Tuesday, December 4, 2007
EXCLUSIVE! ISRAEL BASEBALL PLAYERS IN SECRET SUMMIT: BREAKING BREAD IN MANHATTAN MEETING OVER RIVAL LEAGUES
Earlier today, we reported exclusively that the Israel Professional Baseball League announced that they're charging full speed ahead with plans for an inaugural 2008 season that would go head-to-head with the embattled Israel Baseball League it sprang from. Now, Our Man Elli in Israel reports exclusively on a high-stakes summit led by two senior players who are vehement rivals on the issue. The meeting is taking place right now:
ELLI WOHLGELERNTER REPORTS:
I have just found out that at this very hour [7P EST], that seven players from the Israel Baseball League are holding a reunion at a bistro in the West Village of Manhattan. Seems a couple of fellas from L.A. are in town: Adam Harwood from the Modi'in Miracle and Josh Eichenstein of the Netanya Tigers. They called others, and everyone's getting together.
What's most interesting is that the gathering includes Eric Holtz and Alan Gardner. Now we know from postings and comments at Tabloid Baby that those two are on opposite sides of the fence: Holtz, the player-coach of the champion Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, is an emphatic, vocal and leading defender of the IBL, despite the league's continued lack of financial transparency, while Gardner-- utility outfielder for the Blue Sox and Manhattan lawyer-- is spearheading the new, rival Israel Professional Baseball League. These two players were among the elders of the league (Holtz turns 42 on wednesday; Gardner turned 46 a month ago) and they have the ear of the younger guys.
The others in attendance are the Blue Sox's Scott Perlman, Tel Aviv Lightning's Nate Fish, and Tiger Leon Feingold. Perlman has just been named director of group ticket sales for the IBL, so it would seem that Gardner will be the player on the hot seat at that table-- when Feingold and Holtz aren't busy throwing barbs my way.
I spoke to Nate Fish before the get-together, and he told me that it wasn't a meeting to explore options of where to play, or even to discuss the ongoing soap opera. "I just want to see the guys," he said. "I hope there’s not too much talk with what’s going on with the league. I just want to reminisce about the good times over the summer, and laugh about it. I'll be happy to avoid too much of the drama of what’s going on right now."
Fish said most of the players he talks with do not discuss the ongoing developments with the IBL or the IPBL, but rather their individual circumstances with the IBL and the money the league still owes them.
"A lot of people are talking about their personal situation in relation to the league," Fish told me. "People aren’t having a dialogue; they are venting their feelings on the league, as opposed to the actual news and the drama."
He said he was caught by surprise to hear about the new IPBL league being formed.
"I can’t believe it," Fish said. "I was shocked that this is happening. The only logical thing is that this new league is not buying the IBL and not merging,-- that it’s an attack on the IBL, to put the IBL out of business.
"At this point there is no room for two leagues."
Fish said he probably wouldn't play for either league, as he's getting on with life, and in fact, he's continuing to write his memoir about the first season of the IBL.