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THE ISRAELI BOBSLED TEAM

17 Mar

Ladies and Geetles, it is I, King of All Jewish Baseball, reporting live and direct from the internet after a most righteous baseball adventure and three weeks in Asia. There were dragons. We slayed them. There were live octopuses. We ate them (some of us). And there were comparisons to the Jamaican Bobsled Team. We appreciated them.

It all started in Korea. In truth, it started in Jupiter, Florida, four years ago. If you want the whole story, the whole whole story, feel free to scroll back to the beginning, before the 2017 WBC, before the 2016 qualifier in Brooklyn, before I lived in Israel for three years, all the way back to the 2012 WBC qualifier, and witness the birth of Team Israel and the superhero idiot whose voice I now speak through. But for the sake of brevity and logic, we will begin this part of the story in South Korea, where all great stories begin, where a group of roughly 45 human beings who have devoted their lives to baseball, and more specifically, at various times, to Israel Baseball, came together with one goal, to win the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

It is safe to say, despite our common aim, not everyone believed we had a shot. ESPN wrote this article…

http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/18805572/team-israel-wbc-biggest-underdog-ever

Wait, what? Ragtag? Wannabes? 200-1 odds? We thought we were pretty good. But the world didn’t agree, it appeared. Our first game was against South Korea, the #3 ranked team in the world, in Seoul’s Gocheok Sky Dome, home of the Nexen Heroes of the KBO, Korea’s professional league, and one of the loudest baseball stadiums in the world when it gets rocking. It was a dump. Check it out…

 

We had been told it would be like playing the Seahawks in Seattle. When the Korean team did anything well, a hit, a strike even, it got so loud the air around your face would vibrate. But despite the noise, we beat Korea 2-1 in extra innings, and the headlines began to change. Here is one from the New York Times…

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/06/sports/baseball/israel-wbc-south-korea-upset.html

The next day, we played Taiwan, the 4th ranked team in the world. We won the game 15-7. We scored 4 runs in the 1st innings and never looked back. We were 2 and 0, which nearly guaranteed us a spot in the next round in Tokyo. 

We did not a have a sense of the impact we were having in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world. We were in our bubble, in meetings and practices, getting ready for the games, and thought we were just doing what we should be doing, winning. But after the games, there were hundreds of messages from friends and family and total strangers. And the headlines were out of control. Check this one on Yahoo Sports…

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/lox-to-advance-how-israels-wbc-team-engineered-the-greatest-jewish-miracle-since-the-oil-burned-for-eight-days-152318561.html

What the hell was going on? All of a sudden the whole world was paying attention to us.

We played the Netherlands next. Both teams were 2 and 0, and guaranteed to advance to Tokyo, so we were playing for 1st and 2nd place seeding and prize money. Korea and Taiwan were good. But the Netherlands team was great. They had five bonafide Major League superstars in their line-up; Simmons, Bogarts, Gregorius, Profar, and Schoop. We did not have a single player currently on a Major League roster. We won 4-2. We went 3 and 0 and won the pool. We were going to win the whole dam thing.

http://www.si.com/mlb/2017/03/09/world-baseball-classic-day-4-roundup-israel-netherlands

It was off to Tokyo to play Cuba, Japan, and the Netherlands again. Our next game was against Cuba, ON PURIM. Cuba was ranked 5th in the world. We beat them 4-1 and improved to 4 and 0.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2017/03/12/israel-beats-cuba-world-baseball-classic/99088076/

The next day we played the Netherlands again. This time, their Big Leaguers looked like Big Leaguers, and they stomped us, 12-2, setting up a game against Japan and one last chance to advance to the semi-finals in Los Angeles. Four years earlier, we lost the qualifier in Florida and didn’t make it to the main tournament. Now we were playing the two-time WBC champions and #1 ranked team in the world in their home stadium.

The Tokyo Dome was packed (see link below). Even during batting practice, the crowd ooooed and aaaahhhhed as balls sailed over the outfield fence, some hitting the back wall of the dome.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRqghAojY0R/

We were tied at 0 through 5 innings. They got the offense going in the 6th with a home run, and we couldn’t catch up. The final score was 8-3. 

Our run was over.

But the messages kept coming. People from all over the world were emailing, tweeting, thanking us however they could. To the fans, THANK YOU. The coolest part of the tournament was hearing from you and feeling your support. To all the players and staff, it was an honor. I love each and every one of you. I still don’t think we understand what just happened or what we accomplished.

The Israeli Bobsled Team for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE ROSTER

9 Feb

Ladies and Geetles, the rumors are true, I am a gay acrobat– Wait, what? – That’s not what you were talking about? – Good. Me neither. Well then, on to the next matter of business, to address your concerns, the Team Israel roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic has been announced. And now, without further ado or needless reference to extracurricular activities, I, King of Jewish Baseball, using only the power of all technology and swords, humbly present to you, Team Israel, aka the Greatest Jewish Baseball Show on Turf…

Team Israel for the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the Greatest Jewish Baseball Show on Turf.

As expected, there has been a flurry, a slurry, a swirly, if you will, of media about the team, far too much to share here with you considering your undoubtedly short span of attention, much too much, much too much. But I will share one…

http://www.jpost.com/Jerusalem-Report/A-baseball-team-like-no-other-480827

If you cannot make the trip to Seoul, South Korea with the team, which inevitably you cannot and which you will never forgive yourself for, there is still a way to be a part of the team. Using only the new and highly questionable technology known as a “video camera”, a group of “filmmakers” has decided to make a “movie” about the team. A movie is a like a photograph but the images move around and make noises. Anyhow, click the link below to find out more and then donate actual money to the crew so they can make the film and so you can feel less guilty about not being there in person.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/839615840/heading-home-a-documentary-film?ref=project_tweet

And don’t forget to keep up with all things Team Israel on social media with the tag #teamisraelwbc.

Opening night is March 6 vs. the host team Korea.

Let’s gggggggggggggggggggggooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WINTER MEETINGS

7 Dec

Ladies and Geetles, it’s that magical time of year again, the only date on the calendar recognized by every major religion on Earth, when half-rain turns to half-snow, and slush from the truck in front of you is whipped violently against your windshield, just as the natural laws of the universe intended it to be. No, it’s not Christmas, not yet, at least, not Hannukah, not Kwanzaa – That’s right, you guessed it, Major League Baseball’s winter meetings, aka THE GREAT WINTER BASEBALL CIRCUS.

This year, winter meetings were held at the Gaylord National Resort in Maryland, a gigantic convention center overlooking the Potomac River. The meetings featured baseball’s largest off-season blockbuster trades, free agent signings, a lobby full of hopeful twenty-four year-old future general managers looking to land spring internships, and the bearded woman, of course. Amongst the agents and ferris wheel operators was none other than yours truly, the one, the only, the King of All Jewish Baseball.

As sovereign leader of the Clandestine Worldwide Jewish Baseball Community, I was immediately catapulted into the upper levels of Winter Meetings, secret lunches with other world leaders, illuminating if brief appearances at press conferences, and exclusive events.

It was my first time at the meetings, so the vets – my extensive network of former teammates, scouts, and fellow brothers from Team Israel, took me under their wing, showed me the ropes, told me what to see, and what to avoid. So now, without further ado, I, King of Jewish Baseball, using only the boundless power of my mind, and a new technology called “the internet”, will show you what I saw, an insiders guide, if you will, to Major League Baseball’s 2016 Winter Meetings…

The Gaylord National Resort, home of the 2016 winter meetings.

A photograph from the lobby at winter meetings. This image represents roughly 10% of the interns.

Some of the heavy hitters from winter meetings.

A couple of studs from Team Israel.

https://www.facebook.com/worldbaseballclassic/videos/1309974819073666/

ISRAELIS DRIVE ANYTHING

3 Dec

What’s the Chottest Channukah gift of 2016? That’s easy. ISRAELIS DRIVE ANYTHING, the book. That’s right, Ladies and Geetles, using only the secret new technology called an “iPhone”, and obsessive compulsive behavior, I, the King of All Jewish Baseball, have created the world’s foremost useless collection of photos of Israelis driving… well, anything. I hunted Jazz Carriages, Donkey Carts, and Family Edition Mars Rovers through the streets of Jaffa, Israel for over three years. And now, without further ado, I humbly present THE BOOK. So go! Run! Click the link! Channukah is coming…

https://www.amazon.com/Israelis-Drive-Anything-Nate-Fish/dp/0692811885

Praise for ISRAELIS DRIVE ANYTHING…

“The funniest thing I’ve ever seen!” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Israelis Drive Anything exists at the delicate intersection of sociology and sarcasm.” -Max Weber

“What the hell is this?” – Barack Obama

“Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. We had no idea.” -The New York Times Book Review

 

ISRAELIS DRIVE ANYTHING

ISRAELIS DRIVE ANYTHING………………………… the Chottest Channukah gift!  https://www.amazon.com/Israelis-Drive-Anything-Nate-Fish/dp/0692811885

 

 

KOREA

22 Nov

We are going to Korea for the World Baseball Classic. I think Korea is near Houston, or somewhere else in Mexico. I’m not sure. I’ve never been there. But I hear it’s nice in March.

Meetings for all 16 teams took place in New York City. The most powerful witches and wizards of the baseball universe sat around the table plotting their upcoming run at global domination, glaring from behind fake eye patches, Donald Trump masks, Oculus VR helmets, and other various symbols of evil and the near future. Who will win? Who won’t? Who will raise the cup and wear the ring? Who will get lost and show up late for batting practice? These were and still are the pressing questions of the hour.

Do not let the smooth taste fool you. As the seasons change from fall to winter, from baseball season to the off-season, reps of each team slip away from meetings to begin their clandestine work, getting commitments from players and coaches. What appears to be the slow time of the year is instead time to work, re-arm, and prepare for the Great Battle of Ultimate Enlightenment known as the World Baseball Classic.

World Baseball Classic Inc. released the full tournament schedule. Guess who plays the opening game? Papa New Guinea versus Alaska. Just kidding. It’s us. Israel. And guess who we play? Korea, the hosts, wherever that is.

You can see full tournament schedule here…

http://www.worldbaseballclassic.com/news/article/208916214/

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THE HALL OF FAME

13 Oct

Ladies and Geetles of the congregation, you may be seated.

It is true, what you have heard. I, King of Jewish Baseball, after many years in exile, recently returned to Cleveland, city of my upbringing, to be inducted into the Shaker Heights High School Hall of Fame, a great institution. Think Cooperstown, but more important. Ah yes, Cleveland, C-town, the Land, great shining city on a river, that caught fire, once, a long time ago, we won’t talk about that, a city built for millions, and occupied by nearly several thousand, a city that will steal your heart, and your wallet, denying both, returning neither.

I traveled to Cleveland in a machine called an airplane they sent to ensure my safe passage. Upon entering the city, I noticed the streets were lined with stray dogs to celebrate my return. They had also boarded up all the windows of the houses to prevent any damage the ensuing party would surely cause. I was, after all, a unanimous first ballot inductee.

The Hall of Fame was nice. There were chandeliers and food. They said my name into a microphone several times, and I was permitted to speak. But, to my amazement, at the conclusion of the evening, they asked me, along with everyone else, to leave. I had my things and had begun to unpack when it was explained to me that I and my fellow inductees of the class of 5777 would not be living out the remainder of our lives together in the Hall of Fame, and that the Hall of Fame was not even a real place, and that we were in a country club that had been rented for the night. I was disappointed, to say the least. They foolishly assumed that we all had “jobs” and “homes”, and more, that we had achieved some level of stability or monetary success with our various accomplishments and contributions to humanity. But you know what they say about assumptions…. they’re almost always right.

We were a food writer, a comedian, a mathematician, a drummer, a CEO, a doctor, an activist, and a King of Jewish Baseball. We were different ages, races, and lived in different places. We had almost nothing in common besides the unavoidable truth that we had all, at one point, attended Shaker Heights High School. And now we were forever bound by the cosmos, and the committee of people in charge. We had one magical evening together, and breakfast the next day, of course, I am, after all, a gentleman.

My friends in Cleveland asked me what I am going to do now.  I looked at them with disgust. What were they going to do was the question. I’m in the Hall of Fame. I will live out my days basking in the glory of recognition, wandering the corridors of a hall that does not exist. That’s what I am going to do.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Shaker Heights High School Alumni Hall of Fame.

It was an honor and a privilege.


To hear about all of the things, check the Podcast below…

http://www.kwbaseball.com/kwb-radio-episode-39-king-jewish-baseball/http://www.kwbaseball.com/kwb-radio-episode-39-king-jewish-baseball/

 

WE DID IT!

27 Sep

We did it. We did it. We did it. We won the World Baseball Classic Qualifier. We made it right.

Four years ago, 1,462 days ago– not that anyone’s counting, on September 25th, 2012, after we lost to Spain, I wrote this…

http://kingofjewishbaseball.com/?s=the+loss&submit=Search

“Each one of us now has to deal with the loss individually and collectively.  We each will project our own sense of self-doubt onto the game.  We will each feel that our individual contribution is somehow responsible for the outcome. So what do we do?  How do we deal with being on the doorstep of history only to ultimately not be allowed inside?

Sunday night in Brooklyn, we did it. The guys did it.

Four years ago, Josh Zeid was on the mound when we lost. Sunday night in Brooklyn he was the winning pitcher. Four years ago Cody Decker, like all of us, sat in disbelief in the clubhouse after the game. Sunday night in Brooklyn, he hit an 0-2 fastball over the left field fence putting the game out of reach. Four years ago, Charlie Cutler was ejected in the 9th inning of a tie game we eventually lost. Sunday night in Brooklyn, in the 8th inning, he hit a two-run double to right field making the score 9-1 in our favor. Four years ago, I was offered a job, move to Israel, Peter said, run the baseball program, play for the national team. And I went.

Before every game, during the national anthems, I thought about the guys back in Israel, the kids and the coaches, and wondered if they were watching. So did the guys on the team. We talked about you a lot. We looked at pictures of the ratty baseballs you hit every day. We did it for you. We are sending baseballs back, and bats, and catchers gear.

The fans were great, all the guys who played in the IBL back in 2007, the guys up in the press box, it was like the Jewish Baseball Summit at the park. They’ve been waiting for this. A reporter I spoke to teared up. Skip tried to make a pre-game speech and could barely get the words out, which said everything. I paced in the coaches room in the clubhouse. Then we did it. We did it. We did it. Lavarnway hit a ball about 450 feet over the scoreboard in left field. I asked him if he ever hit a ball that good. It’s been a while, he said. It’s been a while for all of us. Four years, 1,462 days, to be exact.

And then we did it. We did it. We did it.

Team Israel for the 2016 World Baseball Classic qualifier. CHAMPS.

Team Israel for the 2016 World Baseball Classic qualifier. FUCKING CHAMPS.

AMERICA

13 Sep

I arrived to America September 11th, 2016. It was a Sunday. An American Football game played on a giant television at the airport and an even bigger American flag hung over the entrance to US customs like a blanket too thin to keep you warm. The smell of cinnamon buns and shiny little hot dogs filled the air. Eagles soared high overhead. Security guards chased the eagles with insufficiently sized butterfly-nets screaming, “How did these eagles get in here?” as the birds swooped down attacking us. Ah yes, this was really it, the America I had heard of, land of opportunity… and everything else.

Here in America they speak a language called English. I understand every word. It is amazing. Bushy tailed animals called squirrels stand on their hind legs and look at you then run up a tree. When people make eye contact, they acknowledge each others existence with a smile or a nod as opposed to simply staring blankly at one another, the traditional Middle Eastern greeting. The money is green and thick as t-shirts. Giant trees and shopping malls grow from the cool, moist earth. The streets are wide and bumpy from the changing weather. They call these “seasons”. They say it will be “autumn” soon, whatever that is.

I do not know of these things. I am but a simple man from a far-off land called Israel where I was once a King. In Israel, water does not fall from the sky. The rocks have been turned to dust, trampled by 10,000 years of conquering armies and our unforgiving sun god Ra. It will take some getting used to. For now, a nice family has taken me in. I live in a small room in their home. I am like Brooks in the film Shawshank Redemption. I must be reintroduced to society after so many years away. And likes Brooks, I must stand on my wobbly little stool and chisel my name into the rafters overhead, into the book of life– wait, Brooksy hanged himself, well then like Morgan Freeman’s character, the one who did not hang himself, but instead went out into the world to pack groceries and fulfill his dreams. That’s right, Ladies and Geetles, theKing of Jewish Baseball is back and ready to rock. Using only the power of imagination, and other new technology, we will go on this adventure together. Like the poet Big Boi used to say… “Me and you/Your mama and your cousin too.”

Team Israel reports this Thursday for the 2016 World Baseball Classic Qualifier. We’ll roll into Brooklyn early next week, a few days before the games begin. Here we go, again, like last time, but better. I am not sure how much writing I will be able to do. I may have to resort to short hand to keep you all updated, so check me and other members of the team out on anti-social media.

See you all at the ballpark.

http://www.worldbaseballclassic.com/schedule/#/qualifying-round

2016 TEAM ISRAEL

27 Aug

Ring the alarm, Tenor Saw. Sound the bells of Notre Dame, Quasimoto. Swim, Fish. Caw, Crow. Shoot through the night sky like bottle rocket, Mr. Comet. The rosters for the 2016 World Baseball Classic qualifier to be played in quaint Coney Island, Brooklyn, September 22-25, have been birthed into the universe like millions of baby seahorses. That’s right, Ladies and Geetles, the rosters of Team Israel, Brasil, Great Britain, and Pakistan can now be viewed by you and others typically not trusted with such sensitive material. Using only the power of telepathy, and your mobile device, of course, feel free to read through the list of names, peruse the data, project final scores, diagnose line-ups, discuss amongst yourselves, but whatever you do, keep me out of it. I will be busy practicing collecting elbow guards and other such weighty responsibilities of a 1st base coach. See you in Brooklyn, Fam.

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Help support Team Israel for the World Baseball Classic. Click the link below to view our team crowd funding campaign…

https://www.crowdrise.com/support-team-israel-in-the-world-baseball-classic/fundraiser/israelbaseball

AIPAC

25 Mar

Yeah thanks.

I’m back from AIPAC (African Institute of Planetary Arts Committee) in Washington DC. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this Annual Gathering of the World’s Most Powerful Jewish Wizards and Witches (photographed below), which, I must assume, is most you, I, King of Jewish Baseball, sovereign leader of the largest and only Jewish baseball organization in the world will now explain what it’s like to step into this underworld of Jewish sorcery, in Washington DC, no less, Seat of All Power and Secrets.

The conference, understandably, took place at low-key, undisclosed locations for security purposes. AIPAC rented the Washington Convention Center AND the Verizon Center, home of the Washington Wizards, the Washington Capitols, and Georgetown basketball, for three-days of presentations and speeches, hand shakes and hugs, exchanges of business cards and downward glances at name tags. Nearly 20,000 people attended. Most impressive was the diversity. The crowd ranged from Upper Class American Jews all the way to Upper Middle Class American Jews. How could a group of people with such varied lifestyles, interests, and opinions all exist peacefully in one place, you ask?

At the convention center, in the “AIPAC Village”, we had a photo booth where you could get your very own Israel Baseball card printed, BE PART OF THE TEAM. Now, Ladies and Geetles, without further hubbub and excitement, I present to you, the AIPAC All-Stars, the starting line-up from the 2016 AIPAC policy conference in Washington DC.

Batting lead-ff, from the bronx, Jerome Fish.

Leading-off, from the Bronx, Jerome Fish.

Batting 2, playing right field, Yisoel Neuby.

Batting 2nd, playing right field, Yisoel Neuby.

Batting 3rd, and playing pitcher's helper, Harvey Young.

Batting 3rd, playing pitcher’s helper, Harvey Young.

Batting Clean-Up, Dr. Babe Ruth.

Batting Clean-Up, Dr. Babe Ruth.

Hitting 5th, the Speedy, Ken Horowizt.

Hitting 5th, “Speedy”, Ken Horowitz.

The 6th hitter, playing short stop, and second base, Ilene Barr.

The 6th hitter, playing short stop, and 2nd base, Edie Barr.

Batting 7, Steamin' Willie Hochman.

7th hitter, Steamin’ Willie Hochman.

Batting 8th, in long relief, Hillel "the Scribe" Cuttler.

Batting 8th, Hillel “the Scribe” Kuttler.

Batting last, "Happy" Gilbert Achor.

Batting last, “Happy” Gilbert Achor.

And, as always, pitching today for Team Israel, Shlomo Lipetz aka Shlo J Simpson, the man with an iron right arm, and a stronger will, looking into his eyes like look into the deep abyss of an almost empty well in New England in 1894, or any other year, and seeing a baby lamb at the bottom, the Pirate, Shlo La Rock.

And, as always, pitching today for Team Israel, Shlomo Lipetz aka Shlo J Simpson, the man with an iron right arm, and a stronger will. Looking into his eyes is like looking into the deep abyss of an empty well in New England in 1894, or any other year, and seeing at the bottom a baby lamb singing in the voice of Billy Holiday.

At the stadium, a video about Baseball Le’Kulam, our co-existence program, screened Monday evening between speeches by republican candidates Ted Cruz and none other than the man himself, Halloween Head, front runner for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump, as his friends in Mexico kindly refer to him. People gasped as Trump took the stage. A boy behind me held his hand over his forehead and chirped in excitement after examining a picture of Trump he had snapped.  Trump waltzed to the stage and deliver his finest stand-up comedy routine. He was a high-school football coach at a pep rally. The crowd, some of who had threatened to leave before Trump’s speech in protest, instead responded with thunderous applause like family members and fans ready for the big game Friday night. By the end, most of the stadium was on their feet as spotlights panned over the audience revealing wide eyes, bright smiles, and nods of approval.

Vince McMan

Vince McMahon

I was mostly concerned with our presentation. Fadi and Niv, two boys from Baseball Le’Kulam, were waiting backstage to deliver their lines next to seasoned politicians. We had rehearsed the day before, but there weren’t many upon many thousands of people there. After a little confusion about where to stand, they took their rightful place at the podium. Check it out.

Boom. AIPAC 2016. Happened. In the books. Donezo. We came, we saw, we considered the options. And we raised our participation trophy high above our heads in victory!