Monday, July 9, 2007

Nu? Take me out to the ballgame already!

In case you didn't hear about it, Israel is now officially in the baseball game.

On June 24, the Israel Baseball League (IBL) celebrated its opening day with a match between the
Modi'in Miracle and the Petach Tikva Pioneers at the Yarkon Sports Complex in Petach Tikva. The Miracle won 9-1.

Other clubs in the six-team league are the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, The Netanya Tigers, The Tel Aviv Lightning and the Ra’anana Express. According to their website, the league currently plays at or around the Class-A or Rookie league level equivalent, but has recruited major and minor-leaguers from around the world who are interested in growing the game in the Holy Land.

"Dealin'" Dan Duquette, former GM of the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos, is the IBL's director of baseball operations and the league employs various former MLB players as coaches and support staff.

It being the inaugural season, details and kinks probably still need to be worked out. They play a 45-game schedule with an All-Star break. The IBL also diverges from the traditional rules of baseball by limiting games to 7-innings and using Home Run Derbys to decide ties. Still, it's a great concept to bring to Israel, the land with a natural climate for America's pastime and a populace in dire need of family-friendly distraction.

And with the IBL's links to the MLB, it's hoped that one day North American fans will see the first Israeli in the majors.

In the meantime,
maybe they'll be able to work out a viable peace with curveballs and sliders.

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