Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Will there really be baseball in Israel this summer?

So where are we? Twenty-five days or so to Opening Day of the second season of the Israel Baseball League-- or should we say, the new, improved four-team, 20-game, three-week "momentum-keeping" mini-season of the Israel Baseball League. But is it really going to happen?

The new "in-coming president" of the IBL, Dan Rootenberg, spoke to Our Man Elli in Israel minutes ago, and he says, "The first wave of players' checks (from last season) have been sent out." Eighty percent of the players who are owed money can expect their checks, he says. "I personally put in the mail those players' checks."

Rootenberg wouldn't answer any other questions directly, including whether the IBL will indeed get it together in time for opening Day on June 27th.

Then we've got the players. Many of them don't care about the money issues. They're ballplayers. They'd play for free.

But they're in limbo.

The mini-season is set to start three weeks from Sunday, but no one knows who's showing up to play or what happens next. Many don't believe there will be a season, so at this late date, they're hedging their bets; not quitting jobs or taking leaves of absence because the summer plans are still up in the air.

The IBL has finally removed the roster of last year's players from its website, but hasn't replaced them with the new lineups.

Though they're selling tickets for six, not four, teams and still promise:

"This year, our menu will be a little different, but we think you will enjoy it all the more. The season will begin on July 27th and end on August 17th. The Bet Shemesh Blue Sox will be returning to defend their title and will be joined this year by three other teams – the Modi’in Miracle, the Netanya Tigers, and a new entrant, the Jerusalem Gold. Each time will play a 20-game regular season, culminating in a championship series. The set-up this year will be akin to the College World Series that is played each year in the U.S. Each day, there will be two games played, accompanied by on-field clinics, catch with the players, and softball games. Nonetheless, the competition and level of play at the pro level will be the same as last year, with the Blue Sox being public enemy number one for the other three teams..."

And as we head into what could be a great fun time of baseball in the Holy Land, we hear that Our Man Elli is persona non grata among many players because they think he's "against baseball." You schmucks! No one loves baseball more than Our Man Elli! And no one has dedicated more time to watching out for your best interests! Who took time to track down the "in-coming president"?

We can't wait for the first pitch.

Should it be thrown.

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