Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Jerusalem Post: "The IBL was not a success"

The Jerusalem Post has been playing catch-up with Our Man Elli in Israel and our coverage of the Israel Baseball League for almost six months now (when they even bothered to cover the story at all). Which is probably why, in wake of our most recent post predicting a ball-free summer of 2008 in the Holy Land, JP columnist Jeremy Last gives us no credit as he comes in last, but powerfuly, with a commentary that will be unwelcome by anyone who hopes to see baseball rise in Israel again:

Jan 2, 2008

The Last Word:
Can 2007's disappointments be overturned


There were numerous success stories in Israeli sports in 2007, many of which have been highlighted in these pages over the last few weeks. But at the same time that Betar Jerusalem was being molded into a championship winning side and Shahar Pe'er was smashing away her opposition, there were a number of teams and organizations which failed to live up to their expectations...

Disappointments included... the extremely hyped Israel Baseball League...

The Israel Baseball League was another of the prominent flops of last year. While those running the league may protest that it was only the first year and the league was initially aimed at Americans, that was the biggest problem and led to practically empty stands for many games.

The fact is the IBL was not a success. It was hyped and hyped and promoted, but to the wrong people. By the end of the summer few Israelis still had any idea the league existed. And it was beset with problems which never should have arisen. From the late realization that the floodlights at Kibbutz Gezer were not strong enough, forcing games to finish early, to the complaints from the players about the conditions at their living quarters, the league was not run in the professional manner it should have been.

It must have been a relief for many of the top IBL personnel when they finally resigned in November. Ex-IBL commissioner Daniel Kurtzer, ex-PR representative Marty Appel and other members of the advisory board soon saw that "the league's finances and business operations were not handled in a... professional manner" Founder Larry Baras has promised that the IBL will return this summer, and even released a schedule, but there will be no point even bothering if the league is not managed correctly, marketed properly to local Israelis and more Israelis are not given the chance to play. Otherwise the failures will just continue in 2008.

In light of this recent turn of events, it will be interesting to hear the response from IBL apologists like Eric Holtz and Leon Feingold.


Anonymous said...

In six months, the Jerusalem Post has written NOTHING on the failures of the IBL, nothing at all. Last writing "to the complaints from the players about the conditions at their living quarters" is the FIRST time the paper has reported this.

And this putz repeats the same hype he criticizes: "and even released a schedule" Really? Who's playing July 9, in which ballpark?

There is no schedule, just an announcement that there's two games on opening night June 22. Last is a putz, almost as bad as Greenberg.

Anonymous said...

I heard that bagel business is kaput
they are 1.5 million in the whole

Anonymous said...

It's true that the bagel business is $1.5 million in debt. Larry claims it is still operating but who knows. He has not been truthful about alot of things.

Eric Holtz said...

My response is this:
I had a great experience, I got to meet wonderful people. I was re-introduced to my own heritage and got nine weeks to visit a beautiful land, meet warm Israeli people and do what I love most-Play/Manage Baseball. I have made life-long friends and will continue to look back and smile on the entire experience-Tabloid did not get Thanks from Mothers and fathers of Children who Thanked Us for "Making their Summer" That was an incredible feeling-Elli/Tabloid Baby will never get to feel something like that. 120 stangers met with one thing in common and bonded into something special.That will never be taken away from anyone who experienced this. I do hope that Baseball continues in Israel-It will take time to gain trust, interest and entusiasm, but Soccer is still stuggling here in the U.S.decades after it was introduced. On the business side, Almost every new league is in the red when starting out, hopefully 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) . I hope this answers your question as to "What would Eric say"? As now I have to get back to what is important in my life-Fathering my 3 children and running my manufacturing business. I wish Everyone a Happy Healthy and Prosperous 2008.
Eric Holtz

BringHeat said...

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