After winning the European Championship this summer for the first time since 1997, Italy also impressed at the Intercontinental Cup in Taiwan at the end of October. Only losing to the Netherlands and Cuba in the tournament, they celebrated a third-place finish behind these two teams in the end. Mister-Baseball talked to manager Marco Mazzieri about the ICC and other topics.
Mister-Baseball: Could you give our readers a short statement on Italy’s participation in the Intercontinental Cup and how would you rank the third place in comparison to the European Championship this summer?
Marco Mazzieri: Well, we are very happy on how Team Italy performed in the Cup especially considering that we had some young guys playing for the first time with the team. It is a different tournament so I would not make comparison, the competition was better but we had a lot of pressure coming into the European after not winning for 13 years.
MRBB: What did you think about the tournament in general and is it sad to see it go after so many years of existence?
MM: The Tournament was very good as well as the organization but if IBAF decided to let it go they probably had good reasons for it.
MRBB: On paper at least the preparation for the tournament looked pretty solid, but you still lost to the Netherlands somewhat lopsided. What happened? Did Chris Cooper just have a bad start?
MM: It was a strange game, with a combination of different factors but I would give credit to the Dutch team for swinging the bat like they did against us.
MRBB: You had good mix of veteran and inexperienced players on the roster. How did you like the performance of the younger players on the team?
MM: I love it, it was a double satisfaction for me personally, because we had 5 kids on the team that I had since 2003 when I managed the cadets national team and later on at the Academy. I always like to mix veteran guys and young prospects.
MRBB: How much did it help to have minor leaguers Alessandro Maestri, Andrea Pizziconi and Claudio Bavera on the team? Did you try to get Alex Liddi too?
MM: Pizziconi and Bavera were there to get experience while Maestri was a huge part of our success. I didn’t try to get Liddi because I knew he was going to Venezuela for winter league and I wish him to make it to the big league soon.
MRBB: What was the difference between the rather disappointing Baseball World Cup and this year’s tournaments? Did you change anything in preparation?
MM: Disappointing is not my opinion, when you missed your 4 and 5 in the lineup and your best reliever (Liddi-Mazzanti and Maestri) all you do is try to compete and I think we were able to do that.
MRBB: How much does it help to have coaches like Mike Piazza or John McLaren on the coaching staff?
MM: Of course that is very inspiring for the players and for us, the coaching staff; it is something to look for to get better.
MRBB: What do you think about the “new” Italian Baseball League? Is it helping Italian Baseball that there is the IBL 2, where younger players get regular playing time? Did this concept work out in the first season?
MM: I like the formula and I think it can get better as the years go by. It was good to get it started.
MRBB: In an interview with Baseball.it it seems that you’re thinking about retiring as manager of the national team. True? When you’re finished, would you consider going back to managing in the Italian Baseball League or even look for an assignment outside of Italy, maybe in the Netherlands?
MM: True, I am considering other aspects of life. I have been giving my heart and soul to the game for a long, long time, often sacrificing people around me that I would like to thank for their understanding. I will take some time to rest and then will make my decision but I am not going back to manage a club.
Mister-Baseball thanks Marco Mazzieri for answering our questions.
Photo: © Ezio Ratti/FIBS