US Jews Go to Bat for Israel in World Baseball Classic

July 24, 2012  

American Jewish baseball players are going to bat for Israel and will play for “Team Israel” in the World Baseball Classic this summer.

“This could be the most celebrated Israeli team since David met Goliath,” said Chaim Katz, president of the Israel Association of Baseball, told The Los Angeles Times.

Israel would not even get to first base if it has to rely on Israelis, but American Jewish players like Shawn Green and Gave Kapler are stepping up to home plate for Israel.

The Israeli Baseball League made a valiant attempt to capture the hearts of Israelis, whose love of sports starts and ends with soccer and basketball and who quickly got bored trying to figure out the rules and objectives in baseball. The League folded after one year.

Katz hopes Team Israel will revive the effort.

With Brad Ausmus as the manager, Jewish baseball players such as Ryan Braun and Ian Kinsler may have to make the decision whether to play for Team USA or Team Israel.

Before major leaguers can play, teams must pass the qualifying round in September, leaving Israel to rely on minor leaguers.

The LA Times noted that Jake Lemmerman, who plays for the Dodgers’ double-A Chattanooga affiliate, could start at shortstop. Other possibilities are first-baseman Casey Haerther, who plays for the Angels’ double-A Arkansas farm team, and outfielder Joc Pederson of the Dodgers’ Class-A Rancho Cucamonga club.

If Israel can win the round, it will be all set for the major leaguers to play in the big game in March.

A loss would probably be the last strike for baseball in Israel.

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