By: Arik Rosenstein
For the first time in the Israeli Baseball history, Israel will be participating in the World Baseball Classic after qualifying for the main tournament.
Israel was the last team to qualify for the World Baseball Classic. As part of the Sports Rabbi Special: Israel at the WBC, we will be breaking down team Israel and previewing there expectations.
Team Israel is made up of mostly Jewish Americans that are allowed to play under the WBC “Heritage rule”. The Heritage rule states that players that qualify for citizenship for a certain country may represent that country. This explains why many players on Team Israel only visited Israel for the first time before the tournament, because technically any Jew is qualified to become an Israeli Citizen.
Israel’s roster is mostly made up from Major and Minor League experienced players. Players such as Joc Pederson, Ian Kinsler and Ryan Braun could also play for Team Israel, but were not willing to miss their MLB obligations. This further adds to the conversation about the player level at the World Baseball Classic, as many players use it as an opportunity to showcase their talent in Baseball’s World Cup.
Ike Davis, Ty Kelly, Sam Fuld and Jason Marquis are the first names that jump out when looking at the Team Israel roster. The rest of the roster is comprised of lots of experienced and young minor leaguers. To see a Roster break down here is the link to the Sports Rabbi Special: Team Israel roster.
With lots of big league experience in their lineup, they will have decent hitting and can hit against most of the pitching they will face. Cody Decker hit well in the minors, while their bigger players all have had some success at the Major League level. With lots of big leaguers in their infield, Team Israel should have a decent defensive lineup as well. The main worry will be the pitching and they do have Jason Marquis, who in the day was great, however rather underwhelming when you look at some of the topsides pitching staff at the tournament.
Team Israel have put together an exciting side, the expectations will be low on the outside as they face a strong South Korea, and a Netherlands squad filled with some good Major League hitting. However the team comes into it with nothing to lose, and in baseball anything is possible.
Team Israel’s manager Jerry Weinstein, expressed his optimism: “We are going into this expecting to win. We don’t need to bring a bunch of guys together and go to South Korea, if you don’t expect to win. Like I said before, its not always the nine best players that win. It’s the best guys that win on that given night, if you get the nine right guys executing, anything is possible.”
Israel make its first appearance in the World Baseball Classic this coming Monday, March 6th against the host’s of the tournament South Korea, then play against China Taipei, followed by the Netherlands. It’s a tough Pool A, but as we said before in Baseball anything is possible including the improbable.
The Sports Rabbi will have special coverage throughout Israel’s participation in the World Baseball Classic. Keep tuning into the Sports Rabbi to stay up to date with our Zionist stars!