Friday, July 17, 2009

Is a new pro league on its way to Israel?

Maybe, according to this report by the Jerusalem Post.

It's still pretty tentative - they'll be doing due diligence, feasibility studies, etc., before possibly taking the field in 2010 or 2011.

We'll see...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New pro league in 2009?

Forgive me for reproducing this IAB press release, and it's far from clear how substantive it is, but it's nice to hear nevertheless.

New Interest Being Explored by the IAB

The Israel Association of Baseball (IAB) has announced that it is exploring interest in granting a new license for operation of a professional baseball league in Israel, commencing in 2009. The IAB had previously granted a license to a company called Israel Baseball Properties (IBP), which operated the Israel Baseball League (IBL) in Israel for the 2007 season. The IAB terminated this license in January 2008, and no league was held in 2008. Currently, no company is licensed to operate a professional baseball league in Israel. The IAB is seeking new options for professional baseball in Israel, with the hope that a new league may be formed for the 2009 season

Sports in Israel is government regulated. The Ministry of Sport recognizes the IAB as baseball's regulatory body responsible for promoting the sport, organizing leagues and certifying its officials. Any professional baseball league in Israel would require the sanction of the IAB.

“A successful Pro League will have to have a positive symbiotic relationship with the IAB,” said Haim Katz, IAB President. “The pro league would help increase the awareness of baseball in Israel thereby strengthening the amateur league , and the amateur league would increase the player and fan base for the pro league.”

The Israel Association of Baseball has also announced an agreement with Aerielle Inc. to sponsor its amateur senior league. The league will now be called i2i Stream Premiere Senior League, after Aerielle's flagship product i2i® Stream Digital Music Broadcaster. The i2i Stream is a wireless digital audio device that allows a user to broadcast his or her favorite music to all that also have i2i Streams. This technology will also be used as the "PA" system at selected senior games. Together with CafĂ© Joe, which sponsors the Modiin Senior team, the IAB welcomes Aerielle Inc into its corporate senior team family. Larry Leibson, Aerielle's i2i representative in Israel stated “This is a great opportunity as it hits the right age and socioeconomic group.” There are still a limited number of sponsorship opportunities available in the senior league for companies willing to join this winning team.

About the IAB
The IAB is a non-profit organization (amutah) duly registered as such with the Israeli Authorities, with the purpose of promoting baseball in Israel. We are recognized as the governing body of baseball in Israel by all the official Israeli sports bodies: Ministry of Sport, Israel Sports Gambling Commission; the Israeli Olympic Committee; Otzma; and by official international sports bodies such as: Confederation of European Baseball and International Baseball Federation, MLB.

About Aerielle Inc.
Headquartered in Mountain View, CA, with offices in Hong Kong, privately held Aerielle®, Inc. is a developer of advanced, highly competitive wireless technologies whose mission is to bring low-cost, wireless audio solutions to the mass consumer market with no compromise in sound quality. Combined with innovative industrial design, Aerielle has embedded and licensed their patented Aerielle EnabledTM technology to some of the consumer electronic industry‟s most respected brands.

P.O.B. 48159 Tel Aviv 61481, ISRAEL TEL/FAX: 972-50-8962017
EMAIL: web:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Eladio Yanked

After being signed by the Yankees last autumn, only to be bounced around among the Yanks' various minor league affiliate teams depending on which other catchers were injured, IBL star Eladio Rodriguez has finally been let go.

Eladio, affectionately if unimaginatively known by fans as E-Rod, didn't rack up the greatest batting stats with the Yankees clubs. Then again, with just 45 at-bats among three teams, it may not be fair to judge him.

Rodriguez expressed his frustration in an interview with fan blogger Mike Ashmore:

Eladio Rodriguez - Is bouncing around among levels with limited playing time tough to deal with, or do you get to work on things and stay motivated? How do you see your future in the game?

“It’s very different. Sometimes, I feel bad because they say to play in Tampa or play in Trenton or play here or there. But where the Yankees need my services, I’m going. It’s hard, but I understand the situation. It’s very difficult for me, because I want to play. But when I get my chance, I play hard.”

Hopefully he'll get that chance with the other AL team he claims he's been talking to. Another Yankees minor league blogger thinks he will.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Easy come, easy go...

After his one day in the sun, Eladio has apparently been sent down to the Staten Island Yankees, a class A team which plays in the New York Penn League. The season doesn't start until mid-June, so Eladio will have plenty of time to warm up.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Eladio fans, listen live (or watch for a fee)

Head on over to the website of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, and you can listen to live or archived games for free with registration. (Video is available with a paid subscription.)

Eladio Rodriguez's debut game was April 29 against the Buffalo Bisons.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Adventures of Eladio in Yankeeland

Congratulations to Eladio Rodriguez, formerly of the Modiin Miracle, on becoming the first IBL alumnus to play AAA ball in the minor leagues!

With the Yankees' current catcher woes, they brought up Chris Stewart from their AAA team in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. To fill the roster spot in Scranton, who should turn up out of nowhere but Eladio, who was signed by the Yankees last autumn along with Jason Rees (who didn't make it through spring training). After Eladio missed spring training due to visa problems, having him show up behind the plate in Scranton was a pleasant surprise.

Even pleasanter, on his first day he went 1 for 3, with a double and two walks (.600 OBP). A great start. Let's see if he can keep it up.

Way to go, E-Rod!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Aw, shucks!

