Editor’s note: I knew I should have posted this yesterday…
Well, roll me in sugar and call me a doughnut. I never thought it could happen, but the host Israeli team beat Cuba in their Saturday/Sunday match-up in the WBC. Jason Marquis (right) got the start again and made a good case for someone signing him to a contract, tossing 5.2 innings in which he allowed just a solo home run in the second. Israel tied things up on a Ryan Lavarnway double in the fourth then scored two more in the sixth on an RBI single by Zach Borenstein and a run-scoring double by Blake Gailen, who also plated the final tally on a sacrifice hit in the eighth. Zack Thornton earned the win with Josh Zeid picking up the save. Each team managed only five hits, but Israel made theirs count.
The game was “broadcast” as a replay on the MLB network. I had DVR’ed it, but unfortunately the previous game ran into the scheduled start time for Israel-Cuba and I got cut off after the top of the sixth so I missed all the excitement. In fact, to be honest, I almost feel a bit cheated not to be in on things. I’ve been writing about baseball in Israel since before the ill-fated and short-lived professional league came and went in 2007. It would have been very cool to be a part of the festivities first-hand, but them’s the breaks.
The WBC squad — 7-0 since the qualifier round last September — is garnering more and more attention, a fish-out-of-water/Cinderella story. A number of articles are coming from the Jewish press. It reminds me of pieces from a couple of generations ago, when Hank Greenberg was emerging as the first Jewish superstar and such publications felt it necessary to explain the rudiments of the game to a readership that was uninformed on such trivial matters.
Here are a few links about the current situation:
This one especially grabbed my attention: “Israel soars at World Baseball Classic, and a nation shrugs” (FOX Sports). That’s all well and good for Israel. It’s not like the team is comprised of their own countrymen. In fact one of the things I’m seeing on social media is the “complaint” that the Israeli entry should actually be considered another team from the United States. Jerry Weinstein, Team Israel’s skipper, said “I don’t agree with that. We’re representing Israel. Our guys qualify under the heritage rules. I think if you ask anyone in our clubhouse, we’re representing Israel. We’re not a JV team for the U.S. We’re Team Israel. Make no mistake.” Good for him.
Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but it seems like just one more anti-Zionist knock. But you know what? The rules allow a sort of tangential legacy system. Other teams are in the same boat. If you’re going to pick nits, that would limit participants only to those countries made up entirely of native-born athletes. And while that might work out great for the Dominican Republican, Puerto Rico, Japan, and others who send a healthy number to the Majors, it obviously wouldn’t work for other venues who appear in the WBC. You think Italy is made up entirely of native-borns?
Next up, a rematch with the Netherlands tomorrow at 6 a.m. Eastern. Israel won the previous game, 4-2.
In other MOT/WBC news, Ian Kinsler accounted for two of Team USA’s six hits and scored the game-tying run in the sixth inning of their 3-2 win over visiting Columbia on Friday. He was 1-5 with another run in Saturday’s 7-5 loss to the host Dominican Republic. Alex Bregman did not appear in either game.