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“Friends” — the key to English for many ballplayers

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There’s a fun article in the New York Times today. James Wagner talks to several Latino major leaguers who are obsessed with the sitcom “Friends.” And who credit it for their English language skills.

Wagner talks to Freddy Galvis, Luis Severino, David Peralta and Miguel Gonzalez, all of whom watch “Friends” all the time and all of whom, in part, learned or improved their English while watching the show. Wilmer Flores too, who says this:

“Now that it’s on Netflix, I always put it on and watch it. When I get up in the morning, I turn on the TV, and whatever episode is there I’ll watch and keep watching. I stop it when I come to the stadium. When I come home from the stadium, I pick up where I left off.”

Liking “Friends” is a matter of taste. I, like everyone else in the 90s, watched it all the time, but it’s aged poorly in my view, at least in a critical sense. But so too was the case with all of the reruns of 60s and 70s shows I watched when I was a kid in the 80s. Those shows were terrible, but sometimes a laugh is a laugh and we could all use the laughs.

As for the English: I seem to remember reading something, somewhere in the 80s about a ballplayer who credited “Brady Bunch” or “Gilligan’s Island” or one of those shows with his English language skills. It was the same general principle: the show was on all the dang time and via repeats and the cliche/obvious situations, it was a lot easier to grok the language due to the context.

UPDATE:

Which is pretty cool. At least until some ballplayer, in a postgame interview, says “Could I look more for my pitch to hit?”

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.