Monday, July 30, 2007

Caesaria, Gezer....

Let's go back to the well for some more cultural lessons: 1) When you're on the beach, beware of the paddle ball players. They are ruthless. They line up along the shoreline and smack at full force making it difficult to get in the water without feeling like you're a duck in duck hunt. The other day I saw a little kid almost get a concussion and I too have fallen prey to an errant shot. The worst part is that these numbskulls think they own the beach and won't apologize when they hit you.

2) The concept of standing in line hasn't reached Israel yet. They believe in "the swarm". If you don't put up elbows and perhaps give the occasional jab, you will lose your place in line. The only time I didn't have a problem was when I was getting on a bus carrying my baseball bat.

3) Despite what Americans believe, we do not have the most advanced technology in the world. To prove this, we take a voyage inside the Israeli bathroom. Israelis have expanded upon our two-knob shower design and have added another knob—the water pressure knob. Using this model, one can keep the desired temperature at all times and merely adjust the third knob to turn the shower on and off or adjust the strength of the shower. This goes right up there with the bagel guillotine and electric scissors.
4) Do not expect too much out of the socialized Israeli medical system: Ironically, days after my podiatrist father left Israel, my big toe became infected with an ingrown nail. After 14 or so days of soaking, it was time to try the clinic. You know you're in trouble when the first thing the supposed foot doctor asks you is: "so you are here for the allergy shots?" The guy sits me down, tells me he's a family physician, grabs the infected area with his bare hands and says, "you know what I don't think it's pussing quite enough to have this cut out but I can refer you to the general surgeon if you want." I am now seeking private podiatric assistance. And they've all gone to look for Ameeeerica. All gone to look for Ameeeeriiiiiica.
A few days back my old college roomie Nat (also in the league) traveled to Caesaria, a crazy archaeological spot with ruins dating back thousands of years. It was a prime port for several different kingdoms—Roman, Christian, Judeo—depending on who was successful killing who at the time. The coolest parts were the Roman coliseum, amphitheater for gladiator games, ancient town, estate remains (partially submerged in the sea), Crusader fortress and aqueduct all overlooking the Med. I spent most of this trip taking pictures of my college roommate Nat climbing like a monkey atop Roman arches. He has been trapped in the infant climbing stage for upwards of 20 years.

I also promised some of you I would describe one of the absolute craziest baseball fields I've ever experienced. For starters, this field is on Kibbutz Gezer—an old socialist agricultural community close to Jerusalem. If that isn't enough, the remains of Solomon's house are beyond left field. That's King Solomon. After you're done reading this sentence I want you to close your eyes and imagine a baseball field in Cuba or Nicaragua. That's about what Gezer field is like. Because it was an old softball field, the fences had to be pushed back causing all sorts of field damage. In the middle of right field there is an old light pole with a mattress wrapped around it so nobody will get hurt. We were thinking about stealing the mattress because it is undoubtedly nicer than the ones we sleep on. The bleachers and "dugouts" are covered by makeshift tarp awnings. Both dugouts are next to each other like in hockey (let's hope there's not a fight). The dirt in the infield is like quicksand and again because it is an old softball field the bases can be found in shallow outfield. It kind of feels like summer camp when we play there.

My team, baruch hashem, has been playing a lot better. We're slowing climbing our way up to a .500 record behind great pitching (our Dominican, Pie, should be playing serious pro ball in the States) and timely hitting. Personally, I'm hovering somewhere around .300 but that is subject to change with the wind. I hit my second home run yesterday. Our fans from Ra'anana started coming out in droves after our three-game winning streak. The community even held a Shabbat luncheon in our honor. Having fans is really sweet. They made up a cheer to the tune of "Hey, Hey, Goodbye" that goes "Ra'anana, Ra'anana, hey, hey…Ra'anana" which in retrospect wasn't the best idea considering the chant is so easily turned against us when we're losing. We prefer a derivation of an old Master P ditty: "Make em say, uhhh, uhhh, Ra'nanana."

Awaiting you next time: Yarooshala'im shel zahav (Golden Jerusalem) and much much more

Benyamin Menachem-Mendel Field

1 comment:

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