TOP 10 Players Eligible for Israel’s World Classic Baseball Team – Thursday’s Top Ten List
Last night, Israel’s baseball team (and no, that’s not an oxymoron) was scheduled to play South Africa in a preliminary round game for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The logistics are a little confusing, but 12 teams (Including the U.S. squad) are assured spots in the 16-team round robin which will be held next March. Israel is one of 16 teams trying to qualify for those other four spots in the main draw.
The other confusing part is this. Only 3 of the 28 players on Israel’s current roster are, well, Israeli. The rules are a bit “elastic”, to quote New York Times writer Barry Bearak. Here’s a snippet from his piece:
“Players do not need to be citizens of a participating country; they merely need to be eligible to become one. For Israel, that includes anyone with a Jewish parent or grandparent. A non-Jew married to a Jew could also play.
‘If we only could get a nice Jewish girl to marry Albert Pujols, he could be at first base for us,” Peter Kurz, the American-born secretary general of the Israel Association of Baseball, said in a bit of reverie.’”
As it turns out, Israel should have a good chance of making the main draw, even though the best Jewish players are now suiting up for Major League teams. So, without coaxing Pujols to marry a Jewish girl (quite a longshot as Albert just skipped Tuesday night’s game to be with his wife, Deidre, who just gave birth to their fifth child), here is a list of the Top 10 Jewish Ballplayers (in ascending order of perceived value) Eligible to Play for Team Israel.
In putting this list together, I’ve also not going to resurrect the great Hank Greenberg or even convince Sandy Koufax to come out of his 46-year arthritis-induced retirement (although I’m sure he can still get a few hitters out at 76.5 years old). The good news is that former Major Leaguers Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler have come out of their own retirement to join Team Israel’s cause.
So, here they are, with eight position players, a starting pitcher and a reliever. And it’s a pretty impressive squad without even fudging Mike Trout’s family tree.
Jake Lemmerman, Shortstop
There simply are not that many Jewish shortstops to choose from. The 23-year-old spent most of the past season with the Dodgers’ AA affiliate.
Shlomo Lipetz, Starting Pitcher
The 33-year-old Lipetz, who sports a dark beard that would make even the SF Giants’ Brian Wilson (not the Beach Boy, but perhaps him as well) envious, once pitched both games (and 214 pitches) of a doubleheader against England. Fear the beard!
Craig Breslow (over Scott Feldman), Relief Pitcher
Feldman is having a so-so year, but should be rewarded with yet another trip to the postseason with the Texas Rangers. The pick here is Breslow, whose Boston Red Sox will ensure that he is well-rested after the end of the regular season. The Yale grad is 3-0 with a 2.87 ERA this year.
Ryan Lavarnway, Catcher
Why not try to reunite the two Red Sox who—back in August—formed the first all-Yale battery in MLB in about 500 years. The 25-year-old backstop has struggled a bit this year, but something tells me he’d light it up for the blue-and-white.
Gabe Kapler (or Sam Fuld), OF
Kapler has come out of retirement to join Team Israel. Just 37, he had a career .268 batting average with 82 homers. The speedy “Super” Sam Fuld has rebounded from injuries to hit .273 with 7 stolen bases for the Tampa Bay Rays. Tough decision.
Shawn Green, OF
Another co-captain who came out of retirement to play in the WBC, Green was a star Major Leaguer (his best years were with the Toronto Blue Jays and the LA Dodgers) who hit .283 while launching 328 homers and swiping 162 bases. He’d be even higher on this list if he wasn’t retired and pushing 40. On the other hand, he hit 40 homers in back-to-back seasons and once achieved a 30/30 (homers and stolen bases) season.
Ike Davis, 1B
The Mets’ slugger already has 27 homers and 81 RBI this year—after a very slow start. Just 25, he has tons of potential.
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Still just 33, Youk has been on two World Series championship teams, has a Gold Glove and three All-Star Game appearances.
Ian Kinsler, 2B
The terrific All-Star second sacker has achieved the 30/30 mark twice, although this year, he’ll have to settle for a still-impressive 20/20—and more than 100 runs scored for the fourth time in his young career.
Ryan Braun, OF
It’s time to present a list of all of the National League players who are having better seasons than Braun. Done. He’s that good.
The “Hammer” won the NL MVP Award last year, and should get lots of votes for somehow leading his undermanned Brewers to wild-card contention this year. He currently leads the league in homers, RBI, slugging and “OPS” and is three stolen bases shy of his second consecutive 30/30 campaign.
Well, on that most impressive note, that concludes this list of the TOP 10 Players Eligible for Israel’s World Classic Baseball Team. As always, feel free to share and to comment below. If you have a suggestion for any future lists, please also comment below or send me an email.
Matthew J. (call him Matt) Goldberg will be presenting a Jewish-style Top Ten list every Thursday on this site. For information about Matt’s books, sports columns, speaking events and requests for appearances and custom writing, please visit www.tipofthegoldberg.com, or contact him via email. His new Facebook Fan Page (“to like, to like, l’chayim”) can be found here.
About the Author: An author, speaker and custom writer from Cherry Hill, NJ, Matt loves to entertain people through his writing and public speaking. Laughs, Smiles and just enough Wisdom reach his audience through the magic of his written and spoken words. More about Matthew