Sunday, November 18, 2007

Three Days Later: The New York Times finally reports on the resignations that rocked the Israel Baseball League. But do they credit Our Man Elli?

Three days after we broke the story here that the commissioner and nine members of the Israel Baseball League advisory board had resigned over financial concers about league founder Larry Baras, the New York Times has finally picked up the story. Baseball Hall of Fame sportswriter Murray Chass buries the item in a potpourri baseball column with a headline about past Major League drug use.

Not surprisingly, the venerable traditionalist does not credit Tabloid Baby for the scoop on Thursday, nor does the former "newspaper of record" mention the controversial investigative piece by Our Man Elli in Israel, the three months of uproar and revelations that followed in its wake, or the federal lawsuit against Baras-- the details of which were published exclusively here last week.

Instead, with his first nine words, Chass picks up the IBL spin, and raises new questions about his, and the New York Times coverage of the league (see below):
The New York Times
November 18, 2007
Split in Israel League
The Israel Baseball League had a successful first season, but its founder may be hard pressed to keep that success going.

Last Thursday, Daniel Kurtzer, the league commissioner and former ambassador to Israel and Egypt, resigned with nine members of the advisory board, including Marvin Goldklang, a limited Yankees partner; Randy Levine, the Yankees’ president; and Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College.

In their letter of resignation, summing up the concerns of all, Goldklang and Zimbalist wrote that “it has become apparent that the business leadership of the league has ceased to perform in an effective, constructive or responsible manner and has failed to manage its capital and other resources in a manner likely to produce successful results.”

Furthermore, they said, the league had not paid some players, managers and umpires.

In a telephone interview, Goldklang added, “The biggest issue was the feeling that trust in the management of the league was compromised.”

The criticism was aimed at Larry Baras, the Boston bagel entrepreneur, who founded the league. Baras was not available Friday, but in a phone interview Martin Berger, a Miami lawyer who is the league president, said: “We are upset and disappointed that they’re leaving, but we are going ahead for next year. We have been talking to people who potentially are going to purchase the teams.”

Dan Duquette, a former major league general manager, will continue to be the league’s baseball operations director.

The advisers who resigned said the league was unwilling to provide financial information.

“They were asking us for things that we didn’t have yet,” Berger said. “We haven’t done our financials for this year.”
Interesting that the esteemed baseball journalist lets Berger slide on that last point. The IBL hasn't done its financials, three months after the close of the season? As one member of the IBL 10 told Our Man Elli: "The league doesn't have financial information to share with the advisory board, yet is out trying to sell franchises in the league. How in the world do they think they can sell franchise rights without properly disclosing the results of league and franchise operations to date?"

Which raises the question of why the New York Times writer is giving the IBL a pass and, why, after all these months of on-the-record statements by IBL players here on Tabloidbaby.com, Chass would write "they said" players and others have not been paid. Chass was given the exclusive story of the IBL for his Times column of May 13, 2006. And he's written about the IBL at least four times since-- not once scratching the surface or moving beyond PR for an idea that seen as good for proud Zionists in the States and baseball fans in Israel (Chass' son resides in Bet Shemesh, Israel-- home, in name at least, to the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox).

Let's hope Murray Chass continues to chase that comment from Larry Baras. Meanwhile, we guess this makes Tabloid Baby the new newspaper of record.

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