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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…

“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.


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.


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.


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


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!




19 Oct

Want to be 8 feet tall? Want to climb the volcanoes of Mars and look out triumphantly over red skies as clouds of mercury and gasoline swirl above you like schools of dancing fairies?  Want to conquer your fear of small rodents? What’s that you say, young man – you want to come to Israel to play baseball?  Well, your time has come.

After my final college baseball game I stood on the warning track in right field and thought I would never wear a baseball uniform again. That was 13 years ago, and I am still wearing a uniform, literally, right now, sitting in metal spikes typing with my wrists taped and eye black smeared all over my face. It is a scary moment for athletes, when your career ends. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to end. Keep playing. Start coaching. Since my last college game I have played and coached all over the world, and became, as you know, dear reader, Ladies and Geetles, the King of All Jewish Baseball.

If you want to try finance, or advertising, do it, by all means. Sit at that desk, in that meeting, low ceilings, carpeted walls, bad lighting, 90 degree angles, THE HORROR. You will make more money than me, I assure you. But if you want to travel, play ball, work with kids, work outside, hit one more home run, throw one more perfect curve ball, and meet the King of Jewish Baseball, then sign up for this program…

Check check it…




18 Sep

As Rabbi Biggie Smalls used to say, “Spread love is the Brooklyn way.”

Teams and venues for the 2017 World Baseball Classic have been announced. Team Israel will compete in the qualifying round against Great Britain, Brazil, and Pakistan IN BROOKLYN. Winner advances to the 2017 WBC.

And so we come back to the beginning, the circle, the 37-second life of the silk worm, to what started all of this King of Jewish Baseballing in the first place, THE GREAT COMPETITION OF BASEBALL AND WORTHINESS, the World Baseball Classic. In Brooklyn, no less, my home– former home.  I lived in Brooklyn and went to Israel. Now I live in Israel and will go to Brooklyn.

We have exactly one year until the tournament. Another robotic rabbit to chase. Something to keep training for. We’re gonna catch it this time, rip its animatronic heart out, sink our teeth into its synthetic pelt, and devour its rubber core. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.

We just heard yesterday, with the rest of the world, when WBCInc. made the announcement. Long road ahead. Search #teamisrael2016 on all social media for updates on the squad. And, of course, keep your forehead tube securely suctioned to King of Jewish Baseball for the outsider’s inside angle, or the insider’s outside angle, or the… wait… what?

Pools and Venues for 2016 WBCQ.

Format for 2016 WBCQ.



15 Aug

Once a year, coaches and scouts from around Europe swarm like locust and gather at Major League Baseball’s Elite Camp for the top young prospects on the continent. This year, camp was in Hoofddorp, Holland, at the new Hoofddorp Pioneers complex. Dutifully, I, King of All Jewish Baseball, made an appearance.  That’s right, Ladies and Geetles, it’s true, I went to Amsterdam for camp, and to allow the Dutch people to see me in person, from my balcony, of course.

I fly home to Israel tonight and do not have much time to write, so I will let the magical new artform known as photography tell the story for me. So sit back, relax, and be transported through the lens of my iphone into to a slightly over-crowded fantasy land called Amsterdam, where the streets are liquid, the fairies fly, and the bicycles never stop.

Good morning, Dudes.

Good morning, Dudes. Time to stretch.

Steve Finley going over the finer points of base running and post WWII European economics with the guys.

Coach Finley going over the finer points of base running and post WWII European economics.

It's Dave Bush! Used to play aginst him in college when he was at Wake Forrest. Sad story. I went on to become the King of Jewish Baseball and just dissapeared into oblivion, only pitched 10 years in the Major Leagues for the Blue Jays and Brewers. Pathetic.

It’s Dave Bush! Used to play aginst him in college when he was at Wake Forrest. Sad story. I went on to become the King of Jewish Baseball and he just dissapeared into oblivion,  pitching 10 years in the Major Leagues for the Blue Jays and Brewers. Pathetic!

My Cincinnati brother, and the 2nd best short stop at camp, Barry Larkin (and Fin) talks to the guys before lunch. Practice in the mornings. Games in the afternoons. Meetings at night.

My Cincinnati brother (and the 2nd best short stop at camp) Barry Larkin, and the King of Irish Baseball, Steve Finley, talk to the guys before lunch. Practice in the morning. Games in the afternoon. Meetings at night.

This is the life for me.

This is the life for me.

Get me the hell out of that BASEBALL PRISON. I need culture. Take me to Amsterdam.

Get me the hell out of that baseball prison. I require culture, and house boats. Take me to Amsterdam.

What a dump.

What a dump.

Don't jump little dude! OK. Now you can jump.

Don’t jump little dude! OK. Now you can jump.

Take me to the people. Show me how they live.

Take me to the people. Show me how they live.

Amsterdam, Amsterdam. Man o Man. Amsterdam, Amsterdam. I'm lost in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam, Amsterdam. Man o Man. Amsterdam, Amsterdam. I’m lost in Amsterdam.



3 Aug

We came up short, again. It’s the cycle. Try, fail, try again, fail again, try again. Failure is the rule, success is the exception, in baseball, at least. Pain is the rule, health is the exception. It goes like this…

Prepare. Practice. Play.

Focus. Fixate. Fantasize.

Nothing else matters. Put everything on hold. Do it after the tournament. No calls. No emails. Stay with the guys, the team, the group. Eyes on the prize. No distractions. No pain. Ignore the hip. Nothing hurts. Play hard. Put it on the line. Don’t leave the hotel. Don’t waste energy. Rest. There’s another game tomorrow. Good vibes.

We win the first 3. Beat Belarus big. Barely beat Poland. Beat Austria big. We’re rolling. Eitan hits a walk-off slam against Poland. We can’t lose…

Then, we do lose, it goes wrong, against Lithuania, a team we should beat, every time. The nightmare. 7 errors. Day game after a night game. Try to rally. Get it together. Get the energy up. Can’t do it.  These tournaments are not normal. Everyone wants to win. We’re playing for our countries. Every game is game 7. The night before, the Austrian fans were still in the stands going crazy after 3 hours in the rain in the 9th inning with their team losing 10-1, cheering, drinking, singing. It’s intense.

We lose again the next day to Sweden, barely. Dean starts the game. Deano. Best pitcher there. I like our chances. It’s a good game. Back and Forth. We’re winning 5-4 in the top of the 9th. Dean throws 140 pitches. Go to Shlo. Definitely Shlo. Big Shlo. The Magic man. Shlo already has 2 wins in the tournament including a complete game 2 days earlier against Austria. But Sweden scores 5 runs in the 9th, 9-5, them. Shit.

We can still do it. One guy at a time.

We score 3 runs to make it 8-9. Single, single, single, passed ball, single, passed ball, single. They’re nervous. Simon is on 1st, the tying run. I am up, the winning run. 2 outs. I can hit one out to win it, hit one in the gap to score Simon from 1st, or at least get on base and keep the rally alive. It’s perfect. I am the one, the King of Jewish Baseball, the captain, couldn’t script it better. I want to be up there, and I think the guys want me to be up there too. I feel good, already have 2 hits in the game. Ball 1. Ball 2. Take a strike. Strike 1. 2 and 1, perfect, fastball count, my pitch, see it, hit it. Ground ball to short, shit, in the hole, at least, maybe it will get through. But he makes the play. That’s it. It’s over.

The guys. Damn.

Let go. Let the pain set in. Be tired. See how bad the hip is. It’s bad. Don’t fight it anymore. Get a drink. Stay up all night. Get sick. Fly home. Go back to work. Life. Reality. Tell everyone you lost, 3rd place out of 6. They tell you it’s OK with a hint of pity.  It is not. Think about the games. Write a blog post. The 2-1 fastball. How did that happen? How did I not hit it out of the park, or in a gap somewhere, at least? Was Sweden the better team?

If we played badly, it would be easier to understand. But we didn’t. We were good. We averaged 8 runs a game. Our pitchers did a good job. The top 5 hitters in our line-up all hit over .400 with on base percentages over .600. Our 3, 4 hitters had 20 RBIs in 5 games. Our pitchers had the lowest ERA in the tournament. Austria and Sweden were good, but we were just as good, maybe better.

Usually writing about it makes it feel better. Not this time. The hip hurts. Maybe we just need time. Next European Championship is in 2 years. I’ll be 37. Damn. The cycle. The disappointment. The hope. We did good. People know us now. They know we’re good. We were close. We can do it. The young guys can do it. It’ll be their turn next time.


Brothers. The 2015 Israel National Team. I love you guys.


25 Jul

What do Bill Withers, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Gil Scott Heron, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, and Marvin Gaye all have in common?  Quite a lot, actually.

The Israel National Team, aka the Greatest Jewish Baseball Show on Earth, is coming to a town near you, if you live in Austria, that is.  Meet the team…

That’s right, Ladies and Geetles, the planets are aligned, the birds and dogs have taken refuge high on the mountain top in anticipation, it’s finally time for the inter-dimensional natural phenomenon known as the European Championships of Baseball.  We leave tonight, traveling by a raft of Diet Coke bottles, lead only by the light of the North Star and our own wits, and a GPS, of course, the hope of victory gleaming in our eyes like the flickering ambers of an ancient fire rising to heaven.

