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Wed Mar 15, 2017, 09:05 PM

A baseball team like no other

They call it Team Israel, but really, it’s Team Jew. And there’s never been anything like it.

Next month in South Korea, 16 countries will play in the quadrennial baseball tournament known as the World Baseball Classic (WBC), a “World Cup” for baseball. One of them is Israel, which advanced to the tournament by winning its qualifier in Brooklyn in September.

Almost all the players on this team are Jewish Americans, representing a mix of the American-Jewish community. Some have an integrated Jewish background – two Jewish parents, extensive participation in Jewish holidays, and involvement in the Jewish community – while others have a Jewish parent but grew up with the other parent after divorce, or have only one Jewish grandparent, and barely know they are Jewish. Yet somehow, they all bought in on being a Jew representing Israel.

“I always found it amazing that so many of these guys who had virtually no [Jewish] identity growing up, never celebrated Jewish holidays, embraced being known as a Jewish baseball player,” says Jonathan Mayo, 46, a reporter for MLB.com since 1999; “and understanding that the Jewish community in the United States loves them unconditionally.”

The guys not only embraced their identity as Jewish players, they embraced each other. The weekend before the Brooklyn qualifier, the team gathered for the first time in Wappingers Falls, New York. It was a threeday mini-camp to get them ready to play Great Britain and Brazil. Repeatedly, veterans spoke of their amazement at the team comradery that so quickly came together.

“I don’t know what the reason was behind it, but everybody got super comfortable with everybody on the first day of the workouts,” says Nick Rickles, 27, a catcher with the Washington Nationals organization. “The next day, it was like we’d played together six months – everybody was on the same page immediately. That was very impressive to me. I can feel something special that I don’t know that I felt with a team before, especially this soon.”

Rickles is one of a handful of returning veterans who played in the WBC in 2012, the first qualifying round in which Israel competed. “It’s been four years since we’ve seen each other, but coming back, we hadn’t missed a beat in four years,” he says. “That was also very impressive to me.”

Nate Freiman, 30, a free agent first baseman, is another of the five or six players who will be playing on the third Team Israel roster next month ‒ 2012 and September being the first two. He was the star at the first qualifier in Jupiter, Florida, when he hit four home runs, knocked in seven and slugged 1.417.


I'm going to leave this up but I meant to post this in the Jewish group.

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Reply A baseball team like no other (Original post)
Mosby Mar 2017 OP
Mosby Mar 2017 #1

Response to Mosby (Original post)

Wed Mar 15, 2017, 09:07 PM

1. Israel falls to Japan, ending miracle run at baseball tournament

Israel’s miracle run at the 2017 World Baseball Classic came to an end Wednesday afternoon, as the blue-and-white team fell to Japan 8-3, knocking it out of the tournament after two weeks of play.

Israel entered the tournament as heavy underdogs, surprising the world, and its namesake country, by going undefeated in the first round and beating Cuba in the second round, becoming the WBC’s unlikely darlings.

Consecutive losses to the Netherlands and Japan, though, proved too much to overcome, and the team was forced to hang up its gloves without a trip to the championship rounds in Los Angeles.

Israel held Japan scoreless until the fifth inning, helped by the stifling pitching of Josh Zeid. Things fell apart in the sixth, though, as Japan scored five in front of a sold-out home crowd in Tokyo and never looked back.

Israel’s bats fell mostly silent over the first eight innings, before showing some life in the ninth.


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