What can I say? I'm honored - the Brits would say chuffed - and more than a little stunned that the one-and-only IBL journalist Elli Wohlgelernter has singled me out (anonymous little old me!) for praise due to my writings about the IBL:

One guy in particular has been honest in his writing, pure in his study of the sport, and straightforward about giving credit where it’s due.

I salute the man behind bIBLmetrics. He’s a software engineer who took the game and the promise of the league so seriously that he applied sabermetrics (analysis of baseball through statistics) to try and make some baseball sense out of stats from a league that was defunct the day the season ended.

He calls himself "iblemetrician," and he spent an unbelievable amount of time doing this for the love of the game.

The Iblemetrician, though, he alone gave credit to Tabloid Baby for every bit of information that he shared with his readers. I don’t think there's a website editor alive who can boast that— except maybe Luke Ford, but he did it in passing. And this guy devoted all this and effort, in effect, to the players themselves. And they’re the real beneficiaries of all that work. Indeed, those inside-baseball numbers he produced just might REALLY be all that the IBL players walk away with from the summer of 2007. Those stats and the memories of having played with some really great guys.

Wow. Thanks. I thought all I was doing was enjoying baseball (and statistics) a bit too much for my own good.

The long-term effects have been palpable. I'm readdicted to baseball with a passion. Keep in mind that most MLB games start at 2:00 or 3:00 am Israel time. I've stayed up for the first couple of innings more times than is wise or healthy.

But I've learned a lot about baseball this past year, and I only stopped posting to the blog because I was too busy with the rest of my life. I hope to get back to it when I can find the time again. Maybe I'll finally get to those pitcher comparisons.

By sheer coincidence, this blog got going just as Elli's original feature story was released. I didn't enjoy what I read, but I was glad someone took the IBL seriously enough to report the true stories behind the league. The road from there to the IBL's ultimate collapse was not inevitable, but was rather the product of decisions made by key individuals along the way, some of whose motives remain unclear.

All along, I've tried to be honest and fair, neither a cheerleader nor a fearmongerer. I still think most of the leading figures in the league had their hearts in the right places, though not always their heads. If that makes me a Good Guy, I'm proud to be one.

Here's hoping for more baseball in Israel. Until then, I'm still hoping to do more statistical retrospectives on the IBL, because I enjoy it and I learn through doing it.

Most important: Don't forget, folks, the amateur IAB leagues are still alive and playing!

Keep those curveballs coming.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The fat lady has sung

Or at least, the IAB has. Looks like the IBL won't be back in '08.

Let's hope the IPBL folks can get their act together in time for this summer.

Baseball is still about dreams.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

How deep was the bench?

In the comments, the subject has come up of the depth of the bench in the IBL - or, rather, the lack of depth. With just 20 players per team and the rosters fixed at the start of the season, teams had no way to make up for players whose performance fell short. They couldn't just bring someone up from "the minors" midseason, since there were no minors to draw from.

Add to that the great variation in skill levels among players, whose backgrounds ranged from high levels of play such as Japan and AAA, all the way down to rookie ball, college ball, college ball a decade ago, and the Israeli amateur leagues. As Coach Scott Perlman of Bet Shemesh put it, "I feel our starting team for the Blue Sox could play a AA team and be competetive, but over the course of a series, we would not be able to match that level, because our bench was nowhere near strong enough, and doesn't compare."

Can we measure depth of bench? I don't know if there's an accepted way to define the bench, but I picked a common sense, though far from perfect, approach: Take the nine players with the most plate appearances for each team, and call them the starters. Everyone else is the bench.

For the IBL, that yielded 54 starters for the nine teams. They had 85% of the plate appearances over the season. Everyone else was the bench. Their summary stats:

                 AVG   OBP   SLG 
IBL .270 .383 .411
Starters .289 .401 .445
Bench .170 .274 .223
Bench/Starters 58.9% 68.4% 50.1%

Not surprising, the same calculation yields very different results for the majo leagues. Again, the "starters" are the nine players from each team with the most plate appearances, totalling 75% of the season's plate appearances.

                 AVG   OBP   SLG 
MLB 2007 .268 .332 .422
Starters .279 .345 .446
Bench .237 .292 .353
Bench/Starters 84.9% 84.5% 79.1%

With poorly performing or injured players easily replaced from the pool of minor leaguers, major league teams have a much greater margin of error than our under-resourced IBL teams.

Notice that the stat lines for IBL starters were a bit higher than their major league equivalents (actually, substantially higher if you include reaching base on error, but that's besides the point). But the bench players had much lower stats than the bench in the MLB.

I haven't tried the equivalent for pitchers (yet), but I assume the results would be similar.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Taking attendance

While I keep working on developing my play-by-play database, which I hope will support new types of analyses, let me offer you something completely different.

Ever wonder what the average attendance was at IBL games? How it varied by team and location? And so on?

I've been playing with the official attendance figures, and I think they have some interesting stories to tell.

For starters, I'll show you the graph of daily total attendance: Total reported attendance at all games played for each day of the season.

Now, I don't know how accurate these figures are. Kids in youth baseball t-shirts were admitted free - were they counted in the attendance figures? Sometimes the ticket booth was empty and people walked in freely, perhaps to be reminded later to buy a ticket, perhaps not. At the championship game, we walked from the car to the gate without being asked to show our tickets. So actual attendance may be higher than reported. But these are all the figures we have, so they'll have to do.

Without further commentary, the total attendance graph (click to enlarge). The all-star game and postseason are shown in green. The column bars for opening day and the championship game have been cut short to make the rest of the chart easier to read.

See if you can identify any interesting patterns. I've got some up my sleeve for a subsequent post.