While the Red Sox put a quick and definitive end to 2007 for Major League Baseball, aftershocks from the premiere season of the Israel Baseball League continue to rumble, with the latest rumblings regarding the big announcement last week that two IBL standouts have been signed by the New York Yankees.
People who know a lot more about baseball than we do are grousing that the signings of Eladio Rodriguez and Jason Rees are just a stunt to generate some positive publicity and attract investors to a league whose first season's foibles were laid out in a controversial and now legendary article by Our Man Elli in Israel, that was first published here.
Even disinterested wags with no bones to pick are scratching their heads. Fantasy league center RotoWorld reports that Modi’in Miracle catcher Eladio Rodriguez and Aussie Jason Rees of the pennant-winning Bet Shemesh Blue Sox were signed “to minor league contracts… They were playing against competition that might have equated to Rookie ball in the U.S., and it's highly unlikely that either player will ever see time in the majors with the Yankees.”
"Unlikely that either player will ever see time in the majors?" Then why would the Yankees sign them? And with all those 22-year-olds running around, why Rodriguez, who, at the advanced age of 28, already had a shot on the Red Sox farm? One theory is that the East Coast Old Boys’ Network wants to prop up IBL founder Larry Baras of Boston, as he looks for new IBL funding at a time he faces renewed criticism in wake of Elli Wohlgelernter’s exposé .
Interesting, some say, that no other major league team found any other IBL players worth signing for their minor league systems, just as it’s interesting that Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is on the IBL advisory board, along with his wife Sue, daughter Wendy, and:
* Randy Levine, the New York Yankees president (known most recently for his aiding and abetting in the screwing of Yankees manager Joe Torre);
* Marty Appel (greatest moment, right), the Yankees’ former public relations director, executive producer of Yankees game telecasts, overall Yankees booster— and perpetuator of the Nixonesque smear–the-messenger campaign against Our Man Elli-- portraying him to other media professionals as a “disgruntled job seeker” (we call them “freelance journalists,” shmucko), yet refuting none of what Elli wrote);
* Marvin Goldklang, a minority owner of the New York Yankees and principal owner of four Minor League teams; and
* Dr. Stuart J. Hershon, the IBL's chief medical adviser-- and Yankees team physician.
One source goes as far as to tell us, “The signing of the two Israel Baseball League players last week is a scam, done solely to save the ass of the founder, by bringing him good publicity at a time when he’s in deep debt caused by ineptness, if not outright malfeasance; as well as save face for Levine himself.
“The Yankees are so smart that they sign not one, but two players from a mostly semi-pro league? Including a 28-year-old? And all 29 other teams are idiots who can't judge talent? Feh!”
We won’t go that far. And neither will Our Man Elli.
We asked him to follow up on this latest scuttlebutt, he’s not biting. “Everything I wrote was based on facts. Where are the facts now? This is all rumour. And there are enough sports journalists out there who can chase down rumours if they’re interested.”
We’d like to see professional baseball flourish in Israel. We’d also like to see players be paid for their work, and for fans to get their shekel’s worth. But mostly, we agree with Our Man Elli, and would like to see some mainstream sports journalists get off their fat asses and do some of the work themselves, rather than just plagiarize Our Man Elli, like that Greenberg putz.