Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Team Israel in the WBC

Spent a goodly chunk of my day off -- at weird hours, which is typical for me, as anybody paying attention to the time stamps on my posts might have figured -- watching Team Israel beat South Korea and Chinese Taipei in the first two games of the World Baseball Classic.

The two teams "expected" to emerge from Pool A at the start of round-robin play were South Korea and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Even Taiwan has a significant professional league to draw talent from.

But it's Israel with a 2-0 record and a leg up on reaching the second round. (KoN hasn't played yet.)

There is one actual Israeli resident on the Israeli squad. The rest of the roster is American Jews who qualify for Israeli citizenship, From a Houston Chronicle story on how the Israeli squad was assembled by a Astros scout who also serves part-time as Israel's general manager:

Israel offers citizenship to anyone who is a Jew, which the country qualifies as: the child or grandchild of a Jew, or the spouse of a child or grandchild of a Jew. Team Israel abides by the same laws for its players.

There are some Twins connections for Team Israel. Center fielder and leadoff man Sam Fuld played about a half season for the Twins in 2014; he didn't have a team in 2016, major or minors. Game One start Jason Marquis, who pitched (horribly) for the Twins in 2012, did have a team for a brief while in 2016, but the Reds released him after nine starts. Ike Davis, the DH and No. 3 hitter, is the son of Ron Davis, a relief pitcher remembered by Twins fans of a certain age with a mixture of fondness and loathing; Ike Davis was born in Minneapolis.

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