Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Israel Baseball League fallout: Apocalypse, nu?

Neither the shameful indictment of Barry Bonds nor the suprising dealings with Alex Rodriguez overshadow the historic sad news of the possible demise of the Israel Baseball League after a single, trouble-plagued season.

In the cockpits of Israeli F-15 fighters over Syria, in the libraries of the Tel Aviv School of Jewish Studies, at The Yemenite House on Smilansky Street in the Old City of BeerSheva, and of course, on playgrounds and in schoolyards wherever a yarmulke can be spotted, adults and children alike are shaking their heads about yesterday's shock resignations by commissioner Daniel Kurtzer and nine IBL advisory board members in reaction to the scandalous financial allegations raised against IBL's Boston-based founder Larry Baras.

A Google search finds that the mainstream news media is slow to pick up on this momentous story. But on what they call the blogosphere," where millions have come to get their news first and unfiltered, the story continues to spread. Controversial convert Luke Ford trumpets the fact that the entire post-season IBL scandal unfolded here on Tabloidbaby.com, following the exlcusive publication of a clear-eyed expose of the IBL's first season foibles, written by Our Man Elli in Israel.

But perhaps most poignant is the simple posting on bIBLemetrics, the comprehensive stat site dedicated to the IBL, and whose very name reveals the hopes and significance attached to the IBL venture:

The beginning of the end?
Looks unlikely that the IBL can recover from this. A shame it should come to this due to organizational incompetence. Professional baseball in Israel never really had a chance, and it may now be a long time before someone tries again.

I'll keep working on the stats, because I enjoy it. But I'd rather have a season to look forward to.
The news of the resignations came this week, after we'd revealed exclusively the details of a lawsuit against Larry Baras that alleged that he had used money that investors had handed over for the development of a creamcheese-filled bagel (seriously) for the start up and operation of his league, and two days after we urged mainstream sports reporters to take over the investigation.

Too late. What Israelis and Jews around the world are already calling "Black Thursday" arrived before the bigtime journalists could put their paid teams of investigators on the story. Now, they will. And it will be very telling to see which journalists and news organizations tell the whole story behind the story, and whether they will admit that the entire saga played out for eleven weeks on an independent Internet newssite called "Tabloid Baby," and that the IBL board members had to read the truth on this very same site.

IBL president Martin Berger of Miami promises a second season will go on. But no word from macher Baras. His last message posted on the Israel Baseball League site is dated August 31st.

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