Thursday, September 27, 2007

Elli's Exposé: Israel Baseball boss begins the spin

It's been a month since we published exclusively Our Man Elli In Israel's exposé of the first season of Israel Baseball League, and the repercussions are still reverberating around the world. We've got plagiarism charges against The Chicago Tribune (their man in Israel ripped off Elli's reportage and the paper's public editor patted us on the head and refuses to acknowledge the thievery), many Jews are up in arms that someone would dare criticize the attempt at bringing home runs to the Holy Land, and now, league founder Larry Baras, who's at the center if the criticism (and has been accused of being the Max Bialystock of baseball) is using his hometown paper to strike back-- and spin the story that Elli Wohlgelernter unleashed upon the world.

The hometown paper is The Jewish Advocate of Boston where Baras lives and works. Reporter Rachel Axelbank allows Baras to address the issues raised in Our Man Eli's article-- without acknowledging that it was Elli Wohlgelernter who alone researched and wrote the story in which the charges were levelled.

Nor does Rachel hold Baras to task for his answers and challenge the spin:
“On one hand, it has been tremendous to get the thousands of e-mails and all the good wishes that I’ve received,” (Baras) added. “But it’s been tainted a bit by my witnessing the ability of people to find something wrong even with the concept of baseball in Israel.”

Baras may be correct, but the criticisms put forth in the recent articles are not ones to be dismissed quickly. Complaints of ill-constructed – and thus dangerous – playing fields, no ice for muscle therapy, severe equipment shortages and paycheck delays are hardly the kind of frivolous kvetching heard from American pros.

While Baras did not comment specifically on the problems, the reasons for them or potential solutions, he did speak to the difficulty of conducting the league’s business...

“In Israel, last summer was the summer of the Lebanon War. The previous summer was the summer of disengagement. The previous three were about the Intifada. For so many people, this summer was the summer of baseball.”
Rachel writes of her "surprise" at the revealed underbelly of the league and admits she was "charmed" by a game she attended in Tel Aviv-- but then adds that the game she attended included the infamous Ryan Crotin incident (seen in the clip above)-- which was followed by Crotin's public complaints.

We'll leave it to Elli to address the spin.

Stay tuned.

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