Thursday, August 28, 2008

After a year, we end our coverage of Israel baseball


One year ago today, Tabloid Baby entered into a bold experiment that would take our readers into the heart of an unfolding story that on the surface was far afield from our usual tabloid universe, but which from the start had contained all the elements of the best, most engrossing tabloid stories of our time.

From the day one year ago that we inadvertently jumped the gun and became the first to publish Elli Wohlgelernter's muckraking expose of the Israel Baseball League's first season, we saw that there was much more to this story than a well-intended attempt to spread the good word of baseball to a foreign land.

And the story grew on its own from there, with all its intrigue, deceit, betrayals and bizarre and unintentionally comedic twists. And the characters-- including a bagel baron, a champion competitive eater, a fast food defector, a ballplaying attorney, an overgrown Peter Pan, a mysterious Dominican, a toymaker, a billionaire, a US ambassador, a neglected wife, a controversial web mogul-- only made the saga richer.

In the past twelve months and more than 300 posts, this site-- a tabloidcentric site of pop culture and media criticism and satire, became the meeting place and sounding board for ballplayers and sports fans around the world-- not mention a place where anonymity allowed key players in the story to float rumours and leads.

All credit goes to Elli Wohlgelernter.

Known to our readers as Our Man Elli in Israel, this dogged, learned Jerusalem-based journalist worked the story alone, amid much criticism and constant attack, and he did it for no pay and for no other reason than the satisfaction of nailing a great story first. Elli was a legend in the States long before he jumped on this story. And the lessons he gave to every mainstream sports journalist in this saga should have editors jumping to hire him.

As for the "mainstream": To its discredit, the mainstream sports media largely ignored the story unless personal or financial considerations moved an editor or columnist to copy one of our posts or float a story from a source. Their lack of action on and interest in this international sports scandal proves any point we might want to make better than we could hope.

But now it's up to them to pick up the ball, follow our leads, and see where they go. After all, this story ends with a question mark. Why did the IBL's much-heralded second season devolve to a "show fest," and ultimately to a no-show?

What was the scheme?

Your move.

We gave it a year. We drove our regular readers to distraction and lost thousands of fans. But maybe we gained a few. You can find all the coverage on our Baseball in Israel archive site. If there are arrests, or major developments, we'll certainly call attention to them, but as for our weekly and daily coverage of baseball in Israel-- game called.

Game Called. Upon the field of life
the darkness gathers far and wide,
the dream is done, the score is spun
that stands forever in the guide.
Nor victory, nor yet defeat
is chalked against the players name.
But down the roll, the final scroll,
shows only how he played the game.

Here's how it started, and where it ends:

TabloidBaby.com
28 August 2007
07:00 AM


World Exclusive! Special Report! Can't anyone here run this game? Elli Wohlgelernter on the scandalous debut of the Israel Baseball League

Readers of Tabloid Baby know him as Our Man Elli in Israel, our longtime pal and veteran print and broadcast journalist who, more than a decade ago left his native New York City and Yankees for life in Jerusalem, Israel (and subject of the documentary film project, Sex & Baseball. Many others know him as Elli Wohlgelernter, television reporter for the Israeli Broadcasting Authority and freelance print journalist whose reports on life in the Big Bagel have appeared in newspapers from The Jerusalem Post to The New York Times.

Now, in this exclusive report, Elli Wohlgelernter reports on the wild first season of the much-anticipated Israel Baseball League, which led off an eight-week, 45-game season in June:

The Oys of Summer

How Israel's season in the sun
turned into a season in Hell

By ELLI WOHLGELERNTER

BAPTIST VILLAGE, Israel - The Israel Baseball League started out with high hopes, an almost mystical dream that resonated deeply with Jews across the United States: a professional baseball league in Israel!

But the result, say many, were more errors than hits: players threatening to strike when paychecks were late; a manager hired to help give face to the fledgling league leaving in the middle of the season, after trashing the league to the media; and a player almost killed by a batting practice line drive, an accident that might have been prevented with proper equipment.

The IBL was created two years ago by Boston businessman Larry Baras, who cultivated glowing press and fan interest in the United States. Baras assembled a distinguished team of advisers, executives, financial backers and former players, to help launch what in essence was a start-up company in a foreign country.

The stated idea was to generate enthusiasm and fan interest by promising, among other things, a range of marketing gimmicks borrowed from minor league ballparks in the states: karaoke night, speed dating night, sack racing, sumo wrestling competitions, and even ballpark weddings. To further build anticipation, the league’s Web site prominently displayed a countdown clock giving days, minutes, and hours until opening day.

But while the marketing may have worked among the Jews in the U.S. and the English-speaking “Anglo community” here, the league barely registered with Israelis, who were largely ignored in the marketing plans-- and insulted to boot.

David Rosenthal, a sports reporter for Walla!, the biggest Israeli Web portal, posted a story four days before opening day, critical of the way the six-team league was being sold exclusively to an overseas audience. “Excuse me, what about us?” read the headline.

Still, for those Anglo fans who did come out, it was a joy, whether hearing Hatikva sung before each game-- without taking off their hats-- eating kosher hot dogs, getting close to the players, or hearing a call for afternoon prayers being announced in the middle of the fifth inning.

Gripes

But what they didn't know was what was going on in the dugout. Many of the players-- 120 recruited from around the world-- had previously played some professional baseball, a half-dozen even at the Triple-A level, a rung below the Major Leagues. As such, they were expecting a more professional environment, and were greatly disappointed: the housing accommodations were called a hostel, an army barrack, even a homeless shelter; air conditioning wasn’t working in a half-dozen rooms the first week, in the midst of a brutal heat wave; there was no arrangement for laundry service; and the food was so bad, players said, that they eventually lost an average of seven to 10 pounds, or more.

“I’ve lost almost 17 pounds since I’ve been here,” said Scott Jarmakowicz, a catcher for the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox. “Over half my paycheck, at least half, has gone to food. It’s not sustainable eating the same schnitzel and boiled eggs three times a day. I’m a catcher, and it takes its toll. I’m sure I would have lost some weight, but not 17 pounds.”

But that wasn’t even the main gripe. Players just wanted to play baseball, and were expecting the necessities that accompany any sport. But when they arrived at their dorm facilities at Kfar Hayarok just north of Tel Aviv, there was no ice to soothe sore muscles, nor a weight room facility, absolute staples for athletes in any sport.

The league made provisions for ice to be bought, until an ice machine was obtained a couple of weeks into the season; and arrangements were made for players to use nearby gyms. Most of the players were willing to look past the peripheral deficiencies in order to play baseball, a love they all shared, and a dream they all nourished. But here, too, they were working under a severe handicap.

Bones of contention

Arriving only three days before the season began, the players had no time for pre-season workouts; and then there were the fields themselves. The best facility was Baptist Village in Petah Tikva, a beautiful diamond that hosts baseball and softball for the Maccabiah Games.

But the other two fields were bones of contention among the players: One was at Gezer, where the outfield grass sloped upward; there was no warning track in left and center fields; the outfield fence wasn’t padded; and there was a light pole on the field in right. Moreover, the right field foul line was 280 feet, making it feel like a little league pasture, and skewing players’ statistics.

The third field was Sportek in Tel Aviv, which was not even built when the season started. This situation left two fields for six teams and a schedule out of whack: teams had too many days off, managers were unable to set up a proper pitching rotation, and no team completed its full 45-game schedule-- four teams played 41 games, and two played 40. Moreover, neither Gezer nor Sportek had lights, which meant games had to start at 5 p.m., an inconvenient time for working fans.

When Sportek finally opened July 10, 16 days into the eight-week season-– and with a right-field line even shorter than Gezer's-- it still wasn’t ready, with potentially dangerous field conditions.

“There are rocks, glass, and pieces of rusty metal we pulled out of the ground,” said Jarmakowicz. “You can slide on a rock anywhere, but most fields aren’t gong to have three bars sticking out of it. And these are hard fences, you can really get hurt.”

Commissioner Dan Kurtzer, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, concurred. “We need to improve the fields. We used them [Gezer and Sportek], but they are not really at a professional level.”

Near-fatal disaster

At first the ballparks also did not have proper equipment, from little things like pitchers’ resin bags, to important items like screens at the bases during batting practice, to crucial equipment like batting cages, which protect those not on the field from getting hurt during pre-game batting practice. This lack of protection almost resulted in a fatal disaster.

On July 11 at Gezer, Reynaldo Cruz, a 24-year-old star outfielder from the Dominican Republic playing for the Petah Tikva Pioneers, committed a cardinal sin and turned his back on batting practice. Standing near his dugout situated very close to the field, he was struck in the back of the head by a line drive off the bat of Modi’in’s Adalberto Paulino.

Cruz was knocked cold for a couple of minutes and lay on the ground shaking, which gave the surrounding players a fright.

There was a 20-minute wait for an ambulance to arrive before Cruz was taken to Assaf Harofeh hospital, where he stayed for two weeks, was released, and went back in complaining of dizzy spells.

Cruz’s season was done, but he was alive.

“Gezer is a particular problem-- we probably should have anticipated more safety requirements at Gezer,” said Kurtzer. “Secondly, the players themselves have been too lax all season, not wearing batting helmets, and not paying attention on the field during practice. So the horse escapes, the barn door gets closed. We did institute some better safety procedures at Gezer.”

The forfeit

The players were also vociferous in their criticism of the umpiring. In one famous incident that was subsequently posted on YouTube (above), one of the league’s best players, Ryan Crotin, argued an umpire’s call, got thrown out of the game, refused to leave the batter’s box, and his team was declared to have lost on forfeit.

“There [have] been a couple of problems with the umpires here,” said one player on his independent blog. “They don't know some of the rules. They don't know correct umpire positioning. They have inconsistent strike zones at times. They have a bad habit of ejecting players for no specific reason. And most importantly, some of them have trouble taking control of the game.”

Because of all this happening the first three weeks of the season, the league worked hard at spin control. In a July 13 letter from Martin Berger, president and COO of the IBL, the players were told that everything was fine.

“Things over here continue to be strong,” Berger wrote from the U.S. “We are meeting with investors every day and we have a meeting with Major League Baseball Affiliates this week. The buzz is fantastic.”

Rebellion

Three days later was payday, and miscommunication between the league and players resulted in smaller paychecks than were expected. Players-– led by those from the Dominican Republic, who were much more in need of the money to send to their families back home-- threatened to strike, 22 days into the brand new league.

In rushed the league’s commissioner, who scrambled up to Kfar Yarok to stem the rebellion. Around noon, a meeting was held on an outdoor basketball court with the player’s improvised union, led by 45-year-old Alan Gardner, centerfielder for the Blue Sox and a practicing New York lawyer.

“It was funny because the IBL was close to striking-- it was surreal,” said a player in attendance. “Some of the players took video of the makeshift meeting because we all thought it was so funny.”

Not to the league it wasn’t. Kurtzer-– a savvy veteran of tough Middle East political negotiations-- told the players that there had been a misunderstanding, but that he would not negotiate under threat - and, according to players who were there, that he would cancel the league if they struck, a threat Kurtzer denied.

“I didn’t say that,” Kurtzer said. “I said, ‘I’ll talk to you all day, and we’ll fix the problem, but I’m not going to be here with you saying if you’re not happy you’re going out on strike.’ I said, ‘If you want to go out on strike that’s your choice, I can’t stop you.’ ”

Kurtzer explained the mix-up, saying: “The problem at the beginning of the season was that they didn’t understand that we overpaid them the first time, and therefore we adjusted it the second, and our communications broke down. In other words, after two weeks there were supposed to get a week’s pay, and then have that week delay, as in most businesses. After two weeks we paid them for two weeks, so after the second two weeks, we paid them for one week, and we were gong to start the delay, and they said ‘hey, wait a minute, we worked two weeks, and threatened a strike. It was explained to them, and they understood it.”

At a subsequent payday, money was again late. The players, having heard rumors about the league’s financial difficulties, were upset that the league was not more forthcoming.

“I believe that they knew seven or 10 days ahead of time that it was going to be late,” said Jamarkowicz. “Don’t just have us show up, keep telling us you’re going to pay us, and then when we get there, when you knew 90 percent chance that it wasn’t going to come through, tell us, ‘Hey, we’re really trying to get you paid, it could be up to a week late. We’re gonna push it back. We’re gonna try and give you 100, 200 shekels to try to get you by, just work with us.’ I’m more than willing to work with anybody 100 percent. I understand financial backing, new league, things are going to happen. I’m OK with that. But be up front with me, be honest with me, don’t BS me around.”

No balls

Meanwhile, the threatened strike was headed off, and baseball continued. But not all the teams were doing well. The Petah Tikva team, managed by former Jewish Major Leaguer Ken Holtzman, was losing a lot of games, and was destined for last place early on. The losing, and the problems encountered all season, finally got to Holtzman, and he publicly criticized the league, the teams, the players, the fields, and the Israeli fans. (see sidebar)

The league, understandably, was outraged over his words and his going public. It was the black eye the league had been working to avoid all season. Two weeks later, the league and Holtzman reached an agreement for him to leave.

But the league was in trouble, financially most of all. At one point there were no more baseballs, partly a result of players handing out too many souvenirs in the spirit of promoting the league. The IBL had to order more, and the players were ordered not to give away any baseballs to fans, under threat of a 50 shekel fine.

“I know how hard it is to say no and I am very aware of how persistent and sometimes over-zealous our fans can be,” Berger wrote the players on July 31. “But we cannot throw balls into the stands anymore. I just brought over 3500 more baseballs. This is it for the rest of the season. If we run out, we stop playing.”

The players were upset.

“Do you have any idea how hard it is to say no to a seven-year-old boy asking for a ball?” wrote Jesse Michel on his blog. “What should I tell him, ‘No son, the league has threatened to fine me if I give you one?’ Right.”

Fans in the dark

All of the various issues plaguing the league were unknown to the public during the season, the result both of an absence of news reporting, and a major effort at spin control by the league.

With the notable exception of Rosenthal writing all season on Walla!, the Israeli press-- Hebrew and English-- was mainly uninterested. The stories that were printed were written by the league’s amateur reporters, who consistently led with the wrong news day after day: a story on a no-hitter led with the news that the game was the quickest of the year, while the story on the All-Star game began with the home run-hitting contest, to cite two examples.

The league was happy with the free, non-controversial publicity, and tried to control any negative publicity by censuring players blogging on their Web site, as well as influencing independent bloggers to remove negative postings.

So the fans kept in the dark on the dugout intrigue supported their teams blindly. By far the teams with the most fan support were Bet Shemesh, followed by Modi’in, two cities with large Anglo communities. One fan from Bet Shemesh celebrated his 45 birthday by baking a cake and traveling to Tel Aviv to hand out slices to his beloved Blue Sox.

“It brought back innocence,” Alan Krasma said of his summer experience, while dishing out the desert. “If you look at the last two summers, we had Gush Katif two summers ago, we had the Lebanon war last summer. This summer was just really relaxed. I was able to come with each of my kids to the game, we met a few of the players, and we really got to know them. It was like coming to watch a bunch of friends play.”

Too little, too late

But while Americans supported the sport-- the league’s attendance ranged from an average of 73 for Netanya to 418 for Bet Shemesh, though it was often a matter of guesswork-- there were few Israelis who attended. The promised marketing gimmicks never happened, and outreach to communities was too little, too late: teams visited their respective city’s malls to give out free tickets and paraphernalia in the seventh week of the eight-week season.

“We did, I think, a superlative job for a new league marketing among Americans in America and among Anglos in Israel,” said Kurtzer. “And we did nothing with Israelis. Part of it had to do with organization. We talked about it a lot, and then we didn’t hire anybody to do it for a long time, and then there was a budget issue, we spent a lot of money on the television contract… This was our management fashla,” he said, using the Israeli slang for a screw-up. “That’s what it was."

Not all Anglos felt the outreach. Rabbi Stewart Weiss, a lifelong fan of his hometown Cubs and a former Bleacher Bum, is director of an organization in Ra'anana helping new immigrants. He and his family attended several games to root for the IBL team named after his adopted city, the Ra'anana Express-- but heard little, if any, information about the team and league in Ra'anana itself.

"They're called the Ra'anana Express, but they don't play here, there is no publicity about them in town, and you can't buy tickets locally," said Weiss. "There ought to be a concerted attempt to reach out to Ra'anana - a city of 75,000, one-third of whom are English-speaking immigrants. There has to be a stronger connection to the city in order to build team spirit and team support. Can you just name a team after a city without actually involving the city or its inhabitants?"

No pay, no play

The league did try one marketing drive aimed at Israelis-- they paid the Israeli sports channel to broadcast Sunday night games in Hebrew. But when payment stopped coming, so did the broadcasts.

“It’s a shame this is what they are doing to us, after we put our heart and soul in it,” Yaron Talpaz, sports channel’s vice president for business development, told Walla! “We did not expect this kind of management from a league whose commissioner was the former U.S. ambassador to Israel.”

Kurtzer said everyone would eventually be paid, including, he admitted, himself, and that it was a shame the sports channel chose not to broadcast the second half of the season, including the championship game.

“Yes, we do owe them money, but I’m confident that they are gong to get paid. It’s a haval that we didn’t have the cash flow to pay them, it’s haval that they didn’t want to do it on faith that they are going to get paid, so, haval. Everyone’s going to get paid.”

Kurtzer said that plans for next season are already under way, that he and league management knows what needs to be done, and that a replay of this season’s problems isn’t likely.

“It will be different in the sense that you will have other complaints-- the food is always going to be a complaint-- but I’d say that 75 percent of the legitimate stuff that these guys complained about this year-- legitimate being because it was true-- we’ll fix it. And they’re gonna get paid on time, and we now know that you gotta get the laundry right, so all that stuff will be done right.

The main problem, he said, was not enough hands on board.

“We need more personnel, league personnel, just to handle issues. Very often players didn’t know to whom to turn, so you just need enough people – someone who is responsible for x, and responsible for y, and you know where to go. So those are the things we’ll work on.”

The players themselves understood that. By the time the Blue Sox beat the Modi’in Miracle for the championship, the players had put all the problems behind them, and were sad to see the inaugural season end. The camaraderie was evident the night before the playoffs, when they held an award night and gave out “The Schnitzel Award” in a number of jocular categories.

Almost to a man, all players asked said they would love to come back and play another season, if they don’t get offers to play anywhere else.

“My personal experience has just been wonderful in every aspect of it,” said Eric Holtz, the 41-year-old player manager for the Blue Sox. “To be able to play and compete, having my wife and children here for three weeks and having them involved in one of the most exciting things of my life, has just been phenomenal. And being a Jew, you can’t come here and not feel some sense of spirituality. And I’m not a religious Jew.”

Asked if he and the other players would come back next season, after all they went through, Holtz didn’t hesitate.

“If they lived through the worst and survived,” he said, “then why wouldn’t they come back next year?"


Elli Wohlgelernter contributed to Roger Kahn's semi-classic baseball book, Good Enough To Dream, and considers this story something of a bookend. Watch Tabloid Baby for more exclusive reports from Our Man Elli in Israel.

And don't forget to read the sidebar on the mudslinging exit of manager Ken Holtzman.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

San Diego Jewish World: "Embarrassment of Israel's 'pro' baseball"

'There's a Jewish story everywhere'
San Diego Jewish World
August 24, 2008

Embarrassment of Israel's 'pro' baseball

By Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO – Baseball in Israel? The very idea was an American Jewish fantasy. Imagine, American Jews and Israelis drawing even closer together as a result of this game which has so possessed us Americans, which has given us heroes like Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, and now Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers, who recently smacked the 2,500th home run by a Jewish major leaguer!

In summer 2007, on ball fields more suitable to the Pony League than to Big Leagues, baseball started up in Israel with six teams bearing the names Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, Modi’in Miracle, Tel Aviv Lightning, Ra’anana Express, Netanya Tigers and Petach Tikvah Pioneers. The city names were an illusion; in fact, all the players lived in the same dormitory at the agricultural school at Hakfar Hayarok, and home field advantage rotated among the teams at three venues: Kibbutz Gezer, Tel Aviv Sportek, and the Baptist Village at Petach Tikvah.

The games were played, with American expatriates in particular filling the stands. But underneath the hope and hoopla was deception and disappointment. The owners of the league didn’t pay all their bills; they sent bad checks to ball players who had been recruited from the United States, Israel and the Dominican Republic, among other venues, and left a bunch of debts, including to the Hakfar Hayarok agricultural school, which during the school year is home to 1,200 at-risk kids from the primary grades through high school. The school administration had been counting on the rent for the dormitories to help foot the school’s expenses; they were left with nothing but vague promises.

There was no second season for Israel baseball in 2008.

Eventually the founding president of the league, Larry Baras, stepped down, handing the reins over to David Solomont, who while trying to attract new investors in the league and pay off creditors, promised to hold a best-of-seven series between teams drawn from the roster of 2007 players. But the series never materialized, in part because some players simply refused to participate until their past salaries had been paid.

Baseball in Israel, what a disappointment! Instead of fostering better relations between American Jews and Israelis, it has been leaving a bad taste in Israel for the sport and its promoters.

Although a civil suit has been filed by an American investor who felt her money was improperly diverted from other enterprises to the Israel Baseball League, no investigations to date of the financial practices of the Israel Baseball League have been announced either in the United States nor in Israel. Perhaps one is necessary; certainly it would be salutary if there were a full public accounting of how much money was raised by the IBL, and how those dollars were spent.

Meanwhile, some of the disaffected investors have formed on paper a rival league called the Israel Professional Baseball League—with the accent, or emphasis, being on “professional.” The idea is that to truly represent baseball, the professionals in the league cannot only be those who are playing on the field; they must also be those who occupy the front office—professional fundraisers, accountants, public relations persons, who can and will tell the people the truth about their operations, even if it hurts.

The Israel Professional Baseball League can’t simply start up operations; it will need the approval of the Israeli government, which understandably is quite wary of any baseball enterprise.

Will this episode permanently end the dream of professional baseball in Israel, or will it be only a big bump at the beginning of a long road?

In large measure, the answer will be provided by Solomont, who has pledged to pay the bills, and set things right. However, in the game of credibility, promises don’t score runs. If Solomont wants to whack one out of the park, he’ll pay off the debts of the IBL, and apologize on behalf of the IBL to all the players and vendors who have been mistreated. If Solomont wants to add his name to the legions of Jewish baseball heroes, he’ll set things right and remove the stench that has now settled around baseball in Israel.

Harrison may be contacted at editor@sandiegojewishworld.com

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Happy birthday, Ron Blomberg


Ron Blomberg turns 60 today.

Besides making history as the manager of the champion Bet Shemesh Blue Sox of the Israel Baseball League in its first and last season, he was a New York Yankee and Major League Baseball's first designated hitter.

From Newsday:

...Blomberg keeps an incredibly busy schedule, juggling responsibilities that include motivational speaking, Yankees fantasy camps, wine-and-dine in Yankee Stadium suites and some scouting work for the team.

In addition, he also runs a summer camp for kids. He said it's "the largest Jewish sleep-away camp in the country." Herb Brown, Larry Brown's brother, runs the basketball portion of camp, he said.

He's also coming off a busy past year that including writing a book, "Designated Hebrew," as well as managing in the start-up Israel Baseball League. The league lasted only one year because of finances, but he loved it. It was his first trip to Israel, and he called it "an unbelievable experience."

Friday, August 22, 2008

What the f***?


What the f*** was that all about?


The Israel Baseball League's promised expanded second season was reduced to four-team, three-week, 20-game "momentum-building" mini-season, truncated to a one-week "show" festival, reduced to a five-game "show" festival, cut to a one-night stand-- and ended with nothing.

NOTHING.

For all the lip-flapping and free-lunch-acceptance from IBL apologist Shoeless Leon Feingold, for all the deceptive posts on the IBL website, and for all the twitterings of "in-coming President" David Solomont, the supposed saviour with pretensions of installing himself as Presidente of the Dominican Republic of The Middle East Baseball League-- for all the abuse that anonymous commenters heaped on Our Man Elli in Israel's accurate and groundbreaking and award-deserving coverage (and you can find your own links this time, because we're disgusted)-- they never played a f***ing game!

It never happened!

Our Man Elli reports that Shoeless Leon and the other IBL "All-Stars" who got a free trip from the States to Israel have headed back home (hopefully without any transmitted diseases, which could be a possibility if our spies are correct-- Neve Ilan ain't the Olympic Village, boys).

Russell Robinson of the Israel National Fund has checked out of his five-star hotel without ever throwing a first pitch. And David Solomont has also fled the country.

Israel Association of Baseball President Haim Katz, whose group was falsely accused of stopping the tournament that was ever advertised, insured or manned, told Elli today:

"This week changed nothing; It did not affect any change in their (the IBL's) status or in their license to play baseball. No matter what they would have done, it wouldn’t have affected that status.

"It was irrelevant if they played one game or two games or no games. Nothing was coordinated with us beforehand, so it didn't have any bearing on the future."

Mr. Katz, we must disagree. We'd say that a lot has changed.


As long as the people leading the alleged IBL (Larry Baras, David Solomont Martin Berger and the gang) hang around, it will be tougher to get anyone else interested in taking a new approach. Even if the IAB puts the IBL out of our misery by deciding it will no longer deal with its "executives," any other group stepping forward will have to deal wit h the baggage.

Bottom line:

Who will buy their bulls*** now?

And what the f*** was that all about?

Where's the Associated Press coverage of all this?

Oh, right. They only refashion press releases.

Where's bigtime Jerusalem Post sports editor Jeremy Last and his team? Watching the Olympics on television? Or because of the embarrassing publicity, has he gotten the order not to use this site as a source?

Does Jeremy Last still think the IBL failed because there was no promotion among Israelis?

Stay tuned here for a major announcement on the future of coverage of the Israel Baseball League and its fallout.

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

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Players, coaches... interested parties should become the league": Scott Cantor, the Israel Baseball League's oldest player, offers a modest proposal

No, there are no games scheduled in the Israel Baseball League's promised show fest. It never happened and "in-coming president" David Solomont, for all his promises, remains silent on the latest fine mess (except that Our Man Elli in Israel has word that Solomont has indicated to people that Larry Baras and Dan Duquette are still in equity control of the IBL).

But Scott Cantor, who, as a 51-year-old pitcher with the Petach Tikva Pioneers was the oldest player in the Israel Baseball League,has offered this proposal to bring some sort of resolution to the chaos and mountain of debt that have been left in wake of the first and so far sole season of the Israel Baseball League:

1. All of last year's players should pool what ever we were paid and distribute the pool evenly to all the players.

2. The IBL players, coaches, managers, baseball administrators, and former trustees, plus all honestly interested parties should team together and become the league.


3. The people and institutions that are owed money would have to be negotiated with and brought in as partners or work out a settlement.


Feasible? Possible?
What do you think?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

FIASCO! SOLOMONT SCRAMBLES FOR 1 GAME!


Our Man Elli in Israel reports that the Israel Baseball League's "in-coming president" David Solomont is trying frantically to recoup the disaster of the canceled IBL show fest by arranging a a "one night only" game for Thursday, which he will attempt to have videotaped so that he can "broadcast" the game in the United States in order to attract investors.

While there are a number of Israel Baseball League "All-Stars" languishing in Israel after traveling from the States, there is no word where Solomont plans to to find the players for an opposing second team unless the Israel Association of Baseball decides to help (an eventuality that IAB president Haim Katz told us exclusively is not in the cards unless "certain requirements"-- like paying past debts-- are met), or how Solomont will arrange for insurance, which he and his "league" apparently did not acquire in anticipation of the baseball show festival.

Solomont is accusing the IAB of persuading Baptist Village, site of the announced show festival, to not to deal with him, a claim Katz denies.

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Also today in Israel Baseball League history


From the Israel Baseball League website:

Petach Tikva, August 19 (2007) – Following the winning of the first Israel Baseball League championship today by the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, Commissioner Daniel Kurtzer has announced award winners as determined by league officials.

The Hank Greenberg Award for Most Valuable Player will be shared by Eladio Rodriguez of Modi’in and Gregg Raymundo of Bet Shemesh. (Greenberg, a Hall of Fame player in the Major Leagues, is considered the greatest Jewish hitter of all time).


The Commissioner’s Award for Sportsmanship and Character goes to Aaron Pribble (Tel Aviv) and Brendan Rubenstein (Ra’anana).


The Commissioner’s Award for Distinguished Service goes to Eric Holtz of Bet Shemesh, a player/coach with the team who also filled in as a player/manager during the course of the season.


The award for best pitcher goes to Juan Feliciano of Bet Shemesh.


The award for Most Valuable Israeli player goes to Dan Rothem of Tel Aviv. (Both his hometown and his team).
Nokona, a league sponsor presents three defensive awards: best outfielder: a tie between Josh Doane (Netanya) and Jason Rees (Bet Shemesh); best infielder: a tie between Nate Fish (Tel Aviv) and Hector De Los Santos (Netanya); and best catcher: Eladio Rodriguez (Modi’in).

The league’s batting champion in its first year was Eladio Rodriguez, who hit .461 in the regular season.

The home run champion was Jason Rees with 17.

Aaron Pribble
won the league’s ERA title, 1.94.


Full season statistics are available at www.israelbaseballleague.com/stats.

The Israel Baseball League is the first professional baseball league in the Middle East. Players from nine nations, including a dozen Israeli players, competed in the league’s initial season. The first tryouts for the 2008 season were held today in Hinsdale, MA, at the Dan Duquette Sports Academy.

Today in Israel Baseball League history


From the Israel Baseball League website:

Bet Shemesh Blue Sox win inaugural IBL Championship!


Petach Tikva, August 19 (2007) - In front of a crowd of 2,610 fans at Yarkon Field, it was the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox shutting out the Modi’in Miracle, 3-0, to win the inaugural IBL Championship.

The pitching match up of Modi’in’s RHP Maximo Nelson and Bet Shemesh’s RHP Rafael Bergstrom lived up to expectations as both pitchers engaged in a classic pitchers duel. Bergstrom dominated the Miracle offense earning the victory, pitching a complete game shutout, striking out eight batters allowing no walks.


Although, Modi’in out hit Bet Shemesh, it was the Blue Sox who manufactured their runs throughout the night. Bet Shemesh jumped out on top in the bottom of the first inning on a sacrifice fly by OF Jason Rees, scoring OF Sean Slaughter from third base. The Blue Sox scored their second run in the bottom of the fourth inning, on a sacrifice fly by 1B Ben Pincus. The Blue Sox added their third run of the night in the bottom of the fifth inning, when SS Gregg Raymundo (2-for-3) singled driving in Sean Slaughter from second base.


Modi’in threatened in the top of the top of the sixth inning with runners on first and third base and two outs. However, Bergstrom struck out Adalberto Paulino (2-for-4) to end the inning.


Ron Blomberg’s Blue Sox truly personified a championship team. Bet Shemesh never fell below first place throughout the entire season.


For the boxscore from the Championship game click
here.

Following the game, Commissioner Dan Kurtzer presented the championship trophy to the entire Bet Shemesh team. Manager Ron Blomberg spoke during the trophy ceremony saying, “I’ve been in two World Series with the New York Yankees, and this championship lives up to both.” The Commissioner also presented the individual season achievement awards to the IBL’s top players.

The IBL announced that the first game of the 2008 season will be played on Sunday, June 29, at 6:00 p.m. at the Yarkon Sports Complex in the Baptist Village in Petach Tikva.

IAB's KATZ: "WE DIDN'T STOP IBL SHOW FEST... THEY SENT GUYS OVER WITHOUT COORDINATION, INSURANCE OR TEAM TO PLAY... BELATEDLY ASKED OUR ASSISTANCE"

"The IBL sent these
guys over here without
any coordination
with us, no insurance
and didn't arrange
to have a team
for them to play."
-Haim Katz, Israel Association of Baseball

As soon as it was clear that the Israel Baseball League's show festival was not going to happen, so began the spin that the well-intentioned executives of the IBl were stopped from playing by the Israel Association of Baseball, the sport's governing body that had withdrawn the IBL's certification and canceled its contracts back in January because of the massive debts it had left behind from the first season.

We went directly to IAB president Haim Katz, who replies to our questions this morning:

TABLOID BABY: Why did the IBL cancel opening day of its festival? Did the IAB stop them?

HAIM KATZ: You'll have to ask the IBL. The IAB was not involved in their planning of this festival. As you stated correctly, if some tourist show up and want to play a pickup game, it's not for the IAB to stop them. The IBL sent these guys over here without any coordination with us, no insurance and didn't arrange to have a team for them to play.

It's not surprising that they had to cancel their game.

We've heard that IAB won't let them play until all the debts from last season are paid. Is this true?

HAIM KATZ: While the IAB is recognized by the Israel Sport's authority as the governing body for baseball in Israel, that doesn't mean that anyone who wants to pick up a bat and hit balls to his kid needs our permission. This authority refers to those who want to run an organized program.

They did, however, very belatedly request our assistance with this event. For this assistance they need to fulfill certain requirements which they state they will fulfill, but to date have not.

Will the "show" go on at all?

HAIM KATZ: While Israel is the land of prophets, to my knowledge none have been spotted for several millenniums.

Monday, August 18, 2008

"BULLSH*T!"


The Israel Baseball League has canceled its five-day show fest scheduled for Yarkon Sports Complex in Baptist Village and instead are spinning a campaign of lies and deflection for a "premeditated" "scam," according to our exclusive sources.

While word is spreading that the Israel Association of Baseball has stopped the Israel Baseball League from playing its so-called "festival" show, sources say that's not the case at all, but that IBL officials sent players to Israel without a real plan, and asked the IAB on Thursday to help organize something at the last minute.

The IAB, our sources say, decided it was not its responsibility to assist an organization whose rights it had previously terminated.

Further, an anonymous commenter to this website prints what he claims is a Facebook message from IBL veteran and Solomont "All-Star" Leon Feingold, and what sources say is part of this deception.

Feingold, who usually comments on this site under the name "bringheat," allegedly sent out this "apology":

"Yonatan - wow, that's awful. I can't believe they didn't make an announcement or anything! To the best of my knowledge, they are still trying to fight with the IAB to allow us to play. I mean, we're all here! But the IAB won't allow the IBL to play unless ALL the debts from last season are paid-- and so we're just sitting here, trying to stay in shape, and hope everyone stops trying to blame someone else, so we can play ball.

"Please accept my personal apologies, and pass them along to everyone you meet who was inconvenienced."

The spin from this writer, our source says, is "false.

"The IAB can't prevent anyone from hitting a ball. They can only ban a formal league. Festivus was not a formal league, but a 'show.' Haim Katz had already said his group can't regulate that.

"Now the IBL is trying to pin the blame on the IAB, perhaps as a setup if it is taken to court-- and certainly as an excuse to investors, that they tried, they even came to Israel, but the IAB wouldn't let them play.

"It's all a lie!"

URGENT! ISRAEL BASEBALL FEST CANCELED!


Our Man Elli in Israel reports that the entire, though shortened five-day show festival promised by new Israel Baseball League "in-coming president" David Solomont at the Baptist Village sports complex has been canceled.

Still no word from the IBL bunker. Details to follow.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"From Baptist Village: IBL not expected tomorrow"



Our Man Elli in Israel has an update from the ballpark where the Israel Baseball League had promised to launch its five-day show festival today, but canceled without warning or explanation:

"Local softball players played at Baptist Village tonight: In the former the Ra’anana softball league which moved to Baptist Village, Mel’s Men beat the Chipsters, 26-22, in a nine-inning slugfest.

"A few fans who'd arrived to see the IBL, stayed to watch a little softball.

"The word from someone at Baptist Village is that the IBL is not expected tomorrow."

EXCLUSIVE! ISRAEL BASEBALL LEAGUE'S SHOW FESTIVAL OPENER IS CANCELED!!! NO WARNING!!! NO WORD FROM SOLOMONT!!! ISRAELI BASEBALL FANS OUTRAGED!!!


THEY CANCELED THE OPENING OF THE SHOW FEST WITHOUT WARNING!

Fans showed!

The Israel Baseball League didn't!

Our Man Elli in Israel reports exclusively that David Solomont and his new and improved Israel Baseball League (AKA the Dominican Republic of The Middle East Baseball League) have, without notice, warning, or a word from their bunker, canceled the opening game of their five-day show festival that was scheduled to take place today at the Yarkon Sports Complex in Baptist Village.

The IBL didn't merely cancel-- they simply didn't show up! But fans did!

"Because they failed to inform their fans-- or at least fans of baseball-– people started showing up a half hour ago, only to discover they'd come for nothing," Elli reports. "They are sorely disappointed, to say the least. No. Put it this way:

"They are pissed!

"I spoke to one such baseball lover. Uzi Amit is forty-seven. He's a lawyer who came down from Jerusalem with his four kids. He's not happy. And he's a lawyer. Uzi told me:

"'We came because there might be a ballgame. I had some doubts, after watching these people update their web site-- they don’t seem very serious about informing people on what’s going on. They said they were starting on the 14th, and then starting on the Sunday the 17th. I sent an email; I got no answer. So now we’re here, and we wasted our time and gasoline [an hour and a quarter one-way --Ed.), and now I have four disappointed family members.’

“Amit told me he could see other families who'd arrived and promptly left when they saw there was no game," Elli reports. "They were 'also disappointed.' Someone had told him that other families came and went. He sounded very disgusted with the whole thing.

"Said Amit: 'If these guys were serious and had more respect for their fans,they would tell them what’s going on and not send them on some wild goose chase. It’s unfortunate that people who have such disregard for baseball fans are the guys trying to set up baseball in Israel.’

"Frankly, this is a real embarrassment, because word will spread among the Anglo community here that the league dissed the fans," Elli says. "What they can expect to pull off the rest of the week is anyone’s guess.

Our Man adds: "There are weeds growing in the outfield at Baptist. Apparently the caretaker has been sick, and no one is looking after the field. The IBL didn't spruce it up for the big show fest. And by the way, there was a softball game being played: the regular Sunday night, 9-inning, 30 shekel-per-man pickup game, open to all players over age 24."

Stay tuned...

