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Don’t forget to visit the ‘Hank Greenberg in 1938’ page: Update

Posted on: May 23rd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

For occasional updates on author appearances, interviews, and book reviews.

Toda raba.

 

JML Update, Nov. 17, 2017

Posted on: November 17th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

I mistakenly said these were the winter meetings. In fact, their the general manager meetings. I guess it’s like spring training; they’re getting a feel for what the real WM portend.

Like the WM, there’s no shortage of rumors. Now it seems the LA Angels are interested in Ian Kinsler, who was included in this list of the 15 Tigers most and least likely to be traded. Fifteen? That’s more than half the team. Seems they can’t make up their minds though: ”

 

Jice update, November 15, 2017

Posted on: November 15th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

An all-too-infrequent update about what the Chosen Frozen are up to:

  • Michael Cammalleri, So much for that homecoming. The LA Kings traded Cammalleri to the Edmonton Oilers yesterday for Jussi Jokinen. The deal was made on the same day this article came out.  He goes from a team in first place in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference to one in seventh (7-9-2). Cams had three goals and four assists in 15 games for the Kings, averaging 12:38 minutes of time on ice.
  • Jason Demers, Arizona Coyotes (2-15-3, eighth/last in the Pacific Division with the worst record in the league): 20 games, two goals, six assists.
  • Josh Ho-Sang, NY Islanders (9-6-2, fifth in Metropolitan Division of Eastern Conference) was recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Veterans Day and provided immediate results, scoring a goal to help the team beat the visiting St. Louis Blues, 5-2. Unfortunately, he’s questionable for tomorrow night’s game after missing practice yesterday due to an illness (the NHL is so sketchy with its injury reports). Let’s hope he can stick around awhile this time. Ho-Sang has appeared in seven games with the lone goal and four assists.
  • Zach Hyman, Toronto Maple Leafs (12-7-0, second place in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference): 19 games, four goals, six assists.
  • Luke Kunin, Minnesota Wild (8-7-2, fifth in the Central Division of the Western Conference): 14 games, two goals, two assists.
  • Brendan Leipsic, Vegas Golden Knights (10-6-1, second in the Pacific Division): eight games, no goals, four assists.
  • Jason Zucker, Wild, is on a tear, having scored seven goals in his last four games including a hat trick to provide all the scoring in a 3-0 win over the host Montreal Canadiens last Thursday. He also scored the only goal in Saturday’s 1-0 win over the host Philadelphia Flyers. All that scoring netted him NHL First Star honors for the week. And as if all this wasn’t enough reason to celebrate, Zucker and his wife Carly just became first-time parents on Oct. 27. Mazel tov. Overall, Zucker has 10 goals and five assists in 17 games.

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JML Update, November 14, 2017

Posted on: November 14th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

The winter meetings begin today so it might not be too much longer before we learn the fates of players like Ian Kinsler, Craig Breslow, Danny Valencia, and perhaps even Ryan Braun.

I’m not looking for an immediate move re: Kinsler; neither are the Tigers, apparently.

Could Braun and Toronto Blue Jays super-defender Kevin Pillar be swapping team colors?

Alex Bregman continues to enjoy the adulation that comes with being on a world championship team. As a celebrity, he gets to weigh in on some strange issues.

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Alex Bregman, right, at a recent LSU football game.

Joc Pederson isn’t doing so badly himself either, even if there are some who think the Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfield is too crowded and he’s the one who should be traded.

In fact, what a great week it was during the World Series for past and present Jewish ballplayers and their fans, according to Steve Wulf on ESPN.

Big fish, small pond? Max Fried is the ninth-best prospect for the Atlanta Braves, the organization that is ranked second-best in the game.

Brad Ausmus “passed” on interviewing for the Yankees slot and reports indicate he wants to take some time off from managing. Sorry, but if no one invites you, can you decline an invitation?

And finally, guess who’s back in the Fuld. Our boy, Super Sam. (oooh, sorry) who joins fellow MOT Gabe Kapler on the Philadelphia Phillies. Fuld, who has been out of action for the past couple of seasons due to injury, decided to retire as an active player. He’ll be working on analytics for the Phillies front office.

 

 

 

Jewps update, Nov. 14, 2017

Posted on: November 14th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

RachelKaplan-3179.jpgWas watching the Knicks-Cavs game last night with my daughter, who knew more about the players than I seem to these days. She occasionally takes photos for the Nets games in Brooklyn and has terrific retention, so she remembers names. Her favorite player is Jarrett Jack, who used to be on the Nets, and she recognized him immediately. Nice that we can share some things still.

