First Israel's baseball dream was a reality. Then it was in shambles. Now there may be too much baseball ahead in 2008! In wake of this morning's announcement that the Israel Professional Baseball League is moving forward to replace the Israel Baseball League in the hearts of Israelis (and a polite "no comment yet" from IPBL honchos), we asked Our Man Elli in Israel to sort it out for us.
Tabloid Baby: So Elli, is there room for two leagues in Israel?
Our Man Elli: You're asking me? So far, we still don't know if there's room for one league in Israel. The IBL's first season wasn't marketed to Israelis, so no Israelis showed up. No professional league can survive here unless it is run professionally. But in answer to your specific question: No. I don't think there's room in Israel for two professional baseball leagues.
Do you know what cities the Israel Professional Baseball League plans to represent?
Look, this isn't the States. It's not even Anaheim. The names of the cities on the front of the Israeli uniforms are really immaterial, because the teams don't play in those cities anyway. The IBL picked cities because of their sizes and sizeable Anglo populations. I don't like to assume, but it's probable that the IPBLwill choose similar names for the same reasons. Though there are certainly some nicely-named cities with Anglo populations that could be included-- like Rehovot and Tzfat.
Where will the IBL play?
At the moment, there are only the two fields used last summer that are even playable. Those are Gezer and Baptist Village. I mean, it's possible they could convert some soccer fields in the next six months. But it's getting late.
The IPBL announced its season today. Are they really looking to merge with the IBL?
No. Not now they're not. There's no love lost between the two league organizers. but a lot could happen between now and June.
The Hatfields and the Mc-Oys.
Funny. (not laughing) Right now, the people behind the two leagues won't be working together. But, should there be changes within either league's heirachy, anything can happen.
Do two leagues mean there'll be a bidding war or players?
No. The least problem of all the problems any league faces is where to get players. There's no shortage of baseball talent out there. There are outstanding players from around the world, who'd be ecstatic to play in Israel. As we saw last summer. There are players who'd be ecstatic to play in Israel even if they didnt get paid! As we saw last summer.
What about commissioners?
Again, no problem. Neither will get a high-calibre name like Dan Kurtzer to run their league, because there aren't too many former US ambassadors waiting to run a baseball league. But there are certainly competent people in Israel who can be a commissioner of baseball here.
How about Ell--