Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Swinging Really Late about Basbeall in Israel

The past few days have been a whirlwind of information about Israeli Baseball for me and I am just starting to get a grip on the story. When I posted the video before, the information I had on the IBL came from their website. I thought it was a little strange that their last update was on February 20th, but I really didn’t think anything of it.

My full intention with the last post was to tell a story about conversation I had with my Israeli cousins over the weekend. I asked my cousins over the weekend if they knew anything about the IBL (I was looking for some material for this blog) and they told me that they have never heard of professional baseball in Israel. I was astonished, and started listing the teams and where they played, but they kept shaking their heads no. One of my cousins was also talking about how Americans always think that Israeli’s need some sort of distraction in their world. She went on to say that in her view, the attacks and everything around that are just events of her daily life, and she got used to them. That led me to start thinking about who’s interest are we trying to serve here.
Luckily, Sam Peters of Tabloidbaby opened my eyes to the entire issue. To literally quote part of our email correspondence:

“A major flaw in the Israel Baseball League blueprint was its lack of
promotion among native Israelis. They were
playing to a US-based big money audience and not the punters who fill the
stands-- which is why your cousins never
heard of the league. How could that be possible?

It is.”

This pretty much answers the question that the needs and “dreams” of the United States were really being granted in this expedition. This is a theme I hope to touch on later with the recent promotion of baseball in China.
What I am truly embarrassed about is that I did not see this months ago like everyone else out there. On top of that, the IBL, albeit not officially announced on their website, will not be playing ball next year.
This is an example of exporting of baseball that did not work.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Israel Baseball League: American Perspective Video

Baseball in Israel was one of the first topics I thought of when I decided to talk about world baseball because I feel that its known in America more than in Israel and I have often questioned the motives for it (but I do love it, don't mistake that). I root for the Modim Miracle only because of their Manager, Art Shamsky, who was a '69 Met, so I am a little biased when it comes to their teams.

I found this video on YouTube not too long ago (about two weeks ago). The video was added online a little over a year ago, but makes a lot of insightful points subliminally. When you watch it, think about the goals of Baseball in Israel? Are we going over to offer a distraction? Do they need a distraction? Is this another example of America trying to act as a hero?
I have been thinking about this clip now for over two weeks, and I still have not finalized my opinion about it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Baseball in Ghana

Complete Video can be found here.

The above YouTube video is a segment of a story from Frontline on PBS. Please click on the link to see the full 12 minute story. It is really interesting.

The great thing about this video is that there are so different aspects of Baseball and Ghana that are shown. First and foremost is the acceptance, or lack their of, of baseball in Ghana. It is amazing that they are playing baseball in Ghana, and it’s not surprising that baseball has a lack of support. The story about the soccer goal in shallow left field represents that vast majority of people in Ghana probably do not care about baseball in Ghana.

To counteract this negative view of baseball in Ghana is another aspect of baseball in Ghana which is children playing it in order to get out, to make it big in America. This statement is an over generalization, but these feelings have some very similar ties to those players in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, etc. The difference being that those countries have players who have made it big, who have made it to the pros. Ghana does not have these examples to relate to.

One of the aspects of this story that really struck me was the importance of Baseball on a Government/Political level as a symbol of the status of the country. I really never thought of Baseball as a sign of a country that is advancing, and Ghanaian Prince featured in this video really opened my eyes to that view. If we imagine an industrialized country as one being in a tree, and there is ladder leading to that tree, it is almost as if Ghana sees baseball as one of those rungs of the ladder to get to that state. Another, smaller version of this can be seen when the Barber at the end talks about how he wants to be able to watch players in his country play Baseball in a league style when he grows older. The undertone here is that the nation develops so that this can happen. It is there with soccer, and a more diverse nation can have it with Baseball. (This is of course open to interpretation because his aspirations here can be taken and understood on many different levels).

The video, with some subtlety, talks about the imperialism of Baseball. In this video, with Omar Minaya, Dusty Baker and Dave Winfield, is an example of the benign spread of baseball. Besides scouting, this group of three is not looking for an American buck in Ghana. The looking for an American buck is like the recent games in China (I still support those games) but there was an economic interest for the US in those games. One could make the argument that is happening with Ghana with all of the Mets logos on shirts that Omar brings with him, but that’s a real cynical view on a charitable move by Omar.

I really enjoyed this video, and I hope that you did as well. If you find any videos that you think will pertain to the theme of this site, please shoot it by me at


From the creation of baseball, it has intertwined itself with American History. This critical game in America's History mirrors many of the great events that happened here, and as America has spread its ties globally, so has Baseball.
America's game is quickly becoming Everyone's game. Baseball is even gaining popularity in countries, like Ghana, that people would not normally think Baseball would even be in.
What is the root of this spread? Is it politics? Is it money related?
New controversies have came from the spread of the game as well. Are we signing players too young from other countries? Are the intentions of Major League teams benign? Are they selfish?

These are the topics I hope to discuss in this blog. My name is Elliot and some of you out there have probably read the other blog I write: 213 Miles From Shea. Baseball is a huge part of my life and I have always have been interested in International Baseball. Aside from the topics previously stated, I hope to touch upon relevant International Baseball events.