Today is Sunday, July 8 (that's "shmonei" to those of you learning Hebrew at home), and we have our team's first real home game later today!? That's because Sportek Park, home to the Tel Aviv Lightning and my Netanya Tigers, is the third and final stadium to be completed with a fingers-crossed opening game at 5pm today!? I say fingers-crossed because we've been hearing several dates for a tentative opening day, and none have actually happened.? Apparently, it takes longer to do many things in Israel, and getting permits to build fields (and getting people to actually WORK on fields) are both among those things.? It has been a little frustrating with six teams fighting for playing time on two fields, which has led to a few 4-team doubleheaders and several game cancellations.? They have also changed the schedule, with 45 regular games reduced to 39 games, and a modified playoff schedule with the first two teams getting a first-round bye, and the other 4 teams playing a single-elimination, 9-inning game to win the right to play the first- and second-place teams, winners to play each other for the championship. Everyone got that?? OK, good - then someone explain it to me.
Israel has AMAZING parks.? I have commented to several local people that I think Tel Aviv is beautiful and clean, and they look at me like I'm crazy - some even said New York City was much cleaner!? It very well may be, but the fact remains that Israel has so much parkland and open areas, which are in near-constant use for BBQs and sports and biking and running and outdoorsy stuff - it's a jock's dream come true! Now all we need are for some of these people to pick up baseball gloves and go outside and throw, instead of all the pickup?soccer games, and we'll have a true sport utopia here.
I mentioned today's game - I am supposed to be the starting pitcher, which means I will have the unique (I think) distinction of being the starting pitcher for opening day at two of the three IBL parks (I pitched the first game at Gezer Field as well).? It will be nice to face someone besides the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox (originally on the schedule before the cancellations kicked in, I was supposed to pitch against them a THIRD time Friday, I think), and while every team is dangerous, at least Petach Tikva isn't 9-0 like Bet Shemesh.? Wish me luck!
I also promised a bunch of people international shout-outs - so from the top of my head (will leave off quite a few and so will do this again sometime soon, and in NO PARTICULAR ORDER, a hearty SHALOM goes out to:
Mom, Sarah, Erin, Jodie, Andreea, Scott, Armand, Adam, Jennifer, Holly, Rick, Brooke, Gwyneth, Christopher,?Stefka, Cathy, Ania, Elizabeth, Amber, Steph, ?Barbara, Jeremy and Jordan and all my peeps at Cooper & Cooper Real Estate, Gillian, Coco, my brilliant fellow SigXMensans, Rami, Linda, and everyone else...