1999-2010
Showing posts with label Larry Baras. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Larry Baras. Show all posts

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Yankles? New team takes new swing at bringing professional baseball to Israel!


Remember the Israel Baseball League? How could you forget? Tabloid Baby's comprehensive coverage of the disastrous 2007 season and the tragicomic failed attempts to carry on led to our editor and Our Man Elli in Israel being submitted for a Pulitzer Prize-- being cut off at the pass by gatekeeper Sig Gissler-- and given a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. Now, a new group of sportsminded US businessmen with stars-- and shekels-- in their eyes-- are ready to give it another go. Our Man Elli leads us to the article in YNetNews, noting that it "mistakes Martin Indyk for Dan Kurtzer":

NY Yankees make aliyah

Co-Owner of legendary American baseball team
promotes initiative to establish
professional baseball league in Israel
Itamar Eichner

American businessmen, including one of the owners of legendary baseball team The New York Yankees – which is worth approximately $1.5 billion – are promoting an initiative to establish a professional baseball league in Israel.

The businessmen visited Israel and held meetings with Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development Silvan Shalom and Jerusalem's Mayor Nir Barkat, in which they asked for their assistance.

As part of the initiative, the businessmen proposed to build a baseball stadium near Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, which will serve as Israel's central baseball hub.

Following the meeting, Barkat promised to promote the project and help find a proper location for the construction of the stadium.

Minister Shalom offered the businessmen governmental aid, if they were to build stadiums in the country's northern and southern regions.

"The entrepreneurs are aware
that baseball is not
very popular in Israel,

but believe it can
gain a following.
"

Officials were also examining the possibility of building a stadium in Netanya, which brands itself as Israel's sports hub.


One of the men involved in the project is billionaire Jeffrey Rosen, who owns Israeli basketball team Maccabi Haifa.

The businessmen have also approached Israeli diplomats, and asked them to help coordinate meetings with Israeli officials that can help promote the project.

The entrepreneurs are aware of the fact that baseball is not very popular in Israel, but believe that with time it can gain a following. At first, they plan on catering to American expatriates living in Israel, who continue to follow the popular American sport.

Past attempts to import the sport have proved unsuccessful. In 2007, the first professional Israeli baseball league was established, and one of its managers was former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk.

Six teams participated in the league's first season, but the second season was cancelled after the league suffered financial loses. Despite the failure of previous initiatives, the American entrepreneurs, who enjoy the support of The NY Yankees, want to have another go at it, and believe this time they will hit a home run.


Cick here to read Tabloid Baby's entire coverage of the Israeli baseball fiasco.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Holy Land Hardball's tribute to Our Man Elli


Holy Land Hardball, the documentary about the optimistic, hopeful start of the Israel Baseball League in 2007, got its first nationwide U.S. audience last night, thanks to an airing on the MLB Network and proved to be a great, feelgood work of art about a group of men who became young again by carrying out an innocent, naive dream in a foreign land. Yet to those who know how the story played out, the film proved to be a poignant, even anger-making document as the cheerful, seemingly guileless businessmen behind the scenes were revealed to be charlatans, liars, scamsters and worse.

Experiencing Holy Land Hardball without the real-life epilogue of deceit and failure that followed would be like watching a lump-in-the-throat doco about Mark McGwire's chase of baseball's home run record later tonight, with no knowledge of his overdue shameful, tearful steroid admission on the very same MLB Network earlier this evening.

Yet for us, there was a high point to Holy Land Hardball, and that was the quick tribute given to Our Man Elli in Israel early in the film. As disgraced IBL founder Larry Baras is profiled affectionately as a bagel-making bumpkin blustering his way through the baseball business, there is a brief moment when he is shown being interviewed by Our Man Elli.


There he is, Elli Wohlgelernter, the journalist who would expose the moral and financial corruption of the IBL days after the final pitch, shown interviewing Baras months before the first pitch, Elli towering over the self-styled baseball exec, the no-frills professional, holding a large, makeshift hand microphone, wearing a tie, kippah in place, unmistakeably an Israeli, unquestionably a Jew, asking Baras:

"And how fearful are you
that you could end up
being called 'a colossal failure'?"

Baras does not answer.

The filmmakers, baseball historians that they are, were sitting in their editing room doing post production on the film at the same time that Our Man Elli's reportage was spooling out from this site and other publications, day after day, month after month. They saw that Larry Baras was being called many other things beyond "colossal failure." They realized that Elli was onto something from the start, and knew that history would prove him right.

So they gave him that tribute.

Nice job, boys. We're only sorry it took us this long to see it!

Click here to read the complete year-long coverage of the rise and fall of the Israel Baseball League and much more of Our Man Elli's reportage at Tabloid Baby's special Baseball in Israel archive site.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Update: Israel Baseball League's controversial "interim president" and twittering, money-seeking huckster David Solomont files Chapter 11



    David Solomont has filed for bankruptcy protection.

    Solomont is the well-known and controversial Boston area investor who took over as frontman for the Israel Baseball League from disgraced Boston bagel baron Larry Baras amid the financial disarray that followed its disastrous first season, intimated that he would rescue and restart the league with his own personal fortune and connections, then promised an eleventh-hour 20-game second season that was eventually downgraded to a five-game show weekend that never took place but was never officially canceled. When last heard from in these parts last December, Solomont was still attempting to raise money from US-based Zionists and Jews for a 2009 Israeli Baseball season that had already been blocked by Israeli government sports officials.

    Solomont filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to papers filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Boston.

    Solomont, who was a pioneer in announcing his business intentions and daily activities on Twitter, reportedly was a founder of the Massachusetts Software Council and a founder of CommonAngels, a top angel investment firm based in Lexington, Massachusetts.

    Solomont listed his assets as being between $1 million and $10 million. His wife, Joan Solomont, is listed as a fellow debtor.

    An attorney for Solomont refused to comment on the case.

    Solomont has faced legal troubles in the past. In 2004 he was accused in civil cases of diverting money from a startup he presided over to a holding company he ran. The outcome of those allegations is still unclear.

    Solomont's Israel baseball shenanigans and the entire exploits of the Israel Baseball league were documented here in coverage led by Our Man Elli in Israel. The entirety of our Pultizer Prize-nominated coverage can be found at our Baseball in Israel archive site.

    Saturday, December 20, 2008

    Exclusive! Boston businessman continues raising funds for 2009 Israel Baseball League season that sources say won't be allowed to take place


    Yes, we went cold turkey on coverage of the scandal of the Israel Baseball League after a solid year of intense, exclusive, controversial and Pulitzer Prize-nominated reporting. And in light of that Pulitzer nod, we’ll be checking in occasionally with updates provided by the tenacious and world-beating reporter Elli Wohlgelernter—known here as Our Man Elli In Israel-- who carried this story singlehandedly and reported recently that there will be no professional baseball in Israel until 2010 at the earliest.

    Our Man Elli’s reportage apparently stirred up a reaction from the Boston-based businessman who's now heading the putative league-- and apparently still drumming up money from American investors for the battered IBL. He sends along this latest, exclusive report:


    It appears it ain’t over for the non-existent Israel Baseball League, which continues to squeeze the American Jewish community for money and solicit unsuspecting American Jews and Zionists for an Israeli baseball season that’s already been blocked by Israeli officials.

    I obtained an email sent by David Solomont, who took the reins of the IBL from embattled Boston bagel baron Larry Baras (and was immediately tagged with the sobriquet “El Presidente of the Dominican Republic of The Middle East Baseball League”) stating his intention to play professional baseball in "the summer of 2009 and have a winter season Nov to Jan 2009/2010”:

    From: David Solomont
    To: ***** ****************

    Cc: ****…

    Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 7:39:24 PM

    Subject: Re: Baseball In Israel

    Unfortunately, there is no baseball next week.
    We expect to kick off the 2009 season in late June and play the summer of 2009 and have a winter season Nov to Jan 2009/2010.

    David Solomont

    (617) ***-****

    As I
    reported on December 3rd, sources tell me that one thing is for sure: the Israel Association of Baseball, which governs the sport in the nation, will not negotiate with David Solomont.


    The controversial Boston businessman and de facto head of the IBL is persona non grata, ever since he announced a twenty-game 2008 IBL season ... make that seven-game… er, six-game... would you believe a five-game "festivus" that never took place?

    Even so, the front man for disgraced IBL founder and former president Larry Baras continues raising cash for a pro baseball league in Israel in 2009.

    Every source close to the Israel sports establishment tells me that Solomont may have a chance kicking off a 2009 season in Santo Domingo starring Chico Escuela, but has little chance of running a season in the Holy Land.

    There will be no sequel to the rousing documentary Holy Land Hardball, because the Israel Association of Baseball is not, and will not, negotiate any deal with the league that survived a single season in 2007.


    Solomont is also urging potential investors to sign up on the IBL website for news. When we last looked, there hadn't been a new posting since the infamous July 24th, 2008 announcement that stated explicit plans for:

    "…a week-long baseball festival starting on August 17th that will pit an IBL All-Star team against a team made up of premier Israeli players.

    “Details of the baseball festival, which will run from August 17th through August 21st, will be announced on this site in the upcoming days.

    “Players have already begun to arrive in Israel for the event, which will also feature clinics during the week in Hashmonaim and Bet Shemesh. Photograph sessions will be available before and after every game with your favorite IBL star. Tickets will be sold at the door with all proceeds to benefit JNF's Project Baseball."

    As of today, December 20th, there is no update on the now-legendary Festivus.

    And speaking of Larry Baras-- remember my report of December 3rd, I asked:

    “Why is the JNF in bed with the IBL? “And how much money is stuffed inside the mattress of that bed?”

    Now, it turns out they've pulled up the sheets to snuggle even closer:

    Larry Baras is now on the board of the New England branch of the JNF.

    Stay tuned…

    (And catch up on all our coverage of the Israeli Baseball saga here, at our Baseball in Israel website.)

    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    Remember professional baseball in Israel? Well, fughedabout it for 2009! And maybe 2010!


    Remember the Israel Baseball League?

    Remember how we spent an entire year covering the fallout from the inspirational, fun, yet disastrous 2007 inaugural season of the Israel Baseball League, and followed every lawsuit, liar, layabout and lunkhead as they schemed, blathered, promised, fought, sued, threatened, begged and bullshat until by the same time 365 days later, we had to throw our hands up and walk away?

    We ended our intense coverage on that first anniversary, but not before starting up a special Baseball in Israel companion site-- and not without regret, as we wrote:

    "...The story grew on its own... with all its intrigue, deceit, betrayals and bizarre and unintentionally comedic twists. And the characters-- including a bagel baron, a champion competitive eater, a fast food defector, a ballplaying attorney, an overgrown Peter Pan, a mysterious Dominican, a toymaker, a billionaire, a US ambassador, a neglected wife, a controversial web mogul-- only made the saga richer.

    "In the past twelve months and more than 300 posts, this site-- a tabloidcentric site of pop culture and media criticism and satire, became the meeting place and sounding board for ballplayers and sports fans around the world-- not mention a place where anonymity allowed key players in the story to float rumours and leads.

    "All credit goes to Elli Wohlgelernter..."


