Friday, August 31, 2007

Week goes by...

I won't lie - it is definitely great to be back in the States. Luxuries like carpeting, having my own car, and high definition television have coddled me in an environment that I am glad to call my own again. I do miss Israel, though - the guys from the league, the Israeli public and their purposeful way of life, the beautiful geography, the morning call of the peacock...

In the last week I have moved into my new house, caught up with parents and friends, and spent a lot of time simply enjoying being back. Here are some photos to share, just a few shots, but be sure to take note of the Israeli influence on my new bedroom's decorating: it cannot be denied.

Another item of note would be the new website that my cousin (and former NASA computer programmer - yeah, that's a pretty big deal) has started, located at - it's a very cool idea and very good at its purpose, which is to gather information about your favorite sports team from all over the internet into one location.

So, check out the pics and website, and I'll be back periodically with updates.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Long goodbyes

After spending the past couple of months bonding with teammates and other-team mates alike, it's strange saying bye to so many after such a short amount of time. The experience has left us all with something we can hold onto for the rest of our lives, not only that we were part of history in bringing baseball to Israel, but also the sense of living with a purpose that people in the Middle East seem to have every day. When a persistent conflict surrounds the environment every day, with the (even slight) possibility of violence happening in your own back yard - that gives each and every day more meaning and intensifies the emotions experienced by all. It has been something that no one will forget, and everyone will cherish.

Most everyone I have talked to wants to return next summer for the second year of the Israel Baseball League, given that circumstances allow for it. For myself, it will depend on where I am working and the state of my baseball readiness. If I were able to come back every summer, I certainly would. Everyone has worked to hard to right the ship and it has shown, and the players are all thankful for the long hours put in by executives Larry Baras, Dan Kurtzer, and Martin Berger, as well as the under-appreciated and over-achieving interns - David Rattner, Andrew Wilson, and Jeremy Baras. Thanks guys, for your hard work, and for making this a summer I will never forget.

This will close out my blog from Israel. I hope to continue this as new pictures catch my eye and memories pop into my head that I may have forgotten, and will post them once I return to the states (I fly at 11:30pm tonight). Thank you to everyone who read - I was blown away by the sheer number of visits that this blog received, and I appreciate all those who left comments and words of encouragement.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

New Photos

Click here for some new happenings

Not bad...

I guess Ben Bernanke is an everyday reader - thanks for the 50 basis point cut to the discount rate, Ben! Gained back 3.5% today on my portfolio.

Back to baseball... the Netanya Tigers lost today to the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, sending Bet Shemesh to the championship game to face Modi'in. With our season now over, I find myself with three full days to spend with absolutely zero obligations here in Israel - a prospect that is both exciting and a bit challenging. I have been trying to save as much money here as possible, but having this much time to kill will certainly present me with plenty of money-spending opportunities. Hopefully my discipline will allow me to return home at least in the green for the summer.


Thursday, August 16, 2007


What the heck are you guys in the states doing over there? Every time I check my portfolio I'm down another 2%... all of the gains I've experienced through careful forex manipulation of my paychecks have been shuffled away by losses in the stock market. Will someone do some buying please?

Subprime concerns, whatever... it's not like these loan companies are just giving money away, what's the big deal? Oh wait, yes they are giving money away. Hm

I'd like to see a nice 8-9% bump in the S&P tomorrow... can those of you reading this see what you can do on the buy side for me? I'd appreciate it.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Long Overdue

Sorry for the absence of good material of late - in all fairness to me, this post was ready yesterday but the internet ceased to function in the living area last night, so here it is:

First things first – some of you may have noticed the progression of my hair length over the summer, and are probably asking the question, “Did you really just go 2 months without getting a haircut?” Well, the answer is a resounding “Yes”. The decision to grow my hair out, as the kids say these days, was something more of a distrust for Israeli hairstylists than a fashion statement. The result has left me looking like something of a cross between European wine connoisseur and prairie dog.

Being as it is, the longest it’s ever been in my life, my hair has produced a source of entertainment in those dark times when absolutely nothing else presents itself. I find myself running my fingers through the bushy mass and examining for length the hairs that dislodge. Fellow IBL players reading this, feel free to call me out on it – sometimes I don’t even realize that I’m doing it, and I do want to keep the habit under control.

But enough about my hair, there are many other things much closer to the ground to talk about – like Matt Comiter, and the great job he is doing this year for the Netanya Tigers (who, by the way, clinched 4th place for the regular season tonight, quite an accomplishment for a team that had a 6-game losing streak at one point). Matt consistently has great control and changes speeds to keep hitters off-balance, and has been a cornerstone of our starting rotation all year. He had another great start tonight and held Ra’anana to one run in six innings. Shlomo Lipitz has given us an added boost in the second half of the season. A former professional player in the US, he joined the team about a month ago and has been as dependable as the sunrise so far for us.

As far as the league is concerned, everyone is working hard to wrap this season up in fine form. Larry Baras has been present for player meetings and gave a great speech this morning at a Tree Planting put on by the Jewish National Fund. We were educated about the rich history of planting a tree in Israel, given almond saplings, and instructed to pick a spot for our new addition to Israeli foliage. I found some of my teammates and we formed the Tiger’s Den of almond trees, which will hopefully grow to bear abundant fruit for the locals in the future. In addition to this very cool trip, the league has made great strides in the department of player comforts, including wireless internet in the rooms and improved cafeteria food at the Kfar.

In other league-related matters, tomorrow is a contractual pay-day. I am looking forward to receiving my final paycheck, and that’s all I have to say about that.

I spent the weekend with the McKemie family at their new home near Jerusalem. The view from their new abode is spectacular – to one side, the Mediterranean Sea is visible on clear days; to the other lie the Jordanian mountains in the far distance. A constant breeze blesses the area, relieving this weary pitcher from the heat of coastal Israel. It was a beautiful visit, again complete with bountiful food and great company.

I’ll wrap it up here, as I need to get some sleep if I am to make it to the gym in the morning. One week from now I will be aboard a Delta jet on my way back home, barring any delays. Time has really flown here, and I’ve had a blast so far. Hopefully the final week will bring four more wins for the Tigers and seven more days of great memories.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Marietta Daily Journal article

Should have time for a proper post by tomorrow afternoon. I've been at the McKemie's new digs for the weekend and having a great time, indulging all of the senses and catching up on sleep.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

It has finally happened

I've been waiting for this night for a long time. Finally, I am exhausted to the point of being unable to write anything meaningful or worth reading. This is due, happily, to the fact that I threw a complete game tonight in my best start of the year. After the necessary couple-mile run to keep the arm in shape, I'm tuckered out and ready for a movie and sleep.




Monday, August 6, 2007

Weekend shots

Photos from the trip


It's a great feeling, one of accomplishment and 'having done something'. I've got that right now.

This morning, I successfully depressed the snooze button on my phone 6 times, amounting in a total of one full hour of snoozing. That, my friends, is a feat.

Kidding aside, after I finally did arise from bed, I managed to weasel my way into the Grounds Director's (my title for him, as the beloved Kfar Hayarok apparently doesn't bestow titles upon officers) office to reset the wireless router that has been not operational for the past 2 days. (side note - I just tried to type 'inoperational' and Firefox wanted to change it to 'in operational'... does that make sense? If you have grammatical insight here, please let me know)

After resetting the router and restoring internet access for thousands of IBL players here at the Kfar, I made my way up for a surprisingly satisfying lunch at Cafe Kfar. After discussing career plans and good movies with my friend and teammate Ben Engelhart, I then retrieved my laundry and returned to my room to compose this glorification of a simple morning's events.

The Tigers have been unable to string together a bunch of wins as we had hoped (and still think we have the talent to do). Rafael had a tough go at it last night, and was dealing with a very tight strike zone in the first inning. The umpire seemed to get the idea, albeit a bit late, and opened up a bit as the game progressed. It was too late, and Bet Shemesh had opened up a 7-0 lead that we fought to a 7-3 count before we were out of at-bats.

Movies that I want to see:
Life Is Beautiful
Ocean's Thirteen
Die Hard 3 (sitting on my computer already ready for a watch... after a conversation with teammate Sam Faeder, I've come to find out that the latest version in theatres does not accurately reflect the Die Hard series, so I have decided to see the original trio. The first blew my socks off)

Have a movie I should see? Let me know!


