Taking a break

Posted on: March 12th, 2019 by Ron Kaplan

A few days ago, I received one of those “Facebook Memory” things, reminding me that it has been just about five years since Kaplan’s Korner for Jews and Sports was named “Blog of the Year” by the New Jersey Press Association. That’s when I thought the time was right to take a break.

Those who have been following the Korner for a while know that it began as a replacement for a physical sports presence in the New Jersey Jewish News, where I worked as a writer and editor from 2004 until 2016 when it was bought up by another company. One of the “parting gifts” from the new owners was that I could continue the blog on my own which I did with the assistance of Rabbi Jason A. Miller, who helped me set up anew.

But a new job with crazy hours and different days off from week to week as well as a dwindling readership (and a dwindling interest on my part) has brought me to this point.

The Korner will be going on hiatus with this post. Whether it’s temporary or permanent, I haven’t decided (I’m keeping the domain name and the email — kaplanskorner@gmail.com — should anyone wish to contact me).

Maybe I just need “some time to spend with the family,” which in this case includes my two other blogs, Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf and The Worried Journalist, which I’ve been neglecting because there are only so many hours in the day.

Here’s what I wrote when I left the News. Many of the sentiments remain the same.

Thanks to all of you for your support over the years.

Zei gezunt.


JML Update, February 26, 2019

Posted on: February 26th, 2019 by Ron Kaplan

Every year I tell myself I’m really going to study up on my baseball. I get all the magazines, more out of habit than anything else since the information is somewhat repetitive between them and often outdated by the time the season starts. One year, when I was on jury duty, I memorized the projected starting lineups for all the teams. That lasted about a month. When I was a kid, there were ten teams and you really could memorize everyone on the 25-man roster. There wasn’t the huge turnover we have nowadays. (Tell us more, grandpa.)


Most of the JMLers are back this year. A couple have changed teams, a few will no doubt start 2019 in the minors. So here’s what we have so far.

Alex Bregman, Houston Astros, has been the busiest of all the MOTs, between his Youtube channel, dropping in at weddings, and recovering from elbow surgery. Here are a few stories featuring the Astros infielder:

Joc Pederson, LA Dodgers, homered in their spring training opener. Nice. But will he be a Dodger for much longer?

Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers, is a “senior statesman” at the age of 35. What kind of season will he have as he gets set to perhaps wrest the crown from Hank Greenberg as the all-time Jewish home run king? When you get to be that age (I’ve got socks older than Braun), you have to make adjustments.

Image result for ian kinsler padresIan Kinsler, who will be 37 on June 22 (sharing a birthday with the NBA’s Omri Casspi), begins 2019 with a new team in a new league, having signed as a free agent by the San Diego Padres. How will that work out? Maybe the addition of mega-FA Manny Machado will propel the previously poor Pods towards pennant possibilities.

Kevin Pillar, Toronto Blue Jays, might also be on a new team by the time spring training ends. Of course, they’ve been saying that for a couple of years now. He is the longest-tenured of all the current Jays.

Will first baseman Rowdy Tellez, Pillar’s teammate who burst on the scene last year in a big way, start the season with the big club?

Image result for rowdy tellez hot start

Will this be the year Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried sticks? What about Ryan Sherriff, who appeared in five games for the St. Louis Cardinals before going down with an injury? Sherriff was released and has since signed with the Tampa Bay Rays. Or Zach Weiss, who managed just one appearance for the Cincinnati Reds, giving up two walks and two home runs without retiring a batter? Weiss signed a minor league deal with the Minnesota Twins in the off-season Or Richard Bleier, one of the few bright spots among Baltimore Orioles pitchers before suffering a season-ending injury? So far, he seems to be off to a good start as he gears up towards opening day. Robert Stock of the Padres also made a good first impression in his debut last season.

Not on anyone’s roster so far? Danny Valencia, the power-hitting utilityman who last played with the Orioles. He’s just four homers shy of the century mark. Hope he gets them someplace, but he has a reputation as a problem child in the clubhouse and has played for seven teams over his nine major league seasons. (Then again, as of this posting Bryce Harper hasn’t been signed either.)