Oh, yeah, Jews.

Golden State Warriors' Omri Casspi (18) takes a shot against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second quarter at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)Omri Casspi had his best game of the season for the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 8, scoring 13 points in 20 minutes off the bench in a 125-101 win over the host Minnesota Timberwolves. He was 5-for-7 from the field and pulled down three rebounds, with one assists, two steals, and three blocked shots. Overall, Casspi, 29, has appeared in 11 of the Warriors’ 14 games, averaging 10.7 minutes on the floor and continuing to receive accolades on his preparedness and being a great teammate.

Golden State is 11-3, tops in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division. They have won seven straight games.

Received the new issue of Jewish Sports Review, with its college basketball preview. All dues respect to all the athletes, but since I barely cover college sports at all, I usually confine myself to DI schools. So bearing that in mind, here’s what we’ve got for the men:

  • Ben Carter (GR) Michigan State
  • Jordan Cohen (Soph) Lehigh
  • Ido Flaisher (Soph) Hawaii
  • Egor Koulechov (Gr) Florida
  • Gabe Levin (Sr) Long Beach State
  • Jerry Lieberman (Sr) Cal Baptist
  • Hunter Sabety (Sr) Hofstra

And for the women:

  • Jen Berkowitz (Sr) Yale
  • Drew Edelman (Sr) UC Santa Barbara
  • Paige Fecske (Jr) Pepperdine
  • Rachel Levy (Fr) Harvard
  • Abby Meyers (Fr) Princeton
  • Leah Purvis (Jr) Miami, OH
  • Mira Shulman (FR) UC Santa Barbara

I will try to keep up with the goings on, but I’m guessing there will be more to report for the guys than for the ladies. Last year the scores and stats as provided by ESPN were somewhat lacking for the latter.

 

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JFL, Week 10

Posted on: November 13th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

Nate Ebner played 22 downs on special teams (76 percent) for the New England Patriots in their 41-16 win over the host Denver Broncos. He made one tackle. He had been nursing a sore shoulder. The Pats are 7-2, first in the AFC East.

Marpet_Cleats for a Cause.pngAli Marpet played at 71 snaps at center for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their 15-10 win over the visiting NY Jets. The Bucs improve to 3-6 but are still last in the NFC South. Here’s an example of Marpet as mensch.

Mitchell Schwartz and the KC Chiefs (6-3, first in the AFC West) had their bye week.

Given the woeful performance of the NY Giants, would it be that far flung a notion to give offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty a chance to play in a regular game, as opposed to burying him on the practice squad?

Josh Rosen update: The UCLA QB has come under fire for his mental and physical toughness. Of course, his team rushes to defend him so I don’t know — not following college football — how much of the whispers are true or false. but things are looking up: in his latest game, Rosen led the Bruins to a 44-37 win over the visiting Arizona State Sun Devils, throwing for 381 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also scored on a one-yard run. Is there a bowl game in Rosen’s future? And what, if anything, would that do for his chances in the NFL draft?

 

JML Update, Nov. 8, 2017

Posted on: November 9th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

In case you’re wondering where I was, I had the honor of participating in the St. Louis Jewish Book festival’s “Sports Night” program on Monday, returning home last night. Almost didn’t make it. Somehow I managed to miss my 6:55 a.m. flight — despite the fact I was sitting right at the gate. Can’t explain how in the world that happened. Also couldn’t get on standby for the next flight. Fortunately, I was able to make a 3:20 flight that arrived in Missouri at around five, their time. Unfortunately, I missed the dinner with my co-presenters, John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro, authors of One Nation Under Baseball: How the 1960s Collided with the National Pastime. More on all that in a separate post. Suffice it to say, it was a great experience.

So, back to bidness…

Did you see Saturday Night Live? There was baseball to be found therein, specifically Jewish baseball, although a lot of people might have missed it. Leslie Jones was doing a bit about her love of the game on the Weekend Update segment, specifically mentioning Jose Altuve and George Springer. And all of a sudden, who do you think walks onto the set? Altuve and Springer. But they’re also joined by Alex Bregman. But you wouldn’t know it because his name is never mentioned! (Could it really be that he didn’t know SNL was, in fact, live?)

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Years ago, players would go on the post-season “rubber chicken circuit,” so named because chicken seemed to be the dinner of choice served at these affairs. That’s why they needed spring training: to lose all the weight they had gained. And players certainly continue to make their appearances these days. Enjoy it while you can, Alex; these things can be pretty fleeting.

