Why Play Ball!?

With opening day of the Israeli Baseball League this Sunday, I thought it was time to revisit the multiple reasons for its founding.

Reason #1:

IBL officials are hoping the league will quickly spur Israeli interest in American baseball — they aim to draw about 1,000 fans per game in the first year — while government officials hope it will help boost Israel’s image abroad. (MORE)

I’ve been a die hard Yankees fan since birth, but give me a break. Can a sport, especially one dominated by the Evil Empire (America, not the Boston Red Sox), improve Israel’s image abroad?

Reason #2:

The opportunity to show Israel not only as a country at war but as a country involved in sports — quintessentially American sports at that — could help Americans bond with Israel. (MORE)

Right, Americans have really bonded with Cuba since the likes of Jose Contreras and Orlando Hernandez waded onto American soil to pitch in the major leagues. Will the IBL really change the relationship between Israel and America? The expansion of Sbarro, McDonald’s and Burger King has not helped Americans bond with Israel, on the contrary it is just Americanizing Israel.

Reason #3:

League officials are adamant about getting Israel into the 2009 World Baseball Classic, an international baseball tournament comprised of professional and amateur all-stars. (MORE)

Again, Cuba.

While these claims seem outrageous to me, I am a baseball fan so I’m looking forward to the start of the season. In fact, I can even watch the first game on television (Sunday night on PBS, which is another issue altogether)! And don’t worry, I already hate the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox.

(Matt Ring is the summer intern at MyJewishLearning.com)

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