Thursday, April 26, 2007

Eretz, uh, Home Run Derby?

NPR ran a story about the newly-formed Israel Baseball League this evening. The brainchild of a Boston Bagel magnate, with baseball operations being run by former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette, and an advisory board containing several heavy hitters from American baseball, the six team league holds its first player draft on Sunday, with games beginning in June.

The available players can be found here. Word on the street is that the GM for the Tel Aviv Lightning has his eye on righty named Scott Cantor. Less interesting than the fact that he's 51 years old is that when asked on his player profile to list his "three favorite movies" he puts down Field of Dreams and Dances with Wolves. I presume he'll list a third one after his nap. I'm also presuming that he's a junkballer.

If Cantor isn't available, there's a young whipper-snapper-- a southpaw no less -- named Ari Alexenberg. Ari is only 46, but I hear he's a young 46. But seriously, I like Ari. He has a pretty nifty blog going in which he's already trying to foment a rivalry between two teams (Tel Aviv and Petah Tikvah) based on the fact that their stadiums are located on the banks of the same river 16 miles apart. Never mind that neither team has any players yet.

My friends at the Baseball Think Factory will be happy to hear that Ari lists sabermetrics as his favorite hobby, and his blog actually has some interesting stuff regarding potential IBL park effects, an analysis of power hitters, another of pitchers' velocity (probably important for a 46 year old), and some fun factual and statistical breakdowns of IBL players which reveal them to be every bit the (mostly) lovable boneheads we find in American baseball: Rocky, Scarface, and Dumb and Dumber are tied for the lead as the favorite movie of IBLers, and five players list "meat" as their favorite food.

The player bios seem to tell a story of a lot of American boys who can't give up the game despite not being quite good enough to play organized ball into adulthood. While, at first blush, this saddened me a bit, it didn't sadden me nearly as much as the fact that, instead of extra innings, ties in the IBL will be broken by a home run derby.

But despite players old enough to be Julio Franco's, um, uncle, and rules that will make a purist like me kvetch, I will take to heart the words of my great aunt Ruchel Dorfman, who used to tell me, "you do what you love, dahlink. That's all that matters."

Here's hoping Scott Cantor, Ari Alexenberg, and the rest of the players of the IBL have fun doing what they love.