Tag Archives: mlb

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/

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/

img_2895

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.

14051733_1112160702211360_2324114271090394479_n

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

AMSTERDAM

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.

 

ISRAEL BASEBALL ACADEMY

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.

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Sports/First-Israel-baseball-academy-could-be-a-real-game-changer-380221

image

 

MLB CAMP

10 Aug

A week in Slovenia was not enough to satisfy my craving for baseball and adventure and separation anxiety, so I drove to Italy for Major League Baseball’s European Elite Camp.  How did I receive an invitation to such a prestigious event, you ask? Well, because, hmmmm, how can I put this… I AM THE KING OF JEWISH BASEBALL!!!

Major League Baseball.  Finally...

Major League Baseball. Finally…

I had to relearn how to drive a stick shift in a thunderstorm in the Alps.  But I got to the facility without careening 7,000 feet down the side of a mountain.  Every time I get to where I am supposed to be, I am shocked.  When I’m on a train, I am sure it’s the wrong one.  Why doesn’t anyone else look concerned?  What is wrong with me?  Who are these people who do not worry needlessly?  They must not be Jewish.

When I am driving, I am sure I just took a wrong turn, or will.  I do not understand the miracles of technology required to move through the physical world from point A to point B.  It is too complicated.  Right now, I am sitting safely in a flying machine many thousands of feet above the ground looking down at clouds traveling so fast that if it were not for the thin sheet of metal between the air inside the plane and the air outside, my face would be ripped off.  How, exactly, is one supposed to comprehend these things?  I must admit, it is also because– something I am ultimately proud of and embarrassed by, despite traveling the world, I HAVE NEVER PURCHASED A PLANE TICKET, wouldn’t even know where to start.

The thing about being a SUPERSTAR ATHLETE, or a King of Jewish Baseball, or Janet Jackson, is this… you don’t have to do anything for yourself, people do it for you.  It is most fantastic and crippling.  It’s better this way, I tell myself. I am not a travel agent, no, no, no, my mind cannot be cluttered with unimportant details of travel documents and credit card numbers, my ideas are too valuable, I need time and space to invent apps that will never be developed and come up with art projects that will never happen, and to write, of course.

Camp was at the Olympic Training Facility in Tirrenia, Italy.  The top 40 players in Europe under 18 were invited. When I arrived, Dan told me I would be rooming with Mr. Collins from Holland.  Great, I thought, an old guy. What kind of first name is “Mr.”?  Vic Collins aka Dutch Mo Vaughn aka the Snoring Machine arrived at 11:30 that night and turned the lights on.  It was the beginning of a week of friendship and no sleep.

In the mornings, we would eat and get out to the field for a 9am start.  The kids were from Holland, Italy, Germany, Czech, Croatia, France, and the UK.  Major League Baseball sent Head Coach John McLaren (coach/scout, currenty with the Oakland A’s), Infield Coach Barry Larkin (Hall of Fame Short Stop, Cincinnati Reds), Hitting Coach Steve Finley (All-Star Outfielder, journeyman), Base Running Specialist Fernando Perez (Center Field, 2008 World Series Rays), Pitching Coach Greg Swindell (Lefty), and Mike Larson (MLB scouting bureau).  Meet them…

Me and another coach from camp.  Said his name was "Barry Larkin".

Me and another coach from camp. Said his name was “Barry Larkin”.

Guy in the back (Steve Finley) photo bombed me.  Did not know he was there.

Guy in the back (Steve Finley) photo bombed me. Did not know he was there.

Look like a ballplayer one time, Perez!

Do me a favor, look like a ballplayer one time, Perez!

Not sure who this is or how he got into camp.  Told security he pitched for 14 years in the Major League.  AND IT WORKED.

Not sure who this is or how he got into camp (Greg Swindell). Told security he pitched for 14 years in the Major Leagues. AND IT WORKED.

Big Vic Collins aka Dutch Mo Vaughn aka the Snoring Machine.

Big Vic Collins aka Dutch Mo Vaughn aka the Snoring Machine.

Schedule was like spring training.  Practice in the morning, ground balls, team defense, BP.  Break for lunch at 12.  Back for games at 1.   We worked and worked and worked.  The kids were all in pain.  But a little pain never hurt anyone.  THIS IS WHAT IT TAKES, KID.  No one said it was gonna be easy.

At night, we had meetings, listening to European scientists who have never been on a baseball field speak about learning modalities and skill aquisition.  And then I listened to Vic snore.  He snored like it was a mating ritual.  He snored so loud I felt bad for the air.  He snored when he was awake.  He snored on the inhale and the exhale.  It sounds like he was eating and screaming and choking and speaking in tongues. I would lay there, horrified, until I could take no more, then I would snap my fingers, or punch him in the face as hard as I could, but he was unfazed.  He would take a short break, allowing the air to back into the room, and I would try to fall asleep quickly. Then the sun would come up, and we’d go back to the field.

Every once in a while I get a week in the Big Leagues.  It’s more than most.  But not enough.  I’ll get there one day.  46 years old.  Pinch hit appearance.  BP pitcher.  Mascot.  I changed my name to Rufio Rufio and told the scouts I am 14.  Getting some interest from the Blue Jays and the Royals.  We’ll see what happens.

We start camp tomorrow, in 5 hours, actually, at Kibbutz Gezer.  I am going from a baseball field in Slovenia to a baseball field in Italy to a baseball facility in Israel.  The King of Jewish Baseball.  Home is on the ballfield.

Class of 2014, MLB Europe Elite Camp.

Class of 2014, MLB European Elite Camp.