Saturday, June 28, 2008

Israel Baseball League update: Our Man Elli finds big obstacles to a second, four-team, 20-game, three-week, "momentum-keeping" mini-season


Well, we’re a month away from the promised opening of the four-team, 20-game, three-week “momentum-keeping” second season of the Israel Baseball League—or first season of the new improved, based-on-the-Broadway-musical version of the Israel Baseball League, and just as it was when we picked up the story in earnest last August, we have a bunch of US-based businessmen throwing around big promises and unequivocal statements while hiding from questions (and behind a feelgood documentary film) and pretending the elephant in the room is the size of a creamcheese-filled bagel. On the plus side, this little tabloid news and media watchdog site has proven its worth as a clearinghouse for opinion on both sides, as the lively exchange of views in our comments section can attest.

Anyway, we checked in with Our Man Elli in Israel before the Sabbath.

Tabloid Baby: Give us some news.

Our Man Elli in Israel: I wish I could give you all the answers. But I can’t. Everyone’s playing it close to the vest. They made their big announcement and now in a holding pattern.

What are they waiting for?

What else? Money. It’s not there today. Everyone’s waiting for tomorrow.

No money? Opening Day’s in four weeks. No money?

Stop pretending to be so naïve. They announced the league is still alive because of their agreement from the first season.

With the Israel Association of Baseball.

Right.

But the IBL removed the certification in January (January 9th—as we reported exclusively). How can they have the balls to announce with no money?

They HAD to announce it. And they have to make it happen. Otherwise they’d have been in breach of last summer’s contract, which says they have to have a second season. Someone close to the IAB board told me that the IAB board hasn’t even had a formal meeting on the subject. Here’s a quote. I’m reading: “It’s been a lot of emails and phone calls so far. But they can’t keep going like this, there’s going to have to be a formal board meeting, and soon.”

How soon?

Probably next week. I’m reading from the source again. Hold on. Here: “The board will have to sit and look at exactly the commitments they-- that’s the IBL-- are giving, what they say, then ask for clarifications, then send them a response on the clarifications, and then prepare a position among themselves on each contingency, depending on what they—again, the IBL-- say.” They may not to be able to get the full board together on such short notice, but they have to call the meeting. My source said he’s not convinced the IBL can pull it off, and that the IBL is-- quoting again-- “grabbing at straws in order not to be in breach of contract. It’s a dubious proposition. However, if they can pull it off, okay. Let’s see.”

A lot of people commenting in the site are saying the same thing.

I like the debate.

Yeah. It’s a good month. And the story’s going to get bigger. Anyway, is it going to happen or not?

We simply don’t know.

Great. Not. So what do you know? What about the players?

It’s never hard to get guys to play baseball, if you pay them, but how good is the quality going to be? That’s one of the questions the IAB is wrestling with. They don’t want to be embarrassed in their own backyard.

So who’ll play?

Well, every professional league has started play already, even short season Single-A, so the better players are already committed. That leaves the bottom half of the league. The players from last year were sent invitations in the past couple of months. They had until today to make the commitment.

Anyone bite?

Mostly it’ll be the American players who played last summer – we know Leon Feingold is coming.

The competitive eater.

Yeah, the pitcher.

What a (redacted by editor). Why does that guy hate us?

Eh. Comes with the territory. Plus there are supposed to be three Israelis on each of the four teams.

How much will they be paid. Or owed?

Ha. The players will be paid $750 for the three weeks. That's the pro-rated salary they made last year-- $2,000 for eight weeks. But of course the dollar has dropped, so for the Israeli players it’s a lot less. And speaking of Israeli players-– the American players are supposed to stay at Neve Ilan. It used to be a kibbutz and now it’s a moshav, just outside of Jerusalem, with guest houses and hotels.

The catch is that the IBL is asking the Israeli players not to stay there, so they can save that expense. Some of them are upset, because a large part of the experience last summer was having them all stay together-– remember, there were no bean-ball wars and no fights among the players, in part because of the camaraderie from living together.



One father of a pissed-off Israel player told me-- here’s a quote, you'll love this one:

“It’s like being at summer camp and participating in the activities, and then told you can’t sleep in the bunk with the other campers.”

What are they? Babies?

It’s a boy’s game. Sure. Even the older ones are being kids.

Sheesh. How about managers?

No word yet, except for Ami Baran. He was manager of the Netanya Tigers last season, and he’s back. They list him as” director of Israeli operations.”

Fields?

They’re supposed to play at Kibbutz Gezer. But the kibbutz won’t give permission unless they pay up from last season, and pay for this season in advance. The kibbutz residents are very leery—

I can imagine.

There was a rumor going around the kibbutz this week that they were told the IBL wired the money to the IAB last Friday. But apparently, as of Wednesday, it wasn’t in the bank.

We don’t print rumours.

Right.

“The check’s in the mail.”

Right.

So where’s Larry Baras fit in? Or does he?

All we have is what they say on the IBL website. Here’s the lineup:

Dan Rootenberg
In-Coming President

Gary Woolf
Director
Martin I. Berger
Director of U.S. Operations
Ami Baran
Director of Israeli Operations

Dan Duquette
Director of Baseball Operations
Geller Sport, Inc.
Field Engineering


I’m not sure what “In-Coming President” means. Is he president, or isn’t he? How long is he “in-coming”? When does he come in?

Incoming! (explosion sound)

Anyway, the real story is the financials, a certain Mr. Solomont from Boston, and a Boston investment banking firm that was hired to sell equity in the league.

Great! Finally, we get to the good part. David Solomont! What is up with this guy? He’s got quite a background—and family—

Right. But as much as I’d like to continue with the details, I have to answer to a higher authority. Shabbat is coming in. And here we know exactly when Shabbat is “in-coming”: 7:11 in Jerusalem. So I’ve got to say “Shabbat shalom" to you and yours.

Wait a minute-- are you (redacted by editor) serious??!!

Catch you on the other side.

But--

Click. Brrrrrr...

Friday, June 27, 2008

BARAS SURFACES

Larry Baras, the beleaguered Boston bagel baron who founded the Israel Baseball League, then left Israel while the final game of the first season was still being played, leaving behind a million dollars in unpaid bills and riding into a future of lawsuits, acrimony, accusations and chaos, has come out of hiding to bask in the new, folksy, heroic image he's been given in the new IBL documentary, Holy Land Hardball.

Baras, whose name is not used in the launch of the "new" IBL's four-year, 20-game, three-week, momentum-keeping "mini-season," emailed Giants baseball fan Jay Roberts' Jaybird's Jottings site, in response to a Hardball review that painted Baras as a dreamer facing an "enormous challenge":

The Boston entrepreneur, reflecting on his faith, wanted to do something special for Israel. A lover of baseball, he was inspired to put together the Israel Baseball League, which made its debut season last summer... Giants fans will be interested to know that at the beginning of the film, when Baras was at his home, he talked about his father Hyman who was a Giants fan. Baras pulled out a well-worn Giants SF hat out of a drawer, worn by his Dad and a momento of the times they shared...

Roberts writes that Baras emailed the site with even more recollections:

"I'm not precisely sure how my father became a Giants fan, but I know he was a fan of the team his whole life. Even during World War II, when he served in the Philippines, he maintained a correspondence both with one of the players and with a reporter who covered the Giants.

"In my house, the Giants were treated as if there was some sanctity attached to them. For the first ten or fifteen years of my life, I would often listen to Giants games with my father via a green transistor radio that he had bought me that got games clearly even from as far away as Chicago, Cincinnati and St Louis. When there were games that ended after I was asleep already but had a dramatic and fortuitous ending, he would come into my room, wake me up, and recreate the ending for me as if it were taking place live.

"In the mid-60s (I think I am correct on the period), NBC started to broadcast the Game of the Week on Saturday afternoons. Sometimes, the Giants would be on. This presented a problem in our household because we were Sabbath observant and couldn't turn on the television. For the first time, my father went out and bought a timer, connected it to the TV, set it for 2 pm on Saturday, and we would actually watch television on the Sabbath, albeit in strict conformance with the rules of the day."

Baras last surfaced in April, when he was quoted in an article about Fenway Park hotdogs. Before that, his last public comment was recorded on November 20, 2007, when, amid our exclusive revelations of an IBL-related federal security fraud lawsuit filed against him, he wrote to Our Man Elli in Israel, accusing the journalist of “destroying” him because of the IBL-related stories he had broken.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Exclusive! The "new" Israel Baseball League's new backer brings his own scandals to the game

Move over, Boston bagel baron, here comes the Boston business bigshot brother. Our Man Elli in Israel reports that the new bright and shiny Israel Baseball League, crouched behind its player-turned president Dan Rootenberg, is being bankrolled to a large extent by controversial businessman David Solomont, best known in Boston for a 2004 lawsuit in which he was accused of siphoning more than a million dollars in funds from a software firm while he served as its CEO.

In an uncanny similarity to a federal lawsuit filed against IBL founder Larry Baras, the start-up scandal lawsuit stated: “Solomont has become overextended, and is robbing Peter to pay Paul..." (See our teaser story.)

Our Man Elli reports that his sources have mentioned the 56-year-old Solomont as the "money "behind the league. And that Solomont has been contacting some IBL creditors, telling them they won’t be seeing any money for a month. “This could be another syndication deal, with Solomont fronting a little money to make some payoffs needed to get off the ground or licensed by the IAB,” says a source .“And he could be raising the bulk of the money from other investors.”

Solomont himself has been hinting at his involvement online for weeks, on his “Twitter" page:

working on the "best" deal ever, other than my family:) 02:10 PM May 20, 2008 from web

Humming, "take me out to the ballgame" 10:16 AM May 25, 2008 from web

Humming "Take me out to the ball game", and soon you will know why:) 06:27 PM May 30, 2008 from web

Planning to be in the big apple tomorrow, Thursday, still humming "take me out to the ballgame" Can't wait to share:) 12:47 PM June 04, 2008 from web

working on a baseball deal, if you hadn't already figured this out from my humming:) 03:32 PM June 11, 2008 from web

Holy Land Hardball, http://holylandhardball.com, engaging documentary telling amazing story about IBL, http://israelbaseballleague... 0:36 PM June 19, 2008 from txt


Solomont’s brothers have also made the news. Younger brother Jay Solomont was reportedly in jail in Israel for misappropriation of funds. Other brother Alan Solomont is a wealthy businessman and major Democratic fundraiser-- in fact, he's the former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, which is yet another link between the IBL and the next President of The United States.

From The Boston Business Journal

Friday, January 9, 2004
Boston Business Journal

Angel investor accused of diverting funds

by Sheri Qualters
Journal Staff


CHESTNUT HILL -- Software financial services company PLEJ Inc. is suing former CommonAngels investor David Solomont for allegedly siphoning money from PLEJ while he served as chairman and CEO of the startup.

According to a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court late last month, Chestnut Hill-based PLEJ Inc. believes Solomont "diverted and concealed more than $1 million (worth) of money invested in PLEJ" over a year and a half. Founded in 2002, the startup is developing software that links credit cards to gift cards and customer loyalty programs. Earlier this month, the court granted PLEJ's motion to freeze $1.2 million worth of Solomont's assets at four banks while the lawsuit is pending.

PLEJ's lawsuit accuses Solomont of using his Chestnut Hill-based HeathHill Cos. Inc. holding company as a conduit and overcharging PLEJ for services performed by HeathHill. According to the court papers, Solomont siphoned $437,500 for real estate and office expenses and $120,000 in unauthorized salary money. More than $439,000 is also missing from PLEJ's books, according to the documents.

PLEJ is seeking recovery of the missing funds, reimbursement of its legal costs and triple damages under the state's Consumer Protection Act.

PLEJ claims it first discovered Solomont's alleged misappropriations after it appointed an audit committee last November; the board demanded his resignation on Dec. 10, according to the court papers. PLEJ in its filing said that PLEJ president Jason Pavona "learned for the first time" on Dec. 11 that Solomont did not have enough remaining of investors' $2.5 million to cover about $25,000 in payroll. Pavona did not respond this week to multiple telephone calls and e-mail requests for comment.

"For reasons to be discovered, Solomont has become overextended, and is robbing Peter to pay Paul," states the PLEJ lawsuit, which references two other recently settled Suffolk County lawsuits against Solomont from companies seeking to recover money from him.

Solomont, who was away on vacation from Dec. 23 through Jan. 6, according to a copy of a Solomont e-mail entered as evidence in the case, did not respond to several telephone calls and e-mails from the Boston Business Journal. The lawsuit noted that Solomont was "leaving the country" for vacation, and Solomont's e-mail specified that he would go out of town "without my cell phone, Blackberry, or any other 'connection' to business."

Solomont's Dec. 17 e-mail states that he wired $275,000 to PLEJ-controlled accounts, but the lawsuit claims only $200,000 was sent and an additional $400,000 was due.

"I do not believe that PLEJ was overcharged by HeathHill Companies," Solomont wrote in his e-mail, refuting the allegation that HeathHill charged too much for some services and rents to PLEJ as the lawsuit alleges. "There are charges for equipment and furniture that were never passed on and substantial expenses incurred that were part of the 'package.' "

Bruce Miller of Aloisi & Aloisi, who was Solomont's lawyer for the other Suffolk County lawsuits but whose connection to the latest suit isn't known, also did not return calls. Documents gave no indication who might be working as Solomont's lawyer in the PLEJ suit.

The other lawsuits referenced in the PLEJ complaint were filed against Solomont in Suffolk Superior Court earlier this year. Citizens Bank of Massachusetts, which filed a lawsuit in April 2003 after Solomont defaulted on a $500,000 promissory note, got a $564,000 judgment from the court last September.

Advantage Payroll Services of Concord filed and settled a lawsuit in November, after it covered defaulted payrolls for PLEJ and Candide Media Works Inc., a New York-based production studio where Solomont serves as chairman. Advantage lost more than $42,000, according to the lawsuit, but the matter was settled for about $37,000.

Through a spokeswoman, Citizens said it does not comment on litigation or specific customer matters. Advantage president Michael Young also declined to discuss his company's litigation.

Solomont's current relationship with CommonAngels is unclear. Although Candide's web site and several published reports refer to Solomont as a Common-Angels' founder and organizer, and a Boston Globe article published earlier this year referred to him as a "managing director," Solomont was no longer on CommonAngels' web site by midweek.

As recently as last month, on the same day PLEJ's board demanded Solomont's resignation, Solomont participated in an MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge in his role as a managing director of CommonAngels and chairman of PLEJ. The Forum stages educational events for technology entrepreneurs that feature venture capitalists and company executives as guest panelists.

CommonAngels managing director James Geshwiler did not respond to telephone calls from the Boston Business Journal.

Solomont, whose software career spans 25 years, according to Candide's site, is also a founding trustee and past chairman of the Massachusetts Software & Internet Council, according to published reports.

IBL vet Leon Feingold reviews Holy Land Hardball

One of the most colorful characters to emerge from the troubled first season of the Israel Baseball League was Leon Feingold, a pitcher for the Netanya Tigers-- and in the offseason, a real-life professional competitive eater. Leon's never been a fan of our coverage, but we've always been a fan of his, and we're happy to find that he took a break from shoving hard-boiled eggs and (we hope kosher) weiners into his gaping maw to give us the first IBL player review of the acclaimed (Variety: "Socko!") IBL documentary film, Holy Land Hardball. Unfortunately, he uses the occasion to take an unnecessary cheap shot at Our Man Elli in Israel and the Tabloid Baby staff, completely misunderstanding the role and obligations of a hard-hitting journalist, which is not to sniff the jocks of nudniks like Leon, but to ask the tough questions that if others had followed suit, may have resulted in a happier sequel to the inaugural IBL season than a four-team, 20-game, three-week "momentum-keeping" miniseason. In fact, Leon should be wiping the yolk from his lips and thanking us not only for finding his review tucked away all by itself on our archive site, but for providing him and his fellow IBL vets and fans with the only one-stop shopping site for all the news and comments, not to mention the forum for him to air his views... and to print this latest rave for Holy Land Hardball!

Take it, Leon...

"The IBL documentary 'Holy Land Hardball' made its world premiere in the prestigious Silverdocs festival in Washington DC this past weekend; the movie itself was great, and *extremely* well received by both audiences - it was universally hailed as one of the top films of the festival.

"It was also an evenhanded picture of the plusses and minuses of the events leading up to last season - and many of the players in the audience were able to enjoy the view from management's perspective as well as be reminded of some of the events which made last year so special. This was a completely independent documentary done by Eric Kesten and Brett Rapkin, beholden to no one other than the audience - and they did an exemplary job putting together the kind of newsworthy piece Elli only imagines in his wettest of dreams.

"Speaking of whom, it was brilliant watching Elli try to trash the league from BEFORE day one - so much for his claims to legitimate journalism. What a tool!!!

"Oh, and now that the league is back, it will be nice to have the rest of the world to turn to for news on the IBL rather than TabloidBaby. For nothing else, they've been good for keeping alive some degree of buzz about the league and baseball in Israel. So... thanks! I guess there really is something to the saying that even bad publicity is good publicity.

"I'll be back this year, and the arm feels great - looking forward to seeing who else will be."

Leon Feingold, Netanya Tigers

Monday, June 23, 2008

One Israel Baseball League vet won't be returning

Earlier this month, we gave a sports columnist from the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Herald in some stick for falling for the Israel Baseball League's "Clock to Nowhere" and reporting gullibly that there would be a second IBL season this summer after all. Well, waddaya know? With word that IBL Mach 2 is promising a four-team, three-week, 20 game momentum-keeping "season" starting July 27, it looks like Mike Sullivan had the inside track.

And now we know why a sportswriter from New Hampshire cared about the IBL. Local Ari Alexenberg was a savvy southpaw pitcher for the Petach Tikva Pioneers last season. But is he returning for the big season two?

This morning, Mike Sullivan has the scoop-- and gets in a few well-placed digs as well:

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."

...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.

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 sullywrites@comcast.net.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

IBL: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss


Get the joke with picture? Good.

No? Then go to our archive site and figure it out.

So here we go again: a group of American businessmen with dollar signs in their eyes rush into a season of baseball in a country thousands of miles away, and they do it secretly, ducking questions, refusing to step into the sunshine and simply brush the dirt off home plate.

Secrecy. Arrogance. Nastiness. Something so simple, so refreshing, so steeped in tradition-- baseball, for G-dsake—brings those words to mind because of the manner in which the business men behind the Israel Baseball League chose to make their return: restarting the countdown clock on the IBL website, leaking anonymous, teasing comments on this website, sliming Our Man Elli in Israel and then timing an announcement to the premiere of a feelgood documentary about the leagues’s 2007 start-up.

The undercover operatives of the IBL even sullied their greatest marketing tool, that acclaimed Holy Land Hardball documentary, by insinuating that the film was edited to further discredit the reporter who's covered the historic story singlehandedly:

“When you get to see the movie, watch the utter joy in Elli's face as he asks a typical leading question forshadowing the failure of the IBL before the season even starts. Don't tell me he is an unbiased reporter... now it's forever on film for everyone to see and a picture is worth 10,000 Elli Wanabergers words!!!”

How different the reception to the new bright and shiny Israel Baseball League would have been, had new “president” Dan Rootenberg and his older, experienced colleagues announced the return with a news conference, or an interview with Our Man Elli, and answered- or at least addressed the questions on everyone’s minds.

But they didn't. And a poke through the comments section of this site shows that while there's pride and excitement over the news that Israel may indeed host a four-team, twenty-game, three-week, momentum-keeping “season” next month, the smirking secrecy of the league management has also caused confusion and anger:

When are the debts being paid? Has anybody been paid yet?
Who is still owed money???
T his might be the last time you can come forward and make a claim.
 Dan what are your plans?

I would want to be paid for last season and this season BEFORE I got on the plane to go anywhere with the IBL!!!

Dan is also a fool because he now exposes himself to the possibility of being party to the fraud which is the IBL.

 Before you agree to be president of a league you better make sure the books are clean.

You better make sure you know who Larry took money from and who is owed money. 

Larry took money from many people and had many side and individual deals with people.

There is a long trail of emails to support this. 

Larry has ruined himself and the people who go into business with him will either be taken by Larry or subject themselves to covering the fraud.

It's great to see how the players have manifested their selfish motives. How can they dream of playing if their teammates have not been paid?

1. The IBL has not paid its debts for last year.
 2. There are claims that they will take care of their debts but these claims should be looked at with a great deal of doubt.
 3. Investors in the new entity should no that they are in danger of investing in a scam and they may incur liability in doing such.
 4. I hope that the ibl management knows that if they come to Israel there is a good chance that they might not get to leave the country and return to the states until their debts are cleaned up.

I look forward to going to the games and booing Berger and Baras for the scam artists they are.

So let the questions begin:

Is Larry Baras the Paul Winchell to Rootenberg’s Knucklehead Smith?

Is Baras, the Wizard hiding behind the curtain?

Why did they wait so long to announce their plans (thirty-eight days before Opening Day? Was it because they didn't know if they would have a league, or because they didn't want the media—especially Our Man Elli-- asking questions?

Why did the IBL 10 quit? Why were they wrong to do so?

Even if all debts are paid tomorrow, why has there has been no disclosure of how much money was raised last summer and how much was spent?

With 35 days to go, and no announcement of how to buy tickets, where the games will take place, who’s playing and managing, who are the games being played for? Certainly not the native Israelis who ignored the league last year.

Is this mini-“season” being jerryrigged in order to fulfill a contract with the IAB?

The anonymous boobirds and IBL operatives can slam us they want. We want professional baseball in Israel as much as anyone else. But we'll continue doing our job, which is to ask questions. And find the answers.

And seriously, why's everything so hush-hush?

By the way, the “clock to nothing” on the IBL site has been reset, and now the Opening Day game is scheduled for 6:03 pm on July 27.

Friday, June 20, 2008

New logo for The Israel Baseball League?


Someone suggests:

"Use a pic of a vampire, because no matter how many times we count the IBL down, no silver bullet or stake in the heart does it. It keeps rising from the dead..."

That or Richard Nixon...

Exclusive: Israel Baseball League star Nate Fish says he'd "consider" returning for second "season"!

Nate Fish, one of the standout players and personalities of the Israel baseball League's inaugural season (and a star of the Holy Land Hardball documentary about the IBL's startup), says he'd consider returning to Israel for its four-team, three week, 20-game season supposedly opening on July 27th. Fish, 28, who hit .347 with 32 runs and 24 RBI in 40 games for the Tel Aviv Lightning- and was named the IBL's best defensive outfielder-- is now playing for the Haar Disciples of German's Baseball-Bundesliga.

Our Man Elli in Israel: When does your season end, and would you come play here?

Nate Fish: "Depending on if we make the playoffs - our season is done at the end of July at earliest or end of September at latest. Not sure if I could play in Israel - pretty beat up right now, but I'd consider it if the timing was right."

IBL vs. IAB: Baseball battle looming in Israel?

5:45 am, Los Angeles. A revived Israel Baseball League has re-emerged with a new executive line-up, announcing a four-team, 20 game, three-week, momentum-keeping" second season starting July 27th; The Israel Association of Baseball has not approved the plan; as usual, the lazy mainstream media bit and gave the IBL worldwide attention and great publicity for the IBL-related documentary film that premiered yesterday. Something's hinky. Our Man Elli is on the phone from Israel:

"I hear today that the opening and championship games for the new Israel Baseball League will be at Baptist Village, and the regular season games at Kibbutz Gezer, which still has no night lights-- which means they'll play doubleheaders starting at 3 pm?

"Gezer heard nothing about this until yesterday, and are awaiting answers themselves. It seems the IBL is intending to show up with cash to pay all outstanding debts-- fields, players, vendors-- and pay forward this season. Which begs the question: is the IAB forced to sanction them if they have paid up all their debts? Because as of yesterday, they hadn't. There appears to be a battle looming between them, or some kind of hostile takeover attempt of the IAB by the IBL. Crazy, crazy crazy.

"But, as usual, no one is talking. The IBL is keeping things very close to the vest, and instructing others to do the same. I spoke to a vendor from last season-- who's not owed money-- and he said he couldn't tell me if he'd be back this season. Now, why not?"

"The whole thing looks like an end-around run: announce the league is happening, and then line up the things you need to play, like players, managers, fields, a schedule, merchandise. and where to buy tickets. It's all a little bizarre."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Israel Baseball Notebook-- LITERALLY! We post the leftover notes we've gathered today so the "mainstream" media can claim them as their own!


The Israel Baseball League has gotten itself back into the news with a curveball press release picked up by the Associated Press and copied by the Jerusalem Post that spread the news around the world that the disgraced, debt-ridden league was resurrected like Lazarus and back for a miraculous second season with embattled founder hiding in a bunker and a fresh young IBL player stuffed into a suit and paying president.

The news spread, the fans rejoiced, the anonymous commenters said "Nyah nyah!" to us-- before we even had our coffee and had a chance to sort a few things out: like the fact that this spurious announcement came on the morning of the premiere of the lauded IBL documentary film, Holy Land Hardball, the second "season" is more like a barnstorming exhibition of 21 days, and the league does not have permission to set up shop in Israel. We gathered all those details by midmorning, and a few hours later the Jerusalem Post printed a clarification article-- again failing to give credit where we feel it's due: to Our Man Elli in Israel.

We're calling it day, but have a notebook full of information we will spill out so all the paid mainstream journalists can take it and call the work their own:

...the original contract with the IAB from last June 21st stipulated from the beginning that there would be a second season. Although the agreement was nullified by the IAB's January 9 termination letter, Larry Baras might be protecting himself by attempting some kind of season,
a) in order to show he tried to abide by the contract, and/or

b) then turn around if need be and sue the IAB for not allowing him to fulfill the contract...


...sources on the new lineup of IBL executives: they've marginalized Baras, because he became the No. 1 liability. Is he getting paid by the league?


...Rootenberg invested $25,000 in the IBL last year. (
REDACTED) and (REDACTED) say his involvement is an attempt to recoup some of his money. One former IBL official said called him an "asshole, because for him to align himself with Larry, and being an ex-player and knowing that ex-players have not been paid-- that's more than just being an asshole."

...Non-involved fan quote: "Nothing like a drawn-out spring training season"...


...Another ex-IBL official: "I suspect the announcement may be more show than substance, as I can't imagine how they can afford to operate a professional league. Perhaps this is more about a group of players trying to do their own thing."


Same official: "Just heard that Berger is claiming that a group of 'Boston bankers' will rescue the IBL and pay off its debts, but I'll believe it when I see it."


...IBL insider: "We've heard the IBL has not been licensed by the IAB, which I doubt would license them without assurances of debt payment and a requirement that the league post a bond to assure that future Israeli obligations would be paid. That's not to say it couldn't happen, but the IBL's reputation precedes itself and there is considerable skepticism all around. The Boston 'bankers" or 'businessmen-- we've heard both terminologies-- haven't yet been identified to others, and if Larry in fact has been successful in persuading others to invest, it may be that he doesn't want people able to contact them with information that might not have been disclosed to them. Speculation, but it's quite difficult to understand how savvy bankers or businessmen would invest, given the history and circumstances of the IBL."

... Political pundit: "The whole thing is so bizarre-- the website announces a new season, but has no schedule, no place to buy tickets, no announced venues to play, no names of players or managers, no merchandise to purchase - what the hell are they doing? and what kind of season is 20 games? and what kind of league is four teams?"

... IBL website had been updated today

a) the items in the front are out of order...
E-Rod signing from April 29
is on top
b) below it is:

“Holyland Hardball” Has World Premiere
-- self promotion
New IBL Store Makes Its First Appearance
-- only selling stuff from last season
2008 IBL Season Announced!
-- second time the season is announced (we had it before).

This gives us the details on who is playing...

...that last one is very interesting, might want to post with this graph: "By working with such organizations as the Jewish National Fund, the Jerusalem Foundation, Maccabiah, the Israel Association of Baseball and the Israel Softball Association, along with local community groups, the IBL hopes to support the programs in Israel that already exist and to generate excitement throughout the country as only baseball can..."

Where have we heard that before?


..."Announcements will appear soon as to the exact schedule and how to purchase tickets"... a month away, and no schedule, and no place to purchase tickets and fans will suddenly swarm to the park?


"In particular, we would like to note the fact that last year, over 4,000 fans showed up for opening game"-- figure has jumped to 4,000. Until now it's been 3,000...

By the way, the Israel Baseball League's "clock to nothing" is back and running-- though it's off by a few hours and has game in middle of the night


Once debt-ridden and disgraced, the new Israel Baseball League is bullish on its future and has in fact reactivated the running "clock to nothing" countdown on its website. The league now claims its four-team, 20-game, three-week, momentum-keeping "second season" will begin on July 27th, with an Opening Day game between the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox vs. Modi'in Miracle. Unfortunately, as Our Man Elli in Israel points out,

"Once again, it's set for a game to be played at 1:02 A.M. on Sunday, July 27. And the logo above the clock says 'inaugural season.'"

Will E-Rod return to Israel as the star of the four-team, 20-game, three-week, momentum-keeping second "season" of the IBL?

Amidst the hoopla over the resurrection of the Israel Baseball League as a four-team, 20-game, three-week show (or is it one game held over at the Orpheum?), there's new E-Rod news from the New York Yankees' AA farm club, the Trenton, NJ Thunder, that's bad news for the Dominican mystery man-- but possibly good news for the new and improved management of the Israel Baseball League.

E, aka Eladio Rodriguez, the most prominent veteran of the IBL, has been placed on the disabled list-- retroactive to June 17th, to make room for right-handed pitcher Oneli Perez, who's been claimed off waivers by the Yankees from the Cleveland Indians and assigned to Trenton.

E-Rod has gotten bupkis when it comes to playing time, and in the past couple of months has gone from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees to the Single A Staten Island Baby Bombers, back to Scranton, a step from Yankee Stadium, and down a step to the AA Trenton Thunder, all in the space of a month, before being kicked back down to the Single A NY-Penn League farm team in Staten Island and back up to Trenton at the beginning of June.

And since his signing was seen to be a publicity stunt cooked up by the Yankee-connected members that used to be on the IBL advisory board in the first place-- why not give him back?!

Will he return to Israel in triumph as the star of the new four-team, 20-game three week league!

¡Viva Eladio! ¡VIVA E-ROD!

WHAT'S GOING ON HERE? JERUSALEM POST ON VERGE OF RETRACTING ISRAEL BASEBALL LEAGUE STORY! AGAIN, THEY SEEM TO COPY OUR REPORTING WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION!


The Jerusalem Post, which sparked a worldwide sports frenzy this morning when it copied an Associated Press press release claiming that the Israel Baseball League was promising a second, truncated mini-season beginning July 27th, is now backtracking after doing some reporting to back up its story.

We were the first to question the story.

And Our Man Elli was the first to get confirmation that the nation's sports governing body had not given the league certification to allow it to do business in Israel.

Now, once again, The Jerusalem Post appears to follow our lead:




IBL still not granted permission to return

BY ALEX BRITELL

Sources at the Israel Association of Baseball said Thursday that no permission has been granted for a second season of the Israel Baseball League, despite the emergence of reports that the IBL has been resurrected by a new management team.


In a story carried by the Associated Press on Thursday it was announced that the IBL "would begin play on July 27, about a month behind its original schedule and in abbreviated form."

The AP report stated that the abridged season would run for three weeks rather than last year's inaugural 10-week season and would feature four teams in place of last year's six.

Former Netanya Tigers player Dan Rootenberg was reported to be the new president of the IBL, apparently replacing Martin Berger.

However, the IAB, which is authorized by the Ministry of Science, Culture and Sports to grant licenses for professional baseball in Israel, said there has been no change in the situation reported in The Jerusalem Post last month.

On May 29 IAB president Haim Katz told the Post "There will be no league in 2008," adding, "2008 is not happening, 2009 we're working on."

According to Katz, the league's problems stemmed largely from a number of Israeli creditors who, he said, had not been paid by the IBL.

Thursday's news coincided with the premiere of a documentary, "Holy Land Hardball," chronicling the IBL's first year, in the US.


Read the full story here.

Then go back and read ours.

More to come.

Exclusive: IBL player Jacob Levy comments on the announced return of the Israel Baseball League

Jacob Levy, who played infield for the Tel Aviv Lightning of the Israel Baseball League, gives Our Man Elli in Israel his reasoned analysis of the announcement that the Israel Baseball League is back for a second "season" in 2008 after, all with a four-team, 20-game, three week schedule.

Ultimately, Levy has hope:

"I hope. The sagacity of the decision to execute an abbreviated second season will be borne by the quality of the third season. I hope that the league's executives are thinking about the components of a stable foundation for the league and year over year increases in the fan base as opposed to pulling off individual seasons.

"If this second season is executed at a cost that is absorbable without injury to the effort to execute a proper third season it is the right decision. If the effort to execute a full schedule, properly executed third season is damaged beyond the value of the contiguous presence the second season represents then it is the wrong decision.

"Per the caliber of play, I imagine that last year's level can be nearly matched or surpassed even depending on the resources available for scouting and salaries. Baseball is an amazing game full of unpredictable individual stories. For some older (26-32) year old players having hung up their spikes recently, a month-long season in Israel would be perfect. Remember, as good as almost all of the guys from last year were as people, the bottom half were not the baseball peers of the top half.

"I hope. I do think baseball in Israel is a successful proposition. Like any end, a process must be designed to achieve it, that process must be designed properly and that process must be executed properly."

Exclusive: IBL's oldest player comments on the announced return of the Israel Baseball League

Scott Cantor, who, as a 51-year-old pitcher with the Petach Tikva Pioneers was the oldest player in the Israel Baseball League, reacts to the IBL’s announcement that it will launch a four-team, 20-game, three week season on July 27th to “keep the momentum going," and to the surprise news that 36-year-old former IBL player Dan Rootenberg has been thrust into the limelight as president of the league:

“I feel so excited to finally hear the news. Dan makes a great president for the league. My experience of him is that he is a man of honesty and integrity. Other then that I don't know any details to share with you. I'm sure the quality will be good enough and serve as a bridge to 2009. Hopefully this news combined with the movie opening will swing some positive energy toward baseball in Israel! Play ball!"

New face for Israel Baseball League as attorney Berger is traded for player Rootenberg; Baras hides



The Israel Baseball League that announced a four-team, 20-game three-week season to begin July 27th is cosmetically different than the one that fled the country with more than a million dollars in debts and bounced payer checks left behind. Its website displays a new executive lineup:

Israel Baseball League player Dan Rootenberg (outfielder for the Netanya Tigers) has replaced controversial Miami attorney Martin L. Berger as league president. Rootenberg's IBL player bio says the New Yorker "had a stellar college career at Binghamton University where he led the team in many offensive stats and was a perennial Conference All-Star... was named to the College Baseball Jewish All-American Team in 1994... played baseball in Europe for seven years for the Zurich Barracudas... was a member of Switzerland’s entry into the European Cup in 1999 and 2004... has also developed a very successful physical therapy and state of the art training center in New York City... his father served in the six day war... his aunt currently writes a popular column in Haifa called “Rinunim”.

