Opening day. The sun shines warmly on green grass and trees, white clouds sail languidly across the blue sky, a delicate breeze ruffles laundry out to dry and lifts hearts... Today is the opening weekend of Italian soccer, or calcio as the beautiful game is called here. Last season was cast in shadow by the huge game fixing scandal – Juventus played down a division in Serie B (like the Red Sox playing AAA in the International League) and three teams started with negative points (okay, Patriots, you’re going to start 0-4 this year). The league is back at full strength this year and excitement is heightened.
Local energy level is also high this weekend as the Jaguars of Baseball Club Codogno return to action after the August vacation. The biancoazzuri (white and blues) take on Sala Baganza, a team from near Parma that includes some of Mark's former teammates, in a day/night doubleheader here at home. Tomorrow, the baseball frenzy continues with an amichevole (friendly) between the Italian national team and visiting China-Taipei. Our roommate, Juan Pablo, although he grew up in Buenos Aires, is one of the catchers for the Italian team.
In many towns, referring to the “local energy level” as “high” when talking about baseball would be a joke. Codogno is different. Lango says, “I was real lucky to end up with this team, in this town. Many people who have played for the team over the years still live here and support the team.” While we’re not in Nettuno, Italy’s “City of Baseball” (think Cooperstown combined with Yankee Stadium combined with the Cape League combined with Normandy), Codogno does support her baseball.
Trees around town are wrapped in signs advertising the games; similar banners hang across the entrance to the central piazza. The team announcer wanted to enlist Mark’s help in advertising the game, but he had to decline out of concern for his boss’s reaction to any modifications made to a company vehicle.
Take me out to the gara, take me out to the spettatori...