Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Jerusalem Post: "The IBL was not a success"

The Jerusalem Post has been playing catch-up with Our Man Elli in Israel and our coverage of the Israel Baseball League for almost six months now (when they even bothered to cover the story at all). Which is probably why, in wake of our most recent post predicting a ball-free summer of 2008 in the Holy Land, JP columnist Jeremy Last gives us no credit as he comes in last, but powerfuly, with a commentary that will be unwelcome by anyone who hopes to see baseball rise in Israel again:

Jan 2, 2008

The Last Word:
Can 2007's disappointments be overturned


There were numerous success stories in Israeli sports in 2007, many of which have been highlighted in these pages over the last few weeks. But at the same time that Betar Jerusalem was being molded into a championship winning side and Shahar Pe'er was smashing away her opposition, there were a number of teams and organizations which failed to live up to their expectations...

Disappointments included... the extremely hyped Israel Baseball League...

The Israel Baseball League was another of the prominent flops of last year. While those running the league may protest that it was only the first year and the league was initially aimed at Americans, that was the biggest problem and led to practically empty stands for many games.

The fact is the IBL was not a success. It was hyped and hyped and promoted, but to the wrong people. By the end of the summer few Israelis still had any idea the league existed. And it was beset with problems which never should have arisen. From the late realization that the floodlights at Kibbutz Gezer were not strong enough, forcing games to finish early, to the complaints from the players about the conditions at their living quarters, the league was not run in the professional manner it should have been.

It must have been a relief for many of the top IBL personnel when they finally resigned in November. Ex-IBL commissioner Daniel Kurtzer, ex-PR representative Marty Appel and other members of the advisory board soon saw that "the league's finances and business operations were not handled in a... professional manner" Founder Larry Baras has promised that the IBL will return this summer, and even released a schedule, but there will be no point even bothering if the league is not managed correctly, marketed properly to local Israelis and more Israelis are not given the chance to play. Otherwise the failures will just continue in 2008.

In light of this recent turn of events, it will be interesting to hear the response from IBL apologists like Eric Holtz and Leon Feingold.

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