For the first time, Israel was invited to send a squad to compete in the World Baseball Classic as part of the tournament’s expansion to 28 teams in 2013. Specifically, Israel and 15 other countries will compete to send four teams, who will then join squads from more established baseball countries to play out the rest of the tournament. While there is a six-team Israel Baseball League, the players to whom this is truly a boon are the top-notch Jewish-American players—Ian Kinsler, Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Braun (although he could probably play for Uncle Sam), Jason Marquis, and of course Super Sam Fuld—who are also eligible, because, under WBC rules, players may compete for any country of which he is a citizen or could be a citizen. Thanks, Law of Return!
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced today that it will sponsor the baseball tournament at Israel’s quadrennial Maccabiah Games, also in 2013. “Our sponsorship hugely enhanced the baseball experience at the 18th Maccabiah Games in 2009,” said Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, “and the Dodgers are proud to continue our close association with the Jewish Olympics.” This is funny, because the Dodgers’ finances are so bad—in the wake of McCourt’s hugely ugly divorce from his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Jamie (who is actually the Jewish one)—that Major League Baseball took control of the Dodgers earlier this spring, and it was actually news a few days ago that McCourt made May’s payroll. Maybe this is part of the settlement? Either way, thanks, rich Irish guy!
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.