In early June, Israel was invited to play in the qualifying round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic for the first time.
The tournament is expanding from 16 to 28 teams, with countries like Brazil and the United Kingdom also joining the qualifying stage for the first time, and the Israel Baseball Association hopes that participation in such a prestigious competition will have a snowballing effect on the sport in Israel.
Unlike the Olympic baseball tournament, the Classic is run by rules under which any player with Jewish heritage can play for Israel, and not just those with Israeli citizenship. With more than a dozen Jewish players currently playing Major League baseball, this has raised the prospect of fielding an unprecedentedly strong Israeli team.
Earlier this week, a reporter from the Israeli website Walla! asked the Texas Rangers' second baseman Ian Kinsler whether he wouldn't mind playing for the Israeli national baseball team in the World Baseball Classic.
"Wow, I would be happy to play for Team Israel," was the reply.
"There is no determining factor, I would just do it. If the United States did not ask me to play on their team, I would like to join another team, if asked. The truth is that if a proposal comes from team USA to play for them, I will have a very difficult decision to make. Yuk [Boston's Kevin Youkilis], Braun [Milwaukee's Ryan Braun] and I could make a fantastic team. I am sure that I'll talk it over with Yuk - we always laugh about things like this."
"Don't forget that aside from you guys, there are others like Jason Marquis from Washington, Craig Breslow of Oakland, Sam Fuld of Tampa Bay, Danny Valencia of Minnesota and a few others who are not bad at all," said the reporter.
"You're right, I forgot about Valencia," Kinsler replied. "He just sent me an announcement, after my son was born two weeks ago, that from now on he is not the only one-quarter Jew in the world of baseball."
According to Jewish Baseball News, Kinsler's father is Jewish and his mother is Catholic.
Another eligible player would be the Rangers' pitcher Scott Feldman.
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