Zach has a point. Just how many honest-to-goodness Italians are playing for the Italian team in the World Baseball Classic?
We can safely assume fewer citizens than, say, the Dominican or Korean teams.
A quick glance at the roster shows some players from Bologna and Grosseto, among them Claudio Liverziani, Riccardo De Santis and Jairo Ramos Gizzi. Those guys are probably legitimate Italian baseball players.
But when we start getting into Mike DeFelice, Jason Grilli, Frank Catalanotto and Mike Piazza, we all know they are about as Italian as Totino's Pizza Rolls.
Having an Italian team with a roster prerequisite of "last name must end in a vowel" makes the WBC look all the more contrived. It almost looks like a vehicle to get roster spots for more American players under the auspices of playing for their heritage. Which is a load of mularkey.
Your average American of Italian descent, just like your average American of Irish, German, Polish or African descent, hardly knows their ancestral land from a black hole. That transition, whether by immigration, indentured servitude or slavery, occurred between 100 and 300 years ago.
Incidentally, what would have happened had the baseball powers decided to have a Kenyan team and filled it with black players from the U.S.? How loud would the outcry of racial insensitivity have been?