Thursday, January 31, 2008

Baras barred from Israel baseball summit in NYC

Details are trickling in on the meeting in New York City today that could decide the fate of professional baseball in Israel. Former Israel Baseball League commissioner and US ambassador to Israel and Egypt, Daniel Kurtzer led the summit. Embattled IBL founder Larry Baras was not in attendance. "No one wanted him in the room," says our spy. However, Ami Baran, manager of the IBL's Netanya Tigers, was expected to show. Haim Katz, president of the Israel Association of Baseball, Israel's baseball governing body (who recently canceled the contract that allowed the IBL to operate) was on a conference call with the room.


Israel's big baseball meeting is underway

The meeting to decide the future of professional baseball in Israel was set to convene this morning at the Penn Club in Manhattan.

Our Man Elli in Israel has his spies and sources at the ready. Watch this space for details.

But hey! Elli's all the way in Israel! Are you/were you at the Israel baseball summit? Send us your tips!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Major league snag for meeting to decide baseball future in Israel: Officials want new league to pay Larry Baras' debts before first pitch is thrown!

Whoever wants to pick up the ball and carry on with professional baseball in Israel will first have to pick up the tab left unpaid by the Israel Baseball League, that’s been run out of the Holy Land because of its staggering debts and wailing wall of silence.

And that just might be the dealbreaker, as the future of professional baseball in Israel is decided far from the Holy Land, at a meeting in New York City on Thursday morning.

The summit will be led by former IBL commissioner (and US Ambassador to Israel and Egypt) Daniel Kurtzer, who quit, along with most of the IBL’s distinguished advisory board, the day after Our Man Elli in Israel revealed that the debt-ridden IBL founder Larry Baras was facing a federal lawsuit charging IBL-related securities fraud (that and the fact that Baras wouldn’t release any financial information-- as in showing where all the money went), and attended by potential investors in Israel’s baseball future.

Yesterday we told you that Israel’s governing body for baseball, The Israel Association of Baseball canceled its contract with Baras and his embattled IBL, citing “its unpaid bills from the 2007 season, and the clear inability… to produce a baseball league in Israel in 2008.”

And that’s the twist. Will the successors to Larry Baras have to pay his debts? We spoke with Elli Wohlgelernter to get the latest.

TABLOID BABY: Do you realize it's five months to the day that we ran your original exposé on the IBL's first season?

OUR MAN ELLI: Who'd have thought it would lead to this?

Not us. So?

So, we’ll know everything this Thursday. January 31st at The Penn Club in Manhattan. With five months to go until an Opening Day-- if there's gonna be an Opening Day-- the main principals are going to meet.

Do you think they’re going to serve Unholey Bagels?


At the meeting. You know, the Baras bagels at the heart of the lawsuit.

Should I hang up now?

All right. We’re serious. We know Kurtzer will be there. Who else?

Marvin Goldklang will be there. He’s minority share-holder of the New York Yankees and former member of the Advisory Board of the IBL; Marty Appel, the Yankee PR legend who was the head of public relations for the IBL; Jeff Rosen—- he was an IBL investor and head of the new Israel Professional Baseball League; Michael Rollhaus, a former IBL investor of the IBL and current IPBL investor; Jeffrey Royer, IBL investor and a general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks; and Martin Berger, the president and COO of the IBL. He’ll be representing the IBL.

Should be quite a meeting.

Oh, yeah.

What do they hope to accomplish?

Marty Appel released a statement saying they’re discussing the future of baseball in Israel with current and potential investors, and that they hope to play ball this summer. Sounds like they’re looking to pick up the pieces and get a new league rolling.

The official statement released by Martin Appel:

“It is a meeting to discuss the future of baseball in Israel involving a number of current and potential investors, as well as people who have experience and advice to contribute. It is not an IBL meeting, although issues related to the IBL's experience will be discussed. It is an in-person meeting, not a teleconference. All the participants are hopeful that professional baseball will return to Israel this summer.”