And last but not least, our two MOT managers, Gabe Kapler of the Philadelphia Phillies and Brad Ausmus for thee LA Angels.

The Chicago Cubs have hired two former JML pitchers — Craig Breslow and Josh Zeid — to work in their front office. Breslow, dubbed “the smartest man in baseball” during his 12-year career, will have the title “director of strategic initiatives for baseball operations,” while Zeid, who appeared in 12 games for the Astros in 2013-14, will be a pitching analyst in the player development department.

According to JewishBaseballNews, there are a few more MOTs in spring training, including non-roster invitees such as Jeremy Bleich (Phillies), Rob Kaminsky (Cleveland Indians), Dean Kremer (Orioles), Ryan Lavarnway (NY Yankees), and RC Orlan (Indians). Garrett Stubbs, who is listed on the Astros’ 40-man roster, is also in ST.  Bleich made his ML debut with the Oakland A’s last year, appearing in two games,



And then there was none

Posted on: February 26th, 2019 by Ron Kaplan

Image result for omri casspiAs in no Jewish players in the NBA.

The Memphis Grizzlies remind us that sports is a business.

The team has waived Omri Casspi, the oft-injured Israeli.

Casspi underwent surgery for an injured knee earlier this month. Since his return this season was doubtful and his contract was not guaranteed, the Grizzlies let him go to clear roster space.

Seems to me like kicking a man when he’s down, but as I said, it’s a business. If he was a major star, they would have accommodated him but Casspi — who will be 31 on June 22 — was just a solid bench-player, when given the chance. He averaged 6.3 points in 36 games for the Grizzlies this year.

Maybe there’s still some interest in him; according to HoopsHype.com, “The operation is expected to have a six-week recovery process. When healthy, the Israeli-born sharpshooter is considered one of the more lethal three-point scorers in the NBA. He will likely have a spot on a contending team due to his shooting ability if his injury heals in time for a playoff run.”

But in the meantime #Sad.


Jice update, Games of February 5, 2019

Posted on: February 6th, 2019 by Ron Kaplan

Not much left to write about until baseball season starts. Football is over and Omri Casspi — the lone MOT in the NBA — is out with his meniscus tear. I might have to result to reporting about — gasp — college sports.

Brandon Leipsic contributed his 10th assist of the year to help the LA Kings beat the host NJ Devils, 5-1. He was on the rink for 12:20 while teammate Nate Thompson had 14:46 of TOI.

Jason Zucker posted his 14th assist in a 5-4 shootout loss for the Minnesota Wild (26-22-5) to the host Buffalo Sabres.

Andre Burakovsky was on the ice for just 8:53 as the Washington Capitols (29-18-6) beat the visiting Vancouver Canucks, 3-2. The more he slumps, the louder the chatter about a possible trade.

Related imageJakob Chychrun, who is suffering with a”lower body injury,” did not travel with the Arizona Coyotes (23-25-5) who lost, 5-2, to the host Nashville Predators. His team placed him on the injured reserve list which means he will also miss the Coyotes’ against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday and the Dallas Stars on Saturday. According to the CBS sports fantasy site, Chychrun will be eligible to come off injured reserve in time to play next Tuesday in Vegas, though the Coyotes have yet to provide an official timeline for his return.




And then there were none: Omri Casspi update, February 5, 2019

Posted on: February 5th, 2019 by Ron Kaplan

So much for Jewps.

Omri Casspi‘s knee injury was more serious than first thought. He will undergo surgery to repair a torn right meniscus.

No word on how long he will be out, but we won’t be seeing the 30-year-old Israeli back on the hardwood this season.

This year, Casspi appeared in 36 games for the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 14.4 minutes per game, way down from his career stat of 20.3. The team was 14-22 with Casspi in the game, 7-11 with him not seeing any action.

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES’