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Israel And The World Baseball Classic

Former major league catcher Brad Ausmus will be managing Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic.

Former major league catcher Brad Ausmus will be managing Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic.

For the first time, Israel will participate in the qualifying round of the World Baseball Classic.

That’s the good news.

The bad news concerns the dates they’ll be playing in Florida. Earlier in the year it was thought the early rounds would start in other countries before moving to Florida in November. Assuming Israel would still be in the WBC games, the Florida site would be Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.

That would have been great for me, as my winter dugout in West Palm Beach’s Century Village, near the Aitz Chaim shul, is not too far of a drive from the Jupiter ballpark. But September replaced November and the dates don’t make it easy for us even though the site is the same.

Team Israel makes its debut on the day after Rosh Hashanah, Wednesday, September 19. If Israel beats South Africa it moves on to the winner of the France/Spain game on Friday (Yom Kippur is the following Tuesday evening). So the schedule wasn’t made for us.

To qualify for a spot on the team, a player just has to have one Jewish grandparent. Three former Jewish major league players, Brad Ausmus (Jewish mother), Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler will be wearing the Israel uniform. (None of the trio chose Jewish spouses.) Green and Kapler will serve as player/coaches while Ausmus will manage the team.

After the regular major league season and postseason games, Ausmus hopes to lure big league stars such as Ryan Braun and Ian Kinsler (Jewish fathers) to Team Israel. If T.I. survives the November rounds in Taiwan and Panama, it would get a shot at the big March series in the World Baseball Classic at Miami’s new retractable dome home of the Marlins.

* * * * *

I’ve been hearing from many citizens of Red Sox Nation. All liked the mega-trade with the Dodgers and the brooming of close to a hundred million a year in salaries.

Boston can rebuild quickly, Jewish Press readers say, if they sign the right free agents this winter with the freed-up money while prospects received from the Dodgers get more minor league seasoning. It should be a very interesting off-season for Boston fans.

But the question remains: Will Bobby Valentine be back to manage the new-look BoSox next season?

Another question: Why did the Dodgers add all that payroll due Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and the injured Carl Crawford? Answer: The name recognition of the additional stars will help fill seats and drive up the price the Dodgers can command as they negotiate a new multi-year cable contract for the left coast.

Speaking of new cable contracts, ESPN’s contract with Major League Baseball doubles the amount the sports cable network will be paying over the next five years. The good news for fans is that there will no longer be blackouts in cities when the home team plays. Those of us who live in areas with good teams that pop up often on ESPN games couldn’t see them play, and we were fed other programming.

But how is ESPN going to pay for it? The bad news is that we can expect cable rates to go up.

Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years before moving to a big league front office position where he earned a World Series ring. The author, columnist, lecturer and shul president, may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net. His column appears the second week of each month.

About the Author: The author of 10 books, Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years and interviewed the legendary Hank Greenberg. He went on to work for a major league team and became the first Orthodox Jew to earn a World Series ring. He can be reached in his Detroit area dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.


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