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Clarification of yesterday

I really that my tone here isn't misread: I have nothing but good feelings toward this league, which has provided me with an experience of a lifetime. While it has not been perfect here, the fact remains that we're here, we're playing baseball in Israel, and we are all having an absolute blast. We appreciate the work that it took to get us all here, and I hope that conditions will allow for my return next summer.

The last thing I want to do is provide "bad press" for the league. I hardly think that this blog actually constitutes "press" at all - but, I should be clear to say to those reading this that everything here should be read with an overwhelmingly positive light. If I bring something up that seems negative, it just means that I may have run out of new fun times to talk about. I don't want to complain or be of any burden to the league.

I was not asked to write this, but after considering the implications and tone of some of my more recent posts, I wanted to make sure everyone knows how great everything here is, and how certain 'gripes' are only brought up because they represent interesting situations.


Saturday, August 4, 2007


I wanted to thank everyone for the comments that have been left of late - many of which are anonymous so I have no way to thank you by name, but to Craig, Tim, Sherry, and everyone else that has been leaving their kind words - thank you!

To answer Craig's question, the league decided to take the link to my blog off of their page yesterday. Two days ago I posted a quick summary of a possible strike situation due to late salary payments by the league - apparently this was information that the league had preferred to keep private. After being told by one of the hard-working interns (seriously - these guys make this league happen) that certain officials were not happy with the content of that post, I decided to remove the post and take the option to have my blog "de-linked", instead of sending each post to the interns for screening prior to posting on the web.

This way, in the future, I can say what is on my mind without worrying about stepping on any toes, at least as far as the league is officially concerned.

Had a great trip to northern Israel today - Amit Kurz acted as tour guide and did an excellent job of sharing the cuisine, market experience, and beautiful scenery with us. Pictures will follow-


Friday, August 3, 2007


Yesterday the Tigers beat the Miracle 7-6; this morning we lost to the Express in another game that featured some questionable umpiring. While it is frustrating, there comes a point when we just need to move on - no, the umpiring is not up to U.S. professional standards. As players, we need to accept it and play the game. Everyone (including myself) has been disappointed with a call this season at some point or another. How we react affects the rest of the game in a negative manner, more often than not. Myself and everyone else needs to just accept what we have and finish the season having fun and playing the game - concerning ourselves with things we can control. Arguing a call has not once changed the umpire's mind, so let's get past it.


Weekend coming up, Shabbat dinner tonight with friends and a nice day off tomorrow to maybe catch a movie or some beach time.



Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Eilat and Petra

For most of the story, check out the Photo Blog.

The cab debacle that I refer to, explained:

Before we left Tel Aviv, Ty made reservations with our hostel in Wadi Mousa (the city right outside the Petra ruins) to have us picked up at the border. So, upon arriving in Jordan, we were greeted by our very friendly and English-speaking driver and headed for the cab. There the situation got a bit pulse-quickening.

A pack of white cabs was parked near the road, waiting for people who were crossing. This was their 'territory', being the city of Aqaba. Our driver was not from town, and instead drove from Wadi Mousa to pick us up. Thus we had a problem that reminded me far too much of most Middle Eastern conflicts that I have learned about in school (admittedly, not the best way to learn about conflicts, but it's all I have). One group has territorial claim, and the other has a special arrangement that allows them to be there. Looking back, it is a bit humorous; at the time, it was far from it.

So we're loading our bags in the trunk of our Yellow cab when 4 drivers of the White cabs come to pay us a visit. About 5 minutes of intense arguing in Arabic ensued, with the three of us not altogether too sure what the heck to do. At one point, one of the drivers looked Ty in the eye and asked, "My friend, you want problem here? You get in this cab, you have problem." Ty stood frozen, as Josh and I did, and we waited for the arguing to start again. One of the White drivers put his arm in the trunk of the Yellow cab to keep our driver from closing it, but that proved to be an ill-fated move for a few of his forearm skin cells as our driver just closed it right on his arm. That triggered some pushing and shoving, a few punches (none landed - a sloppy fight, had to go to scorecard) and us looking at the border house for help. We caught the attention of some military personnel, who came to diffuse the situation.

In the end, we got in our cab and left, and had a great drive through the beautiful Jordanian countryside on our way to Wadi Mousa and Petra.

Enjoy the pictures -