Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ken Holtzman Brings the Noise

Back in June, I noted that former A's and Cubs starter Ken Holtzman's managerial debut -- at the helm of Petah Tikva of the Israeli Baseball League -- wasn't exactly one for the ages. Following that game, his Pioneers went on to lose another 31 of 40, finishing dead last in the IBL's inaugural season.

Normally when a team performs that poorly, the manager will talk about the progress he saw as the season progressed, maybe going so far as to make a modestly optimistic prediction for next year. What say you, Ken Holtzman?

The playing fields . . ."would reach the level of high schools in our country." The teams were "chosen at random and in a strange manner." As for the players, Holtzman said, "none can reach even semipro baseball in the United States."

"There is no chance that baseball will succeed in Israel," Holtzman went on. "People here relate to baseball the way people in America relate to soccer. They see it as something very boring, and it will never catch on. You can't make a big impression because there is no culture of baseball, and the facilities are the worst possible."

Holtzman also heaped criticism on league organizers, whom he accused of rushing into the first year of play without proper preparation on the ground. "They opened the league a year too soon," he said. "They should have waited."

Ok then, it sounds like Kenny wasn't fond of his time in the IBL.

The landscaper with whom Holtzman seems so upset is Geller Sport, Inc., a New England company which was given the "field engineering" credit for the IBL. A quick review of Gellar's athletic facility CV reveals an arguably thin client list, but in their defense, they are clients who are likely able to be a bit more liberal with the sprinklers than those in Ra'anana and Modi'in. Holtzman had to expect some divots, right?

What about the overall criticism of the IBL, its organization, and management? The IBL's Director of Baseball Operations, you may recall, is none other than Dan Duquette. Members of the league's advisory committee may be familiar to some of you too: Bud Selig, Wendy Selig-Prieb, Randy Levine, Andrew Zimbalist, and a man whose reporting I pumped up in this space merely a week ago, one Martin Abramowitz.

These are all people who should kinda know what they're doing. As such, if Holztman's criticisms are even 50% accurate, and the talent and organization of the IBL leaves as much as he says is to be desired, it seems like these folks have a lot of 'splainin' to do.


Anonymous said...

Ken Holtzman was a difficult character as a player in Oakland and New York and continued to be so as a manager in Israel. As for the talent of the players in the Israeli league, around 40% had pro ball experience in the USA, Dominican Republic or Japan and the great majority of the rest were stars in college. The weak link were the 2-3 Israeli's on each roster.

Shyster said...


Got some inside IBL info or stories to share? I'd love to talk more about it offline. Email me.


tabloidbaby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tabloidbaby said...

That Chicago Tribune story was plagiarized from an Elli Wohlgerlernter story that originally ran on tabloidbaby.com on August 28th. Here's the link: