Where in the world is Erik Bedard?

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Watching guys like Rich Harden and Jason Marquis get rich this offseason brings a question to mind: Where in the world is Erik Bedard?

No one is expecting the left-hander to get a huge contract this offseason, but you’d think there would at least be a little bit of buzz over the oft-injured, frequently surly, yet extremely talented southpaw.

How about a one-year deal? Maybe a contract based heavily on incentives like innings pitched, starts, and interviews conducted without snide remarks? An invite to spring training? Anyone? Hello? Bueller?

Well it turns out there is one heckuva good reason no one is talking about Bedard. As Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports, no one knows when he’ll actually be able to pitch again.

The problem is, nobody really has a handle on when he’ll actually be back. The most optimistic suggestions I’ve heard from around the game is that Bedard could be ready to pitch in a major league game by May.

On the pessimistic side, I’m hearing he’s unlikely to be ready by the first half.

Baker mentions that it’s possible Bedard could return to the Mariners, and that the Orioles have shown interest. But nothing is going to happen soon. Bedard, who has made only 15 starts in each of the last two seasons and has never topped 200 innings in his seven years in the bigs, just can’t get healthy. And there’s no reason to throw money at a guy who will only give you a doctor bill in return.

Speaking of medical evaluations, I imagine any conversation between a team doctor and Bedard would go something like this, with apologies to Airplane!:

Team doctor: Erik, how soon can you pitch?
Bedard: I can’t tell.
Doc: You can tell me. I’m a doctor.
Bedard: No. I mean I’m just not sure.
Doc: Well, can’t you take a guess?
Bedard: Well, not for another two hours.
Doc: You can’t take a guess for another two hours?

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

Mike Piazza presided over the destruction of a 100-year-old soccer team

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Mike Piazza was elected to the Hall of Fame in January of 2016 and inducted in July of 2016. In between those dates he purchased an Italian soccer team, A.C. Reggiana 1919, a member of Italy’s third division. In June of that year he was greeted as a savior in Reggio Emilia, the small Italian town in which the team played. He was the big American sports star who was going to restore the venerable club to its past and rightful place of glory.

There were suggestions by last March that things weren’t going well, but know we know that in less than two years it all fell apart. Piazza and his wife Alicia presided over a hot mess of a business, losing millions of dollars and, this past June, they abruptly liquidated the club. It is now defunct — one year short of its centennial — and a semipro team is playing in its place, trying to acquire the naming rights from Piazza as it wends its way though bankruptcy.

Today at The Athletic, Robert Andrew Powell has a fascinating — no, make that outrageously entertaining — story of how that all went down from the perspective of the Piazzas. Mostly Alicia Piazza who ran the team in its second year when Mike realized he was in over his head. She is . . . something. Her quotes alone are worth the price of admission. For example:

Alicia, who refers to Mike’s ownership dream as “his midlife crisis,” offered up a counter argument.

“Who the f**k ever heard of Reggio Emilia?” she asked. “It’s not Venice. It’s not Rome. My girlfriend said, and you can quote this—and this really depressed me. She said, ‘Honey, you bought into Pittsburgh.’ Like, it wasn’t the New York Yankees. It wasn’t the Mets. It wasn’t the Dodgers. You bought Pittsburgh!”

In their Miami living room, Mike tried to interject but she stopped him.

“And imagine what that feels like, after spending 10 million euros. You bought Pittsburgh!”

At this point it may be worth remembering that Piazza is from Pennsylvania. Eastern Pennsylvania to be sure, but still.

Shockingly, it didn’t end all that well for the Piazzas in Reggio Emilia:

One week later, the Piazzas returned to Reggio Emilia, and were spotted at the team offices. More than a hundred ultras marched into the office parking lot, chanting and demanding answers. Carabinieri—national police aligned with the military—showed up for the Piazzas’ safety. The police advised the Americans to avoid the front door of the complex and exit through the back. Mike assured them it wouldn’t be necessary—he had always enjoyed a good relationship with the fans.

The carabinieri informed him that the relationship had changed. The Piazzas slipped out the back door, under police escort.

The must-read of the week. Maybe the month. Hell, maybe the year. The only thing I can imagine topping it is if someone can tell this story from the perspective of the people in Reggio Emilia. I’m guessing their take is a bit different than the Piazzas.