Jewish media are also jumping on the Bregman bandwagon, as evidenced by this trivia quiz from the San Diego Jewish World. Stay tunedNot to throw cold water on the situation, but you know the champions of any sport usually have the opportunity to visit the White House. But under this administration, some of the athletes have expressed their reluctance. So what would Bregman do? Stay tuned.

Moving on…

Ian Kinsler did not win the Gold Glove Award for his play at second base. Same news for Kevin Pillar in center. Still hearing about the scenario where Kinsler might join fellow MOT Ryan Braun on the Milwaukee Brewers. Could the Toronto Blue Jays be looking to move Pillar?

Could Brad Ausmus wind up managing the Yankees, give us two Jewish skippers now that Gabe Kapler is at the helm of the Philadelphia Phillies?

Is it really so noteworthy that Max Fried had his first bad outing of his Arizona Fall League season? Come on, people; give the kid a break.

Jewish free agents include Scott Feldman, Danny Valencia, and Craig Breslow.

 

 

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JML Update, November 3, 2017

Posted on: November 3rd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Good-bye, World Series. Hello, black void of baseball until the spring.

That’s not actually true. These days there’s always something going on, whether it’s award season or Hall of Fame announcements, or trade rumors. A very calculated effort to remain in the public eye and not lose to many fans to other sports.

Many of those rumors will have to do no doubt to the slew of Jews who might be on different teams in 2018, including Ian Kinsler, Ryan Braun, Danny Valencia, Scott Feldman,… indeed, at least half of the MOTs might be wearing different unis next year.

Alex Bregman might never get elected to the Hall of Fame, but his glove will be there, at least for the foreseeable future. There was a thread on Facebook asking whether he should be included among the 10 best Jewish players of all time. Child, please. He hasn’t even played two full seasons. How many phenoms have we seen, destined for a plaque in Cooperstown, that bottomed out after a year or two? Does the name Joe Charboneau ring a bell?.

So for what it’s worth, these are my suggestions for the top ten JMLs, not necessarily in order:

  • Sandy Koufax
  • Hank Greenberg
  • Al Rosen
  • Shawn Green
  • Ken Holtzman
  • Ryan Braun
  • Ian Kinsler
  • Brad Ausmus
  • Kevin Youkilis
  • Jason Marquis

Discuss.

Image result for joc pederson, alex bregmanMoving on, It’s understandable that we’re proud of both Bregman and Joc Pederson, the second-year outfielder for the LA Dodgers who went through a rather hellish season. But let’s not fall back into the sentiment that we’re still underdogs when it comes to perceptions (stereotypes?) about our athletic abilities. Pederson had three home runs in 18 World Series at-bats. Compare that with 11 in 273 during the regular season. In fact, he was doing so poorly that the Dodgers demoted him to the minor leagues for a time. So the fact that he was even on the roster for the Fall Classic was an accomplishment. Pederson led his team in just about every offensive category. And he did it with his brother, Champ, by his side the whole time. Sure, Pederson shows a lot of “youthful exuberance,” but so what? He’s a youth (or in the parlance of My Cousin Vinny, a yoot). I think it’s very sweet the way the brothers hang out and how much Champ is a part of Joc’s life.

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People should remember that Feldman was having a fairly decent — if typically uneven — season before he succumbed to a season-ending injury. (Does anyone even remember Jon Moscot?)

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So how do you think Gabe Kapler will fare as the newest manager for the Philadelphia Phillies? He seems pretty serious about getting the team out of its recent doldrums. Brad Ausmus took over the reigns of a powerful Detroit Tigers club but never really enjoyed success with them.

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Speaking of “phenoms,” Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried was named pitcher of the week in the Arizona Fall League.

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Finally, a reminder that I’ll be at the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival on Monday evening at 7 p.m. at the JCC Staenberg Family Complex, Arts & Education Building. Had a great time there when 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die came out and expect the same this time around.

 

 

 

 

Jewish Baseball, 2017: A recap by Rabbi Jason Miller

Posted on: November 2nd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

I’ll still be doing something more “statistical,” but in the meantime Rabbi Miller, who so graciously assists me with bringing the Korner to a die-hard constituency,  posted this personal review of the past season.

 

Lest we forget: Ray Robinson

Posted on: November 2nd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Ray Robinson was among the last of his generation of sportswriters and authors. I had the pleasure of speaking with him on several occasions in my capacity as sports editor for the NJ Jewish News. He passed away yesterday at the age of 96.

Among his many books, Robinson published High and Tight: Hank Greenberg Confronts Anti-Semitism in Baseball in 2012.

