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.

  • DarthHater

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

    • SirCub

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

      • 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?

        • Sweetjamesjones

          A “trader” of what? Baseball cards? 😉

          • TWC

            Star Wars figures.

        • DarthHater


          • DarthHater
            • Brett

              We call that “user error” – you put in the URL for a page, not an image.

              • DarthHater

                Dave: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
                HAL: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
                Dave: What’s the problem?
                HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
                Dave: What are you talking about, HAL?
                HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

            • DarthHater

              Okay, Brett taught me how not to be a moran! 😀


        • Mick

          Really, what part of Italy is Morken native to?

          • DarthHater

            Dumbria 😉

            • Morken

              Some people really have balls behind a computer.

              • DarthHater


                • 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.

                  • 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?

                    • Morken

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

                  • Brett

                    I’m assuming folks aren’t disparaging Italians or Italian Americans, unless I’m misreading. Obviously that’s not acceptable if anyone is.

                    • TWC

                      No, it looks like Merken misread SirCub’s comment about waiting tables at an Olive Garden as a slight against Italians (e.g., “all Italians work at an Olive Garden”), rather than a joke that working at an Olive Garden *makes* one a de facto Italian, just as working at a sushi shop would make one Japanese. SirCub’s comment was relatively innocuous, unless you’re the type for which it triggers some comment board machismo.

                    • Brett

                      That’s how I read it, too.

                    • Morken

                      “Yea, but what if they used to wait tables at an Olive Garden”.

                      We pick and choose what ethnicities we’re politically correct with. So much so, that people can’t even see it anymore.

                      Article regarding Starlin Castro:

                      “Yea, but what if they used to wait tables at Taco Bell”.

                      Article regarding Edwin Jackson:

                      “Yea, but what if they used to wait tables at Kentucky Fried Chicken”.

                      We pick and choose.

                    • Danny Ballgame

                      Nope, just questioning other peoples possession of testicles over an olive garden joke

                    • Pat

                      I think you’re completely missing the point. To use your example of an article about Starlin Castro, to make any sort of sense it would have to be an article about his eligibility for one of the teams in the WBC. Could you make the argument he should be eligible for Team USA since he now works in the US? Apply that to the joke. There’s no stereotyping going on at all. It is the equivalent of “no, but I slept in a Holiday Inn last night”.

                    • Sircub

                      Yea, absolutely not. Sorry if anybody took it the wrong way, especially if it seemed offensive. I meant it like TWC said, playing off of the idea that working at an Italian restaurant would be sufficient to qualify for the Italian team.

                      And while the respectful comment about my being “one of those nerdy white guys” is a totally accurate stereotype, I would maintain that I’m less the type to hide behind the internet to make racist jokes and more the type to use the internet to make nerdy baseball comments and nerdy jokes, of the decidedly less racist variety.

        • Danny Ballgame

          Morkin doesn’t sounds very Italian to me

        • bails17

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

  • 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?

    • Drew7

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

      This made me chuckle.

  • 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.

  • 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)

  • KidCubbie

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

    • P hertz

      Samardzija is part Serbian and Native American

  • 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.

    • DarthHater

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

      • 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.

        • Danny Ballgame

          Goats are a proud people who deserve respect

  • 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.

  • Spriggs

    No Rizzo or Castro in spring training will blow.

  • 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!!!

  • 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.

    • Brett

      I have no issue with Rizzo taking pride in his familial heritage, if that’s what this is.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • Stan

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

        • Dick McCheesedoodle

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

      • 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

        • 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.

    • DarthHater
  • Norm

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

    • Brett

      That probably isn’t true, though, as I said, the difference isn’t huge.

  • Miggy80

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

  • The Brian Roberts Trade

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

    • Brett

      I remain such a fan of your handle.

  • 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.

    • 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??????

      • DarthHater

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

    • Dylan

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

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Stevie B

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

  • 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.

    • DarthHater

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

      • hansman1982

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

        • DarthHater

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

      • John B.

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

        • 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.

          • 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.

            • DarthHater

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

              • John B.

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

                • DarthHater

                  Nah, hansman will confirm that i’m an imbecile, i’m sure. 😛

        • 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

          • John B.

            I stand corrected.