Saturday, June 07, 2008

Inside Baseball: Former editor sends "apology" to Our Man Elli; repeats charge of "bias" in Israel League reporting; claims "utmost repect" for him

We were all set to give you the back story of the fight between Our Man Elli in Israel and Jay L. Abramoff, who publicly challenged the right of the Jerusalem Post and the Haaretz news organizations to criticize the failures of or raise questions about the Israel Baseball League or question the intentions of the American businessmen seeking to profit from baseball in Israel, because they didn't sign a paid reporter to cover the IBL's first trouble-plagued season.

We were going to give you the story, that is, until Our Man Elli sent along Abramoff's response to his criticism of the column he emailed around the world yesterday. This response goes beyond his questioning of Elli's motives in reporting the original exposé that brought out the truth about the IBL in August 2007. In fact, while Abramoff continues defend the league that left native Israelis holding the bag for more than a million dollars in debts, he also continues to accuse Elli of "bias" in covering the story; refers to his groundbreaking, lifesaving advocacy reporting as "bitching"; confuses the editorializing from the Tabloid Baby staff with Elli's reportage; questions whether Elli is paid to write here; and refers to this respected, quoted news organization-- the first to publish Elli's expose and the only one to give continuous, comprehensive coverage of professional baseball in Israel-- as "a friend's blog."

Oddly, he ends the note with an ass-lick, telling Elli: "I have the utmost respect for you because you are doing what a lot of people try to do and fail (including me?): be an English-language professional print, television and Internet journalist in Israel."

That's how you show respect? A few words come to mind. Jealous. Petty. Bitter. Jealous.

Read the email for yourselves. We'll get to the back story after we throw some water on Sam Peters.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 19:30:36 +0200
From: "Jay L. Abramoff"

Subject: Re: The Israel Baseball League

CC: Haaretz English Edition
Jerusalem Post Sports



Thanks for reading it.

Sorry about the "Wohlgelernter" reference. At one point, I had your full name mentioned earlier in the piece, but deleted it and I should have deleted the second reference, too.

I had not seen your April 14 report; for whatever reason this morning, I looked up "Israel Baseball League" on news.google.com and the Post's material from last week came up.

Yes, "as far as I am concerned," because my opinion, no offense, means just as much as yours, Jeremy Last's, or anybody else's. The fact that I don't get pieces on the IBL published in "Jewish newspapers" does not mean that my opinion means any less than yours or Last's.

So, your "published" pieces are straight news reports and not color or comment pieces, huh? I have never, ever claimed to be a properly-trained or paid staff reporter with supposed neutrality, as I made clear, but even though you claim to be an unbiased journalist, your personal feelings about the IBL and its management should be clear to anyone who reads your "news" reports, and Haaretz, specifically, should have inquired further about them before running your "not-color" expose on the IBL. On the other hand, my piece is known to all to be just my opinion based on what I have read and what I experienced.

I, of course, feel sorry for all the people and serious events that you mentioned. But, honestly, you cannot walk down the street or drive your car in Israel or the US without taking a risk. And, you know what, I personally would have refused to play IBL games at Sportek and at Gezer due the conditions of the fields there. But, parents have allowed and continue to
allow their kids to play baseball and softball at Gezer, in a field in Baka'a, at Kraft Family Stadium, and, up until a few years ago, at the previous Sportek field in Tel Aviv. BTW I was the one who arranged for our softball league to play every game at Gezer instead of YMCA or Kraft because of the condition of those fields. What exactly have you done to improve the safety of those playing softball or baseball in Israel, besides maybe bitching about it?

I stand behind my claim that you, among others, expected an Israeli MLB, and were disappointed when that is not what the IBL was. You, of course, know the difference between a "semi-professional, developmental minor baseball league" and a single-A professional league, and while I disagree with your premise that the IBL was intended to be a single-A-level league, it doesn't matter. How many people show up to single-A games? How many players are
seriously injured in single-A games? How many hundreds of kids, by comparison, enjoy going out to single-A games in I-don't-where? How did/does the IBL compare to the "minor" professional soccer or basketball leagues in Israel?

I agree, the Post sucks, and Haaretz is even worse - and maybe I have some sort of responsibility because I agreed to be Sports Editor at the Post for 10 months and a sports desk editor at Haaretz for about nine months. Then again, I left both positions.