Marty Appel, shown with Robinson (right) at the dedication of a plaque at Lou Gehrig’s birthplace, was kind enough to allow me to use his tribute, posted on Facebook yesterday.

A special friend….and a New York treasure, author/editor Ray Robinson passed away at 5 pm today at New York Hospital, a day after suffering a stroke at his apartment on East 90th Street, where he lived for 63 years. As some of you may recall, his wife Phyllis died on March 13 at 92. Ray’s devotion to her care as she suffered through Alzheimer’s Disease was perhaps his finest hour. They were married for 68 years. Ray would have turned 97 on December 4.

Ray was sharp to the end, and he looked forward to every phone call that kept his mind alert and active. Loved to talk politics, media, and of course, baseball. He was a Columbia graduate and graduation day was the day Lou Gehrig died in 1941. Gehrig was special to him — he met Lou, and wrote a classic biography of him, as well as books about Knute Rockne, Will Rogers, Yankee Stadium, Christy Mathewson, Tim McCarver, and many more. He was the editor of the great annual paperback, “Baseball Stars of 19XX” which were must-have books back in the day. There, he employed the likes of Jimmy Breslin, Dick Schaap, George Vecsey, Al Silverman, Arnold Hano, Al Silverman, Charles Einstein, and many more – often for $20 an article! He was, improbably, the editor of Seventeen and Good Housekeeping magazines for many years, as well as the long defunct Pageant and Coronet.

He was an EIGHT DECADE author, published from the 1940s to the 2010s. He did an ebook on baseball and US Presidents in this decade. Everyone wanted a column from him each year on Gehrig — he was in the bleachers on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day in 1939. (He probably wrote a dozen Gehrig guest columns for the Times). He was on the Board of Directors for the New York (Lou Gehrig) Chapter of the ALS Association.

I knew him for some 45 years. We used to have lunch at Billy’s (no longer there) on First Avenue. He was a vital part of our monthly “Larry Ritter Lunch Group” which is now in its 26th year and we have met in recent years near his home — so he wouldn’t be away from Phyllis for long. Otherwise he was always happy to walk to wherever we met.

We did events at Columbia together and attended a plaque dedication at Lou Gehrig’s birthplace some years ago. Ray was old enough to have lived through and experienced the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, World War II, the Kennedy assassination, a few more wars, 18 presidents, and the computer/internet age (which he managed to ignore, still working his typewriter).

I take pleasure in believing that there were no questions I neglected to ask him. Remarkable to get first hand accounts of almost everything that has mattered in the US for the last century.

Bob Costas texted me today: “What a life. What a good man.”

Ray and Phyllis had three children – Nancy, Tad and Steve ….. plus his family of admirers who had the pleasure of his company on a monthly basis — at least — for all these years.

 

We have a winner!

Posted on: November 2nd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Congrats to Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros, baseball’s 2017 world champions after they beat the host LA Dodgers, 5-1.

Both Bregman and Dodgers’ outfielder Joc Pederson figured prominently in their team’s offense.

George Springer led off the game for Houston with a double and Bregman did the proper thing, hitting behind the runner to advance him to third. But Springer scored on a wild throw to first and Bregman wound up on second. He then stole third and crossed the plate on an infield out to give the Astros a 2-0 lead. That was all they would need, so in a way Bregman was responsible for the win from an offensive point of view. He also struck out three times and was in the on-deck circle when the last out was made in the top of the ninth. Bregman finished the Series with two homers, five RBIs, and a .233 batting average.

It was his glove as much as his bat that made Bregman a standout in the series

Pederson — who established the new “Jewish record” for  most home runs in a single fall classic with three — had the chance to be the hero in the bottom of the first, coming up with the bases loaded and two outs; he grounded out to second to stem any rally. Pederson led off the sixth with a single to center and scored the Dodgers’ only run. He also struck out twice.

Pederson was the offensive spark plug for his team, leading the Dodgers in hits (six), doubles (tied with two), home runs (three), RBIs (five), batting average (.333), slugging (.944), and OPS (1.344). Fun fact: Pederson hit 11 home runs in 273 at-bats during the regular season; he had three in 18 during the World Series.

Prior to the game, Sandy Koufax, 81, shared ceremonial first-pitch honors with former Brooklyn Dodgers’ teammate Don Newcombe, 91, as a commemoration of the franchise’s first World Championship in 1955.

It was the 39th time the Series went to a seventh game, but from my point of view, it was a relatively dull affair.

The Dodgers may have lost, but Pederson and Jewish baseball fans will always have this great memory:

Mazel tov to the winners, and rachmones for the losers.

 
 
   
 

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