It is 2:43 am in Jerusalem. Our Man Elli in Israel is hard at work on the latest developments in an international story that is bound to put him in Pulitzer Prize contention. The commissioner of the Israel Baseball League and nine of its board members have resigned in wake of his revelations about the league's first season and the controversy and rebellion from players that followed.
We spoke with Elli shortly after he tried to get comment from former commissioner Daniel Kurtzer. Kurtzer responded:
"I am boarding a flight to Frankfurt and won't be back until after the weekend. Sorry.""Along with the commissioner, nine board members have resigned," says Elli. "I've spoken to four of of them. They all gave Larry Baras the credit for having the vision and energy for creating baseball in Israel. They also felt-- all of them--extreme sadness at circumstances led them to resign from the league. They all said they feel that the lack of transparency in the financial operation of the league made their continuing roles in the league untenable. They still believe that the notion of professional baseball in Israel is a viable venture-- if properly managed and marketed.
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"As for the lawsuit (a federal securities fraud suit filed in September and revealed here this week), they said it was not in and of itself a determining factor in their resignations. What was a factor, they told me, was that Baras did not disclose to them that he was in fact being taken to court-- and that they had to read about it-- pissed them off."
Elli, you've been called a sucker puncher, a leech, and recently sodomite. You've been subject to character assassination. Any gloating this morning?
"Gimme a break. As a consummate baseball fan, nothing hurts me more than to see the dream of professional baseball in Israel die in front of me. The fact that I saw early on that there were problems with the league, and that others chose to criticise the messenger instead of the message, is unfortunate. The whispering campaign that was launched against me was the desperate act of either true believers or true criminals. I'll be getting to the bottom of that soon enough. But I get no satisfaction saying, 'I told you so.'"
But Our Man Elli did indeed tell the world. We left Elli with his work in his small apartment in the Baka neighborhood of Jerusalem. We await his next report.