Anthony Rizzo Plans to Play for Team Italy in World Baseball Classic

anthony rizzo cubsAccording to Carrie Muskat, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo plans to play for Team Italy in this year’s World Baseball Classic. The WBC runs in the first three weeks of March, which falls smack-dab in the middle of Spring Training. Italy opens in Arizona on March 7.

Rizzo, 23, is eligible to play for Team Italy by virtue of his family’s heritage. He’s expected to be a cog in the middle of the lineup for the Cubs in 2013.

The official rosters come out Thursday, but, assuming Rizzo is on Italy’s, I’m just going to get on board fully. I hate the idea of Rizzo having a slightly increased risk of injury (the WBC games are a touch more competitive than Spring Training games), but it’s cool that he’ll be able to play for Italy. And it’ll be cool to watch those games, too.

Starlin Castro has been rumored as another possible WBC’er, playing for the Dominican Republic. We’ll see what happens on Thursday.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

73 responses to “Anthony Rizzo Plans to Play for Team Italy in World Baseball Classic”

  1. DarthHater

    Is there any rule that Team Italy must have at least one player who is actually from Italy? ;-)

    1. SirCub

      Yea, but what if they used to wait tables at an Olive Garden?

      1. Morken

        In my Italian neighborhood, we fight for your right via 1st amendment, to make that kind of joke.

        Then we’d kick your ass for making it(which probably wouldn’t be hard, since you’re probably one of those nerdy white guys who would never publicly make the same kind of stereotypical joke against a black person).

        As for the morons accusing Rizzo of “picking the wrong side”, and being a trader:

        He’s not choosing to play for Italy over the United States. Italy is his only offer.

        Who are any of you to question his ethnic heritage?

        1. Sweetjamesjones

          A “trader” of what? Baseball cards? ;)

          1. TWC

            Star Wars figures.

        2. DarthHater


          1. DarthHater
            1. DarthHater

              Okay, Brett taught me how not to be a moran! :-D


        3. Mick

          Really, what part of Italy is Morken native to?

          1. DarthHater

            Dumbria ;-)

            1. Morken

              Some people really have balls behind a computer.

              1. DarthHater


                1. Morken

                  The stuff you’re doing won’t cause much of a stir; Italians aren’t prone to causing a raucous over stereotypical humor.

                  Would you have the balls, from behind your computer, right next to your bin of Star Wars figures, to stereotype black people?

                  Nah. You cross the street when you see them.

                  1. Danny Ballgame

                    Your response leads me to believe that it is causing a stir with you. Also, whats with the “afraid of black people” comments?

                    1. Morken

                      I’m not sure me responding to a post, counts as a “stir”. Relax with the hyperbole.

        4. Danny Ballgame

          Morkin doesn’t sounds very Italian to me

        5. bails17

          Funny how Morken is upset about an Italian reference, but his first comment he makes a “nerdy white guy” reference. HMMM

  2. Cubbie Blues

    Are the rules a 2nd/3rd generation thing? I mean has Tony even ever been to Italy? Doesn’t that make the WBC even more convoluted? How many questions can I ask in one comment to try and make my point?

    1. Drew7

      “I mean has Tony even ever been to Italy?”

      This made me chuckle.

  3. jayrig5

    I think it’s cool. As a first baseman, the injury risk seems only somewhat greater than the average spring training game, and I think it will be helpful to get some more pressure at-bats. Now, if Samardzija gets named to a roster, I might think very differently.

  4. Cub Fan Dan

    Va fa un culo WBC…

    Here is the schedule per Italia
    Pool D: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick – Phoenix, Arizona
    Game 1 Thu, Mar 7 Italy @ Mexico 1:00 PM (Local), 3:00 PM (ET)
    Game 2 Fri, Mar 8 Canada @ Italy 12:30 PM (Local), 2:30 PM (ET)
    Pool D: Chase Field – Phoenix, Arizona
    Game 3 Fri, Mar 8 Mexico @ United States 7:00 PM (Local), 9:00 PM (ET)
    Game 4 Sat, Mar 9 Canada @ Mexico 12:30 PM (Local), 2:30 PM (ET)
    Game 5 Sat, Mar 9 United States @ Italy 7:00 PM (Local), 9:00 PM (ET)
    Game 6 Sun, Mar 10 United States @ Canada 1:00 PM (Local), 4:00 PM (ET)

    Looks like the pool winner & runner-up moves on. Looks like it could be a weekend thing (of course I dont know how much prep time each team has leading up to the tournament)

  5. KidCubbie

    Does anybody know what Samardzija’s heritage is or where his name comes from?

    1. P hertz

      Samardzija is part Serbian and Native American

  6. MichiganGoat

    Okay this is great for baseball and all but why doesn’t teams prevent their players from engaging 1-it takes them away from ST and 2-if they get injured wouldn’t that suck. Guess I just don’t see how this is good for the investment a team has in player.

    1. DarthHater

      Sour grapes. You’re just upset because nobody’s signing up for Team Goat. ;-)

      1. King Jeff

        This is offensive and I take issue with your insensitive nature towards the Goat’s heritage. Everyone knows that Goats are now nomads, after being driven from their natural homelands by mankind. Not cool man, not cool.

        1. Danny Ballgame

          Goats are a proud people who deserve respect

  7. Jim

    There is way too much money involved in players to allow them this chance at injury. The second issue is that it takes place during spring training when teams are trying to figure out what they have and their lineups + team chemistry. Has Rizzo ever been to Italy? Seems stupid that he would play for a country that his ancestors moved away from.

  8. Spriggs

    No Rizzo or Castro in spring training will blow.

  9. scorecardpaul

    Am I the only one who is going to say this? Born and raised in The good old USA, he should play for USA or not play. I am a big fan of his (since I am a Cub fan), but come on dude support the correct team. His stock falls a little with this move for me. If a player is from a country that he plays for, that is an entire different concept. I would love to see Castro play for his homeland country. Big, Big, big difference to me!!!

  10. scorecardpaul

    This move looks to me like a spoiled litle rich kid that is going to play for Italy because “he can”. He can, but I don’t like it. You have been an American your entire life. If you want to play for a different country than you were born in, why don’t you move there and play on their professional team.

    1. northsiders6

      He is American. Born here, raised here, reaped the benefits of living here and being a US Citizen. I agree with Paul. It doesn’t sit too well with me.

    2. Dick McCheesedoodle

      You tell ‘em, Real ‘Merican!

      As they say, hate the game, not the player. He’s within his rights to choose based upon the rules.

      Now – as for your issue that he chose the ‘wrong’ side – it’s an incredibly low probability he’d even be selected for the US team anyway. Votto, Fielder, LaRoche, Goldschmidt, Teixeira, Konerko, Corey Hart (to name a few) all had better 2012s than Rizzo and none of them qualify for any team but the US team.

      Interesting sidenote – did you know Ryan Braun and Kevin Youklis could have played on the Israeli team had they qualified? I bet that would have REALLY burned you, amirite?!

      How about during the WBC you just learn to play Lee Greenwood hits on the electronic keyboard instead of watching the games? That will work out better for everyone. I hope Rizzo has a wonderful time doing something hey may never get a chance to do again is his lifetime and the time spent in ‘real’ games is better than getting 1AB per day in Cubs camp.

      1. Stan

        Votto’s Canadian. Your point does stand, however.

        1. Dick McCheesedoodle

          Gah! Not the first time Canadians have messed it all up for me. Apologies.

      2. scorecardpaul

        This is the point I was trying to make. He comes accross like a spoiled brat. I still think he should play for USA or nothing. Is he not good enough for the USA, or is it the USA isn’t good enough for him? Some times spoiled brats don’t apreciate what they have

        1. Pat

          He is very likely not good enough to get an invite from Team USA. Therefore his only chance to play is for team Italy. It is his opportunity to play on a worldwide stage. Why would you possibly begrudge him that? It would be one thing (still meaningless) if he chose Italy over the US, but he didn’t. You take your opportunities when they arise.

    3. DarthHater
  11. Norm

    Don’t care…he has the same chances getting hurt with the Cubs in ST than he does in the WBC.

