Wednesday, November 21, 2007

AN URGENT CALL TO THE FRIENDS AND FAMILY OF LARRY BARAS! His emailed message to Our Man Elli has us worried about his state of mind and well-being

you have totally
destroyed me.
You win.
Won't you stop now?
--email message
from IBL founder Larry Baras
to Our Man Elli in Israel

Someone please check on Larry Baras and make sure that he's all right.


The story of the implosion of the Israel Baseball League, the lawsuit against its founder Larry Baras, resignations of its leadership and the controversial creation of the rival Israel Professional Baseball League all played out exclusively on Tabloid Baby for months, but now that the story was ripped off without attribution by the Associated Press, it is this morning spreading around the world and beyond, from Israel to New York to Paris to Baghdad-- to the headline news being beamed to the shuttle up in space.

It's a story about baseball. And business. And the history of a nation. It's also the story of man, Larry Baras, who according to those who know him, is a hardworking, well-intentioned Zionist who wanted to bring a good thing to Israel and "who ran to replace a popsicle for a child... who had perspiration marks up and down... making it all happen on opening day, stress and sweat oozing out of his pores... picking up left behind trash towards the end of the game..."

That is why this response to Our Man Elli's request for a comment on the latest turn of events is so disturbing to us.

It read like a suicide note. Or at the very least, a cry for help.

For Larry Baras to blame Our Man Elli for his predicament is unfair and baseless.

Elli, you have totally destroyed me...

Our Man Elli wrote a balanced news article about the ups and downs of the first season of the Israel Baseball League. Yes, that article in the days after the season's last out led to the first widespread negative publicity the IBL had received since its creation. But remember, in midseason, financial problems caused the cancellation of the league's broadcasting deal with Sport5 cable TV, players had threatened a strike over late paychecks and living conditions, and manager Ken Holtzman quit spectacularly. Later, players and vendors complained of bounced checks. Native Israelis complained that they were not appreciated by the league.

Our Man Elli had nothing to do with the lawsuit filed against Larry Baras by an investor in his stuffed bagel company. The banking group that was to provide him a bridge loan canceled the deal because Larry Baras did not inform them of the federal securities fraud suit.

The IBL commissioner and advisers who walked away last week did not do so because of Ell Wohlgelernter's or Tabloid Baby's reporting. They did so, because they "were distressed that the league's finances and business operations were not handled in a more professional manner and, in particular, that the league was unwilling to provide relevant financial information concerning its operating results. They also noted significant staffing and other organizational problems that have beset the league since inception."

You win. Congratulatons (sic).

You win? Win what? Tabloid Baby is a journalistic cooperative and forum. No one gets paid to express their views on the is site. We, and everybody wins, if the league's problems are repaired and the ump shouts "Play ball!" in Israel in 2008.

Won't you stop now? Please?

It doesn't work like that. We are journalists. We follow a story. And as a story develops, we report its twists and turns wherever it leads us. And this particular path concerns us greatly. We urge Larry Baras' friends and family members to give him a call, bring him some chicken soup-- see that he's all right.

We do not want his or anyone's blood on our hands.

For the record:


FROM OUR MAN ELLI, Mon, 19 Nov 2007 09:23:23 -0800 (PST)
hi larry,
would you care to comment on the law suit?
elli wohlgelernter

is there a new lawsuit or do you mean the one I know about?

FROM OUR MAN ELLI, 8 minutes later:
also, to the board members' claim of non-transparency. i'm writing a story and thought, even though a small chance, that you might want to comment.

FROM LARRY BARAS, 32 hours later:
Tue, 20 Nov 2007 20:54:08 -0500 (EST)
Elli, you have totally destroyed me. You win. Congratulatons. (sic) Won't you stop now? Please?

( UPDATE: Last night, Baras was reached at his home by WCVB-TV. He said the claims in the lawsuit against him are "absolutely, 100 percent, not true," that his SJR Foods is still "a profitable, functioning company of which (Blacher) is a shareholder," that Blacher could still see a return on her investment, and that "the goal is still to sell the company and distribute the proceeds to the shareholders." Baras denied using any money invested in SJR Foods to prop up the baseball league, which he said will continue to operate "despite the distractions.")

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