Saturday, June 30, 2007


We won our first game on Friday 5-0. Abel Moreno threw a gem. It was a much needed boost after losing our first three games. We made some changes that I believe will help us win consistantly going forward.

Our top hitter Ryan Crotin about to hit a double down the line

Out at the plate

Our second baseman Willis Bumphus

Kenny and I

Celebrating our first victory

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Play Ball!

So much has happened since I have arrived in Israel one week ago. I have been busy and preoccupied so have not posted any blog entries. Hopefully, I will post what has been happening soon.

Tonight is our second game and I am slated to pitch. Below are some pictures from opening night with comments.

Opening Day pregame ceremonies

The Hebrew on the sign includes the Israeli version of "If there is a will there is a way"

Fans down the first base line

My nephew Yishai, Mom, My sister Iyrit, My neice Renana with her fiance and my brother Hudi

Concession stand, the t shirt says "WOW! Baseball comes to Israel!"

Ex Yankee and manager of the Blue Sox, Ron Blomberg, being interviewed

Abel Moreno on the mound. Abel was the number three prospect in the Angels organization until visa problems kept him out of the USA. He struggled in his first outing for the Pioneers but will no doubt be a force on the mound for us throughout the season.

The Pioneers watching the first inning of pro ball ever played in Israel

Kenny Holtzman and I watching the game and discussing strategy

Kenny, dealing with our opening day loss

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

In Israel Paralell Worlds Converge

In 1972 I was 11 years old and lived in Israel. There was no baseball in Israel back then but I would take my glove and a tennis ball and throw endlessly against a stone wall in front of our house. I would pretend to be a Major Leaguer pitcher and the erratic bounces off the uneven wall were hits that I fielded. In those days the Jerusalem Post would publish the Major League standings once a week, delayed a couple days of course. I would go out early in the morning to beat my Dad to the newspaper which was delivered to our front stairs. I would glance at the standings outside and then bring him the paper. I loved baseball.

In 1972 Ken Holtzman was an elite Major League pitcher. He won nineteen games for the Oakland A’s that year and helped his team win the World Series by pitching them to victories in game one and four against the Cincinnati Reds. Kenny did not know me then but we were connected. I was a southpaw like Kenny, Jewish like Kenny and loved baseball like Kenny.

In 1972 the Olympics were held in Munich Germany. It was a big event in Israel, it was on TV and in my youthful naiveté I thought the Israeli athletes were sure to bring home some gold. When the Palestinian terror faction, Black September, shot dead two members of Israel’s Olympic team and took nine other team members hostage, I was heart-broken. Watching the masked terrorists on TV hour after hour and feeling the tension the adults around me were enduring, was disconcerting and haunting. Somehow I just felt that the athletes would be OK, they would survive. I was on the couch about 10 feet away from my mother when she answered the phone, suddenly she burst into tears, my world stood still, she sobbed, "they murdered all of the athletes." That moment sucked the naiveté of my youth from my core and replaced it with a gut punch whose impact will stick with me the rest of my life.

Back in the USA, upon hearing the news of the massacre Kenny and his Jewish teammate Mike Epstein walked around town for hours in shock. That day Kenny was scheduled to pitch against the second place White Sox. In an act that Kenny described as “the appropriate thing to do” he walked to the mound that day wearing a black arm band to honor and mourn the murdered Israeli’s. He wore it for all nine innings that he pitched and he beat the White Sox 9-1.

Kenny and I lived in parallel worlds. Worlds that were deeply connected yet were never to connect. In an unlikely twist the creation of the IBL altered the paths of our lives. On Monday Kenny will be leaving Missouri and I New Hampshire. We will journey thousands of miles away from our homes and converge at a another home that we share. Home plate in the Jewish Home land.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Pitching Wisdom from the Masters

My only day off is the day I pitch.
--- 7 time Cy Young Award Winner Roger Clemens

The wildest pitch is not necessarily the one that goes back to the screen. It can also be the one that goes right down the middle.
--- Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax

I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it.
--- Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax

I can be successful pitching away because I keep the ball down and keep them honest inside.
--- 2 time Cy Young Award Winner Tom Glavine

Hit the catchers target with 2 or 3 different speeds and the rest will take care of itself.
--- Hall of Famer Robin Roberts advice to Ken Holtzman

If I tried to throw harder than I could, the ball went slower than it normally would.
--- 3 time Cy Young Award Winner Tom Seaver

If you make a mistake inside it’s a single if you make a mistake inside it’s a homerun.
---- Hall of Famer Bob Gibson

Our idea is simple: command the fastball and change speeds
--- Leo Mazzone, Major League Pitching Coach and in my opinion, one of the best.

If my curveball is breaking and I’m throwing it where I want, the batter is irrelevant.
--- Cy Young Award Winner Steve Stone

Once I am on the mound pitching becomes all about confidence.
--- 7 time Cy Young Award Winner Roger Clemens

Everybody talks about Schilling’s arm and great control, but nobody prepares for a start like he does. He studies the opposition’s hitters like he is preparing for a test.
--- Red Sox Manager Terry Francona

Only three or four outs directly affect the outcome of the game.
--- 3 time Cy Young Award Winner Tom Seaver

Your supposed to win when you have all your pitches working for you. You haven’t become a good pitcher until you can win when you don’t have anything.
--- Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax

Never the same pitch twice, never the same place twice, never the same speed twice.
--- 1951 All Star, 1953 ERA leader and winner of 5 world Series Eddie Lopat

Show me a guy who can't pitch inside and I'll show you a loser.
--- Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax

When they're in a jam, a lot of pitchers...try to throw harder. Me, I try to locate better.
--- 4 time Cy young Award Winner Greg Maddux

The fastball is the best pitch in baseball. It's like having five pitches, if you move it around.
--- 3 time All Star Luis Tiant

“Keep the ball down and your hopes up!”
--- 2 no hitters, 2 All Star Games and 5 World Series rings, Pioneer Manager Ken Holtzman

Monday, June 4, 2007

Major League Confession

I have something to tell you that you probably can’t relate to. I hope you don’t judge me too harshly.

I guess I have what people would call a mistress. We get together often during the summer months and then she leaves. Oddly, there is no prohibition against this in Jewish law. In my defense Julie knows about it. She is not always happy about our relationship but generally speaking she understands the love I have for my mistress. It is a passion that is hard to describe but it is so sensual, complete and magical. I am telling you this as a warning. She will be leaving shortly as the weather gets cool. She hates the cold. When she leaves I often get depressed for a while.

I am sure you have met her. Her name is baseball. My depression usually leaves when football arrives. I love football too. I guess I am a hopeless romantic philanderer.

Be well, Ari

I wrote the above paragraphs as an email to my manager and friend in 1999. I was the creative director in a technology consulting firm and had a large workload and felt he needed to be warned of my impending dip in spirits. I also knew he would get a chuckle. My wife, Julie, saved this email unbeknownst to me and presented it to me a few days ago.