Here is more on baseball in Italy, from our Italian friend, Giampaolo….
With everyone concerned about the failure of the National Soccer Team in the recent European Nations’ Cup held in Portugal, few can understand a telling statistic’s percentage that came out in a market research made by a publicity agency here in Italy last month. In the Italians’ sports preferences, soccer unfortunately remains at the top but not as much as in the past. Growing sports are rugby union, up 7%, and listen to this, baseball is up 71%. I repeat: plus seventy-one per cent. You may guess that the surge is from MLB. Italian baseball has poor attendance, usually TV cameras don’t show many little but important aspects of the game etc.
But you can tell the difference immediately when American baseball is on. This huge growth of baseball in the Italians tastes is logically supported by a pay TV that has the rights to broadcast the MLB. Unfortunately, not all people can afford it so, like myself, a lot of them have to depend on recorded games and highlights. Often they ask someone to record a game, even though that person may not care at all about baseball.
So many Italians still prefer “easy” sports like soccer or basketball or, worse, volleyball, motor racing and skiing. Sometimes I am asked: “What the hell do you like about that strange American baseball…..”. Poor but good dears (I like them all, but more importantly, I need them to record the game for me!) Among my friends who take the time to record games for me are two who are particularly dear to me, They work with me (in a bank), Vladimiro and Pino. Vladimiro records my weekly MLB games. Actually he loves all sports Italy is involved in.
He knows of my love for six MLB clubs (Yankees, White Sox, St Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and San Francisco) and, I must confess, he’s recently taken the time to learn a bit more about baseball. I suspect, and fear, one day he will tell me he is a Red Sox fan (aaaagh, let’s hope not, for God’s sake) or, even worse, a Dodgers or a Cubs supporter.
Anyway, on to some baseball notes:
The St. Louis Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter wasn’t selected for the All-Star Game but I think he deserved it. He is pitching so well that it’s a wonder to look at him in action and a 9-3 record doesn’t need any further comment. In a rotation with Morris, Williams, super-Suppan and double/super-Marquis, it’s easy to overlook him. After the last two troubled seasons (due mostly to injuries) Carpenter is back to form and has a promising season in front of him.
The SF Giants have lost six of their last eight and after the 7-4 loss against Colorado on the 5th of July I wondered why Felipe Alou kept Brett Tomko in until the end of the sixth inning after he had allowed five runs in the first inning. I remember a game from last June, when the poor Jose Contreras having a damn first inning in the Bronx against Baltimore. He lasted only two-thirds of it with two hits and five runs allowed plus four walks and no strikeouts. Then Torre decided to replace him. The Yankees won 6-5 with Sturtze, Prinz, “Flash” Gordon and Rivera on the mound.
As usual good luck Giants. The road to the postseason is still full of traps and tricks for you.