Italy’s secret weapon in World Baseball Basic? The ‘staches

TAICHUNG, Taiwan — “I imply, what am I going to say, no, after they ask me to shave and make my mustache like the great outdated days?” Group Italy supervisor Mike Piazza stated. “They needed to see from ’93, ’94, ’95. I used to be like, ‘OK, I’ll carry it again.’”


“Really, I believe it was Dominic Fletcher who received it first, proper, after which Harv received it second,” Nicky Lopez stated. “And all of us adopted Harv (pitcher Matt Harvey).”

Matt Harvey’s mustache began a development on the workforce. (Getty Photos)

What issues greater than possibly the variety of superstars you’ve in your workforce or the depth of Main League expertise in your roster within the WBC — a match the place guys are solely collectively for a pair weeks — is workforce chemistry. How rapidly gamers can get together with each other. You may see it within the 2-0 Netherlands workforce and, after watching Italy’s win and postgame presser, you see how one thing as foolish as rising mustaches has bonded the group.

“Behind the scenes, you already know, our workforce is shut,” Lopez stated after the victory on Thursday. “We’re hungry people who wish to make a reputation for ourselves, however in the identical breath we’re taking part in for one another, and you possibly can see that tonight. We’re top-stepping it, pushing for each other.”

“We’re taking part in for our households. We’re taking part in for our nation,” Harvey stated. “That runs in our blood and we’re simply tremendous excited to be right here.”

Fletcher — one of many heart-and-soul leaders of the workforce — began the facial hair development.

“Yeah, our common supervisor, Gianmarco, has been rocking a ‘stache for years,” Fletcher stated. “So I sort of hopped on board. I believe [I grew it] the primary day we received right here, after which slowly, one after the other, guys jumped on and it simply was a factor.”

And naturally, they needed to get their supervisor, who’s had a few of the most famed hair/facial hair in baseball historical past, concerned.

“They made me form my goatee and make a mustache as nicely,” Piazza stated. “They requested me to do it. It feels a bit completely different.”

Mike Piazza has introduced his facial hair again to his Nineteen Nineties Dodger days. (Getty Photos)

“They’re an excellent bunch of fellows,” Piazza continued. “As you possibly can see, they’ve chemistry, they’ve enjoyable, they’ve bonded extraordinarily nicely. And that’s necessary.”

You possibly can see Group Italy’s deal with togetherness months earlier than the match: Gamers on the roster — largely Italian-American — had been invited on a visit to their ancestors’ house nation for per week. They skilled with Italian-born ballplayers, ate pasta in Parma and drank wine in Piazza’s villa.

“Now now we have an understanding of who this workforce is,” Vinnie Pasquantino stated on the time. “Hopefully that helps us.”

Will the mix of Italy’s togetherness and expertise be sufficient to get them to the subsequent spherical in Tokyo? Time will inform. They misplaced a tricky matchup towards Chinese language Taipei, and nonetheless have to play two extra video games towards some formidable groups right here in Taiwan. However there’s a sure energy in friendship and in brotherhood.