    We also said we’d report back when there was something worthwhile to report. So Elli Wohlgelernter, the top Jerusalem-based journalist known in these parts as Our Man Elli In Israel-- the man whose reportage, hard work and expertise our comprehensive coverage was built upon-- has this report:

    Professional Baseball in Israel rained out for 2009

    by ELLI WOHLGELERNTER

    Special to TabloidBaby.com

    JERUSALEM - Forget about professional baseball in Israel in 2009.

    Sources tell me that the current economic meltdown is making it difficult to jumpstart a professional league of any kind in Israel in the foreseeable future.

    "The economic climate is not the most conducive for these kinds of ventures,” says a figure close to the Israel Association of Baseball (Israel’s governing body for baseball and the only group authorized to run a pro league here). “But hopefully by 2010 there will be some kind of pro league here.”

    The source adds that the IBA “hopes we’ll have something concrete to say this month, but it ain’t over till its over”—which seems to imply there are some serious negotiations being conducted.

    Other sources tell me that one thing is for sure - the IAB is not negotiating with David Solomont. The controversial Boston businessman, who installed himself as the de facto head of the Israel Baseball League is persona non grata ever since he announced a twenty-game 2008 IBL season ... make that seven-game… er, six-game... would you believe a five-game "festivus" that never took place?

    Even so, the frontman for disgraced IBL founder and former president Larry Baras continues to try and raise cash for a pro baseball league in Israel.

    His “Twitter” page-- his preferred means of announcement-- states:

    "Solomont
    Getting ready for a hectic week with 3 deals to close! 12:28 PM Nov 28th from web



    "working on several transactions -- Electric Vehicle Propulsion Systems is "hot". Of course, baseball is right up there as well:) 11:46 AM Nov 18th from web

    "Working on Electric Vehicle Propulsion Systems, Solar Powered iphone Charger/Carrying Case, and Baseball! 8:26 AM Oct 13th"


    The problem is that Solomont’s public displays are hindering others from moving forward.

    Another insider who doesn’t want his name used:

    "Solomont is going around telling people that all he has to do to get a license from the IAB is to pay debts of the IBL, and that the IAB's reluctance to deal with him is simply a matter of money, and not of trustworthiness. That's been complicating anyone else's efforts to get serious traction on an alternative approach."

    That complaint is exactly what was written here on the Tabloid Baby site on August 22nd:

    As long as the people leading the alleged IBL (Larry Baras, David Solomont Martin Berger and the gang) hang around, it will be tougher to get anyone else interested in taking a new approach. Even if the IAB puts the IBL out of our misery by deciding it will no longer deal with its "executives," any other group stepping forward will have to deal with the baggage.”

    Sources also tell me that "Solomont reportedly has been claiming that he has the ability to raise $ 5million. I'm not sure anyone believes him, but the Jewish National Fund apparently has maintained contact with him."

    We’ve asked it before and we'll ask it again:

    Why is the JNF in bed with the IBL?


    And how much money is stuffed inside the mattress of that bed?

    Stay tuned…


    It’s good to be back on the hunt. Not that I ever left.

    EW

    -30-

    Friday, August 22, 2008

    What the f***?


    What the f*** was that all about?


    The Israel Baseball League's promised expanded second season was reduced to four-team, three-week, 20-game "momentum-building" mini-season, truncated to a one-week "show" festival, reduced to a five-game "show" festival, cut to a one-night stand-- and ended with nothing.

    NOTHING.

    For all the lip-flapping and free-lunch-acceptance from IBL apologist Shoeless Leon Feingold, for all the deceptive posts on the IBL website, and for all the twitterings of "in-coming President" David Solomont, the supposed saviour with pretensions of installing himself as Presidente of the Dominican Republic of The Middle East Baseball League-- for all the abuse that anonymous commenters heaped on Our Man Elli in Israel's accurate and groundbreaking and award-deserving coverage (and you can find your own links this time, because we're disgusted)-- they never played a f***ing game!

    It never happened!

    Our Man Elli reports that Shoeless Leon and the other IBL "All-Stars" who got a free trip from the States to Israel have headed back home (hopefully without any transmitted diseases, which could be a possibility if our spies are correct-- Neve Ilan ain't the Olympic Village, boys).

    Russell Robinson of the Israel National Fund has checked out of his five-star hotel without ever throwing a first pitch. And David Solomont has also fled the country.

    Israel Association of Baseball President Haim Katz, whose group was falsely accused of stopping the tournament that was ever advertised, insured or manned, told Elli today:

    "This week changed nothing; It did not affect any change in their (the IBL's) status or in their license to play baseball. No matter what they would have done, it wouldn’t have affected that status.

    "It was irrelevant if they played one game or two games or no games. Nothing was coordinated with us beforehand, so it didn't have any bearing on the future."

    Mr. Katz, we must disagree. We'd say that a lot has changed.


    As long as the people leading the alleged IBL (Larry Baras, David Solomont Martin Berger and the gang) hang around, it will be tougher to get anyone else interested in taking a new approach. Even if the IAB puts the IBL out of our misery by deciding it will no longer deal with its "executives," any other group stepping forward will have to deal wit h the baggage.

    Bottom line:

    Who will buy their bulls*** now?

    And what the f*** was that all about?

    Where's the Associated Press coverage of all this?

    Oh, right. They only refashion press releases.

    Where's bigtime Jerusalem Post sports editor Jeremy Last and his team? Watching the Olympics on television? Or because of the embarrassing publicity, has he gotten the order not to use this site as a source?

    Does Jeremy Last still think the IBL failed because there was no promotion among Israelis?

    Stay tuned here for a major announcement on the future of coverage of the Israel Baseball League and its fallout.

