Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dove è Alex Liddi

We didn't actually expect to find Alex Liddi himself while we were in Italy. In fact, we knew he was in the U.S., involved in the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx's quest for a Southern League championship. They were eliminated from their semi-final series with the Tennessee Smokies on Sunday, September 12.

However, I did briefly wonder if there was a chance I'd find a Liddi jersey somewhere. After all, he's probably the best baseball player the country has produced in half a century, so despite the fact he plays a sport that is not even 1/100th as popular as soccer, I thought there was a chance he'd have a following.

I was wrong. The next major stop on our Italian vacation brought us to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, an area of Southern Italy I would describe as down around the ankle. While in Sorrento, we happened upon a fútbol—or soccer, as we would call it in the United States—merchandise store. KJ asked if they carried any Italian baseball gear, and the store clerk's response was to laugh and say, " New York Yankee," as he looked past her in reference to the cap I was wearing. That's not a typo there, by the way. He neglected to pluralize Yankees.

It was at this point I realized that Liddi was drafted by a major league team at 17 years old, so even if by chance there were some jerseys of players from the Italian Baseball League, he probably hadn't played baseball in Italy since high school. So, I gave up the half ounce of optimism I had of finding myself a Liddi jersey.

During this part of the trip, I actually went four consecutive days with no knowledge of any happenings in Major League Baseball. Since this was the view from our hotel room in Sorrento, I'm sure you can understand.

But, that's not to say the subject of baseball was completely erased from our minds during our two-week stay in Italy. After a few days in Sorrento, we headed to Florence, mainly to rent a car for our Tuscan adventure that followed, but also to visit the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Admittedly, we didn't spend nearly as much time in Florence as it deserved, but while we were there, we visited a little restaurant called Trattoria Icche C'e C'e.

Immediately upon entering the establishment, we were greeted by co-owner and hostess Mara, who gave a more enthusiastic reception to my Cooperstown t-shirt than we could have possibly imagined. When she called her husband Gino—the restaurant's chef and co-owner—out of the kitchen, he immediately denounced my Yankees hat, proclaiming himself a Red Sox fan. When KJ confessed she is too, he gave her a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek. Of course, if you look closely enough, just to the right of the Detroit Tigers cap in the following photo taken of the baseball cap collection on his wall, you'll notice another example of the object of his disdain.

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