Tag Archives: #israelbaseball

GREECE

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.

Spyros.

Spyros.

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.

SPEEDBALL

9 Oct

In the past, the word “speedball” was used to describe the deadly combination of cocaine and heroin. From this day foreword, I declare, it will be used to describe something far more dangerous.

As you know, Dear Reader, as King of Jewish Baseball aka Spirit Bro aka Jewish Cal Ripken, I spend much time defending baseball to people who know nothing about the game, or anything else for that matter.  These people are often referred to in the medical community at “Israelis”. Major League Baseball is a $6 billion a year industry, players are paid more than any other athletes in the world, but, alas, you can find me any given Tuesday morning, or Wednesday afternoon, desperately trying to convince a group of 7 year-olds and a half-sleeping elderly security guard that baseball is a real thing, a valid game, an actual sport human beings play and enjoy.  It’s not just Israel, Americans are also making obvious, elementary, critical observations of the game.  It is slow.  It is boring.  The players are fat.

What can we do?  A pitch clock? Nope.  Don’t let hitters step out of the box between pitches?  Nah.  Build a high-speed roller derby track from the bullpen to the mound?  Maybe.  But none of those things will really speed-up the game.  We need change, real change.  We need a revolution.  So I came up with a creative solution, as is my habit. That is how it works, you see, the mind of a genius, if you were wondering, and the universe.  After an embarrassingly slow 2014 Premier League season here in Israel, while watching a 6-and-a-half hour, 18-inning playoff game between the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants, I invented a faster game that will supplant the game formerly known as “Baseball”, probably within hours.  A plan to kill and save baseball simultaneously. IT IS CALLED SPEEDBALL.  Here is how it works…

RULES OF THE GREAT AND SUPREME GAME KNOWN AS SPEEDBALL

5 on 5

3 inning games

All fastballs

No bunts

No leads

No steals

No pitching changes

Besides that, the rules are the same.  There are still walks and strikeouts.  3 outs, and switch sides.  The team with the most runs after 3 innings wins. Think of it as baseball for dumb people.

But how, you ask, um, Sir, Mister King of Jewish Baseball, could this possibly work?  To which I say, I expected you to ask a stupid question like that because you lack imagination and fear change and the rapid advancement of mankind.
It is a simple game.  It is about throwing hard, hitting hard, and running hard.  Games take an hour. Start your closer.  Fewer arm injuries.  More hitting.  Give the people what they want.  Or perish.  I would post a video of Speedball, BUT IT DOES NOT EXIST, yet.

Welcome to Speedball. Welcome to the future.

YUNG JOC

4 Sep

Before we begin, dear reader, I must warn you, if you are having a hard day, this is a sad story.  As you may have heard, Joc Pederson was recently called up from the Minor Leagues to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  I know Joc, and, well, this is hard, how can I, it’s just, as the King of All Jewish Baseball, Protector of All That is Holy on Earth, I feel it is my responsibility to tell you the truth about him.

Joc Pederson.  Team Israel.

Joc Pederson. Team Israel.

I met Joc in the hospitalty room at the hotel, a room full of snacks, and drinks he was too young to have.  He was only 20, an exciting young prospect.  Now, just look at him, disgusting, WASHED UP, 22 years-old, at the end of his career.  It’s sad, really, to see him hobbling around out there like that.  He could have been good.  But we’ll never know.  HE IS TOO OLD.

Way back then, back in the day, in 2012, he was strong, and fast. “Who is this kid?”  So much talent.  So much skill.

How did he fall so far, so fast?

It happens all the time.  You know the story.  Money, women, leading the league in home runs, drugs, 30/30, paranoia, Rookie of the Year, a secret obsession with cookies and cream ice-cream, MVP.  And boom, look what happens, next thing you know, STARTING IN CENTER FIELD FOR THE DODGERS AT 22. So sad.  But that’s just how it goes, I guess.  He lost himself.  Can you imagine the shame?

Yes, Ladies and Geetles, the truth about Joc Pederson is, I must confess, once and for all, that… he is a good kid, and a great baseball player. Yes, a kid, still. Or maybe he is a good baseball player, and a great kid. Or maybe a good baseball player, and a great taxidermist. It remains to be seen.

I have a picture of me and Joc in the clubhouse in only our jock straps and some catchers gear. As a PROFESSIONAL BLOGGER, I would like to share it.  But I will not, because, well, I am the King of Jewish Baseball, and he is a MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER, and you are neither of these things and as such do not deserve to see an object of such sick beauty.  He has a reputation as a SOCIOPATH DRUG ADDICT to protect. And I would not want to do anything to harm him.

YUNG JOC, we’re in Israel in Dodger Blue hollering your name!

images-1

 “DON’T BE SCARED TO BE GOOD…”

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

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

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…

 

BAPTIST VILLAGE

17 May

Mazel Tov!  You’re reading the the 100th post on KING OF JEWISH BASEBALL, the greatest blog of all time, the blog responsible for ending all racism and all hunger.  In 2 years, I, King of All Jewish Baseball, literary genius, baseball deity, have composed 100 of the finest blog posts on this, or any other, Earth, using only the combined resources of the scientific community, including all human knowledge and technology, dinosaur magic, and the internet, of course.

It is only appropriate that for this monumentous occasion, this centennial, that I share one of the great secrets of Israel Baseball with you.  If you recall, faithful reader, which I am almost sure you do, I have mentioned, many times, “Baptist Village”.  But what, you have wondered, laying sleepless, reading by the light of your cell phone in bed, is a Baptist Village? – And what does it have to do with baseball? – In Israel? – Is it like an Ewok Village, but instead of Ewoks, there are Southern Baptists living in trees, communicating with a series of unintelligible chirps and gutteral clicks, walking from tree house to tree house on rope ladders?  Well, yes, that is exactly what it is like, except far, far stranger.

photo 3

Welcome to Baptist Village. The Baptists are high in the treetops. SSSSHHHH.

Baptist Village is located in Petach Tikvah, 25 minutes from Tel Aviv, near the internationally-known Green Line.  As you pull off the highway to the Village, in the background are the dotted, dry hills of West Bank.  In the Village are a few fields of crops, a train runs along the boundary of the property, and, of course, inside the inner fence, deep into the village, through a winding path that goes around the crops, there is one softball field, and one baseball field, at  night, the lights glowing like a spaceship.  Around the softball and baseball fields are small white cotttages with red roofs, modest 1 or 2 story buildings.  For years, Baptist people from America and from around the world have come to visit Israel and stay at the Village.  But, why, exactly, did a group of Baptists build a baseball field in Israel, a place where, by appearances, no one played baseball?  To answer your question as consicely and vigorously as possible, I DON’T KNOW.  It defies logic.  But no one here thinks it’s strange.  Like anything strong enough to simply exist, it seems normal.  But, that answer is not enough for an immigrant like me, so, as is my habit, I investigated.

There is a plaque behind the softball field with some of the history of Baptist Village.  It says the Village has been there since 1955.  It used to be an orphanage.  That is where the cottages come from.  For decades, the village was just open space, fields for farming, or nothing at all.  It wasn’t an orphanage anymore, and not a baseball facility yet.  In 2002, after the 2nd intifada, saftey fences went up around the Village, fences to protect, well, nothing.  But the Baptists had to do something with the land.  Let’s say you’re the Baptist Church, in Tenessee, or Kentucky, and you have this land in Israel, you have to do something with the land, but not something too disruptive, this is, after all, a quiet place, a place for people to stay for a couple weeks when they’re visiting the Holy Land.  You want to build something, but something no one will really use.  So you build a baseball field, a nice one, even, lights and all.

At the time the Baptists built the field, I don’t think they knew if anyone played baseball here.  But Peter, or Haim, or someone, heard about it, and went to see what was happening.  And it has been headquarters for the Israel Association of Baseball.

All Premier League and many Junior League games are played at the Village.  All 5 of our national teams practice there.  Our umpire training course takes place there.  We have a “clubhouse” there, one of the old orphanage cottages turned part storage, part Israel Baseball Museum, with memorabiliah from Maccabi Games past, and jerseys hanging on the walls.  We store our uniforms there, and much of our equipment.  There is no alcohol allowed on the premise.  We are asked to not swear, and, if we must, to be discreet when we change into or out of uniform by the dugouts. We use the field at Baptist Village 5 days a week.  On my phone, on my GPS, I have the location listed as “work”, it is my office, our office.  It is still the only legitimate full-sized baseball field in the country.

And so we have a partnership that was never intended to be, the Baptist Church and the Israel Association of Baseball, living in perfect harmony, taking batting practice a few kilometers from the West Bank, almost in range of a long foul ball.

On this historical 1ooth blog post, the King of Jewish Baseball would like to thank the Baptist Churh for building a baseball field where no one needed one, for whatever reason.  We’re making good use of it.

Amen.

The field at Baptist Village. Petch Tikvah, Israel.

The field at Baptist Village. Petach Tikvah, Israel.

PASSOVER

28 Apr

Yes! Ladies and Geetles, it is I, again, King of All Jewish Baseball, Literary Genius, Master Blogger, Professional Exaggerator, the Most Important Artist/Dancer of the 21st Century, #1 Ranked Funk DJ in the Middle East, Leader of the Most Powerful Clandestine Baseball Organization in the World, and, of course, my greatest accomplishment, Real-Life Baseball Player, with more news from the front lines of Israel Baseball.

It is hard, as I am sure you know, faithful reader, for an Oleh Chadash, an immigrant, like myself, to keep track of all the holidays here in Israel.  Even today is a holiday, Holocaust Remembrance Day, where, at precisely 10am, less than 2 hours ago, sirens sounded around the country and everyone, everywhere, whether driving a car or singing Janet Jackson’s entire song catalogue in alphabetic order atop a horse, stopped what they were doing and stood in complete silence, arms at their sides, for 2 minutes, a nation famously fragmented, in silent unison, for 2 minutes, at least.  And next week, too, a holiday, two holidays, actually, Memorial Day, then Independence day.  The saddest day, and the happiest, right next to each other, a funeral then a wedding, an emotional roller coaster of a calendar dictated by the cycles of the moon, and of history.

And last week, of course, a big one, Passover.  We celebrated, as Jews do, by punishing ourselves, no bread, starvation sated only by the occasional sip of salt-water, or a nibble of bitter herbs, 40 years of suffering played-out around the table nearly in real-time.  But, this year, a new tradition, for no holiday, from this day forward, should not also have a corresponding baseball activity in Israel.  Using only the power of the internet, a lifetime of carefully crafted knowledge, and the Angel of Death, of course, we smeared lamb’s blood on our faces, jumped in the car, parted the sea, and headed out into the wilderness, the desert, the unknown, for our Passover Break Baseball Games.

Baseball is funny, sometimes it rewards mistakes– a blooper can be a single, and a line drive can be an out, so we devised a new game, a game to eliminate chance.  Here are the rules…  7 on 7, 3 innings, fastballs only, 5 minutes innings, all Jews– Finally, a game of ultimate fairness!

We played “instructional games”.  Each inning started with a different set of circumstances, and the kids had to do different things according to the situation. And between each inning, bonus rounds.  Instead of runs, they got points.  If they executed, point, if they did not, merciless torture.  Pay attention, baseball coaches.  The kids loved it.  They came out of their homes and their floating wicker baskets, nearly 200 in total attended 4 days of baseball at 4 different locations.

Kids at Kraft Field in Jerusalem during Passover.

Kids at Kraft Field in Jerusalem during Passover.

While we were busy working on sac bunts, and praying for mana, our Junior National Team was in Prague playing in the 2014 Pony Baseball Tournament against their 16-year old counterparts from around Europe.  The team finished in 2nd place, losing in the finals to the host team, the Czech Academy.

The 2014 Israel Junior National Team.

The 2014 Israel Junior National Team before a game in Prague.

http://www.haaretz.com/life/sports/.premium-1.587304

Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.  The holidays, and the Israel Association of Baseball, just keep coming, around the clock, non-stop.

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http://9inningknowitall.com/2014/04/22/clubhouse-chatter-special-guest-nate-fish/