Friday, March 28, 2008

Our readers say: "Three cheers for Jason Rees!"

There was no joy in TabloidBabyville this week amid word that Australian baseball star Jason Rees, a standout in the first season of the ill-fated Israel Baseball League, was cut from the New York Yankees' Triple A minor league team, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

Rees' signing, along with veteran catcher Eladio Rodriguez (who'd had a shot with the Boston Red Sox almost a decade ago) with the Yankees at the peak of the IBL's financial troubles, was immediately attacked by critics as a public relations and fundraising stunt, considering that Yankees president Randy Levine, former Yankees PR director Marty Appel, minority owner Marvin Goldklang and the team's doctor were all on the IBL advisory board.

But our readers remind us that Jason Rees is the real deal. And making it to a step away from the Big Game-- let alone from Australia by way of Israel-- is a tremendous accomplishment. The Man from Down Under first made his mark at Cloud County Community College in Concordia, Kansas, playing ball for two years and tying the school record of games played (104). He also won conference and regional honors at Fort Hays State University.

The Newcastle native played professional baseball in Australia before he joined the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox. hitting .362 with 17 home runs, 50 runs batted in, 14 stolen bases and 47 hits in 42 games-- leading the league in home runs and runs batted in, and helping lead the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox to a championship.

We'll be keeping watch on the career of his very talented 23-year old (and we'll be looking for Eladio, who never showed up at the Yankees' camp!). A few of our readers' comments follow:

Do you have any idea how many players get to play a single day in AAA baseball for any part of there career? If he was 2 years younger he would have been given more of an opportunity. Hats off to Jason!

Jason had the strength of character to get in there and give it his best shot. He should have our respect for doing that in such a public way. I had the honor to get to know Jason while we were in Israel last summer and found him to be a well spoken and responsible young man. He will be a success in life and someone that we all will be proud to know. Good luck Jason in your next effort be it baseball or otherwise.

The fact that Rees got recognized for his achievements and signed by the Yankees speaks volumes for what the IBL accomplished in their 1st season. The number of players that ever get to actually play at AAA let alone the BIGS is incredibly small...

Good Luck Rees! You are a great guy!

Rees is both a tremendously talented ballplayer and a solid citizen. Let's keep in mind that only about 17,000 men have played in the MLB over its history and only a relatively small percentage of guys get any shot at all out of camp. Jason flew half-way around the world and put it all out there. It only takes a couple of miscues to fall down the charts. He will re-surface, whether he joins Big Berg in Bridgeport or ends up going into business back in New South Wales. As Greg Raymundo would say, "So what!"...Jason will be a success with whatever he does.

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