    "This is going to be the Dominican Republic of the Middle East... Our players are going over to put on a show!"
    --IBL's new "in-coming president" Solomont

    Monday, August 04, 2008

    10 days to go: Israel baseball fest unlikely


    When the Israel Baseball League put out a press release announcing that a one-week “festival” and baseball “show” would replace its already-truncated four-team, 20-game, three-week, momentum-keeping mini-season on August 14th at the Yarkon Sports Complex at the Baptist Village, it also promised:

    “Final roster spots will be determined and announced in the coming days.

    “The full schedule of events will be announced on the IBL web site shortly.”


    Here we are, eleven days later, with ten days left on the countdown clock, and so far, no final roster nor schedule has been announced. In fact, no further details of the festival have been announced, and last night, Israel Association of Baseball president Haim Katz told Our Man Elli in Israel that “ The field at Baptist (is) in the worst shape I’ve seen it in 10 years!”

    Sadly, it’s looking more and more likely that David Solomont’s plans to turn Israel into “the Dominican Republic of the Middle East” will not be happening anytime soon.

    “My suspicion is that the announcement of the festival may have been designed more to help raise money from investors than anything else,” another insider tells Elli.. “If it doesn't proceed, that may mean there's been little progress on the money front. It's apparent Solomont doesn't want to risk his money on the venture.”

    “No schedule has been published. Nor has there been any further announcement concerning the festival or the IBL's activities. So I'm beginning more and more to think this may be more show than substance,” says another.

    And as for the seven-man “All-Star team” promised to participate, another source confides: “At least one guy told (IBL “Director of U.S. Operations” Martin I.) Berger to forget the festival. That means they’re down to six guys.”

    Saturday, July 26, 2008

    Leon Feingold brings the heat! Denies blaming Israelis for IBL failure; says he's no IBL apologist; uses biting wit to hurl new & old insults at us!


    Leon Feingold, the six-foot-six professional competitive eater who pitched for the Netanya Tigers during the Israel Baseball League's first season and is now facing possible picketing from former colleagues and unpaid Israeli vendors as he leads a seven-player group of "IBL All-Stars" into David Solomont's weeklong "show" fest that's taking the place of the IBL's canceled four-team, 20-game, three-week, momentum-keeping mini-season, has responded to our recent report that he'd been quoted blaming Israelis, and not management, for the failure of the IBL.

    Leon had told the Jewish Star:

    "The reason the league didn’t do nearly as well as it should have last season was because those who live there haven’t grown up with baseball. How can we expect to succeed with a product when no one in Israel has ever tasted it?"

    Today, posting as "bringheat" in our comment section, the man who lists both MENSA and Gluttonfest on his CV not only disowns the comment, but denies being an "apologist" for IBL management, while claiming that our reportage has libeled Larry Baras and other IBL executives. The Masonic lodge warden also asserts that none of the dozens of anonymous complaints in the Tabloid Baby comments section about bounced paychecks and unpaid bills is "legitimate," and wrongly assumes that many comments on this site were posted by members of the Tabloid Baby staff-- obviously misjudging the animus directed toward him and his actions in support of the IBL management on a site that has become a clearinghouse and anonymous sounding board for many IBL players and fans.

    Leon's comment:

    "Wow, looks like I'm late to the game here. Sorry I missed so much quality journalism while I was out.

    "First off, has anyone else noticed how no named person has ever had a legitimate gripe about Larry? With perhaps one or two exceptions, virtually every single comment about how 'Larry stole money,' and 'Larry is f__ing over the players,' and so on, is either Elli or the TabloidBaby staff posting anonymously or under a pseudonym (TB staff: you can look that one up online if you don't recognize such an unusual word, as it's obvious none of you have ever taken any journalism classes), and those who do have legitimate concerns and have posted them under their names, have been more confused and wishing clarity, rather than vitriolic and hateful.

    "(By the way, very classy with the gustatory insults, over which the TB staff must have enjoyed much sniggering in between their Internet porn surfing and looking up multisyllabic words in the dictionary. I imagine they took you at least a week to come up with, so I assume you've been saving those up for the next time I was mentioned in the news. You guys are nothing if not dedicated.)

    "Next, as has been accurately pointed out, I don't see anywhere where I blamed Israelis for anything other than not being introduced to the game, which was a failure of LARRY and his initial organizational team.

    "You fail to recognize (or rather, conveniently fail to acknowledge) I am not an IBL apologist; I place blame where it's due. Larry and the IBL messed up a lot, and were way over their heads. But if I were them, and had nothing better to do with my time rather than take the high road, it wouldn't be hard to hit up the TB staff and Elli for libel and a few other choice tortious claims.

    "As far as my characterization of your collective staff as 'mudslinging, smarmy, sensationalist, no-talent gossip-column rejects,' I stand by it. I mean, it seems pretty spot on, doesn't it?

    "Leon Feingold"

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    Leon Feingold blames Israelis for IBL failure


    You remember Leon Feingold. He was the professional competitive eater who pitched for the Netanya Tigers during the Israel Baseball League's first season who became the foremost post-season apologist for the IBL management malfeasance and, along with self-professed "Peter Pan" Eric Holtz, a leading critic of Our Man Elli in Israel's reportage of the real story behind the IBL facade, hurling insults much harder, but equally as inaccurately, as his 33-year-old arm could muster.

    Now Leon's back, and his fellow IBL players who've seen their paychecks bounce, their hard work gone unrewarded and their dreams urinated on by secretive back bay business, can't be too happy by what he has to say about the plans of the IBL's successors, the Dominican Republic of the Middle East Baseball League, to replace its four-team, 20-game, three-week momentum-keeping mini-season with an exhibition tournament in August.

    And neither will native Israelis. Because now he's blaming them-- not Elli and not IBL founder Larry Baras for the failure.

