Saturday, January 05, 2008

IBL's Feingold wants Baras in the Israel Baseball mix; offers to serve as mediator among factions

In light of the troubles engulfing the Israel Baseball League and the likelihood that its mismanagement, ineptitude, greed and scandals will result in empty diamonds in Israel in 2008, we sought comment-- well, we actually put out a public call for comment-- from the senior players who stepped forward as the biggest apologists for the million-dollars-in-debt IBL-- as well as loudest namecallers when it came to the excellent investigative and journalistic work of Our Man Elli in Israel and if we must say, the Tabloid Baby staff.

Yesterday, Eric Holtz, the old man of the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, sent along his comments, reaffirming his faith in the IBL and his hope that "the IBL will be able to crawl out from it's financial debt to get back to doing what it intended to do from the get-go (Play Baseball)."

This morning, his colleague Leon Feingold from the Netanya Tigers (also renowned as a professional competitive eater), a major critic of our coverage-- leads off with a dig at us, then digs into the issue at hand:

Boychik, how can I turn down an invitation like that? Unlike TabloidBaby, I'd hate to leave readers disappointed by my contributions, or lack thereof.

If baseball is to succeed in Israel, as it absolutely should once done correctly, it will involve a lot of people working together to build on the positives of last season (of which there were many, although you'd never know that from reading here) and overcoming the negatives (of which there were just as many).

Somewhere in the IBL blogosphere this week, someone commented about the importance of everyone pulling on the same rope. That allusion stuck with me for some reason, and I maintain that all those who wish to see baseball succeed are trying to reach that common goal by pulling on different ropes - which cannot work, and certainly is not the most efficient solution.

The irony I see is not that the different parties have different ideas about how a league should be run, so much as there are many people who had no patience for the problems with the current league and wanted to tear it down and start from scratch with a better business plan, more transparency, etc... but instead of working WITH the people already there, have decided to compete and attempt what is essentially a hostile takeover where none was really necessary. I know Larry Baras reasonably well, and after all he poured of his own time and money and energy into making this league a reality, there was DEFINITELY a bipartisan way to fix the problems from within. It's not just about money, or fame, or records, or credit, or individuals. It's about making something beautiful and culturally significant happen on an international and historical scale, and we're so very close to the tipping point where this can really take hold. Some people in BOTH groups just didn't want to do things any way but their own, and I believe it is their stubbornness and insistence in doing everything their way that has created two apparently opposing camps divided by that common goal.

In the school of thought to which I adhere, there is STILL a narrow window to use all the positives everyone brings to the table - Baras, Goldklang, Perlman, Berger, Rosen, Holtz, Rolhaus, Kurtzer, Duquette, Zimbalist, and many more - to do what SHOULD have been done in the beginning: get everyone with a part of the same rope in their hands, and find a way to pull together. I'd love to get everyone in the same room at the same time and force them to hash it out like grownups, or at the very least like young adults. I'd volunteer to mediate, although I'm sure we can get a more experienced, well-known expert to step in and work out a way to have everyone involved who wants to be, and present a unified front against any new challenges that will face the league from outside, rather than self-immolate via infighting.

In closing, it's axiomatic that we can't change the past, but we can learn from it and find a way to shape the future. There's not much time left before a solid framework needs to be in place for next season, but I know enough about the people who want this to succeed, that I believe we have enough time to make it happen.

After all, as everyone knows, there's no time limit in baseball.

Leon Feingold

Thanks, Leon and Eric! No hard feelings. In fact, we offer you a tip of the Tabloid Baby hat!


Anonymous said...

Thanks to Leon and Eric for their responses. It is difficult to argue with their positive outlook on this past summer and optimism for a 2008 IBL season with the current management. Early on I felt the same way. However, I have come to have a very different perspective on the situation and it took me a long time to get to where I am.

It is wrong to downplay the impact of $1 million debt and continue to attribute it to the problems of a typical start-up professional league. And it is wrong to say that because we had a wonderful time, the fallout is worth it. The IBL has left Israeli (and American) vendors without payment for services rendered under both contract and good faith. This was done knowing that there was no money to back up the contracts. So whatever cultural connections were felt with the Israeli fans and by just being in the Holy Land, we have to ask ourselves what kind of reputation was established and what problems were created for totally innocent parties. Real damage was done.

Until Larry provides complete transparency about the financial situation at the IBL, he should not be part of any discussions on the future of the IBL and he should absolutely not be paid off—at least not until creditors get their money. Can you imagine the frustration and anger this will create? His hard work has already been acknowledged. There is a real lack of trust and this will not be regained any time soon. The IBL needs a fresh start and this can only happen when all the debts are paid and with a new team

Anonymous said...

I think that if you spoke with Baras, you would find out that he wants the vendors paid as well, but he can't do that unless there is a season two.

No season two, and there is no chance the vendors will ever see any money, or at best they will see no more than the pennies on a dollar another group may offer.

For better or for worse, Baras is going to have to be involved, and I'm sure there wouldn't be so many people interested in taking over if there wasn't some real money to be made on this endeavor.

Anonymous said...

No Larry does not need to be involved and in fact it is his very involvement that may derail a season 2 because of his mismanagement

Anonymous said...

