Monday, June 23, 2008

ADDENDUM: From Seacoast Online, Portsmouth, NH: "Portsmouth's Alexenberg won't make return to Israel Baseball League"

From Seacoast Online of the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Herald:

Portsmouth's Alexenberg won't make return to Israel Baseball League

By Mike Sullivan
June 23, 2008 6:00 AM

Despite recent reports to the contrary, the Israel Baseball League is moving forward with its second season, albeit an abbreviated one. Portsmouth's own Ari Alexenberg, who at 45 years old played and coached during the IBL's inaugural season last summer, is not making the trip.

"From an experiential standpoint I would have loved to play," Alexenberg wrote via e-mail. "From a financial standpoint it would have been difficult. Minor league wages work fine for 23-year-olds ...; tougher for 46-year-olds with a family to support."

Not playing in Israel this summer really does come down to the money for Alexenberg, so don't think for a second his age is playing a role in his decision to not return to the Petach Tikva Pioneers.

"As a pitcher I believe I can do it, as a regular position player I could not," he wrote. "It is a bit frustrating because I learned so much last year and would love the chance to start fresh-armed with last year's experience. I started out last season miserably but got better and better as the season progressed."

Alexenberg, who once served as an assistant coach at San Diego State University, cited the success of veteran Major League pitcher Jamie Moyer when discussing his "advanced" baseball age. The 45-year-old Moyer is still a solid starter for Philadelphia despite not having a fastball that exceeds 82 mph. And no, he isn't a knuckleballer.

Working in Alexenberg's favor may be the fact that he didn't play organized ball until he was 23, so one might argue his arm is rather fresh for a hurler in his mid-40s. In fact, he is playing in leagues in Boston and Manchester this summer.

"I am often tempted to try out for an independent pro team in the States, but again, the finances become an issue," said Alexenberg who, like Moyer, is a left-hander.

And while the IBL has rescheduled its opening day for July 27 — a month behind the originally scheduled date — Alexenberg won't be there.

Whether the league was to play a second season had become somewhat of a lesson in Internet contradiction recently, with conflicting reports on the status of the league appearing all over cyberspace.

Most reports contended that the league would not play this summer. To borrow the infamous line from Mark Twain: "The report of my death has been exaggerated." So despite reports to the contrary, the IBL is alive and at least breathing.

"I was in communication with the management team throughout the year so I knew there were financial challenges to overcome in order to get the 2008 season off the ground," Alexenberg wrote.

Just last week the league's Web site was updated to include the name of the league's new, incoming president, Dan Rootenberg.

"While it is important to acknowledge, correct and learn from the mistakes that happened in year one, at the same time, we cannot lose sight of the incredible accomplishments that were attained in a short period of time," Rootenberg said in a report published by the Associated Press.

Now, the league is hoping to build on that.

"The goal of having a three-week season this summer is to keep the momentum going, build on the fan base that was created last summer ... and bring back the high level of talent," Rootenberg said. "We hope that all of this will lay the groundwork for a 45-game season in 2009 and beyond."

The IBL will play a 20-game schedule, which is down from 40 last summer, and has gone from six to four teams. But the fact that it is forging ahead is an accomplishment in itself.

As for Alexenberg, we'll keep up with his progress. Any ballplayer still making progress at the age of 46 is worth keeping tabs on.

Mike Sullivan is a Herald columnist. He can be reached at

No comments: