Craig Breslow and Ryan Lavarnway
Craig Breslow (left) and Ryan Lavarnway

The WBC Qualifiers begin in Brooklyn, New York on September 22. Team Israel takes on the national teams of Brazil, the UK and Pakistan. Ryan Lavarnway and Craig Breslow shared their thoughts on their new team.

Tell us a little about yourself?
Craig Breslow: I was born in Trumbull CT, attended Yale University, graduating in 2002 with a degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. I was accepted to, and deferred from New York University School of Medicine and was drafted in the 26th round by the Milwaukee Brewers, making my Major League Debut with the San Diego Padres in 2005. I was with World Series Champion the Boston Red Sox in 2007 and 2013. I also spent time with the Twins, Indians, Athletics, Diamondbacks, and Marlins. I founded the Strike 3 Foundation in 2008 to heighten awareness and mobilize support for pediatric cancer research and treatment. The organization has raised over $3 million since inception. I’m married to Kelly and I have twin boys, Mason and Carter.

Ryan Lavarnway
: I was born in Burbank, CA and currently live in Englewood, CO with my wife Jamie and our West Highland Terrier Tuck. I attended Yale University where I set new Ivy League Baseball records for career Home Runs and a consecutive game hit-streak. In my Sophomore season I was voted All-American after leading all of the NCAA Division I in AVG and SLG. I was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2008 and made my MLB debut in August 2011. I played for the Red Sox in the 2011-2014 seasons including being a member of the 2013 World Series winning team. In 2015 I split my time with the Baltimore Orioles and the Atlanta Braves.

What do you think about the team Israel roster?
RL: I recognize a lot of the names on the roster from playing with and against them in the Minors and Majors. I’m excited to get to know the guys more, and I like our chances! 
CB: I think the roster should be very competitive with a number of players having major league experience. Obviously, the games will determine the outcome, but I think this team should have as good a chance as any as making it through the qualifier.

How do you feel about representing Israel on the baseball field?
CB: I am honored and privileged to represent Israel in this tournament. It will be a unique and remarkable experience to help bring some attention to baseball in Israel and to help facilitate its growth. 
RL: I am honored. This tournament will be a great opportunity to connect with the Jewish community through baseball and learn more about the State of Israel.

What connection do you have with Israel?
RL: My cousin Emma is currently serving in the IDF. And I look forward to visiting Israel one day soon. 
CB: Obviously the biggest connection I have to Israel is recognizing and appreciating it as the Jewish homeland. I have not yet traveled to Israel but hope to in the not so distant future. I hope, as I'm sure many other members of this team do as well, that our participation in this tournament evokes a sense of pride and camaraderie for the Jewish community.

What are you most looking forward to playing for Team Israel?
CB: In addition to representing Israel, and really representing my Jewish heritage and ethnicity, I look forward to donning the same uniform as other Jewish players in professional baseball. Judaism has been a special and unique tie for all of us, as many of us have competed against each other, and the chance to compete alongside one another is exciting. 
RL: I hope to help develop more interest in the game of baseball in the Jewish community. And I’m looking forward to the opportunity to compete at the international level!

How do you rate the chances of team Israel in the qualifier?
RL: I think we have a great chance. We have a number of experienced and talented players on the roster. 
CB: I think there are a number of accomplished and successful professional players on the roster. There will be strong competition from a number of teams, but I think Israel should be competitive.

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