All of you dreamers need to grow-up and smell the "coffee"! Professional Baseball, no matter where it is played, and who is playing it, is a business! Like any business, it must be able to fiscally function to survive! It needs responsible people to operate it, and others to see to it that those responsible are acting in a responsible manner.
With that said, ALL members of the previous regime (Baras, Berger, Kurtzer, Goldklang, Duquette, etc.) should NOT be allowed to take part in whatever League, if any, comes to be! I'd prefer not to look into the pocketbooks of others, however, it seems to me that the past officers of the IBL are all in their own right, wealthy men! Any one or combination of them, could easily cut a check for a million dollars tomorrow! It appears to me that NONE are willing to do so, and in my estimation it is because that they have no "faith" in the future of Baseball in Israel! They would rather use "other-people's money" to do so, and not absorb any personal loss of their own! Everyone seems to "make-light" of the fact that vendors and League personnel are still owed money! I don't blame any new "groups" that have expressed an interest in resuming Baseball in Israel, for not wanting to pick up the debt of the past IBL, however, if that is what is being required, for continued involvement, then someone needs to "step-up-to-the-plate"! If the members of the "old IBL" wish to do so, the clock is ticking on you! Time is running out! If your heart is truly in the right place, you will do so! If not, please step aside, gracefully, and let the games begin!

Anonymous said...

"Baras is going to have to be involved." ????!!!!!

That sounds like it was written by Baras or Berger!

It's borrowing from peter to pay paul, as if

1) the second season cash can even cover the first season's debt, and

2) that the second season will not then be heavily in debt, with no prospects to bail it out without a season three, etc. It's three-card monty!

He's framing it that without involving Baras, there can be no more baseball???!!! He's holding everyone hostage! The fact is, no one wants to include Baras in anything, and won't even sit at the table with him.

And this is false: "and I'm sure there wouldn't be so many people interested in taking over if there wasn't some real money to be made on this endeavor."

The advisory board wants to make it happen because their reputation is on the line as well. They're not legally responsible for Baras' debt. They are not shareholders. But they do give a shit, both for their own rep as well as Jews and for the very idea of baseball in Israel.

Anonymous said...

Well said. Larry is a liability at this point and doesn't hold any cards. Not only does he not need to be involved, he should not be involved. He is looking for a payoff to go away but otherwise he will continue to make things difficult to the detriment of the league

Anonymous said...

Well Leon, as all us players know, at Gezer and Sportek, there is a time limit on baseball at those two fields.

R.I.P. Sportek

IBL Alumni President said...

It would be nice if at least one person put their name to these comments. So far, only Feingold and Holtz have enough balls! Way to go fellas!

IBL Alumni President said...

By the way, RIP Sportek. It's bad enough to be spiked on the field, but to be spiked up the ass by the field itself....... should have been put to death long ago!

Anonymous said...

To IBL Alumni President:



Anonymous said...

If you are owed money by the IBL you speak one way. If you were lucky enough to have been paid you speak a different way. If you were on the board and now your reputation is being dragged down in this mess you speak a third way. The fact remains that allot of money was raised and for the league to be in debt for over a million dollars means that somebody pocketed allot of money.
If you were involved last summer you know that the expenses were not that high.

Anonymous said...

The posting above is very true. The most troubling aspect of what's going on is that Baras and Berger will not disclose what money came into the IBL and what went out. And I believe this was one of the main reasons that the advisory board resigned. It also concerns me that Larry's bagel business is $1.5 million in debt as well. Although it seems unrelated it just confirms that he has very little experience running a successful company and according to the lawsuit he refused to provide any financial information there too. The first step is to know where the money went. By not knowing it just leads everyone to speculate. Any new investors or financial institutions will want all this information

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

as the saying goes: 3 Jews, 4 opinions.

maybe it should be changed to: 3 IBL guys, 18 opinions


Anonymous said...

Why should the board want to pay for Larry's dishonesty.(or anybody for that matter) Nobody can fault him for his stupid mistakes.(Ice,lousy fields,no advertising, horrible living conditions) HOWEVER< not giving an accounting to the income and expenses is unforgivable.
Just picture yourself being owed $20,000 . How would you feel,not knowing if the guy who was suppose to pay you just pocketed the money!
Those guys who want Larry to have another chance are just plain stupid or naive.(or have some ulterior motive)
Season two will not happen unless there is complete transparency which will never happen because if Larry was proper he would have done it already!

Anonymous said...

This last post is exactly correct and well said.

Why has there not been an accounting and can the people at Tabloid Baby (who are doing a great job covering the story) get a comment from the IBL why they can't provide this information.

That can go a long way in creating a class of vendors and others who can sue them for running away with the funds.

Further get JNF to answer to its givers why they allowed money to be wasted like this without looking into the matter further.

I will not give the JNF another penny for participating in this mess.

No more trees and I suggest others who are upset let the JNF know of your displeasure as well.

Anonymous said...

Have you looked at the Florida lawsuit? It was exactly the same situation. The woman filing the lawsuit has been unable to get any financial information from Baras and he made the excuse that he couldn't give her the information because he was too busy with the IBL. Unbelievable!

Anonymous said...

I think Eric Holtz should take over the IBL after all he lead his team with a .097 average