PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mike Piazza did not appear jetlagged while spending several hours Monday morning in full uniform at Mets camp, but pardon him if he was feeling some fatigue. The newly-minted Hall of Famer has kept a jetsetter's schedule since buying a third-division Italian soccer team this
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mike Piazza did not appear jetlagged while spending several hours Monday morning in full uniform at Mets camp, but pardon him if he was feeling some fatigue. The newly-minted Hall of Famer has kept a jetsetter's schedule since buying a third-division Italian soccer team this past June, traveling to Italy once per month.
"It's been an amazing project," Piazza said. "It's been a lot of fun, going to experience another culture, and the way obviously soccer in Italy is loved. It's been an amazing project for me, and it's a business, too. I'm learning a lot from the business side, and learning a lot to be a small version of an owner of a team -- hopefully larger one day."
The project is more than just a retirement hobby for Piazza, who purchased a majority stake of A.C. Reggiana in 2016. His five-year goal is to bump Reggiana up two divisions, into Italy's top-ranked Serie A. In the interim, the project has allowed Piazza to learn more about his Italian roots, growing conversational in the language and enjoying the culture and food.
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The experience has also given Piazza a new appreciation for sports ownership in general -- something he never considered when playing for the Mets.
"It's kind of a full-circle thing," Piazza said. "When I was young, I didn't really think of the responsibilities of the business of a team. Now that I'm an owner and a little older, I realize and have a lot more appreciation for what Jeff [Wilpon] and the organization have as far as responsibility, sponsorships and tickets and all these things that are sort of behind the scenes that the fans may not see. That's been a real eye-opener for me."
Though Piazza's soccer schedule and family obligations keep him plenty busy, he found time this week to travel to Mets camp from his home in Miami. Players including catcher Travis d'Arnaud crowded into a meeting room early Monday morning to speak with the Hall of Famer, who entered Cooperstown in July. d'Arnaud in particular plans to work with Piazza, his childhood idol, over the coming days.
"I was able to grow up watching him," d'Arnaud said, "so that's probably why he's rubbed off on me a little bit."
In Piazza's estimation, d'Arnaud is one of the key pieces of a Mets club hoping to return to the World Series in 2017.
"I'm excited about the team," Piazza said. "I think they have some real positives, and they know how to win now, the way they came back in the last month last year. It's exciting to watch. Hopefully they'll get off to a better start and put themselves in a good position for the postseason again."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.