Thursday, February 21, 2008

Israel Baseball spin leads back to IBL website

We told you something was up. That rosy spin of the Israel Baseball League that’s suddenly been churning from blogsites around the world is now spinning furiously on the IBL website itself. After lying dormant for weeks (and still advertising player tryouts on December 23, 2007), the IBL site has unexpectedly been updated with a self-congratulatory press release that puts a history-revising spin on the league’s first season and gives a hardy pat on the back to director of baseball operations Dan Duquette:

IBL Player signings with Pro Clubs
02/20/2008 3:43 PM

IBL Players Signed by MLB and International Pro Leagues

The Israel Baseball League is pleased to announce that eight of its players who starred this past summer in the inaugural IBL season have now been given the opportunity to advance their baseball careers and pursue their dreams. Thanks in no small measure to the efforts of Dan Duquette, the IBL’s Director of Baseball Operations, these players came to the attention of professional teams across the globe and has led to signings and invitations by Major League teams and teams in other premier global professional leagues.

“One of our stated goals has been to become the 'Go To' league for the international player. It isn’t easy to establish credibility on the professional level, so it is extremely heartening to see the opportunities that have presented themselves to our players after just our first year of play," Mr. Duquette said."

Duquette is a former Major League Baseball front office exec who runs a sports camp in Massachusetts. He’s best known as a former general manager of the Boston Red Sox who was ridiculed for releasing pitcher Roger Clemens from his contract in 1996 in the “twilight” of a career that saw its greatest success in the decade to follow. But the recent steroid allegations against Clemens have put Duquette back in the spotlight, and recast him as something of a sage.

This IBL press release continues the rehabilitation of Duquette’s reputation, at a time when there’s speculation that he would soon join IBL commissioner Dan Kurtzer and its advisory board and skedaddle as far as possible from embattled fellow Bay Stater and Boston bagel baron Larry Baras. And though it's clearly intended to praise to Duquette for his efforts and keen instincts, a closer look at the players listed shows that the “spin” cycle is in motion. Two have been invited to try out for Duquette’s former employers the Red Sox; two were signed to the New York Yankees organization— a move that at time of the announcement was seen by many as a publicity stunt by IBL advisory board members connected to the club; two more are struggling in minor leagues; and another is in Mexico.

The question now is whether this apparently concerted IBL spin campaign is intended to salvage reputations or in hopes of actually moving forward with a new season sometime in the future.

Another question is whether the press release was dashed off during a document-shredding session, for it ends mid-sentence:

In addition to the eight players listed above, several Israeli players are planning to extend their baseball careers by playing college ball this coming season in the .

(Read the entire IBL press release here, at our Israel baseball archive site, Baseball in Israel.)


Anonymous said...

Come on now! Let's be real here. You make it sound like none of these guys have any talent, and the entire thing is a joke. LET'S GET SERIOUS AND GO DOWN THE LIST BEFORE YOU START RIPPING ON THE PLAYERS!

You don't mention Maximo Nelson who got 6 figures to play in Japan for their league champion!

Juan Feliciano was offered AAA contracts by three teams, and turned them down for more $$$ in Mexico.

The Yankees don't just throw away money (except on A-Rod), Reese and Rodriguez were signed because they can help the organization, and have the tools to succeed. Publicity Stunt my a$$!

By the way, have you looked at the rosters of the teams Feliciano and Rodriguez played on this winter in the Dominican? 10 major league players, and 16 at AAA. Is that a publicity stunt also?

The players struggling in the minors are playing for Independent league teams - the equal to AA -AAA in the afiliated minor leagues. These guys do get signed directly to major league rosters, and they are available to ANY major league team!

How many players do you think get invites to spring training? Everyone knows someone, and if everyone got a gift invitation, there would be 100 invites at every camp.

I say kudos to Dan Duquette - at least someone was doing their job!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the person above.
There was lots of talent in the IBL. The problem was, its difficult to see talent when your players are food-poisoned, forced into summer camp living conditions, play in 90* heat with high humidity at mid-day, and play on fields that represent...well, nothing comes to mind to explain how bad it was playing in Gezer and Sportek.
I'm sure that 'Tabloid Baby' doesn't have any baseball experience ever, so it's easy to criticize when his view of baseball is following Sportscenter, but the truth is that the starting lineups, and many of the pitchers, were all-conference at every level of college, and have played minor leagues, meaning that people with baseball knowledge saw these players as near the top of the game, enough to invest in them.

If you put random MLB players in the IBL, they would have similar season statistics, because most would detest the horrendous situation. The Players of the IBL deserve to be applauded for overcoming the shortcomings of the IBL Brass (and officials) to have provided an entertaining season.

Thanks guys, and thanks TabloidBaby for providing us with the updates (even if they are full of barely stomach-able cynicism) :-)

Anonymous said...

The IBL HAS provided others than are even mentioned in Duquete's note with the chance to continue in baseball. I noticed on the web that Ra'anana infielder Brendan Rubenstein has been signed to play in the Frontier League for this year. Give credit where credit is due, a fair number of the stronger players HAVE gotten the exposure to continue their quest to move up the baseball ladder because there was an IBL. The financial and moral problems of the league have been well documented and are all too real, but there was some good that was produced also. Let's please note the good and bad so we get a complete picture of the league as it was.