On Wednesday, Mets legend Mike Piazza joined the Jim Rome Show to talk about a number of topics, including the Covid-19 outbreak both in America and in Italy, where Piazza now manages the Italian national team.
Piazza played for Italy in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, was the team's hitting coach in 2009 and 2013, and was named the club's manager this past November.
Piazza told Rome that while he now makes his home in Parma, Italy, he and his family were back in the US when the coronavirus outbreak began to hit Italy hard.
"It's crazy how God works. Me, I'm a man of faith and it was around the Super Bowl … and I live in Miami when I'm here in the States, and my wife was like 'Why don't you go home for Super Bowl and hang out with your boys?' and I was like 'Really?' And she was like 'yeah,' so then I got on a plane a few days before the Super Bowl and was hanging out with a couple of guys," Piazza said.
His family then joined him in Miami, as his kids had a week off from school for Ash Wednesday, and just as they were going to head back to Italy, schools were closed.
"The day we were going to leave back to Italy was the day they canceled school," said Piazza. "… So by the grace of God and a fortunate stroke of luck, we were kind of stranded in Miami, in a good way. We've gotten the kids tutors and they're doing online classes, but this thing, obviously for everyone, has been really a shock to our way of life. So I'm very blessed to be back in the States, and obviously Italy's been getting hit really hard."
Piazza spoke about how his father, an Italian immigrant, had achieved the American dream, and now that Piazza is more connected with Italy as the national team's manager, he feels sadness for the country that is getting hit so hard by the virus outbreak.
"Obviously just sadness, getting reports from my friends. We've been over there now for three years, so we've kind of made a life over there in Parma in the north, so close to Milan. That was kind of the epicenter, ground zero for the outbreak," said Piazza. "I tell people all the time, Italy is an old country. They have old infrastructure, the hospitals are older, it's an aging population, the economy is based on tourism and tourism-related industries … I think (Italy) was just caught, obviously, in shock and the infrastructure wasn't ready to handle the influx of patients, and people generally were kind of cavalier about it. When schools were closed, everyone was going to the cafes and hanging out and people who were working and healthcare workers were spreading it and didn't know it.
"So, it's been hit hard. I'm praying, I'm kind of seeing that it's at least stabilizing and hopefully those numbers will come down, but it's very sad … Hopefully now people are starting to understand the severity of it."
With the start of the MLB season pushed back to at least the second week of May, these are unprecedented times for the game.
Piazza was asked if this current situation had any similarities to when the game was stopped for the 9/11 attacks, and while the circumstances are very different, Piazza said the acts of heroism have connected the events in his mind.
"Many, many healthcare workers, doctors, people who are caring for the sick, who are exposing themselves to possibly getting sick, that to me is true selflessness and bravery in a way, that they're not allowing the fear to overcome what they need to do," said Piazza.
"So even though maybe in a crisis situation like 9/11 it was more about first responders, police, firemen, and people who were racing to try to rescue people in a terrorist attack, here it's the doctors, nurses, people who are giving up themselves and putting themselves in harm's way to try to comfort the sick and the researchers in the companies that are looking for some sort, hopefully, of protection from it, and ultimately, hopefully, a cure."