America’s favorite pastime found an enthusiastic audience in Israel last Sunday. The Israel Baseball League’s opening day was a success, with an estimated 3,112 fans showing up to watch the Modi’in Miracle (managed by former New York Mets player Art Shamsky) take on the Petach Tikva Pioneers at Yarkon Sports Complex in Petach Tikva. Modi’in Miracle hitters were on the offensive, and the team claimed a 9-1 victory over the Pioneers.
But despite the full stands, Ha’aretz and other publications have reported skepticism about the IBL’s long-term popularity. In a country where fast-moving spectacles like soccer and basketball dominate the sports pages, baseball might seem tedious and boring.
The IBL is the country’s first-ever professional baseball league, and the 120 players come from around the globe; only 20 are from Israel. Each of the league’s six teams will play 45 regular games. There is an All-Star game midseason and a final championship game at the end of the season.
In other baseball news, Mets right fielder Shawn Green officially announced his pledge, to UJA-Federation of New York, of $180 for each run batted in. This is good news for UJA. With a respectable .290 batting average and 27 RBIs this week, it’s fairly certain that the slugger will bring home many more runs this season.