The Israeli team at the Maccabiah Games Tuesday embarrassed the United States with a surprise 5-3 victory in the first-ever baseball game that the Great Republic has lost to the Jewish state.
The U.S. team steamrollered Israel 15-1 in the opening game on Friday.
Maybe it was overconfidence, Perhaps it was a goodwill gesture to build up Israel’s ego going into the possible resumed talks with the Palestinian Authority.
Or maybe America ain’t what it used to be.
Whatever the reason, Babe Ruth must be rolling over in his grave.
Israel’s victory game new hope that baseball might make some kind of comeback after its miserable failure several years ago when the Israel Baseball League hollered, “Play Ball,” only to see Israelis stay away in droves.
Israel put together its current team a year ago and practiced at least twice a week at the Baptist Village stadium in Petach Tikvah, adjacent to Tel Aviv.
Israel, the United States and Canada fielded the only baseball teams at the Maccabiah Games, also known as the Jewish Olympics. The U.S. junior team shut out Canada 12-0, but the Maple Loafers took out their revenge on Israel and beat Israel 7-4.
With two losses, Israel did not lose its determination. Assistant coach Orb Gottlieb attributed Israel’s comeback to the team’s having played in tournament games in Europe. “Having that tournament mentality helped us overcome. The players knew how to say ‘OK, I lost a game, let’s move on.’” Gottlieb told the Times of Israel.
Despite Israel’s comeback, the United States still can feel superior towards Canada. After its first shutout of Canada, it played out a repeat performance, winning 14-0.
The Americans pitched no-hitters in both games.
On Friday, the U.S. team will face wither Israel or Canada, so it still has a chance to claim its former glory – at least for the time being.Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu