Mike Piazza believes building baseball culture in Italy will grow the game and breed success

Mike Piazza believes building baseball culture in Italy will grow the game and breed success
After being excluded from the European Baseball Championship Quarterfinals as a result of two consecutive losses, Azzurri manager Mike Piazza admits the blow is very hard to take but believes the solution lies within Italy in building baseball culture.

National Baseball Hall of Famer and Team Italy manager Mike Piazza shared his insight after the Azzurri squad missed out in the hunt for a medal at the 2023 European Baseball Championship in the Czech Republic due to recent losses to Sweden (8-3) and Great Britain (11-10) in Trebic. 

While the Azzurri squad was practicing at the Trebic Nuclears ballpark in preparation for the European Baseball Championship 9-16 Placement Round, Team Italy manager Mike Piazza shared his thoughts after a disappointing start at this year’s international competition. He said,  “There is no denying that this is a loud and clear warning siren.  All the other national teams are growing, essentially with models that involve a mix of local players and others who come from the United States. However, following programs that go back 10, 15 years, because players of the level needed today are not built in a few months. The Czech Republic is no coincidence: Bill Holmberg had been coming here constantly since the early 2000s.”

Team Italy hitters struggled mightily against Sweden and Great Britain pitchers who were essentially veterans with slow, off-speed offerings. Mike Piazza continued: "Technical errors are part of the game, but we committed strategic ones, especially on  base, for which we paid dearly. With GB we changed the lineup and scored 10 runs, without however managing to limit those of the opponents. Sometimes you manage to subvert logic and probability, but baseball is about playing on percentages, not on miracles and the miracle didn't succeed this time. I know it hurts, but, I repeat, games are facts and the facts demonstrate that we must invest clearly in a program that brings a change of pace for the future. You can be angry with me or with the Federation. I live in Italy, I see things. There is a lot of passion, but we need help in terms of innovation, technique, but above all of culture. We did an excellent job at the Classic: we must try to find the same quality, but also the same hunger to win. Obviously in proportion, because everything can be scaled based on reality, otherwise it's called a dream, not a plan."

When asked what could be done to help Team Italy bounce back from adversity, Mike Piazza responded: “I think that in the near term, we will have to create a balanced mix of young Italian and Italian-American players, from high school and college, expand the opportunities so that kids born in Italy can have these same experiences, because these kids are a precious resource to help the whole group grow. We have to take care of the group, give it a team spirit. Give these players as many opportunities as possible to play as a team at a high level, wherever these are available. Baseball is culture and we must involve the entire movement to make this culture grow. This can happen by creating our development model, implementing it with perseverance and patience, but also adding the necessary passion and hunger for the game.”

Forza #Italia!

by Marco Landi and Roberto Angotti



(Photo of Team Italy manager Mike Piazza and coach Michele Gerali during the European Baseball Championship game against Great Britain on September 26, 2023 by Corrado Benedetti)