Our favorite Israel Baseball League story yet


Our Man Elli in Israel tells us:

"On July 24th, the day originally scheduled for Opening Day of the IBL's second season, a woman arrived with her four children to watch the game.

"She stayed to watch the softball league game taking place-- and had the best seats in the house."

Elli's favorite comment of the weekend:


Sunday, August 17, 2008 12:49:00 AM PDT Anonymous said...
"Where's that money, you silly stupid old fool? Where's that money? Do you realize what this means? It means bankruptcy and scandal and prison. That's what it means. One of us is going to jail-- well, it's not gonna be me."
-- George Bailey, yelling at Uncle Billy, "It's a Wonderful Life"

The Israel Baseball League's five-day show festival is set to begin today and run through Thursday at Baptist Village. The IBL promised that details, like game times and ticket prices, would appear on its website, but they've yet to be posted.

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

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Alan Gardner sounds off on IBL show fest

Israel Baseball League veteran and elder statesman Alan Gardner, a New York City attorney and one of the prime movers in the rival Israel Professional Baseball League that never quite got off the ground, comments on our interview with fellow vet and player activist Justin Cardinal, and slams the IBL's elusive executives on the eve of its five-day show festival featuring a handful of IBL “All-Stars” versus a pickup team of Israeli nationals:

“Justin definitely did start leaning on the ball as the season progressed. Just ask my forehead. And in addition to spraying line drives about during bp, he also dropped one or two over the fence at the Geez.

“Was a tough outfield to crack, what with Rees, Slaughter and Lyons out there. Not a soul can argue with the prowess of those guys, defensively, at the plate and on the base paths. Would have been nice if he could have got a bit of late inning PT when games were already decided or the more occasional start. But hey, guess that's just baseball.

“What really sucks is that this solid, generally unassuming, soft-spoken young man dropped a G out of his own pocket to get to the Miami tryouts, made it, went to Israel and has now been stiffed out of $1,500 plus whatever fees his bank has charged him for the bad checks and any checks he may have written on his account thinking the checks were good. I wonder how much the IBL spent for a round trip ticket for the ‘festival.’ A good rate these days is about... $1,500.

“And how many other guys that have been stiffed could have been paid out of funds used for this sad excuse for a professional baseball tournament?

“Or maybe they're doing the travel the good old IBL way... buying the tix on credit and then stiffing the travel agency, too.

“Or did everyone forget that last summer's travel agent threatened to pull all of our return trip tickets because the IBL owed them LOTS of money? That's right, apparently if Baras had not been lucky enough to persuade at least one of the investors to loan him something like $40G to make the travel agent happy, we all might still be in Israel working off the IBL debt at the Kfar Hayarok and getting our meals at the gas station...

“Most importantly, good luck to our mate Justin in Ottawa. I think he's going to have a stellar career at the university level.”


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

The one and only Justin Cardinal

We stumbled upon an eerie and amazing coincidence regarding Israel Baseball League veteran Justin Cardinal last week, after the former outfielder for the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox stood up publicly to the IBL’s elusive executives after a series of bounced paychecks.

A cursory Google search revealed there were two Justin Cardinals, both ballplayers from Canada, both born in 1982-- "was," because one of them, a pitcher, had his career and life cut short in a tragic highway accident in 2002.

Much had been written about the late Justin Cardinal. Of the one who turned 26 on Thursday, not so much, leading some of our more imaginative followers to suggest that one may have taken the name and credentials of the other (just like you see in the movies).

We got in touch with the IBL’s Justin Cardinal and he filled us in:

What an eerie coincidence! I understand you're from Ottawa; the other Justin was from Alberta. Have other people brought up the coincidence before?

No one I know ever talked to me about it except those that I brought it up with once I found out about it randomly some day a couple of years ago.

What's your story?

I was born here in Ottawa, Ontario Canada.

I went to Sir Wilfrid Laurier S.S., but they didn't have a baseball team.

Before the IBL, I played men's league here in town for a few years after coming out of AAA midget ball when I was 18-19.

This AAA team was really the highest quality of ball I had ever played in, and it took me on many different trips to cities as far as 13 hour drives (West Virginia). This coach was really the only one to ever take a chance on me. That year, in 111 plate appearances, I hit .370 with an on-base average of .550 and four home runs. It was by far the season I'm most proud of, mainly because I was basically on a team of all-stars, and was still top five in those offensive categories.

The reason I know I did so well that season was because of how many games I ended up playing in. Every single year, I start off poorly, but once mid-July comes, or a lot of at-bats early, I really start to go on fire.

Last year though, I’m glad to say I was on the championship team. I'm also pretty upset because of my lack of playing time. I don't blame them for thinking I couldn't hit; they just didn't realize what I could do with enough opportunities.

If you ask some of the guys like Gregg Raymundo, Sean Slaughter, Alan Gardner or Johnny Lopez I bet they'll praise what I did in batting practice towards the end of the season. (Manager Ron) Blomberg won't, though He gave up on me right before I started crushing the balls.

For me, it really sucks, because here in Canada, we can go eight months between baseball games, so ya, I just end up forgetting what I have to do to hit line drives. Right now is a great example: last week in my league after about 32 at-bats I was hitting .180, but in my last two games I've hit five-for-eight with two doubles and four RBIs.

Does that sound like a typical .180 hitter???

The two seasons before I went to Israel, my batting averages were .455 in 2006, and .470 in 2005. Bottom line is I get so much better as the season moves on.

Fortunately for me this year, I'll have an opportunity to play for my University in my first year, so this will be the real test of how I can do after having a substantial amount of games during the summer time.

How'd you get to the IBL?

Martin Berger found my baseball profile online, I think, and sent me an e-mail to come for tryouts in Miami.

I took a thousand dollars out of my own pocket to do it, and on January 1, 2007 I got a contract by way of e-mail.

At the time, it was the greatest day of my life. It was what I worked my whole life for.

Are you playing now or are you hoping to hook up with another league?

I wish I could play in a league where I got to play every day, all-year-round, but right now I'm with my men's league again, which just clinched first place with four games to go-- and then hopefully university ball.

Friday, August 15, 2008

JNF macher, IBL vets arrive in Israel for show fest

Russell Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish National Fund, was spotted today sitting in the lobby of the five-star fancy-shmancy King David Hotel in Jerusalem late Friday afternoon, prompting speculation that he may be throwing out the first pitch in the delayed, and shortened to five-days, Israel Baseball League show festival now set to begin Sunday evening.

The close relationship between the JNF and the IBL, now led by controversial and mysterious Boston businessman David Solomont, has begin to whip up even more controversy since it was claimed in the latest controversial IBL press release:

"Tickets will be sold at the door with all proceeds to benefit JNF's Project Baseball."