You know as well as everyone in the journalism business that the difference between "alleged" and "fact" is not always clear - even after court trials.

Have you reported, besides on a friend's blog (for which you get paid?), that Bachar (I admit that I do not know who that is) and Rosen have given sworn testimony regarding Baras's "potentially criminal behavior"? Or are their claims just that, claims. And what makes this different than any other start-up, which may or may not get a brief in the Post or Haaretz, or your attention for that matter?

Again, this is all not personal against you, even though you felt that about what I wrote last year about Haaretz publishing your IBL piece. I have the utmost respect for you because you are doing what a lot of people try to do and fail (including me?): be an English-language professional print, television and Internet journalist in Israel.




Kings Farmer said...

Dear BK,

As a long-time fan of your sense of humor and story-telling abilities, you will please forgive me the following:
Please explain to me, and possibly other faithful friends of Tabloid Baby who don't get the joke behind the endless Israeli baseball bits, What the F is the story behind your obsession? Is this satire? Please give us the inside, break the fourth-wall, if you will. Put us in an editorial meeting (even if it's only a conversation with yourself), and share the logic of pushing "Our Man Eli," Israeli Baseball."
I have to tell you, when I see the quotations above, my eyes glaze over, and I hit delete.
Help me to read on.

tabloidbaby said...


Our Man Elli in Israel is a longtime friend, colleague, and contributor to TabloidBaby.com. Through happenstance, his exclusive expose of the Israel Baseball League was published first on this site. As the rest of the mainstream media ignored the story, Elli kept on it, with scoop after scoop-- revelations that led the league's commissioner and advisory board to resign! The story gets deeper and deeper and the full implications are only gradually being revealed.

What you are deleting is worthy of consideration on a number of levels.

It's an experiment and lesson in journalism, as this very unlikely story with worldwide implications is played out across the pages of this pop culture/media site. Sports fans and captains of industry alike must come to a site called Tabloid Baby to get the latest on this multi million dollar proposition.

Additionally, well-paid sports reporters and editors from mainstream newspapers and networks often come here and copy or steal our coverage as they play catch-up to this "blogsite."

When they do, we call them on it.

Some, like the Jerusalem Post, admit their error and make amends.

Others, like the Chicago tribune, sputter and wheeze and deny. But they are forced to respond.

Also, consider this to be similar to the work of Tom Wolfe or Dickens. You are participating in the unspooling of a nonfiction novel, book, chapter by chapter, day by day.

As Our Man Elli and Tabloid Baby face up to, call out and beat the pants off the mainstream giants on the story, the story becomes richer by the day as new colorful characters join the parade.

Consider the fascinating sidebars that have already come into play, including hole-less stuffed bagels, child-killing magnetic toys, mysterious Dominican ballplayers, a furious female former Burger King executive, a sputtering Chicago Tribune editor, a suicide threat, kosher hotdogs at Fenway, federal draud suits, The Penn Club, a documentary, the New York Yankees, Israel-American relations, minor league, Canadian and German baseball, competitive eating at Coney Island, Rep. Henrey Waxman, Roger Clemens, bitter would-be writers, ambassadors, sports heroes-- and now Barack Obama!

The world is part of this story... all will be revealed.

Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

You guys get off on trashing the IBL. Give it a F-in' rest. And btw in your standard fashion you trash Jay's letter yet he's right on target calling Elli out for being the prick that he is.

Debra Winger said...

Hey, Mr. Anonymous. I dated Elli. He's not a prick. He's a sweetie.

Kings Farmer said...

OK, BK, you've convinced me. NO more deleting Our Man Eli and IBL stories.

Mea culpa

Jay L. Abramoff said...

You (nice to remain anonymous, isn't?) consider yourself a "respected" news organization, huh? At the top of the "column" I sent out by e-mail, I asked anyone interested in publishing it to contact me, which you didn't. Remove it from your Web site. My e-mail to Elli was private and NOT cc:ed to Haaretz or The Jerusalem Post; remove it, too.

Jay L. Abramoff, who BTW has been a League Coordinator at American Football in Israel since 2002, and not as implied by you.

Anonymous said...

I love it when a plan comes through

like to seewhat TB and scooper (remeber that is elli) are going to say later today:-)


i told you he should have contacted me but people just don't listen