Saturday, January 5, 2008

IBL's Feingold wants Baras in the Israel Baseball mix; offers to serve as mediator among factions

In light of the troubles engulfing the Israel Baseball League and the likelihood that its mismanagement, ineptitude, greed and scandals will result in empty diamonds in Israel in 2008, we sought comment-- well, we actually put out a public call for comment-- from the senior players who stepped forward as the biggest apologists for the million-dollars-in-debt IBL-- as well as loudest namecallers when it came to the excellent investigative and journalistic work of Our Man Elli in Israel and if we must say, the Tabloid Baby staff.

Yesterday, Eric Holtz, the old man of the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, sent along his comments, reaffirming his faith in the IBL and his hope that "the IBL will be able to crawl out from it's financial debt to get back to doing what it intended to do from the get-go (Play Baseball)."

This morning, his colleague Leon Feingold from the Netanya Tigers (also renowned as a professional competitive eater), a major critic of our coverage-- leads off with a dig at us, then digs into the issue at hand:

Boychik, how can I turn down an invitation like that? Unlike TabloidBaby, I'd hate to leave readers disappointed by my contributions, or lack thereof.

If baseball is to succeed in Israel, as it absolutely should once done correctly, it will involve a lot of people working together to build on the positives of last season (of which there were many, although you'd never know that from reading here) and overcoming the negatives (of which there were just as many).

Somewhere in the IBL blogosphere this week, someone commented about the importance of everyone pulling on the same rope. That allusion stuck with me for some reason, and I maintain that all those who wish to see baseball succeed are trying to reach that common goal by pulling on different ropes - which cannot work, and certainly is not the most efficient solution.

The irony I see is not that the different parties have different ideas about how a league should be run, so much as there are many people who had no patience for the problems with the current league and wanted to tear it down and start from scratch with a better business plan, more transparency, etc... but instead of working WITH the people already there, have decided to compete and attempt what is essentially a hostile takeover where none was really necessary. I know Larry Baras reasonably well, and after all he poured of his own time and money and energy into making this league a reality, there was DEFINITELY a bipartisan way to fix the problems from within. It's not just about money, or fame, or records, or credit, or individuals. It's about making something beautiful and culturally significant happen on an international and historical scale, and we're so very close to the tipping point where this can really take hold. Some people in BOTH groups just didn't want to do things any way but their own, and I believe it is their stubbornness and insistence in doing everything their way that has created two apparently opposing camps divided by that common goal.

In the school of thought to which I adhere, there is STILL a narrow window to use all the positives everyone brings to the table - Baras, Goldklang, Perlman, Berger, Rosen, Holtz, Rolhaus, Kurtzer, Duquette, Zimbalist, and many more - to do what SHOULD have been done in the beginning: get everyone with a part of the same rope in their hands, and find a way to pull together. I'd love to get everyone in the same room at the same time and force them to hash it out like grownups, or at the very least like young adults. I'd volunteer to mediate, although I'm sure we can get a more experienced, well-known expert to step in and work out a way to have everyone involved who wants to be, and present a unified front against any new challenges that will face the league from outside, rather than self-immolate via infighting.

In closing, it's axiomatic that we can't change the past, but we can learn from it and find a way to shape the future. There's not much time left before a solid framework needs to be in place for next season, but I know enough about the people who want this to succeed, that I believe we have enough time to make it happen.

After all, as everyone knows, there's no time limit in baseball.

Leon Feingold

Thanks, Leon and Eric! No hard feelings. In fact, we offer you a tip of the Tabloid Baby hat!

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