We told you it's official. The Israel Baseball League is as dead as Heath Ledger. The Israel Association of Baseball, the nation's baseball governing body, has canceled the league’s contract and effectively kicked the IBL out of the Holy Land. In a letter to IBL founder Larry Baras and his Israel Baseball Properties, IAB president Haim Katz says he's revoking permission for the IBL to operate in Israel “in light of its unpaid bills from the 2007 season, and the clear inability of the IBP, due to its current financial situation, to produce a baseball league in Israel in 2008.”
The Katz letter is just some of the new exclusive information being gathered by Our Man Elli in Israel, the journalist who first exposed the problems behind the professional league’s maiden season. We’re not waiting for Elli Wohlgelernter to write another muckraking opus. We got him to spill the beans immediately:
TB: Just cut to the chase.
OUR MAN ELLI: Yes, the Israel Baseball League is dead. Maybe not in a legal sense, but they are done. As John Parsons, my old News director back in New York would say: "tutti finutti." The Israel Association of Baseball sent a letter to the IBL on January 9th, canceling the contract. The IAB is the governing body for baseball in Israel, and without their certification, no one can play. So the IBL is over.
My rebbe just-a wrote me a letter...
How did the letter come about?
I just spoke to the Peter Kurz, secretary-general of the IAB, and asked him the same thing. “They owe money in Israel, that's why we terminated the relationship,” Kurz told me. “We have been pressuring them for six months, and their answer was, ‘We’ll have the money next week, we’ll have it next week.’ And we got tired of it.’”
It’s always been about the money-- the enormous debt incurred by the IBL in that first season. To this day, Larry Baras, the league’s founder—
The Boston bagel baron--
The guy who invented the “Unholey Bagel”—
Right, the bagel without a hole stuffed with cream cheese. Anyway, Larry Baras still hasn’t given anyone an accounting of how much money he raised or where the money went. Though I did a little investigating and found out he’d registered at least six limited liability corporations for the league in that corporate haven, Delaware.
1) ISRAEL BASEBALL PROPERTIES, LLC - 05/08/2006
2) POLOGROUNDS MANAGEMENT LLC - 07/13/2006
3) GEZER PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL TEAM LLC - 07/13/2006
4) BET SHEMESH BASEBALL TEAM, LLC - 02/13/2007
5) ISRAEL BASEBALL LEAGUE, LLC - 03/26/2007
6) MODI'IN PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL TEAM, LLC - 04/09/2007
I’m not sure why he had to go with six LLCs. And remember, Baras has stonewalled despite a pretty good offer I’ve learned about. Back in the fall, he had a free offer to have an independent financial professional—somebody he’d find acceptable-- review and assemble the financial information of the league. Baras turned down the offer.
I don’t now. Maybe the Baras apologists can explain it all. Like IBL player Eric Holtz, who believes that all the problems are only because “I have seen in business over the last 22 years that there are vultures that try to pick off the last pieces of meat off of a carcass and to me that is exactly what is going on with this whole IPBL nonsense”; or Leon Feingold--
The professional competitive eater, right?
Right. Leon said the real problem is that “there are many people who had no patience for the problems with the current league and wanted to tear it down.” Well, there you go. Looks like the patience ran out.
What’s next? Will there be baseball in Israel?
Right now it looks like the Israel Professional Baseball League seems to have the inside track. They’re already getting their ducks in order. And there’s a general consensus that this new league shouldn’t have to be responsible for the debts of the IBL. So they’d start with a clean slate.
And what about the meeting in New York City on Thursday?
Hold it right there, Elli. We’ll let our readers digest all this first.
Stay tuned here for details on the meeting that could bring Israel’s baseball dream back to life…