So what’s this with the new league being forced to pay the vendors and players that the IBL stiffed?

Yeah, the main issue is dealing with the enormous debt. Look, like I told you yesterday, there’s a general sense that in principle at least, any new league-- most likely the Israel Professional Baseball League shouldn’t be forced to pay Baras’ bills, but on a practical level, they’re going to have to offer some kind of partial relief.

We thought the IAB is demanding it.

They are. Peter Kurz, the IAB’s secretary-general told me, and here’s the quote: “Our policy is that whoever wants to run pro baseball and wants our licensing has to pay the debts of the IBL.” And also, remember on a PR level, this whole enterprise will be getting bad press, as others catch up to what we've been reporting. The word “failure” will be appearing in every story about baseball in Israel with the same frequency that the word “change” appears in every speech by a US candidate for president.

At least they’ll finally be getting some press.


So how much of a debt are we talking about?

My sources tell me that in Israel alone, it’s $420,000, spread out among at least twenty-three people and places, including Kfar Hayarok, where the players stayed, the bus transportation company— it goes on from there. And that doesn’t include expenses in the United States, where the IBL is based, let alone the money still owed to Berger and Dan Duquette, the league’s baseball operations director.

So Thursday’s meeting is the day before February, five months before the season should start. A little late for 0-8, no?

It's late. Very late in the game, true enough, and while the game of baseball has no clock, the business of baseball certainly does. But the good thing is that the people coming to the meeting are honest men with their heart in the right place-– they all are looking for way to make baseball happen in Israel in 2008.

Throw in the word “change” and you’ll sound like one of those presidential candidates. Very inspiring.

Hey. It is inspiring. Kurtz told me, quote, “We’re definitely trying to bring all the parties together so that there is baseball in 2008.” He also said the number of kids now playing baseball in Israel is up 30 to 40 percent.

Again, I quote: “If they can come together in any way, we are interested in meeting with them and moving forward with them. I’m optimistic there will be pro baseball in Israel this summer.”

Think the meeting will succeed?

As one participant told me: “Well, if the former Ambassador to Egypt and to Israel can't bring about some small accord here…” We’ll know more at the end of the week.

We’ll be waiting.

Right. And one more thing. Those pictures you ran yesterday, supposedly showing people mourning the death of baseball in Israel— very bad taste. There’s real suffering here that you can’t imagine back there in Los Angeles.

Hey, we have to remind people they’re getting their news from Tabloid Baby. If they want taste, they can go to the New York Times or Jerusalem Post—oh right, they can't get their news from those places, because they’re following us a week or so later...

Settle down, Beavis.

One more thing in this end— any truth to the rumour that after they’re done taking testimony on steroids from Roger Clemens, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is planning to take testimony on fraud from Larry Baras?

Good night.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fans mourn death of Israel Baseball League

Click here for the story.


We told you it's official. The Israel Baseball League is as dead as Heath Ledger. The Israel Association of Baseball, the nation's baseball governing body, has canceled the league’s contract and effectively kicked the IBL out of the Holy Land. In a letter to IBL founder Larry Baras and his Israel Baseball Properties, IAB president Haim Katz says he's revoking permission for the IBL to operate in Israel “in light of its unpaid bills from the 2007 season, and the clear inability of the IBP, due to its current financial situation, to produce a baseball league in Israel in 2008.”

The Katz letter is just some of the new exclusive information being gathered by Our Man Elli in Israel, the journalist who first exposed the problems behind the professional league’s maiden season. We’re not waiting for Elli Wohlgelernter to write another muckraking opus. We got him to spill the beans immediately:

TB: Just cut to the chase.

OUR MAN ELLI: Yes, the Israel Baseball League is dead. Maybe not in a legal sense, but they are done. As John Parsons, my old News director back in New York would say: "tutti finutti." The Israel Association of Baseball sent a letter to the IBL on January 9th, canceling the contract. The IAB is the governing body for baseball in Israel, and without their certification, no one can play. So the IBL is over.

My rebbe just-a wrote me a letter...

How did the letter come about?

I just spoke to the Peter Kurz, secretary-general of the IAB, and asked him the same thing. “They owe money in Israel, that's why we terminated the relationship,” Kurz told me. “We have been pressuring them for six months, and their answer was, ‘We’ll have the money next week, we’ll have it next week.’ And we got tired of it.’”

It’s always been about the money-- the enormous debt incurred by the IBL in that first season. To this day, Larry Baras, the league’s founder—

The Boston bagel baron--


The guy who invented the “Unholey Bagel”—

Right, the bagel without a hole stuffed with cream cheese. Anyway, Larry Baras still hasn’t given anyone an accounting of how much money he raised or where the money went. Though I did a little investigating and found out he’d registered at least six limited liability corporations for the league in that corporate haven, Delaware.






I’m not sure why he had to go with six LLCs. And remember, Baras has stonewalled despite a pretty good offer I’ve learned about. Back in the fall, he had a free offer to have an independent financial professional—somebody he’d find acceptable-- review and assemble the financial information of the league. Baras turned down the offer.

I don’t now. Maybe the Baras apologists can explain it all. Like IBL player Eric Holtz, who believes that all the problems are only because “I have seen in business over the last 22 years that there are vultures that try to pick off the last pieces of meat off of a carcass and to me that is exactly what is going on with this whole IPBL nonsense”; or Leon Feingold--

The professional competitive eater, right?

Right. Leon said the real problem is that “there are many people who had no patience for the problems with the current league and wanted to tear it down.” Well, there you go. Looks like the patience ran out.

What’s next? Will there be baseball in Israel?

Right now it looks like the Israel Professional Baseball League seems to have the inside track. They’re already getting their ducks in order. And there’s a general consensus that this new league shouldn’t have to be responsible for the debts of the IBL. So they’d start with a clean slate.

And what about the meeting in New York City on Thursday?


Hold it right there, Elli. We’ll let our readers digest all this first.

Stay tuned here for details on the meeting that could bring Israel’s baseball dream back to life…


The Israel Baseball league will not be back for a second season in 2008...

Talks about the possible formation of a new league will take place on Thursday, January 31st...


Monday, January 14, 2008

Could George W broker baseball's future in Israel?

He’s not likely going to bring peace to the Middle East, but could President George W. Bush be the right man to bring together the warring factions in Israel’s professional baseball quagmire? That potential upside to his presidency is in the air tonight in wake of Bush's recent visit to Israel— his first as president-- coinciding with the departure of his former employee, New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya.

Yesterday we told you about Minaya's visit as part of a delegation promoting Israeli-Palestinian youth sports programs s comments about the IBL, and his comments there about the Israel Baseball League’s disappointing first season.

New York Times sportswriter Murray Chass, who stepped into the IBL story months after Our Man Elli in Israel broke and developed it (and who since has been handed information from parties in the free-for-all that’s followed the first season), writes in tomorrow’s New York Times that when Minaya met Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Olmert declared that baseball “That’s a game I don’t understand.”

Chass reports that Minaya said he replied:

"If you want anyone to explain baseball to you, the guy who can really explain it and who loves the game as much as I do is the president. He’ll talk to you about baseball. I worked for him, and he really understands baseball. You can tell him that O told you that.”
Minaya said Olmert replied that he was going to tell Bush, "I’m going to tell him I spoke to you, and tell him you told me that."
One more thing Minaya said he told Olmert: "He doesn’t call me Omar. He calls me O. Tell him you talked about baseball with O and he’ll know what you’re talking about."
So Olmert did precisely that, and Bush, the former managing partner of the Texas Rangers, knew exactly whom Olmert meant.
“O says hello,” Olmert told Bush, among other things more critical to Middle East peace.
“Oh, you mean Omar?” Bush replied.