    “It will be the Israelis against the world, which is sort of what it is in real life,” the Long Island weiner-chomper tells the Jewish Star of Nassau County, Long Island.

    “The reason the league didn’t do nearly as well as it should have last season was because those who live there haven’t grown up with baseball. How can we expect to succeed with a product when no one in Israel has ever tasted it? Getting the kids involved is always the first step.”

    The pie-eater said he and other players will run "youth clinics" coinciding with the beginning of the tourney at the Yarkon Sports Complex in the Baptist Village of Petach Tikva on Aug. 14.

    “We’re also going to be doing a lot of PR work which, in my opinion, we should have been doing all along, with clinics and outreach programs in different cities in order to bring in more fans.

    “I am very much looking forward to going, both in terms of going to Israel and in terms of playing at (the professional) level again,” the six-foot-six bean slurper said. “I am sure the experience will be different because the structure of the league has changed so drastically, but anytime I get to play baseball and travel to Israel, that’s a good thing.”

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    Top Tips: Alan Gardner helps IBL players get paid

    Attention, screwed Israel Baseball League players: Alan Gardner can help you get paid.

    The New York City attorney, former IBL outfielder and elder statesman, and frontman for the would-be IBL replacement Israel Professional Baseball League has new comments about the state of the game in wake of our post about his return, after a long absence, to the debate about the future of baseball in Israel.

    Of course, Alan chastises his colleagues for posting anonymously and comically on this site—

    Hey, Alan, who are you, John McCain?

    This is the I-N-T-E-R-N-E-T, babe! Commenting anonymously is what people do! Do callers on talk radio give their names? Not every IBL player is so brave as to put his name to his gripes. Satire and comedy are often easy roads to deeper truths! Get a sense of humour! Lighten up!!


    Anyway, Alan does offer helpful hints to Israel Baseball League veterans who’ve finally received paychecks from the 2007, but have heard they are in danger of bouncing:

    "If anyone has received a new check and is concerned about the IBL account having funds available to cover it, try the following (it worked for me and several others back in September when they had some funds available, but apparently not enough for everyone):

    "Go to one of your bank representatives and ask them to contact the issuing bank (if it's still Citizen's Bank in Boston, the number should be available on their website; it's how my bank made contact). Tell your rep you are concerned about whether there are sufficient funds available on account at the issuing bank and you do not want to incur fees for this check bouncing. Your bank should be able to call and, using the account number on the check, determine if there are sufficient funds available to cover the $500 check. If your rep gives you a hard time, ask to speak to a manager and push the issue. It's a simple phone call, but the issuing bank probably won't tell you because you're not another bank.

    "If there are not sufficient funds on account, send an email to Berger; I do not have any contact info for Solomont (if anyone does, maybe it should be posted on this site); might also be a good idea, so as to inform everyone still owed money, to post your results here."


    We'll leave out the bit where he goes on about people posting anonymously...

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Now we have twenty questions for Presidente Solomonte of the Dominican Republic of the Middle East Baseball League


    Our Man Elli in Israel originally posed the following questions to Dan Rootenberg, the player-turned-"incoming-president" of the new and improved Israel Baseball League. Since Dan was not given the information to answer them, we turn them over to David Solomont, AKA "El Solomonte" of the IBL's successor, the DROTMEBL (Dominican Republic of The Middle East Baseball League):

    Here are Our Man Elli's 20 questions. As a matter of fact, we;ll take answers from anyone who feels they can answer:

    1) How much of the $1.5 million in IBL debts from last year has been paid?

    2) Has Kfar Hayarok been paid? If not, will it be? What about Gezer?


    3) Does the IBL owe money to the JNF for the roughly half million dollars given last year by the JNF to the IBL?

    4) Is it true that most of the money being used to pay players now came from Israeli VAT refunds relating to last year's activities, and the proceeds from the sale of Maximo Nelson to Japan-- in other words, not from new investors?


    5) How many investors have signed on to the new season?


    6) When will the private placement memorandum necessary to raise most of the money needed by the IBL be available?


    7) Is it true that the IAB is requiring the IBL to make a security deposit ($200,000) in order to be re-licensed, which the IBL hasn't been able to make?

    8) If the IAB doesn't acknowledge a license with the IBL, will the IBL try anyway to conduct a league?


    9) Who is controlling the finances of the new league - Baras? Duquette? You?


    10) Will your brother, Jay Solomont, have any involvement in the league?


    11) Is it true that Larry Baras still has a large ownership stake in the IBL?


    12) Will Dan Duquette be the CEO of the revamped league? If so, would you be reporting to Duquette, or to someone else?


    13) Have plane tickets for this year's players been purchased?


    14) Where will the players be staying during the summer? Have there been any payments made reserving those arrangements?


    15) Have the player's uniforms been ordered and paid for?


    16) Is the league supplying bats or will the players have to bring their own?


    17) How many players have committed to playing this summer, and what percentage is from last season?


    18) Who are the managers and coaches?


    19) What is the drop-dead date for declaring that there is no season this year?

    20) If there is no season this summer, are there plans to continue efforts to create a season in 2009?

    "This is going to be the Dominican Republic of the Middle East"
    --IBL "interim president" David Solomont

    DAVID SOLOMONT IS ISRAEL BASEBALL LEAGUE'S "INTERIM PRESIDENT"! PROMISES TO MAKE ISRAEL "THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC OF THE MIDDLE EAST"!


    In wake of Our Man Elli in Israel's exclusive report last night that former Israel Baseball League player and "incoming president" Dan Rootenberg has resigned from the league amid frustrations and unanswered questions from an inner circle that includes embattled founder Larry Baras and controversial Boston businessman David Solomont, comes the expected cancellation of the new IBL's promised four-team, 20-game, three-week, "momentum-keeping" mini-season.

    But the news release from the IBL bunker this morning includes several other revelations, shifts and promises that are sure to generate more controversy, and extend this story and its accompanying investigations in 2009:

    * David Solomont is the IBL's "interim president."

    * A brief, "best-of-seven, "festival-style" tournament pitting an Israeli all-star team against international players will begin on August 14th to coincide with the Beijing Olympics. The series will include youth clinics. The international team will be comprised of all-star players from last year, the league said.

    * Solomont says the league hopes to begin winter play this year.

    * Winter facilities have not yet been arranged.

    * Solomont says the new management has raised enough money to pay off all remaining debts and finance the league for at least two more seasons... and believes it can be profitable.

    * Former Boston Red Sox General Manager Dan Duquette, who oversaw player development last year, will now take on an expanded role as director of operations.

    * Duquette and new board member Gary Woolf will oversee long-term development, including the launch of the winter league in southern Israel.

    * The long-term goal is to attract international players along the lines of the winter leagues in the Caribbean.

    * Solomont says: "This is going to be the Dominican Republic of the Middle East."

    * The IBL is in the process of hiring a full-time staff, including senior sports-marketing professionals who will be based in Israel and the U.S.

    * League founder Larry Baras, will no longer be involved.

    * Officials at the Israel Association of Baseball, a local organization that promotes the sport in the country, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

    * Solomont said he expected to work with the IAB "for years to come."


    The expanded Associated Press story, from The International Herald Tribune:

    Israeli baseball league to shorten season, launch winter league in latest shakeup

    JERUSALEM: Israel's beleaguered professional baseball league on Wednesday unveiled its latest plan for survival, saying it would scale back its upcoming season to a brief exhibition series next month before launching a winter league and returning to full strength next summer.

    The shakeup was the latest twist in the league's short but tumultuous history. Just last month, the league said it was coming back for a second season after an inaugural campaign that left it on the brink of collapse. At the time, it said four teams would compete, down from six last year, and the season would be cut in half to 20 games.

    But after further discussions, the league's new management concluded a brief "festival-style" tournament pitting an Israeli all-star team against international players would be the best way to generate fan interest and showcase homegrown talent, said David Solomont, a Boston businessman who is serving as the IBL's interim president.

    He said the best-of-seven series, which will include youth clinics, would begin on Aug. 14 to coincide with the Beijing Olympics. "The plan to host an Olympic style baseball festival is a fabulous way to promote the sport and give the Israeli athletes the attention they deserve as local baseball heroes," he said.

    The international team will be comprised of all-star players from last year, the league said.

    The inaugural 2007 season delivered a respectable level of play — roughly on par with single-A minor league baseball in the U.S. — and more than a dozen players went on to sign professional contracts.

    But in a Middle Eastern country where football is king and baseball is little more than a curiosity, the league suffered from low attendance, financial difficulties and a mass defection of executive board members after the season. The troubles fueled persistent rumors that the league would fold.

    Solomont said the new management has raised enough money to pay off all remaining debts and finance the league for at least two more seasons. He said the league's new investors believe it can be profitable. "In the next three to five years, the challenge, and the opportunity, is to develop a local fan base," he said.

    Former Boston Red Sox General Manager Dan Duquette, who oversaw player development last year, will now take on an expanded role as director of operations. Duquette and new board member Gary Woolf, a Boston businessman with years of sports-management experience, will oversee long-term development, including the launch of the winter league in southern Israel.

    "Now that the potential is established a more robust and sophisticated league, teams, management and vision can be engaged," Woolf said. "The entire team believes this enterprise can become an explosive element not only in Israel but have international marketing and business appeal."

    Solomont said the league hopes to begin winter play this year, though he said facilities have not yet been arranged. The long-term goal is to attract international players along the lines of the winter leagues in the Caribbean. "This is going to be the Dominican Republic of the Middle East," he said.

    Solomont does not expect to serve as league president for long. It is in the process of hiring a full-time staff, including senior sports-marketing professionals who will be based in Israel and the U.S.

    The league's founder, Boston businessman Larry Baras, will no longer be involved, and Dan Rootenberg, a former player who was appointed league president last month, has decided not to accept the position, the league said.

    Officials at the Israel Association of Baseball, a local organization that promotes the sport in the country, did not immediately return messages seeking comment. The group has had rocky relations with the professional league, but Solomont said he expected to work with the IAB "for years to come."

    It ain't over til it's over Dept.


    "...league official David Solomont says
    management decided
    a 'festival-style tournament'
    pitting Israeli and international players
    would be the best way to
    generate fan interest..."


    From The Associated Press:

    Israeli baseball league
    to shorten season,
    launch winter league
    in latest shakeup


    JERUSALEM: Israel's beleaguered professional baseball league has unveiled a new plan for survival.

    The Israel Baseball League says it is scaling back its upcoming season to a brief exhibition series next month, but then plans to launch a winter league and return at full strength next summer.

    The shakeup is the latest twist in the league's short but tumultuous history. Just last month, the league said it was coming back for a second season after an inaugural campaign that left it on the brink of collapse. At the time, it said four teams would compete, down from six last year, and the season would be cut in half to 20 games. But league official David Solomont says management decided a "festival-style" tournament pitting Israeli and international players would be the best way to generate fan interest.

    Wednesday, July 09, 2008

    Our Man Elli: Israel Baseball League is running out of time, doesn't have the money, and may not have its momentum-keeping mini-season after all!