Monday – Belarus

Tuesday – Poland

Wednesday – Austria

Thursday – Lithuania

Friday – Sweden

Saturday, top two teams play for the ‘chip.  Winner moves up to the A-Pool.

Follow all the games here… And search #roadtovienna on all social media.

Let’s go to Vienna. The revolution will be live.



9 Jul

Greece is melting, so we thought it would be a good time to go there.  That’s right, Ladies and Geetles, just last week, the same week, in fact, that the country defaulted on its loans t0 the European Union, the Israel Under 21 National Team won the Acropolis Cup in Athens with a perfect record of 6 and 0.  Only 3 teams attended.  Team Israel, Team Australia (made up completely of players from Germany), and the Alimos Lions, the local club team and our hosts. We duked it out for SUPREME INTERGALACTIC CONTROL of the Under-21 Baseball Universe as economies collapsed like sundowns in the background, and in the end, Team Israel stood alone.

2015 Israel U21 National Team. Acropolis Cup champs.

2015 Israel U21 National Team. Acropolis Cup champs.

Originally, there were supposed to be 8 teams, 2 divisions, sponsors, groupies, mascot races, an event worthy of its own name.  Then, 6 weeks before the tournament, the Greek Baseball Federation dissolved and combined with the gymnastics federation.  That is not a joke.  And only 3 of us were crazy enough to continue on, head first, into the economic and baseball wasteland known as Greece.  There were 2 ways to look at the tournament, and maybe at the country, as an amazing failure because it was not as big or as good as we hoped, or as an amazing success because the fact that it even existed was a small miracle.

The games were played at one of the old practice fields from the 2004 Athens Olympics that has not been touched in 11 years, a modern ruin, a recent relic, frozen in time like the Acropolis itself, without the crowd, grass growing over the dugouts and around turtle screens left on the field.  There was no running water or electricity at the stadium.  There were buckets of water in the clubhouse to rinse the toilets with and Spyros, who you will meet shortly, bought a generator and a wireless microphone so we could have walk-up songs and to announce the starting line-ups before slipping down his mask to umpire the games.

A practice field from the 2004 Olympics.

A practice field from the 2004 Olympics.

International baseball is carried on the shoulders of individuals who, for whatever reason, make superhuman efforts to play the game, in Greece, in Moldova, in Israel. With no baseball federation and no support, one man made the tournament happen, our friend Spyros, the announcer and ump, founder and head coach of the Alimos Lions, tournament organizer and janitor who spent his precious euros on bus rides and water bottles for us, despite everything, held a barbeque for the teams at the stadium, traditional Greek food called Souvlaki, traditional Greek dance also called Souvlaki, if I remember correctly, shooting fireworks off in center field, lighting the dark Greek sky for a moment.



But the crisis in Greece hasn’t hit anyone, not the banks, not even Spyros, as hard as it’s hit the non-human community.  That’s right, Ladies and Geetles, I, King of Jewish Baseball, sadly report, there seem to be abandoned, depressed, bear-sized dogs all over Athens, and by “seem to be”, I mean that there are definitely without a doubt gigantic dogs laying around the streets of the capitol, panting, people stepping over them, hardly noticing they’re there.  So, as is my habit, using the new technology known as a camera, I sprung into action and started photographing these pets turned punks. Apparently, in Greece, when faced with tough times, kick your dog out of the house, first thing, then, once that ungrateful beast is gone, try to figure out how to find gainful employment and rebuild the country.  Meet them, the Bear Dogs of Athens.

Hey Buddies. What you doin' out here?

Hey Buddies. What you doin’ out here?


Hey. What's going on? Why are there so many dogs around here?

Hey. What’s going on? Why are there so many dogs around here?


No really, what's going on? Why are there so many dogs.

No really, what’s going on? Why are there so many dogs.


Not cool.

OK. This is not cool. What the hell is going on?


Is anyone else seeing this?

Is anyone else seeing this?


Don't worry about me, Guys. I'm fine.

Don’t worry about me, Guys. I’m fine.


Help me!

Help me!


I blame this dog for everything.

I blame this dog for everything.


The last dog in Greece with the courage to stand on his own four paws.

The last dog in Greece with the courage to stand on his own four paws. The Spyros of the dog world.


A happy dog. Thank god.

A happy dog. Thank god.

And now, after a strange week in Greece, we’re back in Israel, working summer camp every day, and preparing for the B-Pool European Championships, July 27-August 3 in Vienna, Austria. That’s right, Israel Baseball fans, it’s almost time for the Greatest Jewish Baseball Show on Earth, the Israel Senior National Team, to pack our bags and hit the roads of Europe, again, this time for our biggest, baddest tournament yet, winner moves up to the A-Pool next year.  So get your blue and white face paint and your games face on and check #roadtovienna on all social media to follow the team on our journey.