Minaya also threw Chass another reference to the troubled IBL: “We have to find a way to help baseball there,” he said. “I’ve worked on building four or five baseball fields in the Dominican Republic. We have to do something in Israel to bring baseball there and give the kids the opportunity to play baseball.”

We know that George W. Bush had dreamed of being the commissioner of Major League Baseball. Brokering baseball peace in Israel could be a great first step-- and he could do it in New York, where the big Israel baseball summit is set to soon take place.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Did The Jerusalem Post send out a "Britney" memo regarding coverage of the Israel Baseball League?

As we await the big summit meeting that will decide the future of professional baseball in Israel, Hometown paper The Jerusalem Post has been very slow, lax and deficient in its coverage of the game, the league, the controversies and the scandals that have been covered so comprehensively here under the leadership of Our Man Elli In Israel. Yet in recent weeks, the JP has been playing catch-up, as if someone, in the spirit of the recent Associated Press memo instructing staff that virtually anything involving Britney (Spears) is a big deal." To wit, the story about New York Mets GM Omar Minaya's visit to promote the Israeli-Palestinian children's sports program:

...When asked about the Israel Baseball League that got off the ground last summer, Minaya was very optimistic for the future, despite the resignation of many of the leading members of the IBL advisory board in November.

"The fact that they had the league last year is a great step," Minaya says. "I think that, in hearing from the people I'm talking to over here, we need to build more fields and strengthen the little league development in the country."

Regarding the mixed reviews the IBL received in its inaugural season, Minaya says he believes that, "anytime you have a league, growth and youth development will come along with it, so it is important for the league to continue to grow and get better to maintain and further the game's expansion in Israel."

Going forward, Minaya is clear that he understands the need for Major League Baseball to become involved in developing the sport in this country for it ultimately to be successful.

"I hope to come back to Israel to see the baseball league here during the season and I know that we, the Mets, hope to be able to participate and help out as much as we can with baseball here," he stresses.

Looks like someone is instructing the reporters to be sure to include an IBL question in every interview. (Did they ask former MLB team owner President Bush? Send us your sightings.)


Pick out the four mistakes among the five statements in the lede of this IBL posting on the a site called Blog Aladdin:

"The Israel Baseball League had a successful debut season on the field with six teams competing in a full schedule of games that were well received with attendance that generally exceeded expectations. The on-field product was very good and two players received minor league contracts with the Yankees. However, the offseason is a different story and the viability of the league and its ability to play a second season are in serious doubt."

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Israel Baseball League keeps the blinders on

What's that Yiddish word? Meshugeneh?

No-- chutzpah.

That's it! Chutzpah!

The guys behind the Israel Baseball League sure do have a lot of chutzpah! Despite reports of a first season debt that tops a million US dollars, a founder who few want to work with, lots of former contributors out to remake Israel's baseball dream on their own, and a general consensus that there probably won't be professional baseball in Israel in 2008, the IBL continues to press forward as if everything is, well, kosher.

In fact, only hours ago, a new entry appeared on the revived IBL website, bringing us up-to-date on the tryouts that took place last month in Miami:

01/07/2008 10:03 PM
Miami Florida-

The Israel Baseball League held is second successful tryout of the off-season in anticipation of the 2008 baseball season in Israel. The tryout, held in Miami, and run by Dan Duquette, featured former minor league pitchers and some excellent players with college level experience. "We hope to sign at least six to eight players from this tryout to go along with the eight we are going to sign from the tryouts in Hinsdale," said Dan Duquette following the workout. "With the number of players who will be returning from last season," said Bryan Pinchuk, Assistant Director of Player Personnel, "we are right on target to accomplish our number one goal of the off-season, namely to upgrade the already high level of play in the IBL." Future tryouts are scheduled for the Dominican Republic and Los Angeles in the upcoming months.

Now, the reports we got from the tryouts were not so rosy ("About thirty hopefuls showed up... about two players displayed an inkling of talent, yet none is destined to get an El Al coach ticket to a summer of fun."), but there you go.

Meanwhile, the IBL site also advertises the "Next Game":

Modi'in Miracle
@ Bet Shemesh Blue Sox
06:00 PM
and contains a FAN POLL:

What do you think is the most impressive accomplishment
in the IBL's inaugural season?

* Esequier Pie throwing two no-hitters in one season

* Eladio Rodriguez hitting .461 with 16HR, 44 RBI in 34 G

* The Bet Shemesh Blue Sox winning the IBL Championship
and never falling below first place the entire season

Which leads us to ask: What do YOU think is the most impressive accomplishment in the IBL's inaugural season?

And be sure to let us know the date of the Los Angeles tryouts. We'll be there, with bagels.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

IBL's Feingold wants Baras in the Israel Baseball mix; offers to serve as mediator among factions

In light of the troubles engulfing the Israel Baseball League and the likelihood that its mismanagement, ineptitude, greed and scandals will result in empty diamonds in Israel in 2008, we sought comment-- well, we actually put out a public call for comment-- from the senior players who stepped forward as the biggest apologists for the million-dollars-in-debt IBL-- as well as loudest namecallers when it came to the excellent investigative and journalistic work of Our Man Elli in Israel and if we must say, the Tabloid Baby staff.

Yesterday, Eric Holtz, the old man of the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, sent along his comments, reaffirming his faith in the IBL and his hope that "the IBL will be able to crawl out from it's financial debt to get back to doing what it intended to do from the get-go (Play Baseball)."

This morning, his colleague Leon Feingold from the Netanya Tigers (also renowned as a professional competitive eater), a major critic of our coverage-- leads off with a dig at us, then digs into the issue at hand:

Boychik, how can I turn down an invitation like that? Unlike TabloidBaby, I'd hate to leave readers disappointed by my contributions, or lack thereof.

If baseball is to succeed in Israel, as it absolutely should once done correctly, it will involve a lot of people working together to build on the positives of last season (of which there were many, although you'd never know that from reading here) and overcoming the negatives (of which there were just as many).

Somewhere in the IBL blogosphere this week, someone commented about the importance of everyone pulling on the same rope. That allusion stuck with me for some reason, and I maintain that all those who wish to see baseball succeed are trying to reach that common goal by pulling on different ropes - which cannot work, and certainly is not the most efficient solution.

The irony I see is not that the different parties have different ideas about how a league should be run, so much as there are many people who had no patience for the problems with the current league and wanted to tear it down and start from scratch with a better business plan, more transparency, etc... but instead of working WITH the people already there, have decided to compete and attempt what is essentially a hostile takeover where none was really necessary. I know Larry Baras reasonably well, and after all he poured of his own time and money and energy into making this league a reality, there was DEFINITELY a bipartisan way to fix the problems from within. It's not just about money, or fame, or records, or credit, or individuals. It's about making something beautiful and culturally significant happen on an international and historical scale, and we're so very close to the tipping point where this can really take hold. Some people in BOTH groups just didn't want to do things any way but their own, and I believe it is their stubbornness and insistence in doing everything their way that has created two apparently opposing camps divided by that common goal.

In the school of thought to which I adhere, there is STILL a narrow window to use all the positives everyone brings to the table - Baras, Goldklang, Perlman, Berger, Rosen, Holtz, Rolhaus, Kurtzer, Duquette, Zimbalist, and many more - to do what SHOULD have been done in the beginning: get everyone with a part of the same rope in their hands, and find a way to pull together. I'd love to get everyone in the same room at the same time and force them to hash it out like grownups, or at the very least like young adults. I'd volunteer to mediate, although I'm sure we can get a more experienced, well-known expert to step in and work out a way to have everyone involved who wants to be, and present a unified front against any new challenges that will face the league from outside, rather than self-immolate via infighting.

In closing, it's axiomatic that we can't change the past, but we can learn from it and find a way to shape the future. There's not much time left before a solid framework needs to be in place for next season, but I know enough about the people who want this to succeed, that I believe we have enough time to make it happen.