    The new and improved Israel Baseball League is what? Eighteen days away from the first pitch of its four-team, 20-game, three-week, momentum-keeping mini-season, and everyone's still standing around with their fingers up their creamcheese-filled bagels wondering what's going on.

    We praised player-turned "in-coming president" Dan Rootenberg for actually speaking with Our Man Elli in Israel, and for putting his reputation on the line when he promised that checks are in the mail to some players still owed money from last year. Today, despite our advice, the IBL site still hasn't taken the "in-coming" off his title and some checks that were supposedly in the mail a week ago have still not landed in mailboxes.

    Behind the scenes, we're hearing the machers behind IBL Mach 2 are talking about delaying the mini-season by a week. But again, nobody's talking and all the anonymous commenters who were quick to say we were wrong in being the first to report there won't be any professional baseball in Israel this summer may have been, as they are in bed, premature.

    But who knows? Time to wake up Our Man Elli.

    Tabloid Baby: So?

    Our Man Elli In Israel: Yes and good morning-- is it morning?-- to you. There's a a lot going on. Lots of news. Hard to keep up.

    So?

    You wanna play that way? Fine. First off: Gezer has been promised again that the money was wired to their account, but as of yesterday – Tuesday – no money has arrived. Which means that as of now, the IBL can’t play on their field.

    What’s the problem?

    Money. Duh.

    We thought the IBL was paying off all debts from last year.

    Yes. That’s what they're trying to do. And they're racing the clock to do it. Because if they don’t get the money soon, it's pretty much over. I don’t know about any drop-dead date yet, but c'mon! The season is supposed to start two weeks from Sunday. This can’t go on for much longer.

    But what about David Solomont? Isn't he the moneyman who’s paying the tab?

    I never said, and you guys never reported, that he was picking up the debts. We all said he was fronting a little money to make some payoffs needed to get the league off the ground or licensed by the IAB. And that he could be raising the bulk of the money from other investors.

    So?

    So it looks like Solomont hasn't been willing yet to put in much of his own money.

    He's not stupid, you're saying.

    He's definitely not stupid. And because of that it's looking less and less likely that the IBL will be able to conduct a season this year. I've heard that Solomont or Larry Baras retained an investment banking firm in Boston named Baker and Company to help raise money for the IBL. That probably means that the bulk of the money they need isn't committed.

    They're soliciting.

    Yeah. The important point is whether they're giving investors full disclosure of the IBL's history of the IBL and the risks of investing in it.

    Okay. Hold on a minute. You mentioned Baras. Larry Baras. I thought he wasn't involved. Remember the AP reported--

    I have it here. Last line of the story says that Baras, quote, “is not expected to be involved in day to day operations.”

    So it depends on how you define "involved.”

    My sources say that both Solomont and Baras would be involved in ownership, with Baras as a minority partner. They say Baras would continue to own part of the league, but he wouldn't be an executive, if Solomont can move things forward.

    So we’re back where we started.

    You were expecting maybe something new and improved?

    "Sources tell me
    that no team uniforms
    have been purchased."

    What about the players?

    The same sources tell me that some players won’t be paid, at least not for a while. There’s a hierarchy on payment:

    The ones coming over here to play will get paid first.

    Americans owed money will be paid second.

    Other foreigners, third.

    And players who intend on playing this summer have to make their way to New York-- and only then will their airfare to Israel be paid. And they better bring uniforms. My sources tell me that players have been told that no team uniforms have been purchased.

    Sounds like there's no money to buy them.

    The IBL is scrambling. They need cash, and they don’t have enough of it.

    "I've sent Rootenberg
    a list of 20 questions.
    I'm awaiting his response."

    What about Rootenberg? Hero or puppet?

    So far, neither. He’s certainly trying his hardest to do the right thing, but it’s still not clear that he'll be allowed to do it. Indications are they the new, and still, “in-coming” president, is not being fully informed. Sources tell me that Rootenberg recommended that "small creditors"-- like players and field workers-- be paid in full, especially the ones who'd be needed for a second season.

    I don't know if this has happened or will happen. It could be that creditors are being offered much less than what they're owed. And it's not clear whether they'll have enough money to do even that.

    In any case, I'm also hearing that Solomont and Berger are in charge of settling the IBL's debts, and that Rootenberg has little say. All he can do is recommend.

    I've sent Rootenberg a list of 20 questions. I'm awaiting his response.

    Any news about the IBL itself?

    Well, their website hasn’t been updated since they made their dramatic announcement on June 19th. And that means ticket sales page is still listing Ra’anana Express and Tel Aviv Lightning as teams. And its very first sublink, a description of the IBL, still lists the original six teams (Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, Modi’in Miracle, Netanya Tigers, Petach Tikva Pioneers, Ra'anana Express and Tel Aviv Lightning) and still states that “among the managers of the IBL’s teams are former Major League stars Art Shamsky, Ken Holtzman, and Ron Blomberg," which must be a bit of a shock to Ken.

    So now the good news.

    Good news? I've got lots of it. The All-Star game next Tuesday at Yankee Stadium features three Jewish players. Well, one full and two half-Jews. We have Kevin Youkilis, the Red Sox first baseman who'll start for the American League. The two half-Jews are Ryan Braun, the sensational outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers-- he'll be starting for the National League, and Ian Kinsler, the Texas Rangers second baseman who made the American League team as a reserve. Both Braun and Kinsler have Jewish fathers. Braun’s dad is Israeli.

    I mean good news about baseball in Israel.

    Of course. The European Championship Qualifiers are going on right now. There are five tournament locations,featuring national teams vying for a spot at next year’s championship tournament between national baseball teams. It happens in Europe every other year in odd-numbered years. And it’s on this week through Saturday. Israel plays in Karlovac, Croatia. And incidentally, they're one-and-two in the tournament, but still have a chance to qualify for the finals. In one of the losses, the team lost an 8-0 lead.

    And as I do the IBL, I wish the Israeli team much success.

    As do all of us. But what about--
    Gotta go.

    Click. Brrrr...

    Friday, June 27, 2008

    BARAS SURFACES

    Larry Baras, the beleaguered Boston bagel baron who founded the Israel Baseball League, then left Israel while the final game of the first season was still being played, leaving behind a million dollars in unpaid bills and riding into a future of lawsuits, acrimony, accusations and chaos, has come out of hiding to bask in the new, folksy, heroic image he's been given in the new IBL documentary, Holy Land Hardball.

    Baras, whose name is not used in the launch of the "new" IBL's four-year, 20-game, three-week, momentum-keeping "mini-season," emailed Giants baseball fan Jay Roberts' Jaybird's Jottings site, in response to a Hardball review that painted Baras as a dreamer facing an "enormous challenge":

    The Boston entrepreneur, reflecting on his faith, wanted to do something special for Israel. A lover of baseball, he was inspired to put together the Israel Baseball League, which made its debut season last summer... Giants fans will be interested to know that at the beginning of the film, when Baras was at his home, he talked about his father Hyman who was a Giants fan. Baras pulled out a well-worn Giants SF hat out of a drawer, worn by his Dad and a momento of the times they shared...

    Roberts writes that Baras emailed the site with even more recollections:

    "I'm not precisely sure how my father became a Giants fan, but I know he was a fan of the team his whole life. Even during World War II, when he served in the Philippines, he maintained a correspondence both with one of the players and with a reporter who covered the Giants.

    "In my house, the Giants were treated as if there was some sanctity attached to them. For the first ten or fifteen years of my life, I would often listen to Giants games with my father via a green transistor radio that he had bought me that got games clearly even from as far away as Chicago, Cincinnati and St Louis. When there were games that ended after I was asleep already but had a dramatic and fortuitous ending, he would come into my room, wake me up, and recreate the ending for me as if it were taking place live.

    "In the mid-60s (I think I am correct on the period), NBC started to broadcast the Game of the Week on Saturday afternoons. Sometimes, the Giants would be on. This presented a problem in our household because we were Sabbath observant and couldn't turn on the television. For the first time, my father went out and bought a timer, connected it to the TV, set it for 2 pm on Saturday, and we would actually watch television on the Sabbath, albeit in strict conformance with the rules of the day."

    Baras last surfaced in April, when he was quoted in an article about Fenway Park hotdogs. Before that, his last public comment was recorded on November 20, 2007, when, amid our exclusive revelations of an IBL-related federal security fraud lawsuit filed against him, he wrote to Our Man Elli in Israel, accusing the journalist of “destroying” him because of the IBL-related stories he had broken.

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Exclusive! The "new" Israel Baseball League's new backer brings his own scandals to the game

    Move over, Boston bagel baron, here comes the Boston business bigshot brother. Our Man Elli in Israel reports that the new bright and shiny Israel Baseball League, crouched behind its player-turned president Dan Rootenberg, is being bankrolled to a large extent by controversial businessman David Solomont, best known in Boston for a 2004 lawsuit in which he was accused of siphoning more than a million dollars in funds from a software firm while he served as its CEO.

    In an uncanny similarity to a federal lawsuit filed against IBL founder Larry Baras, the start-up scandal lawsuit stated: “Solomont has become overextended, and is robbing Peter to pay Paul..." (See our teaser story.)

    Our Man Elli reports that his sources have mentioned the 56-year-old Solomont as the "money "behind the league. And that Solomont has been contacting some IBL creditors, telling them they won’t be seeing any money for a month. “This could be another syndication deal, with Solomont fronting a little money to make some payoffs needed to get off the ground or licensed by the IAB,” says a source .“And he could be raising the bulk of the money from other investors.”

    Solomont himself has been hinting at his involvement online for weeks, on his “Twitter" page:

    working on the "best" deal ever, other than my family:) 02:10 PM May 20, 2008 from web

    Humming, "take me out to the ballgame" 10:16 AM May 25, 2008 from web

    Humming "Take me out to the ball game", and soon you will know why:) 06:27 PM May 30, 2008 from web

    Planning to be in the big apple tomorrow, Thursday, still humming "take me out to the ballgame" Can't wait to share:) 12:47 PM June 04, 2008 from web

    working on a baseball deal, if you hadn't already figured this out from my humming:) 03:32 PM June 11, 2008 from web

    Holy Land Hardball, http://holylandhardball.com, engaging documentary telling amazing story about IBL, http://israelbaseballleague... 0:36 PM June 19, 2008 from txt


    Solomont’s brothers have also made the news. Younger brother Jay Solomont was reportedly in jail in Israel for misappropriation of funds. Other brother Alan Solomont is a wealthy businessman and major Democratic fundraiser-- in fact, he's the former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, which is yet another link between the IBL and the next President of The United States.

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    BASEBALL MITZVAH, WEEK #2: No response from IBL's Baras or IPBL's Rosen; kids suffer



    On Tuesday, May 13th, Our Man Elli in Israel laid out a benevolent challenge to the two US businessmen who sought to profit most from the idea of professional baseball in Israel: Boston bagel baron Larry Baras of the failed Israel Baseball League and the Miami millionaire Magnetix maven (or should we say Boca billionaire basketball boychick) Jeffrey Rosen: Do a baseball mitzvah by helping out Shuki Goodman, who'd placed a notice on the Janglo bulletin board seeking used baseball equipment for his non-profit program for at-risk called Chein Farm Learning in the Galilee, in upper Israel.

    Seven days have passed.

    No response.

    No mitzvah.