Thursday, July 24, 2008

IBL investor Rollhaus: "I don't understand this festival thing. If they are serious and have the money, why not pay off the debts NOW?"

Now that the new Israeli Baseball League has released new specifics about their plan to replace a second, four-team, 20-game, three week, momentum-keeping mini-season with a two-week running “show” in which “an IBL All-Star team” will play against against a team made up of “premier Israeli players,” not everyone who was involved in the IBL is as excited as competitive eater Leon Feingold and his six fellow IBL veterans who’ve supposedly broken ranks with their brothers from Season One who were left stranded with bounced paychecks and broken dreams to play their part in this show put on by the new management.

Michael Rollhaus, for one.

Rollhaus, whose $100,000 investment in Larry Baras’ original Israel Baseball League, made him, according to Our Man Elli in Israel’s analysis of incomplete financial data, the fourth-biggest individual investor in the IBL. He was also the general manager of the league champion Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, and after the league’s collapse, so loved baseball that he became part of the group that attempted to form the rival Israel Professional Baseball League, a group that also failed to lift off under the weight of its own importance, but that’s another story.

The fact remains that for all the promises made by the new frontmen of the Dominican Republic of The Middle East Baseball League and their announced two-week PR festival in August, Rollhaus is still out $100,000 to the IBL, and still doesn’t know what happened to his investment.

Our Man Elli in Israel caught up with the Queens businessman in Jerusalem last week, and quotes Rollhaus saying he’s “always in the dark regarding the IBL. I never had an idea what Larry was doing during the '07 season, and have not had any correspondence with him since October. I have been given no financial information.”

Our Man Elli: What about Dan Rootenberg?

Michael Rollhaus: “I called him two weeks ago, and he was very upfront with me about the status of the IBL since he took over. But, of course, that ended.”

What about David Solomont?

“We’ve exchanged e-mails; I expect to talk to him (on Thursday). I’m confused. I really do not understand their claims that they have enough funds to pay debts, and enough money for two seasons. That is great, then just pay the players and debts ASAP. I also do not understand this seven-day festival thing. And they want to play winter ball in southern Israel? Well, unless they can import fans and build a domed stadium with a retractable roof… it is more fantasy than reality.”

Are you saying that you doubt the plans?

“If they are serious and have the money, why not pay off the debts NOW?”

What about your $100,000?

“It is the responsibility of a company to provide financial information to their shareholders/investors. As an investor, I think I am entitled to know what is going on. Is that too much to ask?”

Any regrets?

"Well, it hurts when I am in Jeruslaem and people ask me what is going on with Israeli baseball. It hurts when I am home in New York as well. I simply don’t know what to tell them.”

"This is going to be the Dominican Republic of the Middle East... Our players are going over to put on a show!"
--IBL's new "in-coming president" Solomont

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