Saturday, June 23, 2007


Wow. The past week and a half have been a total whirlwind of events, but I am happy to say I'm here in the holy land and ready finally to play in the first ever professional baseball game in Israel. That sentence has a pretty cool sound to it, don't you think? Here is a another one I never thought I would say: I got on the airplane, and asked for one of the hebrew newspapers to see if there were any write-ups on us that day.

I checked a sports section about myself. wow.

I landed this past Thursday, and we hit the ground running, literally getting my uniform as I walked to the campus where we are all staying. We had a quick photo-session (which you cant blame me for how silly I look; I just got off a day of flying and not sleeping) and got to hang out as a team. Friday morning we hit the field, and let me tell you, our boys at PT can really play. Getting back on the field and hitting some balls felt really good, and now its just catching up on sleep and getting the body ready for opening night. We are in the middle of a heat wave, and the temphit around 105 today, so drinking constantly is a must! I had the real pleasure of staying by my psuedo family this past shabbat, the Solomonts, in a small town outside of Modi'in. The entire community welcomed me with open arms. It was amazing to go to synagogue and have people pointing and whispering at me the entire time. And after about five checks, I was sure my zipper was up, and that it must be about baseball. One of the interactions went like this. (I am walking by a little kid on the swingset outside the synagogue. The kidwhispers to his friend) "Hey, you are the baseball player!... what team do you play for?"

"I play for Petach Tikvah."
"You are gonna lose to Modiin!"

I guess its the price you pay for going to enemy territory for the weekend. Another person in the synagogue is coming to the game on Sunday night, and is a diehard yankee fan, as well as living in the Modi'in area; you can imagine how the conversation ended up going. (Me asserting that PT is going to win, and that the Sox are 10.5 games up).The even had a kiddush celebration/reception after services partially in my honor, and hearing how excited the community was for some baseball was an absolute thrill. One friend who moved here said he has been waiting years for this.

So for all of you in Israel, come down, tune in, and enjoy the first ever professional game! and for those back in the US, check out your local PBS listings for July 1 to see the game broadcast nationally!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Post Draft Thoughts

"With the 60th pick of the draft, Modiin selects Sandy Koufax."

This sentence was picked up by the AP, ESPN and countless news outlets all over the world. People argued on "Pardon the Interruption" (PTI, an ESPN analysis show) whether Sandy could still dominate in the majors. All this buzz was amazing for the IBL, seeing our league's name on the top news and sports syndicates around the world. But the sentence before was slightly more important to me.

You see, I was selected 59th by Petach Tikvah.

Hearing my name called out over the loudspeaker to a crowd of 300, including many of other players, and all the fans watching on the internet was a real thrill. Being analyzed by Dan Duquette and Jeremy Schaap was also really surreal. But now I have something extra! I am the answer to a trivia question! Move over Sam Bowie (the person selected before Michael Jordan). Its my house now. "Name the player selected before Sandy Koufax in the inaugural IBL draft." Can't you see that as a question 'for the wedge?' a daily double?

Seriously for a moment, the draft was a really special day in my life. I got a chance to be on the panel along with Dan Rootenberg, now of Netanya, and Nate Fish of Tel Aviv, and we just spoke about our excitement of the league, and our baseball backgrounds. We fielded questions from the audience, and got to represent the other players at the draft. You can actually see the draft and the panel discussion in its entirety here. Being selected by Petach Tikvah, I quickly tried to find my friends.... and my enemies in the audience. Josh Epstein, our first pitcher chosen, was actually hanging out with me the entire night, so im really happy we are together on the same team. Aaron Rosdal, who also has been blogging is a Pioneer, along with Adam Goldman. There are so many others, but those were the ones at the draft that night.

All in all, it was a crazy night, and it meant the real beginning to the forming of our team, and the beginning of the last minute training. I’ve been working really hard most days, and taking lots of Advil! but in about two weeks we will be playing in a packed stadium in front of Israelis, Americans, and anyone else who finds their way to the Baptist Village, or to the internet to see the first ever baseball game in Israel. I hope you are watching!