THE MERCHANDISE

27 Aug

Israel Baseball Merchandise for sale!  I saaaaaaaaid, Israel Baseball Gear for sale!  Bathrobes, Loincloths, Diaper Bags, Thongs, Leotards, Knee Pads, Kimonos, Jock Straps, and Nipple Tassels.  That’s right, Ladies and Geetles, I, King of Jewish Baseball, proudly introduce the new Israel Baseball Web Shop, a virtual one-stop-shop for all your Israel Baseball Merchandise NEEDS.  Whether you’re celebrating a Bar Mitvah, going for a hard game of ball at your local JCC, or blacking out at a bris after-party, the Israel Baseball Shop has you covered.  Check out the merch…

Feeling patriotic??? Boom.

Feeling patriotic??? Bam.

Game Day?  Cold?  Got you covered, literally.  Booyah.

Game Day? Cold? Got you covered, literally. Booyah.

Are you a woman? Or feel like one?  Boom.  Tees for ladies.

Are you a woman? Or do you feel like one? Tees for ladies.

Hoodies for all of you who don't live in a desert.

Hoodies for all of you who don’t live in a barren Middle Eastern desert.

And sweet home and away caps to keep that head covered in synagogue.

And sweet home and away caps to keep that head covered in synagogue.

And much, much more.

So go. Now! Order, and be fruitful.  Visit the new Israel Baseball Web Shop!!!

http://www.israelbaseballshop.com/#!home2/c1a2a

 

 

 

 

ISRAELIS DRIVE ANYTHING; PART II

15 Aug

After spending 2 weeks in Europe, I almost forgot what a weird place Israel is, a parralel dimension where people drive tricked out golf scooters and move garbage from one place to another for no reason.  Ah yes, it’s good to be home.  Now, Ladies and Geetles, without further ado, I, King of All Jewish Baseball, present, back by popular demand, ISRAELIS DRIVE ANYTHING, a photo collection of Israel’s finest homemade electric tricycles and magic powered garbage carts.

1)

Ah yes.  The new NASA Aluminum Shell Torpedo Sidecar Space Bike with dual eject buttons.  Handles as well on the racetrack as it does under water.

Ah yes. The new NASA Aluminum Shell Torpedo Sidecar Space Bike with dual eject buttons. Handles as well on the racetrack as it does underwater.

2)

IMG_6273

If I am not mistaken, this is the new Dual Suspension Honda Garbage Cart. Read about it in Garbage Monthly, but this is the 1st one I have seen on the road. Nice machine. Owner was wise to tether to pole. You DO NOT want your garbage cart stolen by a rival garbage carter.

3)

Oh boy, a Fully Weaponized Electric Wheelchair Jousting Scooter with the gargoyle in the back for good luck.  Mono Lense racing goggles pictured here not included.

Oh boy, a fully weaponized Electric Wheelchair Jousting Scooter with the gargoyle in back for good luck. Mono Lense racing goggles pictured here not included.

4)

Of course, the new love powered Family Edition Circus Bike I keep hearing about.  Perfect for performing the high wire with multiple children on board.  Safety features include no helmets or elbow guards.

Of course, the new love powered Family Edition Circus Bike I keep hearing about. Perfect for performing the high wire with multiple children onboard. Safety features include no helmets or elbow guards.

5)

Worried about your carbon footprint? Introducing the new eco-friendly motorless motorcycle with big baskets to protect your smaller baskets.  Amazing technology.

Worried about your carbon footprint? Introducing the new eco-friendly motorless motorcycle with big baskets to protect your smaller baskets. Amazing technology.

6)

Very rare.  A homemade wicker tricycle woven from a single strand of human hair.

Very rare. A homemade wicker tricycle woven from a single strand of human hair.

7)

My goodness.  Is that the Infinity Garbage Cart with the garbage basket in back, the garbage loader in the middle, and the garbage tug bike up front?  Yes.  Yes it is.  Just beautiful.

My goodness. Is that the Infinity Garbage Cart with the garbage basket in back, the garbage loader in the middle, and the garbage tug bike up front? Yes. Yes it is. Just beautiful.

8)

The Original Security Internet Scooter.  Perfect for transporting valuables up to 9 feet.  Comes with tool belt and flashlight holster.

The Original Security Internet Scooter. Perfect for transporting valuables up to 9 feet. Comes with tool belt and flashlight holster.

9)

Sweet Baby Jesus.  Blondini paddling over the bridge on the new Skate Bike.  Radio sold separately,

Sweet Baby Jesus. Blondini paddling over the bridge on the new Skate Boat. Radio sold separately.

10)

Oh snap.  A Seatless Wheelless Shark Frame Unicycle.  Very nice design.  Good thing she is locked up.  You would not want any ghosts to come by and steal her. Comes with empty water bottle for long rides.

Oh snap. A Seatless Wheelless Shark Frame Unicycle. Very nice design. Good thing she is locked up. You would not want any ghosts to come by and steal her. Comes with empty water bottle for long rides.

11)

Let's get serious.  Nominee for Garbage Cart of the Year, 2014.  Has all the qualities of a great garbage cart, lots of garbage and at least one working wheel.  Very nice work.

Let’s get serious. Nominee for Garbage Cart of the Year, 2014. Has all the qualities of a great garbage cart, lots of garbage and at least one working wheel. Very nice work.

12)

image-3

Oh good. Was hoping to catch one of these in action. An all-in-one bullet-proof garbage bike. Comes with bow and arrow kit and extra buckets. Makes garbage carting fun and easy.

14)

Fine example of Israeli Automotive Engineering.  The new Seeing-Eyed Scooter for the blind.

Fine example of Israeli Automotive Engineering. The new Seeing-Eyed Scooter for the blind.

15)

Nothing special here.  Just a standard garbage cart.  But one of the most impressive collections of worthless plastic scraps and wire I have seen.

Nothing special here. Just a standard garbage cart. But one of the most impressive collections of worthless plastic scraps and wire I have seen.

16)

The new Turbo 7-Wheeler Vacuum.  Perfect for delivering bread in zero-gravity environments.

The new Turbo 7-Wheel Vacuum. Perfect for delivering bread in zero-gravity environments.

17)

Shocking! A Bed Bike. Comes with saddle and cushioned fold-up baskets.  Perfect for sleeping while you drive.

Shocking! A Bed Bike. Comes with saddle and cushioned fold-up baskets. Perfect for sleeping while you drive.

18)

Get the fuck out of the way!  Doin' 160 on the Hydro Convertible Camping Scooter.

Get the fuck out of the way! Doin’ 160 on the Hydro Convertible Camping Scooter.

19)

The new Magic Carpet Air Force Janitor Scooter.  Comes with helmets.  Grows human hair.  Wheels are tennis balls.  The pide of any aspiring janitorial crew.

The new Magic Carpet Air Force Janitor Scooter. Comes with helmets. Grows human hair. Wheels are tennis balls. The pide of any aspiring janitorial crew.

20)

Ah yes.  The Refrigerator Donkey Cart with enough room for 8 refrigerators and a child.  Beautiful machine...

Ah yes. The Refrigerator Donkey Cart. Enough room for 8 refrigerators and a child. Beautiful machine…


Search #israelisdriveanything to keep up with my search for the perfect donkey powered garbage scooter.  And send pics to kingofjewishbaseball@gmail.com.

MLB CAMP

10 Aug

A week in Slovenia was not enough to satisfy my craving for baseball and adventure and separation anxiety, so I drove to Italy for Major League Baseball’s European Elite Camp.  How did I receive an invitation to such a prestigious event, you ask? Well, because, hmmmm, how can I put this… I AM THE KING OF JEWISH BASEBALL!!!

Major League Baseball.  Finally...

Major League Baseball. Finally…

I had to relearn how to drive a stick shift in a thunderstorm in the Alps.  But I got to the facility without careening 7,000 feet down the side of a mountain.  Every time I get to where I am supposed to be, I am shocked.  When I’m on a train, I am sure it’s the wrong one.  Why doesn’t anyone else look concerned?  What is wrong with me?  Who are these people who do not worry needlessly?  They must not be Jewish.

When I am driving, I am sure I just took a wrong turn, or will.  I do not understand the miracles of technology required to move through the physical world from point A to point B.  It is too complicated.  Right now, I am sitting safely in a flying machine many thousands of feet above the ground looking down at clouds traveling so fast that if it were not for the thin sheet of metal between the air inside the plane and the air outside, my face would be ripped off.  How, exactly, is one supposed to comprehend these things?  I must admit, it is also because– something I am ultimately proud of and embarrassed by, despite traveling the world, I HAVE NEVER PURCHASED A PLANE TICKET, wouldn’t even know where to start.

The thing about being a SUPERSTAR ATHLETE, or a King of Jewish Baseball, or Janet Jackson, is this… you don’t have to do anything for yourself, people do it for you.  It is most fantastic and crippling.  It’s better this way, I tell myself. I am not a travel agent, no, no, no, my mind cannot be cluttered with unimportant details of travel documents and credit card numbers, my ideas are too valuable, I need time and space to invent apps that will never be developed and come up with art projects that will never happen, and to write, of course.

Camp was at the Olympic Training Facility in Tirrenia, Italy.  The top 40 players in Europe under 18 were invited. When I arrived, Dan told me I would be rooming with Mr. Collins from Holland.  Great, I thought, an old guy. What kind of first name is “Mr.”?  Vic Collins aka Dutch Mo Vaughn aka the Snoring Machine arrived at 11:30 that night and turned the lights on.  It was the beginning of a week of friendship and no sleep.

In the mornings, we would eat and get out to the field for a 9am start.  The kids were from Holland, Italy, Germany, Czech, Croatia, France, and the UK.  Major League Baseball sent Head Coach John McLaren (coach/scout, currenty with the Oakland A’s), Infield Coach Barry Larkin (Hall of Fame Short Stop, Cincinnati Reds), Hitting Coach Steve Finley (All-Star Outfielder, journeyman), Base Running Specialist Fernando Perez (Center Field, 2008 World Series Rays), Pitching Coach Greg Swindell (Lefty), and Mike Larson (MLB scouting bureau).  Meet them…

Me and another coach from camp.  Said his name was "Barry Larkin".

Me and another coach from camp. Said his name was “Barry Larkin”.

Guy in the back (Steve Finley) photo bombed me.  Did not know he was there.

Guy in the back (Steve Finley) photo bombed me. Did not know he was there.

Look like a ballplayer one time, Perez!

Do me a favor, look like a ballplayer one time, Perez!

Not sure who this is or how he got into camp.  Told security he pitched for 14 years in the Major League.  AND IT WORKED.

Not sure who this is or how he got into camp (Greg Swindell). Told security he pitched for 14 years in the Major Leagues. AND IT WORKED.

Big Vic Collins aka Dutch Mo Vaughn aka the Snoring Machine.

Big Vic Collins aka Dutch Mo Vaughn aka the Snoring Machine.

Schedule was like spring training.  Practice in the morning, ground balls, team defense, BP.  Break for lunch at 12.  Back for games at 1.   We worked and worked and worked.  The kids were all in pain.  But a little pain never hurt anyone.  THIS IS WHAT IT TAKES, KID.  No one said it was gonna be easy.

At night, we had meetings, listening to European scientists who have never been on a baseball field speak about learning modalities and skill aquisition.  And then I listened to Vic snore.  He snored like it was a mating ritual.  He snored so loud I felt bad for the air.  He snored when he was awake.  He snored on the inhale and the exhale.  It sounds like he was eating and screaming and choking and speaking in tongues. I would lay there, horrified, until I could take no more, then I would snap my fingers, or punch him in the face as hard as I could, but he was unfazed.  He would take a short break, allowing the air to back into the room, and I would try to fall asleep quickly. Then the sun would come up, and we’d go back to the field.

Every once in a while I get a week in the Big Leagues.  It’s more than most.  But not enough.  I’ll get there one day.  46 years old.  Pinch hit appearance.  BP pitcher.  Mascot.  I changed my name to Rufio Rufio and told the scouts I am 14.  Getting some interest from the Blue Jays and the Royals.  We’ll see what happens.

We start camp tomorrow, in 5 hours, actually, at Kibbutz Gezer.  I am going from a baseball field in Slovenia to a baseball field in Italy to a baseball facility in Israel.  The King of Jewish Baseball.  Home is on the ballfield.

Class of 2014, MLB Europe Elite Camp.

Class of 2014, MLB European Elite Camp.

THE GRAFFITI OF LJUBLJANA

4 Aug

I must apologize for not writing EVERY DAY. I know you, faithful reader, expect more from a King of Jewish Baseball like myself. I wish too, I am, after all, a literary genius, and it feels good to sit here and work through this. But I am also the short stop for the Israel National Team. And it is not easy to play in and write about the games at the same time as I am sure you cannot imagine.  I know, it is not normal for a player to be a better writer than the writers, or the writer to be a better player than the players, or, for that matter, in my case, for both, or either, to also be the most important artist of the 21st century, but then again, I never claimed to be normal.

Even now, I do not really have time. I am typing in the dark by a fountain in the Olympic training facility in Italy and have been busy all day taking ground balls with Barry Larkin and hitting with Steve Finley at Major League Baseball’s Elite Camp for the top young players in Europe. I am here as a coach, but, AND DO NOT TELL ANYONE, I’m lookin’ for a contract, leaving with nothing less than a multi-year deal with a Big League club. I am already in negotiations with the Orioles. But, I digress, must apologize, again. You see, writing is a time machine, you can push pause, fast forward, go in, come back out, and sometimes I get lost. I should not be thrilling you with the true and amazing details of the magical world called my life– no, I should be telling you about the trip, the team, the highlights, and THE FIRST EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP ISRAEL HAS EVER WON IN BASEBALL. So that’s what I will do.


We flew into Prague instead of Ljubljana where the tournament was being played and spent the night at a very nice cave at the bottom of a gorge.  Amazing design. The vampire behind the counter was friendly enough to unhinge himself from the ceiling and show us to our rooms where we slept for almost 4 whole hours before the short 10-hour drive to Slovenia.

We had three vans. We got lost immidiately and either decided to split up or it happened unintentionally.  Our van slowly wound though the small towns of Central Europe. We were amazed by the manicured farms and ginger bread houses and the giant mountains rising into the clouds.  WE ARE FROM A DESERT.  Do you expect us to believe these things are real?  All this green?  All this space? This peace?  The sheer scale makes it obvious.  NOTHING IS THAT BIG.  ALL FAKE.

Israel National Team, rolling through.

Israel National Team, rolling through.

As the big mountains became rolling hills, and perfectly manicured lawns became perfectly neglected driveways, and things in general started looking shittier, we knew it, this was it, we had finally arrived, SLOVENIA.

But the shittiness is a facade, a ploy to KEEP YOU OUT.  Slovenia– Ljubljana, at least, where we were, is amazing, perfect, a city in its prime, hovering between adolesence, and death.  If your guage for the health of a city is how much graffiti it has, and it should be, Ljubljana is doing great.  Ah yes, beautiful, naked, Ljubljana, holding a flower in one hand, and a plastic water bottle of homemade liquor in the other, with a knife between its teeth.  The people are ALIVE, like we used to be.  They hate communism. They hate capitalism.  They hate everything.  So they love everything.

To give you a better understanding of this magical place you will SURELY NEVER VISIT, I, King of All Jewish Baseball, using only a hearing aid and a metal detecter, compiled this collection of photographs. Keep in mind, I was not interested in acts of skill, but acts of passion, people of passion, in a city of passion.  Ladies and Geetles, without further ado, I present, THE ANARCHISTIC GRAFFITI OF LJUBLJANA.

Agreed.

Agreed.

Yes.

Yes.

"The person you love is 72.8 percent water."  True.

“The person you love is 72.8 percent water.” Truth.

Ah yes.

Ah yes.

I have not idea what this says, but I agree.

I have no idea what this says, but I agree.

A very nice place... to sleep.

A very nice place… to sleep.

Jew Man?  Awesome.

Jew Man? Awesome.

Dream house.

Dream house.

Amen.

Amen.

Most important piece of art in Ljubljana.

Most important piece of art in Ljubljana.

But we could not spend all our time taking pretty pictures, we had a job to do, a tournament to play, to win.

Our first game was Tuesday against Finland.  We won.

Wednesday against the hosts, Slovenia.  The whole town was there, they cleared the hospitals and prisons, brought everyone, dusted off the vuvuzelas and the noise makers.  We won anyways.  WE ARE THE GREATEST JEWISH BASEBALL SHOW ON EARTH!

Thursday.  Latvia.  Won.  We were tearing through Eastern Europe like the Russian army.

Friday, the big game, the semi-finals.  Two teams move up to the B Pool next year, both finalists, so all we had to do was win the semis to advance.  We played Romania.  WON, automatically in the 2015 B Pool.  Boom.

But, it was not enough.  No Israeli team had ever won a championship in Europe in baseball.  We wanted it.  The finals were Saturday against Slovenia, again.  We won 14-0.  We outscored our opponents 53-7 overall. We dominated.  Our pitchers had an ERA around 1.  Our team batting average was over .300.  We hit 9 home runs in 5 games.  Alon struck out the last batter.  We ran and huddled at the mound, a single laser shot from us, from our hearts, into the cosmos.  We were the champions.

It was our 1st international competition since losin the WBC in 2012, the weight lifted a bit.  I could not tell if I was happy, I just knew I was not sad.  The happiness grew.  It came later. I still have it.  But at the time, I felt only relief.

We needed this.  We deserved it.  We are back in the B Pool, where we belong, and we will make a run at winning that next summer.

We had one night to celebrate.  In the morning, we packed up the vans, and everyone drove back to Prague to catch flights home.  They dropped me off at the airport in Ljubljana and I rented a car to drive to Italy.  We were so close for the week.  20 of us. Nothing else mattered.  Then it was over.  I looked back at the team and snapped a picture from inside the rental agency.  It’s not for the blog, for once.  It’s just for me.

I love you Guys.  My brothers.  WE DID IT!

The 2014 Israel National Team.

The 2014 Israel National Team.

 

 

 

THE GREATEST JEWISH BASEBALL SHOW ON EARTH

29 Jul

We just had our first game.  We beat Finland 13-1.  Then we did what any team does after a big win, we found a horse field and shot portraits.  Now, Ladies and Geetles, I proudly and dutifully, using only the power given to me by the Yugo Czech Austro Hungarian Slovak Empire, present to you, THE GREATEST JEWISH BASEBALL SHOW ON EARTH, the 2014 Israel National Team…

Eitan Maoz aka Swamp Thing, Catcher.

Eitan Maoz aka Swamp Thing, Catcher.

Aric Weinberg aka Cyborg, Center Field.

Aric Weinberg aka Cyborg aka the Flying Squirrel, has metal bones, capable of doubling body size for 3 seconds at a time, can actually fly, Center Field.

Orr Gottlieb aka Ogre Israeli Babe Ruth, Pitcher/Outfield/3rd base.

Orr Gottlieb aka Ogre aka Israeli Babe Ruth, Pitcher/Outfield/3rd base.

Alon Leichman aka Leroy the Giant Baby of the Sky, Right Handed Pitcher/Our Heart.

Alon Leichman, man of ultimate preparedness and honor, Right Handed Pitcher/Our Heart.

IMG_1889

Yuli Tsypin aka Yules the Laugher, man of steele, Outfield/Right Handed Pitcher.

Amit Kurz aka the Million Year Old Trumpet, 1st base/Utility.

Amit Kurz aka the Trumpet, saved our lives 74 times on the drive yesterday,1st base/Utility.

Ophir Katz aka the Good Gardener, Catcher/1st base/DH/Utility.

Ophir Katz aka the Gardener, the only one of us brave enough to sport a mohawk for the tournament, Catcher/1st base/DH/Utility.

IMG_1876

Tal Erel aka Mister T, Catcher.

Josh Weiss, failed 3 drug tests for Hairoids, Outfield.

Josh Weiss, failed 3 drug tests for Hairoids, Outfield.

David Weiss, created in a labratory to be used in future Terminator films, experiment went horribly wrong, scientists added to much sawg, and Terminator was canceled, wound up on Israel National Team, Outfield.

David Weiss, created in a labratory to be used in future Terminator films, experiment went horribly wrong, scientists added too much swag, then Terminator was canceled, wound up on Israel National Team, Outfield.

Jonathan Isaac aka Jon Jon, the only man capable of visualizing himself visualzing, Outfield.

Jonathan Isaac aka Jon Jon, the only man capable of visualizing himself visualzing, Outfield.

Dean Kremer aka Dean-O aka Kreme aka Krembo aka Dean Kremer Abdul Jabbar, Right Handed Pitcher.

Dean Kremer aka Dean-O aka Kreme aka Krembo aka Dean Kremer Abdul Jabbar, Right Handed Pitcher.

Shlomo Lipetz, the man with a Triillion Testicles... and nicknames, Shlo, Shlo Motion, Shlobot, Shlo Gun Assasin, Shlogurt, Right Handed Pitcher.

Shlomo Lipetz, the man with a Trillion nicknames… and testicles, Shlo, Shlo Motion, Shlobot, Shlom Boy, Shlo Gun Assasin, Shlogurt, Shlo Time, Right Handed Pitcher.

Dan Rothem aka the Matrix aka Neo aka the Computer, 3rd base/Right Handed Pitcher.

Dan Rothem aka the Matrix aka Neo aka the Computer, 3rd base/Right Handed Pitcher.

Simon Rosenbaum aka Young Mag Pie, Actual Human Giant, ate this child after photo was taken, 1st Base.

Simon Rosenbaum aka Young Mag Pie, Actual Human Giant, ate this child after photo was taken, 1st Base.

Oren Gal aka Goat Boy, the only man who eats 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 4 dinners, ate half his jersey in his sleep last night, woke up in a panic. 2nd Base.

Oren Gal aka Goat Boy, the only man who eats 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 4 dinners, ate half his jersey in his sleep last night, woke up in a panic, 2nd Base.

Yotam Ben Amran aka the Monk, Rookie, Right Handed Pitcher.

Yotam Ben Amran aka the Monk, Rookie, Right Handed Pitcher.

Jake Rabinowitz, the largest Black Jewish Man in the former Yugoslavia, Pitching Coach.

Jake Rabinowitz, the largest Black Jewish Man in the former Yugoslavia, Pitching Coach.

Richard Kania aka Sir Richard, Voted best unofficial official honorary Israeli of the Century, Head Coach.

Richard Kania aka Sir Richard, Voted best unofficial official honorary Israeli of the Century, Head Coach.

Suzanna aka Yentl, 1st Base Coach.

Suzanna aka Yentl, 1st Base Coach.

Tomer, Bat Boy.

Tomer, Bat Boy.

Nate Fish, King of Jewish Baseball, Short Stop.

Nate Fish, King of Jewish Baseball, Short Stop.

Next game is tomorrow, 5:30, against the hosts, Slovenia.  Check http://www.baseballeurope.com/ for gamecasts, highlights, and scores.  And search #roadtoslovenia on FB, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with the Greatest Jewish Baseball Show on Earth this week as we chase a championship.

THE WAR

24 Jul

One of our baseball players was killed in Gaza.  His name was Shon Mondshine.  He was 19 years old.  I did not know him. He played for the Tel Aviv Juniors in 2011.  This blog post is for Shon and his family.


It started like any good story starts, I did not realize it was starting, there was no announcement, no one said, “Please take your seats, and cover your heads, the war is going to begin now,” it just began.

3 Jewish boys got kidnapped and killed in the West Bank, in “the Gush”.  We have teams there, I am there often, but it didn’t feel close.  We have a proximity meter with tragedy.  When is it real?  How close do we have to be? 7,000 miles away?  Someone from the same religion?  Same country?  A family member?  A stranger?  An enemy?  Then an Arab boy got killed in Jerusalem.  Narratives form.  Things escalate.  A couple of sirens in southern Israel, and Tel Aviv, no big deal, still not close enough, it’s Israel, it happens, the Iron Dome, the rockets don’t get through, life goes on.  More rockets.  Every day.  A lot of them.  Sirens 2 or 3 times a day some places.  Taking shelter on the side of the road, at the field, in random apartment buildings, with the kids at camp.  It’s getting tiresome.  Things escalate again.  Air strikes in Gaza.  Then Israel goes into Gaza.  13 Israeli soldiers killed in one day, and 7 more the next, a total of 28 so far, and far more Gazans.  And then Shon.  My meter goes off.  A baseball player.  A kid.  In the same uniform I see the kids in every week.

Through all of this, we are trying to get ready to play.  We go out to practice, forget about it, maybe hear some booms in the distance, then, after, check our phones for updates, Red Alerts, rockets in Ashdod, on the ride home, “Yuli, What’s he saying on the radio?” 3 more soldiers killed, and everyone is quiet for a moment.  It’s not like in the States.  Everyone knows each other here, or knows someone who knew them.  It’s like everyone went to the same high school.  If you couldn’t tell from the tone of this post, there is a seriousness to things right now.  You can feel it.  This has made me more Israeli than a passport.  Stores are being burned in France.  Maccabi Haifa’s soccer team was attacked on the field during a game in Vienna yesterday.  What is happening?

For the Americans, the only thing I can compare it to is 9/11.  People don’t leave their houses, they just sit and watch news.  People are sad.  People are mad.  People are jumpy.  When a motorcycle starts, or a dumpster lid slams closed too fast, or a song with a siren in the background comes on the radio, everyone perks up. Liberals become conservatives.  Flags come out.  There are demonstrations in the street.

We leave in 3 days for Slovenia.  And the airport is closed, sort of, some flights are getting out, some are cancelled, I can’t keep up.  It feels like Michael Corleone trying to get the last flight out of Cuba on New Years Eve.

We will be fine.  Mostly, we’ll just be playing ball, like we always do.  But, every once in a while, maybe at the hotel, privately, maybe in the 3rd inning of a close game, we will think about what is going on, about the people who are fighting, and the people who are dying, and about Shon.

Shon Mondshine.  2011 Tel Aviv Comrades. 4th from the right, top row, with long hair.  RIP.

Shon Mondshine. 2011 Tel Aviv Comrades. 4th from the right, top row, with long hair. RIP.

 

 

ISRAELIS DRIVE ANYTHING

15 Jul

More sirens in Tel Aviv yesterday and today.  But all this war talk is stressing me out.  It’s time to get back to what’s important.  Israel is not all about rocket scares, bad radio, and worse sculpture, no, no, no, no, no, there is so much more, it is also home to some of the weirdest makeshift vehicles anywhere in the world. So, as is my duty as King of All Jewish Baseball, master blogger, immigrant, I will now, using only my cell phone, and the mind of a genius, of course, show you once and for all… ISRAELIS WILL DRIVE ANYTHING WITH WHEELS.

1) For starters, this Prison Wine Delivery Scooter.  Handles smooth enough to smoke a cigarette on your morning commute.

photo

 

2) The Hybrid Electric Greehouse Wheelchair Cart. Perfect for long trips. Very nice machine.

The hybrid electric greehouse wheelchair cart.  Perfect for long trips.  Very nice machine.

3) This may just look like a lawn chair with wheels, but it’s– oh, no, wait, that’s exactly what it is.

image-14) Oh the new and very safe Auto Pilot Mismatched Side Car Dog House bike.  Perfect for suicidal Mad Max enthusiasts and their pets.

image5) Ah yes, this classic 3-Wheel Fruit Cart Hearse with the little wood house in back is making a comeback in 2014.

image-2

6) Your boy locking up his Satin Interior Pope Mobile with the roll cage.  Perfect for extreme off roading and rolling through intersections slowly.

image-37) Coming through on the new Solar Powered Hovercraft with the Garbage Bag Roof Vent, doing 85 on the sidewalk with the 4 inch rims.

image-48) Oh, very nice, the new Family Edition Mini Moon Rover with safety features including no doors or windows.  image-79) Awesome.  The Peanut Oil Powered Armored Lawn Mower Tank with the mono wiper and laundy basket.

image-1010) Oh snap, the World War 1 War Hero Propeller Bike with the 7-layer dust job and the hat to match.

image-511) A very nice 3-Wheel Circus Cart with the solid black wheels.image-812) Busting a hard right onto the sidewalk in the Dung Powered Pace Car with the tupperware back seat.

image-613) Ah yes, the Original Donkey Cart with the mega phone and wooden planks for passenger safety.  Handles well in city traffic.  Perfect for running to the store, or fish mongering. photo-114) The new Garbage Machine Bike with the extra baskets.  Perfect for recyclables, and time travel.  image-915) Oh, the Reverse Only Bag Car, sitting in a parking lot full of the finest Flying Electric Baskets and Homemade Mars Rovers.  Very nice purchase.  image-1116) The new Biosphere Scooter with the welding kit in back.  C0mes with enough oxygen to keep it’s driver alive for 2 weeks on the Moon. image-1317) oh good.  Another Garbage Cart.  Perfect for moving garbage from one place to another for no reason.photo-218) The new Cardboard Box Bike you keep asking about, the one with the tiny front wheel that only turns right.  Perfect for selling eggs.image-1219) Ah yes, the Electric Horse and Buggy Apocalypse Wagon.  Perfect for walking across a continent.image-14

 


Look for #israelisdriveanything on Instagram to keep up with my search for the Ultimate Donkey Cart Garbage Tricycle…

BOOM

14 Jul

Lots of messages this week…

“What’s going on in Israel” “Are you OK?”  “Are you safe?”  “Can you still turn sticks into serpents?  I have a certain situation and could use some help with that.”

The Kingdom of Jewish Baseball is under fire!  So I now must do what All Men of Destiny and Honor do when it’s time for war — tweet, post on Facebook, and write a blog!

A rocket flies over my head.

A rocket flies over my head.


1) Tuesday, July 87:00pm

Picking Amit up for Eliora’s wedding.  Sirens. We go into the stairwell with his sister and mother and neighbors.   Amit is casual about it. ROCKETS DON’T HURT US.  So, so am I.  We leave for the wedding 10 minutes later.

First phone call from my Mom.

 2)Tuesday, July 8, 10:00pm

At the wedding.  The sirens earlier did not stop people from coming.  Everyone is here.  Alon.  Lee.  The King of Jewish Ice cream.  Jewish Jackie Robinson.  After the ceremony, in the dining room, more sirens.  Everyone is told to go to the bathrooms.  People crowd in.  There is not enough room.  Some people go outside to look at the sky.  We don’t see anything.

Facetime with Dasi to tell her I am okay.

3) Wednesday, July 9, 8:30am

3rd day of Baseball Camp.  We hear rockets being intercepted in the distance during our group meeting with the kids.

4) Thursday, July 10, 8:00am

Sirens on our way to camp.  We pull of the highway.  Me, Richard, Yuli, and Apple Juice jump the guard rail and lay down.  I don’t get the logic of laying down.  But, when the sirens go off, pick the most Israeli person in the group, and do whatever they’re doing.  THEY’RE ISRAELI.  THEY’RE TRAINED FOR THIS.  We get back in the car and proceeded to camp mostly in silence.

Mom calls, worried.  She has the Red Alert App that notifies her when there are rocket attacks. Dasi tells me the US Embassy is closing and I am living in a war zone.  They are both better informed than I am. It still feels like we’re just running a baseball camp.

 

The King of Jewish Baseball and his Army of Interns are forced to retreat and hide in the  bushes by the road.

The King of Jewish Baseball and his Army of Interns are forced to retreat and hide in the bushes by the road.

5) Friday, July 11, 10:45am

3rd inning of a scrimmage game between the Junior National Team and the Senior National team.  Sirens.  We all run in our metal cleats into a house behind the third base dugout and crowd into two safety rooms.  We hear the booms of the rockets being intercepted by the iron dome.  We resume the game 15 minutes later.

6) Friday, July 11, 6pm

Sitting at a restaurant in Jaffa.  No sirens, but see a cloud of smoke in the sky and a rocket explode in mid air.  People gather around to look.

Mom calls.  I assure her I am fine.  Things are totally normal.

7) Saturday, July 12, 9pm

Get home, open the car door, sirens.  Louder than before.   My neighbors come outside.  I ask if they want to come in.  They say it’s safer outside.  Again, I do not understand, but follow the Israelis, wavering half-in my door, half-out, while they calm their dogs down.  I go inside and sit in the shower and take a picture of myself.  Then we hear the rockets blowing up in the sky, close and loud.  Partly because I am home, and party because I amalone, I feel scared for the first time.

I call my mom.  She is calm now, losing interest.

8) Sunday July 13, 4:45pm

Drop Richard off at his hotel.  Sirens.  I put the car in park, leave it in the street, Richard, Yuli, and I run into the hotel.  Everyone goes to the basement.  The siren is loud again.  And the explosions are pretty loud.

No phone calls are made.

9) Sunday, July 13th, 8pm

Sundown at the beach. I sit on the rocks with Nam Nam and Efrat and watch rockets get shot down out of the sky.

I miss a call from my parents.  I call back.  Things have changed.  They’re cool.  No big deal. They’ve adapted. They’ve become Israeli about it.  We get used to danger quickly.


Today is Monday, July 14th, 2014. It’s been almost a week since the first sirens.  I’m sitting in the storage shed at Baptist Village– my office, sweating, typing, watching the kids practice on the field. All of the rockets have been intercepted by the Iron Dome so far.  It’s like there aren’t rockets coming at all, like a deadly asteroid flying through space you know will never hit Earth, but that may hit Earth. There is nothing to do but continue at baseball camp, and use the closest Israeli as a human barometer for how to act and feel.  More sirens could come anytime.

OPERATION SUMMER CAMP

9 Jul

I know, Ladies and Geetles, with everything in the news about Israel, you’re waiting to hear from me, King of All Jewish Baseball, sovereign leader of the most powerful baseball organization in the world, about what to do next, how to feel, and where to hide. And so I write, today, not from the giant, golden, eagle-shaped word processor I usually use to compose my symphonic blog posts, but with a pre-paid purple flip phone from under the passenger seat of my car, for there is no time to waste. 1st, I must tell you, it is all true, everything you’ve heard, everything you’ve seen, on CNN, BBC World News, and Fox, the pictures, the constant updates, yes, THIS IS THE 1st WEEK OF BASEBALL CAMP IN ISRAEL.
Every morning, 50 kids and their coaches come together at Baptist Village to play ball. We throw, we hit, we soul clap while the sound of rockets being intercepted by the Iron Dome over Tel Aviv echo in the distance. It is a bit strange, I admit, that last part, and also maybe how often we soul clap, but what is most strange is how normal things are. Mostly, this week has been about what all baseball camps are about, JAMES BROWN, and the chance to do something special, to make a great play, to hit a home run, the chance to call yourself a ballplayer. So stop worrying, MOM!– Moms, that is. We’re just playing ball.
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Above, a horrified child in a Yankee jersey practices on a slip n’ slide.

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THE ROAD TO SLOVENIA

5 Jul

What is this “World Cup” people are speaking about?  I have never heard of it.  Clearly, the world is not interested.  No, no, no.  The collective conscience of all animal life on Earth is focused solely on the significantly larger and more important world sporting event know as the EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS OF BASEBALL C POOL, where the lowest ranked teams in Europe compete to advance to next summer’s B Pool.  TV deals are in negotiation.  Stadiums are being faultily constructed even as I sit here writing, in my bathtub filled with gold and rubies, surrounded by my women dressed, barely, in velvet and brass, feeding me truffles and spellchecking.  That’s right, Ladies, Geetles, faithful addicts of the Greatest Blog of All Time, on July 27, in 3 weeks, we, the Israel National Team, the Greatest Jewish Baseball Show on Earth, leave for Lubljanja Slovenia to play against our International Baseball Counterparts in the deadly gladiatorial competition of wit and athleticism called baseball.  But the road Slovenia is not an easy one.

According to the travel documents I just received, it appears we will we fly into Prague on the 27th, sleep 4 hours in tents in the forest behind the airport, rent canoes, and head east down the first sewage canal we find.  A witch named Rudolf in a Team Israel hat will be waiting for us at the southern mouth of the canal.  He will lead us through the treacherous sewage rapids into the GULF OF POSSIBLE DEATH where we will drift and let the current take us until rescue helicopters come.  This will be considered our “rest period”.  We do, after all, have games to play.  There will be 3 stick-shift Jeeps covered in rust with drivers waiting for us at the hospital after we rehydrate with intravenous fluids and have received treatments for our open sores and various mental illnesses we developed from drinking a deadly if delicious combination of salt water and sewage.  We will do a quick head count and drive south on route 4 Million for 9 hours where we will stop to get gas, eat raw tomatoes, and throw bullpens in the parking lot of a rest stop in Transylvania.  If everything goes according to plan, the Jeeps will run out of gas by the time we reach THE WEIRD AND MAGICAL EUROPEAN CASTLE HALFWAY UP A SNOW CAPPED MOUNTAIN OVERLOOKING A LAKE OF WATER SO STILL AND PURE IT LOOKS LIKE CRYSTAL WHICH IS VERY NEAR SLOVENIA, as it’s called, when, for the final leg of our trip, we will inflate our orb balls and roll directly to the field in uniform just in time for the 1st inning of our 1st game.  According to our travel agent, it is the cheapest option…

For now, we are practicing 3 days a week and have games the other 3 days which is good because it is only 1.3 trillion degrees celsius in Israel this time of year.  I experienced a unique injury at practice the other day, both my knees melted.  Not sure about the recovery time.  We are working HARD, fueled by the power of a thousand future generations of Israel Baseball fans.  I must tell you, I have never had this much fun playing.  We have three weeks before we put on our periwinkle blue Team Israel uniforms and get the chance to call ourselves CHAMPIONS.  Despite the odds of making it to Slovenia alive, I think we can do it, we can win this thing, we can return to Israel, late, exhausted, empty airport, full hearts, hopefully with a trophy.

You’re lucky, you can join us, without having to canoe through Eastern Europe, you have me, your own personal genius.  So switch the channel from the World Cup Finals to the whatever station our games will not appear on, use your imagination, for it is stronger than your TV anyways, and join the Israel National Team on the ROAD TO SLOVENIA.

 

 

LET'S GO!

LET’S GO!

Here is our schedule… And since you are likely too lazy to click on the clearly labeled link, I rewrote it with my own two hands below.

schedule

Tuesday, July 29, vs. Finland, 1:30pm
Wednesday, July 30, vs. Slovenia, 5:30pm
Thursday, July 31, vs. Latvia, 1:30pm
Friday, August 1, Semi-Finals,
Saturday, August 2, Finals

Search #roadtoslovenia on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for all updates on the team and our trip…