SERBIA

21 Aug

There was only one thing left to do… go to Serbia… for a baseball tournament. No, no, no, not Syria, not Siberia, SERBIA, in Europe, near Italy, kind of, I think. That’s right, Ladies and Geetles, it was time for the King of All Jewish Baseball aka Jewish Iron Man aka Jewish Jeter aka Jewish Juan Uribe, to strap on the stirrups and metal chest plate one more time, my 5,777th consecutive and final season… one… more… time.

The event was the B-Pool of the European Championships. There were 6 teams; Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Switzerland, Serbia, and us, Israel. The first 5 days of the tournament, Monday through Friday, each team played a single game. On Saturday, the 2 teams with the best records would meet in the final. The winner of the tournament would move up to the A-pool with a chance, be it a slim one, of eventually earning a spot in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, and would, how could I forget, receive a treasure map and a trip to the White House, if I understood correctly.

The atmosphere at the games was– how can I put this, ELECTRIC. If my math is correct, nearly three people attended, which is a lot. Each day, a few local vagrants would emerge from the bushes of the par three golf course in the public park where the fierce competition was held to watch a few innings, a look of admiration and confusion on their drunken faces. What was this game? – And why were these men playing it?

A drunk, naked, probably homeless man judges me as I try to play the game of baseball.

A couple golfers enjoy my pain.

Good thing I am trying so hard while one of our opponents checks his text messages.

A worthy opponent watches an old man hit.

On the 6th day, as promised, there were just two teams left, us and Austria. In the end, Austria won. And they deserved it. They had lost in the B-Pool finals twice before, and they were better, and younger. Our catcher, Eitan pulled his oblique in the first day. Aric appeared to die in slow motion laying out for a ball in center field. Shlo had somehow fused his body together for the tournament and pitched well, but we were old and hurting. I was mostly happy just to walk off the field under my own power with only a pulled right hamstring and some mysterious elbow pain. Not bad, I thought.

And on the 7th day, we rested. We packed our things and limped to the airport in Belgrade and flew to our respective homes like nothing every happened, though that’s not true. So much happened.

Much love to all the coaches and my teammates on the 2017 Israel National Team. We made it out alive!

 

 

 

 

 

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