Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Israel to Participate in 2013 World Baseball Classic

  By Ken Belson,
  New York Times
June 1, 2011
Too bad Sandy Koufax is not pitching anymore.
Major League Baseball said Wednesday that a team from Israel would participate in the World Baseball Classic in 2013. The event will be expanded to 28 teams from 16. In a new format, 16 teams, including those from Brazil, Britain, Israel and Thailand, will play in a double-elimination qualifying round in late 2012.
The top four teams will then join 12 other countries, from Australia to Venezuela, in the final round.
Israel's entry in the tournament raises some interesting possibilities. According to the rules, a player is eligible to join a team if a player is a citizen of the nation, qualified for citizenship or can hold a passport of that country. A player who has one parent who is, or was, a citizen of that nation, can also join that team.
Under these rules, several players in Major League Baseball could qualify to play on the Israeli team. Imagine this team:
The infield might include Ike Davis, whose mother is Jewish, at first base; Ian Kinsler of the Rangers at second base; and Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox at third base. Ryan Braun, the slugger for the Brewers, could bat clean up and play left field. Pitchers Scott Feldman of the Texas Rangers and Jason Marquis of the Washington Nationals could start; John Grabow of the Chicago Cubs could pitch in relief.
The Israeli team could use a few major leaguers. According to the Israel Association of Baseball, more than 1,000 children and adults play baseball in Israel. The six-team Israel Baseball League started in 2007.
The former major leaguers Art Shamsky, Ken Holtzman and Ron Blomberg have managed, and Dan Duquette, a former general manager of the Red Sox and the Expos, was the league's director of player development.

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