Berger is now "director of operations," under "director" Gary Woolf. The
Boston consultant who formerly headed the sports management agency founded by his late father, "superagent Bob Woolf" is at the head of the executive list, out to attract sponsors, media partners, and make nice with with US Major League Baseball and Israeli officials.

Former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette is the league's "director of baseball operations."

Ami Baran, head coach of Israel's Men’s and Women’s National Softball Teams, is the new "director of Israeli operations."

League founder Larry Baras remains in hiding from the media.

New England-based Geller Sport, Inc. is in charge of "field engineering."

BREAKING NEWS: Israel Association of Baseball has NOT certified the Israel Baseball League to play a season this summer


The Israel Association of Baseball has not certified or entered into a contract to allow the Israel Baseball League to resume operations in the country, Our Man Elli in Israel has learned.

The IAB, Israel's governing board for the sport, cancelled the Israel Baseball League's contract in January because of its inability or refusal to pay its debts from the 2007 season. IAB President Haim Katz is the one who announced that there wil be no professional baseball in Israel in 2008.

And since IBL's new frontman, former IBL player-turned-president Dan Rootenberg, has said in effect that the four-team, 20-game three-week schedule is being rushed into place to maintain "momentum," there is already debate over whether the short sked can actually be considered a baseball "season," or whetherit's just a fancy name for the exhibition dates they were batting around as we reported in April: "Word is that IBL President Martin Berger has been phoning former players and inviting them to come to Israel this summer to help conduct baseball clinics. And if enough players show up, why not put on some exhibition games of their own?"

The full AP story on the Israel Baseball League's announcement that it plans to stage a four-team, three-week, 20-game "season" this summer

"'The goal of having a
three-week season this summer
is to keep the momentum going'..."


"League officials said they were already
in the process of paying the bills..."

"An official at Channel 5 TV,
which broadcast the games last year,
said the station still had not been paid
its sizable debt owed by the league
and has not been contacted
by the new management..."

"The league said its long-term goal is
to sell its teams to individual owners..."

"The league... has added... Gary Woolf,
a Boston businessman who formerly
headed the sports management agency
founded by his late father, superagent Bob Woolf..."

"Baras, the league founder, is not expected
to be involved in day to day operations..."

Israel baseball league
says it will return
after tumultuous
first season


By JOSEF FEDERMAN (Associated Press Writer)

JERUSALEM - Israel's professional baseball league on Thursday announced that it is coming back for a second season after a tumultuous inaugural campaign that left it on the brink of collapse.


The Israel Baseball League said it would begin play on July 27, about a month behind its original schedule and in abbreviated form. The league will consist of four teams, down from six last year, and the length of the season is being cut in half to 20 games.

Still, simply returning to the ball field is an accomplishment for the fledgling league, which suffered from low attendance, financial difficulties and a mass defection of executive board members last year.

"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," said Dan Rootenberg, a former player who is the league's new president.

"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," he said. "We hope that all of this will lay the groundwork for a 45-game-season in 2009 and beyond."

In a statement, the league said it has received financial backing from a group of Boston businessman to pay off its remaining debts, including some unpaid player salaries, and provide funds for future play.

The league was founded by Larry Baras, a Boston bagel maker with a love for baseball and Israel.

His dream was to introduce the great American pastime to the Holy Land, attract youngsters to the sport and eventually develop a stable of high-level local players. He gathered a high-powered lineup of U.S. businessmen, baseball executives and Jewish former major leaguers to help.

The biggest challenge to the league was generating fan interest. With its slow pace and complicated rules, baseball is little more than a curiosity to most Israelis, who prefer soccer and basketball.

After its Opening Day game attracted several thousand fans, attendance quickly dropped. Most fans were American expatriates, and despite a family-friendly atmosphere modeled on U.S. minor league baseball, turnout at some games was only a few dozen people.

The league ran up a six-figure deficit, a manager quit during the season, players nearly went on strike when they weren't paid on time and a TV deal collapsed due to financial difficulties. After the season, a string of board members, including the commissioner, resigned amid questions about league finances. The troubles fueled persistent rumors that the league would fold.

But the league also enjoyed many successes on the field. The quality of play was high, thanks to the large number of U.S. and Latin American players with college and minor-league experience. There was a loyal fan base, and 14 athletes went on to sign professional contracts, several with affiliates of big league clubs.

Almost all of the 120 players were foreigners who lived in dormitory-style accommodations. About a dozen players were Israeli.

Dan Duquette, the former Red Sox general manager who is the league's director of player development, said the 2008 rosters would include many players from last year and others picked up from tryout camps held in the U.S. during the off season.

He said the league plans to work "on a grass roots level, which if properly cultivated should help us become a viable international professional league."

Duquette has said he hoped to help Israel field a team for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. In an e-mail interview, he said the classic remains a goal, though Israel may not be ready for next year's tournament.

While the league has lost many key executives, it also has added some new faces. They include Gary Woolf, a Boston businessman who formerly headed the sports management agency founded by his late father, superagent Bob Woolf.

Woolf, who now runs a consulting firm, said he hoped to help the league grow by attracting sponsors, seeking media partners, and strengthening ties with U.S. Major League Baseball and local Israeli officials.

"We have to figure out how to go beyond the initial seed, how to bring attention from around the world to this league," he said.

League officials said they were already in the process of paying the bills.

An official at Channel 5 TV, which broadcast the games last year, said the station still had not been paid its sizable debt owed by the league and has not been contacted by the new management. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he expects negotiations to begin soon, said he hoped to settle the debt and be involved with Israeli baseball again.

The league said its long-term goal is to sell its teams to individual owners. Baras, the league founder, is not expected to be involved in day to day operations.

BREAKING NEWS: Is the announcement of the Israel Baseball League's return a scheme to cook up interest in IBL movie that premieres today?


The Associated Press this ran with the press release stating the Israel Baseball League has pulled itself out from under its mountain of debts and bad will to somehow return to the Holy Land for a smaller, shorter second season next month, and The Jerusalem Post copied the story with no investigation, sending it across the globe to be met with surprise, joy, and skepticism this morning. Now let the real reporting begin...

Already, sources tell us that the press release is part of scheme cooked up by the reclusive IBL founder, Boston bagel baron Larry Baras to raise money on the back of the rousing documentary film about the IBL's startup that premieres today at the Independent Film Channel's film festival outside Washington DC.

"The announcement on the morning of the world premiere of Holy Land Hardball is not coincidental," an insider in Israel tells Our Man Elli. "It's part of the plan to generate more interest, and bring in more investors, especially since Variety just gave it a rave review.

"But the bottom line remains: How much money did Baras take in last summer, and how much was spent? Was it $3 million? $4 million? How can this so-called league operate with such massive debts? Will the players be paid, or are the coming to play for free?

"And if they're being paid, how about paying all the players from last summer? Will Baras be coming to Israel? Will he be arrested upon arrival for his outstanding debts?

"And what level of play will there be? If players couldn't make the cut in any of the standing minor and professional leagues around the world, then the level of play will probably be no higher then junior college level-- at best. And who will the games be marketed to, the few dozen immigrants who came out last summer? The IBL certainly is not about to launch a marketing campaign geared towards Israelis, and isn't that the mistake-- well, one of a few hundred-- that the league committed last summer?

"The Associated Press took a press release and turned it around as news, when the real story is the back story to the whole affair. Where are the credible journalists in the world??"

You found them. Our Man Elli is on the story.

And oy, such a story!

Exclusive: Nate Fish comments on the announced return of the Israel Baseball League

Israel Baseball League star Nate Fish, one of the few IBL players to go public about his bounced paychecks from the league, is the first IBL veteran to comment on the announcement today that the American businessmen behind the league have emerged from behind their wall of silence to announce a truncated, four-team, 20 game "season" second season, starting July 27.

Our Man Elli in Israel contacted Nate in Germany, where hes playing in the Baseball Bundesliga:

"That's great. I didn't think there would be baseball in Israel this summer. I'm happy for all the fans in Israel. Regardless of the level of play or the short schedule, this is a good thing. The IBL playing a second season and continuing baseball in Israel is awesome. I hope it's a good season for everyone there."

Did Israel's sports governing body certify the Israel Baseball League despite its debts?


This morning's announcment that the Israel Baseball League is returning for a 2008 season after all, albeit in a shrunken form-- four teams and 20 games-- has led to many questions, including whether Israel's sports governing body has recertified the league to allow it to play in Israel.

IAB president Haim Katz withdrew the certification and canceled the IBL contract in January because of more than a million dollars in unpaid debts.

On May 29th, Katz told the Jerusalem Post flatly: "There will be no league in 2008."

Questions:

Did the IAB re-certify the IBL despite the remaining debts?

Is the IBL getting around the issue?

Was there a backroom deal?

Is the IBL announcement for real?


Details to follow....

ADDENDUM: The Israel Baseball League's announcement of a 2008 season

From IsraelBaseballLeague.com:

06/19/2008 10:42 AM
2008 IBL Season Announced!

Over and over, day after day, our emails have been besieged with queries about this summer’s plans. It is in this context that we are pleased to announce that we do plan on having our second season in Israel take place this summer, with opening game taking place on Sunday, July 27th!!!

We apologize it has taken us so long to respond to your requests, but we had to take care of some business first. Now, we are raring to go, as excited as we were last year to bring professional baseball to Israel.

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.

According to Martin Berger, the league’s player personnel director, most of the players who will be playing this season are league veterans who played in the IBL during the inaugural season in 2007.

The IBL remains committed to bringing the highest level of professional baseball to Israel and also to developing the sport within the country itself. Its stated goal is to eventually have the majority of the players in the league be home-bred. By working with such organizations as the Jewish National Fund, the Jerusalem Foundation, Maccabiah, the Israel Association of Baseball, and the Israel Softball Association, along with local community groups, the IBL hopes to support the programs in Israel that already exist and to generate excitement throughout the country as only baseball can.

Announcements will appear soon as to the exact schedule and how to purchase tickets. In particular, we would like to note the fact that last year, over 4,000 fans showed up for opening game, so if you are looking to come to that gala event, we suggest you place your orders fairly early. Also, keep an eye out for our new, refurbished e-commerce store. It will be open soon.

Baseball in Israel. Fun, fun, fun. That’s all it is and all it is meant to be.

CRAZY!!!! ISRAEL BASEBALL LEAGUE SAYS IT'S LAUNCHING SECOND SEASON ON JULY 27TH!! FOUR TEAMS, 20 GAMES: IS IT REALLY A LEAGUE AND REALLY A SEASON???


The president of the Israel Baseball League said today that the league is coming back for a second season, after all!

Despite a first season that left a mountain of debts, angry vendors, a mass exodus of its advisory board, and angry unpaid players, Dan Rootenberg says the league will begin play on July 27th, about a month behind schedule and in abbreviated form.

Despite a promise to expand this year from its six teams, the league will consist of four teams, and the season is being cut in half to twenty games. This has already led some observers to say the "season" is little more than a series of exhibition games.

League President Dan Rootenberg said it's important to acknowledge and learn from last year's mistakes. But he says the season is committed to laying the groundwork for 2009 and beyond. The announcement comes the day an independent movie about the IBL's creation, Holy Land Hardball, premieres in Silver Spring, Maryland.

No comment from embattled league founder Larry Baras.

Stay tuned here for more.