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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Israel Scores Home Run with Invite to World Baseball Classic

Israel will be able to field some Major League baseball stars after having received its first-ever invitation to the World Baseball Classic to take place in 2013.

The 28 teams to play in the international competition are allowed to line up only citizens of their countries. For Israel, that includes Americans whose mother and/or father are Israeli.

Under those rules, players such as the Texas Rangers’ Ian Kinsler and the Boston Red Sox’s Kevin Youkilis are eligible to play for the Israel team. The same goes for powerhouse batter Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, Scott Feldman of the Rangers and Jason Marquis of the Washington Nationals.

The Major League additions may be much-needed by the delegation from Israel, where baseball has been struggling to be a hit for four years. The first year drew small crowds and boos from Israeli critics, who are used to the faster game of soccer, known as football in Israel, and where the rules are a lot less complicated than trying to understand bases, errors, balls, strikes, balks and bunts.

If Israel succeeds in being one of the top four teams in the qualifying round in the classic, it will be one of a dozen countries to play in the final round.

“The plan is to get the best team of all eligible athletes on the field," said Israel Baseball Association president Chaim Katz.