The Cubs lost to the World Baseball Classic Team Italy yesterday 8-7 on a beautiful sunny day at Mesa’s Sloan Park. The game means little in the big scheme, even less than a normal spring training game as the contest doesn’t count in the spring standings, stats, or attendance figures. The attendance was small by usual Sloan Park stadards at 10,762. However, it was an interesting game, and likely meant a lot to the young Italian team. As evidenced by their tweet yesterday. E’ finita – It’s over
The Cubs did have the lead 7-6 in the top of the ninth, but Rob Segedin (Dodgers) hit a two-run homer to give Italy the lead 8-7. The Cubs couldn’t plate a run in the bottom of the ninth.
John Lackey looked good as the Cubs starting pitcher going 2 shutout innings, allowing 1 hit, and a K. Rob Zastryzny also looked sharp in his two innings with no runs or hits allowed and 4 k’s. Taylor Davis and Chris Dominguez both belted HR’s for the Cubs.
The Cubs have their own Italian born minor leaguer Alberto Mineo who played with South Bend (Single A) Cubs last year. Mineo got into yesterday’s game and scored a run. He was born in Gorizia, Italy which is literally on the border with Slovenia in NW Italy.
Italy is one of my favorite countries to visit, I’ve been lucky enough to go there a couple times. Florence or Firenze as it’s know over there is perhaps my favorite city. Besides all the history, art, culture, and having been the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence still feels like a small town. You can get around to all the sites and attractions on foot in Florence. And the food in Italy – Wow!! Some of the best I’ve ever eaten, and it ain’t just pasta and pizza! Sorry, I could go on and on about Italy.
I’m guessing that most of the players on Team Italy and probably the Cubs as well, don’t realize that the Cubs have played baseball games in Italy. It was back when the Cubs were called the White Stockings on Albert Spalding’s World Tour. The White Stockings played a group of MLB All-Stars in Naples, Rome, and Florence in February of 1889. That is one spring baseball journey I would love to recreate!
The longevity of American baseball never fails to amaze me. Consider that the Cubs played these games in Italy before pizza was invented! In June of 1889 a Neapolitan baker named Raffaele Esposito invented the Pizza Margherita, named after the queen consort of Italy Margherita of Savoy. This is the forerunner of the modern pizza.
In our never ending quest to cover the Cubs during spring training, our photographer John Antonoff made it over to the World Baseball Classic Team Puerto Rico’s workout yesterday and got some shots of Javier Baez. John made it back to Sloan Park and shot more photos at the game. Javy’s team Puerto Rico plays the Giants in Scottsdale today.
The Cubs have one of their two spring training off days today. Tomorrow it’s back at Sloan Park as the Cubs host the Seattle Mariners.