Global Baseball

One man\’s year-long journey through the world of baseball

PBS To Air IBL Opening Day

Noted purveyor of quality sports journalism PBS will be broadcasting the Israeli Professional Baseball League’s opening game on July 1, according to an official IBL press release. While the IBL’s level of play does not figure to be that strong, particularly in the league’s inaugural season, it appears the broadcast will be much more generally themed than a simple sports broadcast. In the IBL’s own words, PBS is airing the game “in recognition of the fact that the game transcends more than just the playing of a baseball game itself.

Anyone want to take a stab at what they mean by that?

Without getting too political here, I’ll say I can only hope the broadcast avoids turning into a 2 and a half hour testimonial to the need for strong bonds between the United States and Israel. Baseball gives us plenty to talk about besides the actual action on the field, and the PBS coverage of the IBL figures to be one of the more interesting sports broadcasts an American baseball fan can hope to see. It would be a shame if the broadcasters turn this opportunity into a platform for spreading zionist propaganda. At this point, though, I’m cautiously optimistic that this might be one of the best pieces of sports journalism we will see in the United States all year.

No word yet on who the commentators will be. Is it too much to hope for Charlie Rose?

May 21, 2007 Posted by | Israeli Baseball | 3 Comments

Israeli Professional League Info

4/3/2007

I’ve recently gotten some information on the workings of the Israel Baseball League, set to kick off this June. The league will feature 6 teams, with a set salary cap of $40,000 for each team. Investors are buying in with the intent of making the league profitable. Other attempts to run independently financed, non-MLB affiliated professional leagues in non-traditional baseball countries have failed miserably (e.g. the short-lived Australian Professional League). Hopefully, the league will turn a profit, that paltry salary cap will increase, and there will be another viable professional baseball league that can help spread the game around the world.

The league’s 6 teams have signed a total of 120 players, about 100 of whom are imports. Most of the players are from the United States and the Dominican Republic, where the league held tryouts last month.

As the IBL’s press release about the league’s Dominican tryouts notes, the link between Israeli and the Dominican Republic goes back a long way. Dominican dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo is remembered both as an effective leader responsible for building up the country’s infrastructure and middle class, and as a fascist bastard who ran 1-party elections for 31 years, killed dissenters (most notably the Mirabal Sisters), and ordered the massacre of 50,000 Haitian sugar cane workers in 1937. Trujillo was also one of the only world leaders in the Western Hemisphere to offer asylum to Jews fleeing Europe during World War 2. Accordingly, there is a relatively large Jewish community in the Dominican Republic, centered both in Santo Domingo and Sosua, a town founded by Jewish refugees on the northern coast. There’s also a kickass falafel and shawarma restaurant called El Rey de Falafel on Calle Padre Billini in Santo Domingo run by Israelis. Seriously. That place is awesome.

April 3, 2007 Posted by | Israeli Baseball | 3 Comments