Former Mets C Mike Piazza didn't take the traditional route following his retirement and introduction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Instead, he jumped on the venture of buying a third-tier Italian soccer club in A.C. Reggiana 1919.
But what looked to be the perfect situation for Piazza and his wife, Alicia, turned into a horribly failed investment as the club had gone bankrupt. So when The Athletic asked to interview the Piazzas about the experience, Mike knew what he had to do to get through it.
"This interview's going to be wet," Mike told author Robert Andrew Powell. "I hope that's okay with you."
The Piazzas purchased A.C. Reggiana in 2016 for $10 million euros, and at first, Mike loved the thrill of owning the club. The town of Reggio Emilia, where the club is located, had a ravenous fanbase that wanted to see it's team climb back into Series A like it was in the past. The Piazzas obviously wanted to see that happen as well.
But, after just one year, Mike had enough of the day-to-day operations, and handed it off to Alicia. Well, Alicia never wanted the team in the first place.
"Who the f--k ever heard of Reggio Emilia?" she said. "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!
"And imagine what that feels like, after spending 10 million euros. You bought Pittsburgh!"
As the team's vice president, Alicia did not joke around as "cost-cutting became her priority." And those cost included stopping youth team buses from dropping off players at their house to save gas, and making players wash their own uniforms.
"I don't think she realized that in Italy not everyone has a washing machine," Sonya Kondratenko, the social media manager for Reggiana, said.
From cost-cutting to calling fired employees "frauds," Alicia knew she was playing the bad guy in her new role. Well, she used another term to describe herself.
"I was the bitch," she said admittingly. "I was the bad guy. And I'm sure I have a lot of enemies, and I'm sure you heard a lot of bad things about me and I don't give a s--t. I ripped the mask off so many faces."
Since the team went bankrupt and was excluded from the Italian football league system, a new team formed in its place -- Reggio Audace FC. This new team plays in Series D, the lowest level of Italian soccer, which is considered semi-pro.
The Piazzas, who conducted the interview in Miami in August, have since moved back to Italy.