Take me out from the ballgame &mdash please

It took only three weeks, but the upstart Israel Baseball League is already facing its first controversy. In a July 1 game between the Netanya Tigers and the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, the Sox broke the rules when they brought back in the bottom of the seventh inning a third baseman who had been removed in the top of the inning for a pinch hitter.

League Commissioner Daniel C. Kurtzer — yes, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel — ordered the teams to replay the bottom of the seventh.

This much we know. We can’t know how it will literally play out — but this being the Middle East, we can probably guess:

JULY 19 — Bet Shemesh manager Ron Blomberg agrees to abide by Kurtzer’s ruling, but Netanya manager Ami Baran says he must present it to his players before agreeing to anything.

JULY 20 — Baran informs his players of the need to replay the game. The team immediately splits into factions. Position players agree to the deal; pitchers and catchers want to hold out for an increased per diem.

JULY 22 — Baran, speaking in English, tells Kurtzer his team accepted the deal. In Hebrew, however, he informs the players that Kurtzer has agreed to reconsider the deal according to the objections of the pitcher and catchers. None of the players speaks Hebrew, however, so talks bog down.

Blomberg, frustrated at the pace of the negotiations, says he will not share hot dog and popcorn revenue until the Netanya team agrees to replay the game. Kurtzer shuttles back and forth between Blomberg’s office — actually, a falafel stand on Beit Shemesh’s Herzl Avenue — and Baran’s compound in Netanya — actually, a compound in Hod HaSharon.

Dennis Ross agrees to help with the negotiations, as does Alan Dershowitz. When Baran hears about Dershowitz, he immediately agrees to replay the game.

JULY 23 — The Tigers’ pitchers and catchers announce they are forming a breakaway group, the Enraged Resistance Army. A masked spokesman for the ERA explains that Baran does not speak for the entire team. When a reporter asks why he is wearing a mask, the spokesman replies, “Duh, I’m a catcher.”

Baran appeals for unity among the remaining players, who have organized themselves into a faction of their own, the Organization for Baseball Propriety, or OBP. Leaders of the factions gather for marathon negotiation sessions at the Tel Aviv Hilton, with ERA on the seventh floor and the OBP on the sixth. When the pitchers and catchers hear the ERA is higher than the OBP, they immediately bolt the talks.

JULY 24 — President Bush calls Kurtzer to congratulate him on his handling of the crisis, and pledges that the White House will put all of its Middle East expertise behind a settlement of the dispute. Kurtzer ends the call and immediately throws up.

JULY 25 — Factional violence breaks out as OBP and ERA players scuffle in the Netanya parking lot and a pitcher suffers a split lip.

U.S.-Jewish groups respond quickly: the Zionist Organization of American blames anti-American League propaganda by the National League; Israel Policy Forum demands that the United States take a more active role; and Hadassah announces that the pitcher has been treated at their Mount Scopus hospital.

Kurtzer flies to Sharm el-Sheikh to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Kurtzer knows that Mubarak has no interest in the baseball crisis, but wants to see if he can get back the blazer he left in Mubarak’s office in 2001.

JULY 26 — The Netanya Tigers play their regularly scheduled game against the Ra’anana Express, but with replacement pitchers and catchers.

Starting on the mound for Netanya is President Shimon Peres. He lasts one inning, but vows to return.

President Bush, addressing the United Nations General Assembly, underscores his commitment to an independent and democratic Israeli baseball league where players can play “side by side in peace and security.” In response, Palestinian extremists burn an effigy of Art Shamsky.

JULY 29 — The Netanya Tigers play their second game with replacement players. Ehud Barak is in left, Bibi Netanyahu in right. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert plays center-left, then center-right, but keeps dropping the ball. He is replaced by Shimon Peres.

JULY 23 — President Bush, speaking from the White House, outlines his vision for a resolution of the Israeli baseball conflict. Condoleezza Rice immediately throws up.

In England, the British Cricket Union announces a boycott of all Israeli goods and services. In a gesture of solidarity, confused Palestinian protesters burn an effigy of Jiminy Cricket.

JULY 30 — Baran fires his rebellious pitchers and catchers. Blomberg immediately hands over $167 in hot dog and popcorn revenue, but holds out on T-shirt sales. A relieved Kurtzer announces that Baran’s move could open a “new era of peace and cooperation, which is especially good since Wednesday is Shawn Green Bobblehead Day.”

AUGUST 1 — The Bet Shemesh-Netanya game is replayed under tight security. All goes well until an enraged Shimon Peres runs on the field, demanding to come in as a relief pitcher. He is tackled by a Hadassah spokesman wearing a mask. Asked by reporters why he is wearing a mask, the spokesman replies, “Duh, I’m a surgeon.”

Andrew Silow-Carroll is the editor in chief of the New Jersey Jewish News.

Andrew Silow-Carroll

Andrew Silow-Carroll is Editor at Large of the New York Jewish Week and Managing Editor for Ideas for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.