It was a good week for the Israeli national baseball team, which played two games in Seoul as the World Baseball Classic began.
On Monday, the team beat Korea in a 10-inning match, 2-1.
On Tuesday, Israel clobbered the Chinese Tapei team, 15-7.
This is the first year that the Israeli team has qualified for the quadrennial baseball tournament, in which 16 countries are represented. In 2012, Israel’s inaugural WBC team narrowly missed making the tournament.
Israel is the only participant in this year’s tournament not now among the top 20 in the world rankings. Israel is ranked 41st in the world.
Under the rules of the World Baseball Classic, teams can include any player who is eligible for citizenships. Players need not actually be citizens. The Israeli team therefore includes players eligible for Israeli citizenship — which, under the Law of Return, means Jews, their spouses, and their children and grandchildren. This has enabled the Israeli team to enlist several current and former Major League Baseball players.
Before the Israeli national anthem was played, the team’s members removed their hats and put on yarmulkes.
The team mascot is the Mensch on the Bench.
Larry Yudelson & JTA Wire Service