too. Catcher is particularly strong, with all-time greats Yogi Berra, Mike Piazza, and Ernie Lombardi all riding the pine. Other notable players who just missed the cut include 1B Dolph Camilli, OF Dom DiMaggio, 1B Paul Konerko (Italian mother), 2B Craig Biggio, 3B Robin Ventura, 3B Ken Caminiti, SS Jim Fregosi, and C/1B Joe Torre.
The Italians are not quite as amazing when it comes to pitching, although still quite strong, and as a secret weapon they would get to have Leo Mazzone as their pitching coach!
SP1 Mike Mussina
SP2 Eddie Cicotte
SP2 Sal Maglie
SP3 Frank Viola
SP4 Johnny Antonelli
CL John Franco
Just missing the rotation are Barry Zito and Vic Raschi. The bullpen would be rounded out with spare parts, although notable among them would be Dave Righetti as a setup man.
The Italians would also have no shortage of managerial candidates, with Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, Billy Martin, Bobby Valentine, Mike Scioscia all vying for consideration, although in the end I think the job would have to be given to Tommy Lasorda for being the most Italian of them all!
Final Verdict: The All-Italian team is easily the strongest squad out of all the all-time teams we have looked at so far here on UmpBump. In a 7-game series, they would easily pummel the Canadians, the Jews, the Mormons, or the Smiths. They could also put up a pretty good fight against some of the teams we haven’t gotten around to yet, such as the Poles or the Cubans, although they would be clearly outclassed by the African-Americans or the Dominicans.