Bleeding blue-and-white, baseball style.
(photo credit: JOSH SOLOMON)
Israel’s national baseball team plays its first World Baseball Classic game against South Korea in Seoul on Monday. Ahead of the historic occasion, we asked two of the team’s players to describe their feelings and emotions, and assess the blueand- white’s chances in the championships.
Team Israel plays Chinese Taipei in its second game on Tuesday before wrapping up Pool A action against the Netherlands on Thursday. The top two teams in the pool advance to second round Pool E which will be played in Tokyo, Japan. The top two in Pool E will progress to the semifinals at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
1. What were your first thoughts when you were approached to represent Israel? Why did you decide to accept the offer? 2. What has the experience been like? Did it meet your expectations? Has it changed the way you feel towards Israel or being Jewish? 3. What do you expect from the team in the WBC? What would you consider a success? Josh Zeid (Pitcher. Formerly of the Houston Astros): 1. My first thoughts four years ago were of course, absolutely I’d love to be on a team with 25 of the best Jewish baseball players in the world. It was a tremendous honor to be asked to play so I wanted to make everyone proud and not regret that decision. I hope with every day that I take the field with Israel across my chest I am making the country and the Israeli people very proud.
2. The experience has been life changing.
Meeting and maintaining some incredible friendships with teammates, coaches, Israeli baseball federation members, and watching Israeli baseball grow with our success is amazing. The support from Israel has made us feel like we belong on this team and after visiting and touring the country recently we can’t wait to get back.
It hasn’t changed the way I’ve felt because I’ve always, since day one, been extremely proud to be Jewish and getting to play on Team Israel was a must for me.
3. We are so excited to be going to Korea for the WBC. Our goal is to focus on the very first game, and win, and then attack the next games, one by one. If we don’t go in to this tournament expecting to win as many games as possible, it’s going to be hard to win any games at all. We have put together a very talented team and we will give a 100% effort on the field.
Ryan Lavarnway (Catcher for the Oakland Athletics) 1. My first thoughts when I was asked to join the team were “Wow. What an honor and what an opportunity!” I was excited to have the chance to play in the WBC in an international tournament of this caliber. With baseball not being in the Olympics, this is the most prestigious international tournament there is.
2. The experience so far has been nothing short of incredible. I’ve loved getting to know the guys on the team, and just enjoyed being Jewish. And the trip to Israel was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities that just change your perspective on so any things. I’m very grateful.
3. I expect us to be competitive in Korea.
I already think we’ve been successful in this tournament because we’ve reached all our initial goals of qualifying, raising awareness and funds for baseball in Israel, and creating positivity surrounding Israel and especially baseball in Israel.
Going forward, I think everyone in that clubhouse believes that if we play well, we have a good chance to advance to the next round in Tokyo.