Welcome to my blog!
I’m Alessandro, a 24 year old ex-student, writing to you from a small town in northern Italy.
As you may have noticed from the header, I’m yet another baseball nerd trying to make his voice heard in what is nowadays a pretty loud environment.
What makes me different with respect to the others then? Well, from starters I was born, raised and I still make my living in Italy. When you think about the land known as Belpaese, baseball is not exactly the first connection coming up, but so are all my other interests for that matters.
I’m not going to be your usual saber-nerd: I as one love squeezing the run in, double steals and dropping a bunt against the shift, even if all of this doesn’t make sense number-wise; so while I won’t advocate for them I won’t engage in crusades against them either.
To be fair, I’m still a little Italian inside: I like my football (or soccer) games, I am absolutely against pineapple on a sacred pizza and yes, I use my hands a lot when talking.
Yet my three main loves, the topics I’m going to mumble about in this blog, are nowhere close to Italy. Baseball will obviously be the main course, and for that I have to give my motherland a little due.
I was 17 when I first encountered a baseball game, and it was a life-changing coincidence. You know those nights where there’s nothing to do nor to watch and you happen to be zapping in search of something to fill the gap? That was the case for me, and a bad one as there were no movies or series to waste my time on.
Now there are not many free sports channels in Italy so the odds weren’t really there for me, but on a Thursday night at 9 pm on the second (and last) channel I was introduced to the diamond by a playoff game of IBL, the Italian Baseball League.
Yes, it exists! Compared to the “real” deal, it’s a sort of A-AA level baseball yet it was the depth of the game, the slow yet calming pace of play and that feeble sensation of things changing in a sole defining moment that grasped me and caught me into what is now my favourite world to live on.
What came after is a strange path: as any other hungry human being, those few games of IBL weren’t enough so I had to find some other source of sustainment and those were the times when I was into Japanese culture and all its products, anime and manga foremost.
That led me to the NPB, Nippon Professional Baseball, and to be precise to the (now) unlucky Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Why? I don’t know either. I just liked the mascot, a black penguin(?) or bird of some kind, and the green on their unis. Also, Wladimir Balentien (what a name!)destroying balls and breaking records wasn’t bad either.
Only after my first plunge into baseball via the NPB I decided to pursue the MLB route, and I made yet another defining decision: rooting for the Astros. Again, no particular reason: they were young, bad, a nice name and some decent unis but I had no clue what they were, and would be. It was me siding with the underdog and joining the fray without a clue.
Looking back at that step, taking the H as my team made all the difference: I got into the game with a group of guys scraping the bottom, but also a franchise that was making some interesting choices in the front office, giving a go at a lot of analytics driven processes, and that close knit relationship the Astros tied with what is known as sabermetrics happened to entangle myself with them.
That, plus discovering that Moneyball wasn’t just a good Pitt-Hill movie but also a reality of some sort, got me off the Economics train I took since high school to my bachelor’s degree and sent me to Statsland, and what a ride is it being as of now!
I can call myself the luckiest Italian baseball fan alive: I had the privilege of writing both my bachelor and master thesis about baseball, Moneyball and the 2017 Astros scandal respectively, moreover I had the opportunity to talk to italian sabermetric legend Max Marchi, he of the book “Baseball with R”, and finally I joined BaseIcs,a project in collaboration with IBL’s Fortitudo Bologna to expand the sabermetric’s use and diffusion in Europe.
Here I am now, writing to anybody who wants to read some hopefully decent English, look at confounding graphs and have a kick or two at some pop culture references. That, plus a little bonus.
Due to the pandemic I found myself eating TV series like Gerrit Cole does hitters: a lot and fast. That meant depleting my list of American dramas to watch, and now, knowing me, you can imagine what happened next.
This time I took my chances on Korean productions and got swept away again: except from a couple of well-known series such as Queen’s Gambit I’m all about Kdramas, in such a way that I also started to follow variety shows, KBO (obviously…), a disgraceful amount of actors/singers and I’m on a mission to learn Korean at least to a level I can paraglide by accident into South Korea, be confused for a spy and still survive.
So that is what I’m going to provide: a lot of baseball content, player-focused and graph-filled as words I’m not the best at, some NPB insight on players to look at and wait for to come “home” and some recommendations on Kdramas to watch, maybe a little focus on Korean entertainment and why not, some Kpop here and there.
With a promise: I’ll never write this much again without a single graph, table, GIF or image. Meaning a lot while saying nothing: that is the Italian job!