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.