At 200-1 odds, Israel's baseball team started as the biggest longshot to win the World Baseball Classic. And while it remains unlikely that Israel would beat tournament favorites such as the United States, the Dominican Republic, or Japan, the Stars of David served notice in the tournament opener Monday: Israel is for real.
Pushing a go-ahead run across with an infield hit in the 10th inning, Israel stunned Korea 2-1 to get the WBC started in upset fashion. Longtime major leaguer Jason Marquis, who could use the WBC as an entree back to the bigs, allowed two hits over three scoreless innings and left with a one-run lead. A bases-loaded single by Rockies prospect Scott Burcham broke a 1-1 tie, and former Astros pitcher Josh Zeid struck out former Mariners slugger Dae-Ho Lee to end the game and earn a save.
Mazel tov! Third baseman (and Mets player) Ty Kelly said he felt emotions like never before in a ballgame—not even the 2016 NL wild card game.
Korea, which came in with a 14-5 all-time record in the WBC, was 10-1 odds to win the whole thing, tied for fifth-best with Puerto Rico. Israel and Colombia are first-time participants in the 16-team tournament, which of course is Bud Selig's baby. Jewish-American, Bud Selig, that is! So he's got to be pumped.
Team Israel was worth watching in the WBC just for its mascot which, no lie, is a rabbi called Moshe and nicknamed "Mensch on the Bench."
Best of luck the rest of the way, boychiks!