Tag Archives: iab


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…




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.


3 Nov

Forget the Dominican Republic, Israel is the new hotbed for young baseball talent.  That’s right, Ladies and Geetles, the Israel Baseball Academy has officially been launched like a pumpkin violently shot from a cannon.  We’ve hand picked 11 of our finest young players, and we’re putting them to the test every week, literally, measuring their body fat, grip strength, positional velocity, blind taste test, and overall curatorial sensabilites, and reporting it all back to none other than Major League Baseball himself.   I now present to you, using only a wide angle lense, and my own squinting eye, the Inaugural Class of the Israel Baseball Academy.

Shlomo Lipman. 17 years-old.  RHP/IF. Bet Shemesh.

Shlomo Lipman. 17 years-old. RHP/IF. Bet Shemesh.

Ori Wachspress. 16 years-old. RHP/IF. Modiin.

Ori Wachspress. 16 years-old. RHP/IF. Modiin.

Noam Calisar. 17 years-old. SS. Benyamina.

Noam Calisar. 17 years-old. SS. Benyamina.

Tal Erel. 18 years-old. C. Tel Aviv.

Tal Erel. 18 years-old. C. Tel Aviv.

Ilan Klein. 19 years-old. RHP/IF. Bet Shemesh.

Ilan Klein. 19 years-old. RHP/IF. Bet Shemesh.

Assaf Lowengart. 16 years-old. RHP/IF. Timorim.

Assaf Lowengart. 16 years-old. RHP/IF. Timorim.

Avi Watson. 17 years-old. LHP/1B. Bet Shemesh.

Avi Watson. 17 years-old. LHP/1B. Bet Shemesh.

Roye Shelem. 19 years-old. OF. Tel Aviv.

Roye Shelem. 19 years-old. OF. Tel Aviv.

Yoav Moeded. 17 years-old. IF. Kibbutz Gezer.

Yoav Moeded. 17 years-old. IF. Kibbutz Gezer.

Ofer Bobrov. 15 years-old. RHP/OF. Misgav.

Ofer Bobrov. 15 years-old. RHP/OF. Misgav.

Yotam Ben Amran.  17 years-old. RHP.  Bet Nir. Missed picture day.

Yotam Ben Amran. 17 years-old. RHP. Bet Nir. Missed picture day…

It’s happening.  One practice at a time.  One squat, one pitch, one tire-flip at a time.  The Israel Baseball Academy has arrived.





1 Feb

Israel Baseball is growing like Sea Monkeys.  But with more players, teams, and games, you need more umps.  So, 3 weeks ago, we began the official Israel Association of Baseball Umpires Course.  Every Monday night, at Baptist Village, 6 of us gather, the SOON TO BE ANOINTED NEW UMPS OF THE IAB.  The course is lead by none other than, that’s right, faithful reader, you guessed it, Neon Leon Klarfeld aka The Overseer and Protector of All Jewish Safety, Wellbeing, and Barbecues aka Jewish Santa Clause aka Jewish Wizard of Oz, and also, Chief Umpire in Israel.

Neon Leon teaching us in the classroom.

Neon Leon teaches us in the classroom.

Umpires are historically in a category of humanity– nay, sub-humanity, all to themselves.  Who is willing to put up with it all? – The long games? – The abuse?  At best, an ump is invisible.  At worst he is a demon, an idiot, blind, drunk, stoned, taking bribes, favoring the home team, a clown, “horse shit”.  There is no glory.

Anyone available to officiate a youth baseball game on a Friday afternoon holds a certain station in life – broke, unshaven, recently divorced, balancing clumsily on one leg, changing into uniform in the parking lot, hiding behind the open trunk of a ’74 Impala in lose, dirty tighty-whiteys.  Limping slowly to the field, 5 minutes late, feeling around in their pockets for game balls.  What saint can handle all this?  And know the rules?

The love.  The tenderness.  The tears of the ump.

No one knows.

As a player, I have been taught systemic hatred of umps.  They only mess the game up.  Get rid of them.  Replace them with computers, anything is better than this weirdo.  But no– now I am, or will be, one of the weirdos too.  Things have changed.

You still think it’s funny, easy?  I invite you, Dearest Idiot, to see if you have what it takes to know the most, and receive the least, study the rules, and still be called a moron, to eat the shite of the world, and stand strong, stoic, arms crossed, confused, scared, facing scruffy coaches and players, in short, to be an ump.  I present to you, Ladies and Geetles, one question from one homework assignments.  Keep in mind, these scenarios are endless.  Good luck…

  1.  With a runner on first, batter hits a line drive up the middle which deflects off the pitcher’s glove, hits the field umpire and is subsequently caught by the second baseman.  R1 thinking it a catch tries to make it back to first base.  The second baseman, thinking it a catch, throws to first for the “double play”  and the ball arrives at first before either the batter or R1 get to the base.  The first baseman tags the base.  Place the runners.

Whats that? – You have no idea? – Your head hurts?  Yeah, that’s what I thought, you DO NOT have what it takes.  So allow me, King of Jewish Baseball, certified ump, to explain.

The hitter is out at 1st base.  The runner going back to 1st base is safe and remains at 1st base.  The ball hitting the ump was the equivalent to the ball hitting the ground, so it is not a catch.  The force is off once the out on the batter/baserunner is recorded at first, and the runner from 1st, R1, as he is known, is allowed to return to the base.  If the ball had just hit the pitcher, and then the 2nd baseman caught it, it would be a double play, batter-baserunner would have been out on the catch, and R1 would be out with ball arriving to 1st base before him.  But no! Because it hit the ump, no double play, runner on 1st, 1 out.

Now, get out of my face, return to your dugout, place your whole ass on a bench, and make sure next time you come out here, you know what in the hell you are talking about.  Do you hear me?  As a matter of fact, did he go, yes he did, strike three, you’re out, game over, you’re ejected, lifetime ban.

It is not easy, this ump life, the studying, the ridicule.  But we carry on anyhow.  After all, no umps, no game.  We make things official.  We are the judges, upholders and keepers of the rulebook, THE GREAT BLIND AND DRUNKEN GODS OF BASEBALL, and in the end, you will submit to our will.

An angel.

The future umps of the IAB.


10 Dec

It is that time of year again, time for the most anticipated event of the combined worldwide baseball and popular science communities.  No, dearest, imbecilic reader, it is not what you are thinking, the so called “World Series”, or the World Baseball Classic, it is not even Haley’s Comet.  It’s the Israel Association of Baseball’s Annual Hannukah Tournament.  Boom!  29 teams in 3 age divisions playing games simultaneously at 7 venues across the country.  Over 350 participants – players, coaches, umps, parents, grandparents, drivers, and fans.

An event of this magnitude, surely, was no easy administrative task, it required the considerable force of 3 of this Earth’s most powerful Jewish Baseball Geniuses, Neon Leon Klarfeld aka The Overlord of All Jewish Safety, Wellbeing, and Barbecues aka Jewish Santa Clause aka Jewish Wizard of Oz, Margo Sugarman, the Queen of Jewish Emails Pertaining to Israel Baseball and All Other Divine Communications, and, of course, me, the One, The King of All Jewish Baseball.

It began with a simple meeting over pizza with Neon Leon.  A great idea.  A Hannukah Tournament.  It happens every year like the changing of the seasons.  What could go wrong with something so natural, so perfect?  Weeks later, 40 different versions of the schedule taped the the wall at international HQ of Israel Baseball, an unsolvable puzzle, a broken man, phone calls at all hours from coaches, travel conflicts, venue changes, there’s no home plate at Baptist Village, Raanana needs baseballs, only half of Jerusalem’s uniforms were delivered, the sun is going down and Shabbat starts early this time of year, forecast says rain in Bet Shemesh, there’s only one ump scheduled for Modiin, can Dan ump, Misgav thinks their playing at 10am in Tel Mond, call them, they’re playing at noon at Gezer, I am getting a call on the other line, write up another schedule, Ginot Shomron has a Bar Mitvah in the morning, 3 of their players can’t make the early game, Rehovot and Tel Aviv have to combine to get to a total of 9 players, write up another schedule, e-mail it to me, we’ll send it out to everyone, hold on, I am getting another call, wait, which copy are we sending out?

It was like the control room at Cape Canaveral, Apollo 13, a rescue mission, Houston, we have a Hannukah Tournament, we ate dehydrated food for a week, didn’t sleep, and when we did, fitfully, awoken by a buzzing phone under our pillow, worried for our Jewish Baseball Brothers lost out in space, or on Route 431, The Hashmonaim Flames have a flat tire.

In the end, it worked, sort of.  The teams got to the fields.  Umps were there.  Pitches were thrown.  Outs were recorded.  Actual baseball games were played.  Scores were even reported.  More schedules.  Day 2.  Week 2.  Still no sleep.  A winners bracket.  A losers bracket.  We’re getting close to the end, the Spacecraft of Jewish Baseball is nearing safe re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.  Write it up and get it out.  Confirm the umps.

Then… it rained.  Even now, a week later, as I sit here, literary genius, Ulpan dropout, typing, it rains still.  And day 2 of the tournament was eventually canceled due to weather.  It was, even with the rain, the largest Hannukah Tournament in nearly 5,000 years.

I can, as you know, faithful reader, continue on like this for some time, with these words, peeling back the layers of time and thought, lingering, going deeper, to a place where there is nothing, to the center, but I will spare you the full power of my descriptiveness…ness, for now, instead electing to show you this new piece of technology, by Queen Margo, a collage slide show music video mixed media installation.  We are, after all, inside of a blog, if you have forgotten, a forum for this kind of thing.  I warn you only, before you begin, do not stand and punch something due to the rush of adrenaline you will surely receive from the song alone, at least not with your throwing hand.  Here it is…

But we did not stop there.  No, the insanity of the tournament was not enough.  So between rounds of the Hannukah Tournament, we had Israel Baseball All Star Day.  West Coast scouting supervisor from the Cincinnati Reds Rex De La Nuez came to see 20 of our best 14-18 year olds, there were skills competitions for younger players, a free barbecue, we lit the Hannukah Candles outside the 1st base dugout, and then the grande finale, the Greatest Jewish Baseball Show on Earth, the 1st ever Premier League All-Star game, under the lights, in front of the ever-growing IAB extended family.  Hundreds of friends, family, and kids in their uniforms stayed to watch 2 teams, 24 players in total, battle for the right to call themselves the best, in Israel, that night.

And then, it was over.  The phone calls stopped.  The inbox returned into a manageable flow.  The schedule stopped changing.  And I can now say, Ladies and Geetles, without further frothing and rambling, using only the power of my technicolor coat, and 2 modern day royals, we did it.  And we continue to do it.  We may have been rained out, but we will not be rained on.  Israel Baseball, lift off.