JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Star infielder Garrett Wittels will play in Florida International University’s 2011 season opener on Friday (2/18/2011), the Miami school said in a news release.

The game — which starts at 7:00pm EST and will be broadcast on ESPN3 — was a guaranteed spectacle even before the 2010 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year was charged with raping two 17-year-old girls in the Bahamas.

That’s because Wittels, 20, finished the 2010 season with a 56-game hitting streak that he can extend to 57 games on Friday. The NCAA record of 58 games is held by former Major League star Robin Ventura.

According to the Miami Herald, some universities automatically suspend athletes who have been charged with a felony, but FIU does not. Nevertheless, observers continue to debate whether Wittels or FIU will change their mind before Friday’s game against Southern Louisiana.

Jack O’Dwyer, a New York public-relations consultant, argues on his blog that FIU should have suspended Wittels. O’Dwyer believes that for reasons of political correctness, the news media are treating Wittels and FIU far more gently than they did the Duke University lacrosse players. While Duke’s students tend to be white and well-to-do, FIU’s tend to be minorities on financial aid.

“Similar charges against students from an Ivy League college or Duke (heaven forbid!) would get much greater coverage,” O’Dwyer writes.

Wittels and other members of FIU’s baseball team will appear Wednesday (2/16/2011) at a press conference. An FIU spokesman reportedly has threatened to stop the news conference if anyone asks a question about Wittels’ rape charges.


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