Sunday, March 9, 2008

Israel baseball hopefuls chase dreams of field

Yes, sometimes we think we ought to rename this site Tabloid Baseball, but hey, we're sixteen days from Opening Day for the Major Leagues and over in Israel, that rival, renegade, rebel, upstart Israel Professional Baseball League, formed amid the rubble in the debt-ridden aftermath of the Israel Baseball League's inaugural (and, most likely, final) season, is scrambling to get something going by summer.

Sources tell Our Man Elli in Israel that the IPBL's billionaire frontman Jeff Rosen is negotiating to use a soccer field in Bat Yam, a coastal city just south of Tel Aviv, for IPBL play in the summer of 2008. Word is that Rosen's group has decided that the Baptist Village Field in Petach Tikva (former home to the IBL's Ra'anana Express and the Petach Tikva Pioneers) is too expensive.

Last week, Our Man Elli broke the incredible news that reports of the death of baseball in Israel are, if not greatly exaggerated, at least premature, with the report that Rosen and the IPBL are also negotiating with Israel's baseball governing body (which still carries an IBL logo and link on its website) to play ball without having to first cover the IBL's million dollar debt.

Is Rosen's rush good enough? Skeptics tell us there's not enough time to turn the field into a pro-level ballpark, and others wonder why Rosen hasn't put up any of his own vast fortune to cover some of the IBL debt (or made any good faith public gesture) to get his own league into first gear.

Watch this space for the latest. And while you're at it, check out our one-stop Baseball in Israel archive site here.

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