Newspaper article China Post

Israel Shows Taiwan the Way at WBC

Newspaper article China Post

Israel Shows Taiwan the Way at WBC

Article excerpt

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TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan exited the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC) after losing all three group-stage games, leading to its rock-bottom finish in Pool A in South Korea last month.

This means the team will have to go through the qualifiers for a shot at competing in the next edition of the WBC - another disappointment for Taiwan, where baseball is widely seen as the national pastime.

Among Taiwan's three losses, going down in its tournament opener to baseball minnows Israel 15-7 was the most stinging and least expected. It was followed by defeats at the hands of baseball powerhouses the Netherlands and South Korea.

The humiliating loss was also an all-time low for the team at the WBC; its previous worst performance was a 14-0 thrashing by Cuba in 2013.

It wasn't luck that the Israelis beat Taiwan, which is ranked No. 4 in the world. It also crushed the remaining two teams in the first round to finish atop the pool, defeating South Korea (ranked No. 3 in the world), and the Netherlands (No. 9).

The Cinderella story took Israel to the next round in Tokyo, where the team's remarkable run was ended by two-time WBC champs Japan.

Before the WBC began, Team Israel was considered the weakest team in Pool A. Ranked 41st in the world, it was the only side in the 16-team WBC outside the top 20. It entered the tournament with 200-to-1 odds to win it all.

Some have argued that the side - made up almost entirely of Americans of Jewish descent, with only one native Israeli - was not a real national team at all. Regardless, these players, bound only by their heritage and a love for the sport, formed a tight-knit unit before and during the tourney, as they were playing not only for Israel but to defy expectations.

Tick Two Boxes and You're in

Asked about the team's success in the WBC, the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, which represents the country's interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal ties, said the country had no problem with the fact that almost no players on the team were Israelis.

"Israel is open to anyone with Jewish heritage as long as he or she recognizes Israel," the office's media and public affairs officer, Frances Tsai ([. …

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