After all, as everyone knows, there's no time limit in baseball.

Leon Feingold

Thanks, Leon and Eric! No hard feelings. In fact, we offer you a tip of the Tabloid Baby hat!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Israel Baseball: Holtz keeps on the sunny side

Recent grim news about the sad state of the Israel Baseball League, its million dollar debt, a decree by the formerly uninterested Jerusalem Post that the league's first season was a failure and the unlikely prospects for Israel baseball in 2008 led us to wonder about the reaction from the two IBL players who were most vocal in support of IBL management-- and critical of Our Man Elli in Israel and his coverage of the season's foibles and post-season scandals.

Leon Feingold, the Netanya Tigers pitcher and competitive eater called Our Man Elli and the Tabloid Baby team "mudslinging, smarmy, sensationalist, no-talent gossip-column rejects," while aging Bet Shemesh Blue Sox shortstop Eric Holtz (above right) went further-- defending founder Larry Baras, shrugging off a bounced paycheck, and stating that Elli "could be the lowest level of Human Life in a reporter that I have ever seen."

Today, Holtz, the self described "Glass Half-Full Guy," writes in:

My response is this:

I had a great experience, I got to meet wonderful people. I was re-introduced to my own heritage and got nine weeks to visit a beautiful land, meet warm Israeli people and do what I love most-Play/Manage Baseball. I have made life-long friends and will continue to look back and smile on the entire experience. Tabloid did not get Thanks from Mothers and fathers of Children who Thanked Us for "Making their Summer." That was an incredible feeling. Elli/Tabloid Baby will never get to feel something like that.

120 st(r)angers met with one thing in common and bonded into something special.That will never be taken away from anyone who experienced this. I do hope that Baseball continues in Israel. It will take time to gain trust, interest and ent(h)usiasm, but Soccer is still st(r)uggling here in the U.S. decades after it was introduced. On the business side, almost every new league is in the red when starting out, hopefully the IBL will be able to crawl out from it's financial debt to get back to doing what it intended to do from the get-go (Play Baseball).

I hope this answers your question as to "What would Eric say"? As now I have to get back to what is important in my life-- Fathering my 3 children and running my manufacturing business.

I wish Everyone a Happy Healthy and Prosperous 2008.

Eric Holtz

Leon? You're on deck, bubbala.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Jerusalem Post: "The IBL was not a success"

The Jerusalem Post has been playing catch-up with Our Man Elli in Israel and our coverage of the Israel Baseball League for almost six months now (when they even bothered to cover the story at all). Which is probably why, in wake of our most recent post predicting a ball-free summer of 2008 in the Holy Land, JP columnist Jeremy Last gives us no credit as he comes in last, but powerfuly, with a commentary that will be unwelcome by anyone who hopes to see baseball rise in Israel again:

Jan 2, 2008

The Last Word:
Can 2007's disappointments be overturned


There were numerous success stories in Israeli sports in 2007, many of which have been highlighted in these pages over the last few weeks. But at the same time that Betar Jerusalem was being molded into a championship winning side and Shahar Pe'er was smashing away her opposition, there were a number of teams and organizations which failed to live up to their expectations...

Disappointments included... the extremely hyped Israel Baseball League...

The Israel Baseball League was another of the prominent flops of last year. While those running the league may protest that it was only the first year and the league was initially aimed at Americans, that was the biggest problem and led to practically empty stands for many games.

The fact is the IBL was not a success. It was hyped and hyped and promoted, but to the wrong people. By the end of the summer few Israelis still had any idea the league existed. And it was beset with problems which never should have arisen. From the late realization that the floodlights at Kibbutz Gezer were not strong enough, forcing games to finish early, to the complaints from the players about the conditions at their living quarters, the league was not run in the professional manner it should have been.

