Outrage is perhaps 2018's word of the year. Oftentimes, it’s warranted by the injustices we see on the news or just the douchey behavior we encounter on the regular. But this piece of news concerning an Italian-American group’s umbrage over a minor-league baseball team named the Staten Island Pizza Rats reminds us to pause before we raise our hackles.
So, for background: The New York Yankees’ class-A affiliate team, formerly known as the Staten Island Yankees, recently decided to temporarily rename itself the Staten Island Pizza Rats. (You gotta do what you can to keep things fresh in minor-league baseball.) It’s an homage to 2015 YouTube sensation and New York hero, a rat dragging a slice of pizza. According to the team’s website, the name was the favorite in a fan voting contest by an “overwhelming margin.”
Maybe the video missed the Order Sons of Italy in America Fr. Vincent R. Capodanno Lodge #212, who have taken offense at the name, which they say tarnishes the reputation of Italian-Americans. Staten Island Advance reports the group cancelled a planned Italian Heritage Night scheduled to take place at one of the games, and sent a letter to the team expressing the following sentiment:
S.I (Yankees) Management has decided to promote the Staten Island Yankees Team by temporarily renaming it “The Staten Island Pizza Rats”. Yes! I would not kid you about such a thing. If you are slapping your forehead and asking, “What are they thinking? You are not alone. In their infinite wisdom, they have decided to add “Rats” to “Pizza” ( Yes! Pizza.. One of the few positive things people automatically associate with Italians and Italy). To say the least, that’s a pizza topping that gives me a bad case of [agita].
The group was also upset that Italian Heritage Night would have to share the spotlight with Star Wars Night at the Pizza Rats game. (I think they’re missing a wonderful opportunity for cross-promotion, personally.)
But what they really missed is that the “Pizza Rat” isn’t a dig at pizza, or rats, or Italian-American heritage. It’s a celebration of New York determination, really; sure, that slice may be twice your body weight, but are you going to let that prevent you from dragging it back to your sewer hole? No, no you’re not, because you are a Staten Island Pizza Rat, and you are living your best life.