  12. Miggy80

    I like the heritage loop hole. My Grandparents escaped from Latvia during WWII. Here’s to me making the 2015 Latvian team!

  13. The Brian Roberts Trade

    I would much rather have position guys playing in the WBC than pitchers from the Cubs.

  14. Dylan

    My mom’s grandparents (both set) were born and raised in Sweden.

    My dad’s grandparents (one set) were born and raised in Sweden. My dad’s other set of grandparents are British/German.

    I’m 75% Swedish by blood, and I have blond hair/blue eyes.

    Does that means I qualify for the Swedish team!?!?!?!?!??

    (srsly, I’d like to know, lol)

    Otherwise, let’s go, USA.

    1. Dylan

      Lemme clarify, lol

      My dad is 50% Swedish.
      - His mom is 100% Swedish. His dad is 50% German, 50% British
      – His mom’s parents both were born and raised in Sweden before moving to USA.

      My mom is 100% Swedish, but born and raised in America.
      - Which means her parents are both 100% Swedish too.
      – Her parent’s parents (both set) all were born and raised in Sweden before moving to USA.

      So….can I play for Sweden? Can I? Can I? Can I??????

      1. DarthHater

        No, but you can coach the Swedish Bikini Team, which is a much better gig, anyway!

    2. Dylan

      Reason why I’m asking because I’m not 100% clear on the eligibility rules.

  15. Fastball

    Do you have any hot sisters?

    Damn I’m married. One can have a lost moment. Swedish Bikini Volleyball Team minus the bikini’s at some point.

    I’m German, French and Cherokee. Can I get in the boat races…

  16. cubzforlife

    Being half Italian(Dad born in Italy) and half Irish (Mom born on American ship coming from Ireland, made her American) I hold US and Irish passports. Kinda cool. I always thought if the terrorists collected passports I would give them the Irish one and they would leave me alone.
    On the Rizzo issue why should anyone care who he plays for? Gives me a reason to watch.

  17. FFP

    Love Rizzo. Love Italy.
    (Am mildly annoyed that Olive Garden tries to pass for Italian.)

    Loath the WBC; proclaiming itself a “Classic” and risking everyone else’s players, but not the attendant guaranteed contracts. The WBC has to go.

  18. Stevie B

    I cant think of anything clever…but I do like Olive Gardens bread sticks!

  19. John B.

    The point being missed here is that playing for a team based solely on ethnicity is inherently racist. Team Italy is making what should be a competition based on the quality of a country’s baseball system into a competition based on what race is superior at the sport, regardless of where each player learned to play, The WBC’s goal should be to increase each country’s will to improve their programs at home and produce the best ballplayers to compete on the world stage. If they come out of the gate sucking, so what? Use it as motivation to get better.

    1. DarthHater

      The point being missed here is that comparing anything about the WBC to actual racism is inherently imbecilic.

      1. hansman1982

        And DarthHater knows a thing or two about being an imbicile…

        1. DarthHater

          Well, I don’t know anything less about it than all the other imbeciles on this site… ;-)

      2. John B.

        I understand that it’s not the most severe manifestation of racism, but what would you consider “actual racism”?

        1. hansman1982

          Maybe if the WBC said that blacks, or Asians, or Latinos couldn’t play or had to play with a different set of rules or in a different league.

          To call the WBC racist would also be calling the Olympics rascist.

          Also, ethnicity =/= race.

          1. John B.

            I see what you’re saying on that. The accusation of racism was going a bit far. I still hold the point that Team Italy is making it about ethnicity rather than the systems the players came up through.

            1. DarthHater

              You’re obviously a reasonable guy. I withdraw my “imbecilic” comment – except as it applies to myself, of course. ;-)

              1. John B.

                Having a hair trigger doesn’t make you an imbecile, DarthHater. You’re obviously a thoughtful person.

                1. DarthHater

                  Nah, hansman will confirm that i’m an imbecile, i’m sure. :-P

        2. DarthHater

          (a) there has to be discrimination that is based on racial categories (not ethnicity or nationality)

          (b) the discrimination has to be invidious in nature – i.e. malicious, hostile, or damaging to the racial group in question

          1. John B.

            I stand corrected.