It must have been a relief for many of the top IBL personnel when they finally resigned in November. Ex-IBL commissioner Daniel Kurtzer, ex-PR representative Marty Appel and other members of the advisory board soon saw that "the league's finances and business operations were not handled in a... professional manner" Founder Larry Baras has promised that the IBL will return this summer, and even released a schedule, but there will be no point even bothering if the league is not managed correctly, marketed properly to local Israelis and more Israelis are not given the chance to play. Otherwise the failures will just continue in 2008.

In light of this recent turn of events, it will be interesting to hear the response from IBL apologists like Eric Holtz and Leon Feingold.

Prediction: No pro baseball for Israel in 2008

2008 has dawned with a big question mark and Joe Btfsplk cloud over the future of baseball in Israel. And if we may go all Carnac on your asses, we will take a leap of cynicism and predict there will be no professional baseball in Israel this year, thanks to the mess left behind by the Israel Baseball League in the summer of ’07.

And don’t blame Our Man Elli.

He merely reported (and a monumental report it was) the facts of a debacle of a season that somehow everyone took seriously only after New York Times columnist Murray Chass took all of Elli’s droppings and stepped in last week to report that the IBL owes a lot more than a few bounced paychecks and ice cube bills— a debt that reaches, and by our sources’ accounts, surpasses, one million US dollars (more on that to come)-- and badwill that guarantees that embattled IBL founder Larry Baras will not be involved in an IBL sophomore season whenever and if ever that may take place, or for that matter, set foot in Israel, where the ankle above that foot would probably be clamped with a shackle as soon as he steps out of the jetway.

Yet, the charade continues, with an announcement of a 2008 IBL schedule, followed by bobbled IBL tryouts in Miami a couple of weeks back, under the watchful eye of league president and local attorney Martin Berger and his operations director Dan Duquette. About thirty hopefuls showed up. Our scouts tell us about two players displayed an inkling of talent, yet none is destined to get an El Al coach ticket to a summer of fun.

And, yes, Larry Baras was nowhere to be seen.

The coalition of the wishing described by Chass last week (“mediators” led by former IBL commissioner Dan Kurtzer and former advisers Marvin Goldklang (a minor league team owner and limited partner in the Yankees) and (Smith College economics prof) Andrew Zimbalist hope to pull together all the potential movers— and derail the rival Israel Professional Baseball League rebels in the process—in a meeting later this month.

They also want Baras out. Sources tell Tabloid Baby that the Boston businessman who’s been hit by a federal securities fraud lawsuit connected to his IBL startup and who bounced paychecks to players and left vendors hanging, is claiming he’s been out of pocket to the tune of 90,000 US dollars.

The ones trying to restart the league may pay him off and send him back to his bagel-stuffing business. But sources say Baras may hold out for more. Don’t fall for his woe-is-me act, they tell us. Baras will look to leave with his pockets stuffed with cash the same way his UnHoley Bagels are filled with cream cheese.

But in the wake of the IBL’s first season, the biggest problem will be getting anyone in Israel to cooperate with mercenary carpetbaggers looking to skim more shekels from Holy Land (baseball) diamonds. Right now, it’s safe to say that just about no one in Israel trusts the IBL, nor will they do business with it-- not Gezer, not Baptist Village, not vendors, not landscapers, not television channels-- not anyone, even in the unlikely scenario that Baras raises the money to get out of debt and start fresh. In fact, most every Israeli will likely be gun-shy about working with anyone who utters the word beysbol (baseball).

Meanwhile, another question many have been asking is why Berger and Duquette are still tied in with Baras. We know Duquette lost out on the Pittsburgh Pirates GM gig, which would have sent him packing from the IBL faster than spoiled baba ghanoush through a digestive system. But he can't now. Duquette owns about a quarter of the league, and is owed a lot of money, and so is Berger. Lots.

So for now, think Bagelstock and Bloom. And Bloom. That’s where we're all standing, and where the future of baseball in Israel is not.

Stay tuned here, and thanks for all the tips and a tip of the Tabloid Baby hat to you all.