Our Man Elli In Israel has also confirmed a reader's comment (thank you!) that IBL veterans (Solomont's "All-Star" team) Shoeless Leon Feingold, Bryan Pinchuk, Willis Bumphus, David Kramer and Josh Doane are in Israel while, for some reason, Ray Rodriguez and Mike Lyons didn't make their flights.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

IBL pushes back baseball show fest to Sunday!


They did it again!

They've amended their promise for summer baseball in Israel again! The day before they were supposed to shout, "Play Ball!" And now there's real doubt whether David Solomont's contract-satisfying, photo-op fulfilling Israel Baseball League "show" festival is happening at all!

The week-long show, pitting a team of IBL "All-Stars" against some native Israeli players, was set to begin tomorrow.

But now, after weeks of no publicity and the usual wall of silence from the IBL businessmen, a cleverly-backdated press release on the IBL website pushes the fest back to Sunday-- and shortens it from seven to five days:

"IBL Summer Baseball Festival to Commence Sunday, August 17th
07/24/2008 9:44 AM

"The Israel Baseball League, which inaugurated the first season of professional baseball in Israel last summer, has officially announced its plans for this summer season, a week-long baseball festival starting on August 17th that will pit an IBL All-Star team against a team made up of premier Israeli players.

"Details of the baseball festival, which will run from August 17th through August 21st, will be announced on this site in the upcoming days.

"Players have already begun to arrive in Israel for the event, which will also feature clinics during the week in Hashmonaim and Bet Shemesh. Photograph sessions will be available before and after every game with your favorite IBL star. Tickets will be sold at the door with all proceeds to benefit JNF's Project Baseball. "

"Players have already begun to arrive?"

"Premier players?"

"June 24?"


Do we believe them this time?

Israel Baseball League show fest set for tomorrow


The Israel Baseball League’s weeklong “show” festival is set to begin tomorrow and Our Man Elli in Israel is off doing live TV reports for the Israel Broadcasting Authority!

We’ve got to get this guy on the hotline!

Our Man Elli: Hello?

Tabloid Baby: The Olympics?

Huh?

You’re off covering the Olympics when our Olympics is about to launch?

I’m not in Beijing, schmuck. I’m making a living.

Well, we don’t have the plug-in to see your reports.

They’re very good.

If you must say so yourself.
So what’s going on with the Dominican Republic of The Middle East League.

Before I begin, do me a favour. Don’t post photos of naked ladies with this. It’s degrading.

Too late.

Schmuck.

We’re a day away. Any protests?

None I’ve seen or heard of. They may not announce the festivus, hoping no one comes. And they don’t need anyone to come. They only want to have photos of something going on, which they’ll post on their web site to attract investors.

It's looking like a game of fungo.

Is (embattled league founder) Larry Baras or David Solomont going to get arrested at the airport?

Baras isn’t coming, because he could get arrested if he shows up. It’s not clear if Solomont is in same position.

So this isn’t exactly turning into a national holiday.

Let’s just say it could be Israel’s best secret weapon, equal to the Stealth. It’s so far under the radar, not a single person in Israel is aware of the Grand Festivus that’s supposedly happening tomorrow night.

But why not?

Sources tell me there’s real dissension inside the IBL brain trust.

Rats scurrying on a sinking ship?

Not quite; but I hear that the head of the IBL-–

El Presidente David Solomonte of the Dominican Republic of the Middle East Baseball League!

If you insist. Anyway, Solomonte— now you’ve got me saying it— Solomont is freezing out Ami Baran, who’s director of Israeli operations, and was manager of the Netanya Tigers last summer. He’s telling people they shouldn’t work with Baran. There seems to be a lack of mutual trust issue. One insider described the situation as a balagan, which is—

Israeli slang for “chaos.”

Hey! That’s right! Nice one!

So why the freeze-out?

For one, there’s been a real fight within the IBL on whether the Festivus event should be held-- which makes sense, because it doesn’t appear there are any Israeli professionals around for the IBL players --

Those 12 veterans—are they despised by their brothers?

Not by all. Sure, some say they’d be playing on the backs of the players from last season who haven’t been paid. But you see from the traffic on your comment boards that they’re still debating that.

Like the comment last night asking how the IBL can pay for players to come over to play and not pay the players from last season.

Right, but let’s get back to the Festivus.

Please, continue.

Apparently, Solomont insisted on the Festivus going forward, because he felt it was necessary to show movement—

So he can raise money.

Right. He also wants to make it more difficult for the Israel Association of Baseball to ignore him.

Isn’t the IAB having an executive board meeting today?

As we reported. It’s this evening, Israel time. But get this: I spoke to Haim Katz, the head of the IAB, and he said the IBL is not on schedule of items to talk about.

So what is?

The issues of any organization taking care of business : A few fields they’d like to invest in, a new regional director in Jerusalem, and how they’re going to organize the Fall league. Katz told me, quote: “We have more pressing issues that need to be discussed. I don’t expect any decisions on the IBL - the IBL is not on the agenda.”

I asked Katz if the IBL is likely to come up for discussion in any case, and he said, “Not that I know of.” But I would imagine that after pressing business is taken care of, someone’s going to bring it up.

Yeah, it’s a bit of an elephant in the room.


Right. But meanwhile, it’s the same situation I told you last week. The IAB’s not involved in the Festivus in any way. Katz even told me-- quoting again: “I know of no game scheduled for Thursday, or next week-- nobody talked to me about any games this week or next week.”

Is the IAB a for-profit organization?

Nope. I’s a non-profit entity, dedicated solely to advancing the good cause of baseball in Israel.

Is it a cause worthy supporting? I mean the IAB.

Oh yeah. For sure. What could be a better cause for the readers of this site who want baseball to succeed in Israel? No matter what side they are on.

How can they help?

I asked Katz, and he said the IAB has a working relationship with the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh. People can make a tax-deductible donation to their web site. Just to be sure to mark it for “Israel baseball.”

So the IAB is the real Israel baseball?

They’re the official sanctioning governing body of baseball, there is no other.

And they haven’t sanctioned the IBL.

They haven’t even been approached by the IBL. So far, Solomont and company have been working around them.

Anything else?

Just one thing. Remember that fan poll on the IBL site? Still not a single vote registered.

Keep us updated.

I’ll report tomorrow on whether the Festivus begins.

Yeah, try to take a few seconds away from the Olympics.

Israel’s tennis players just got eliminated.

Baseball!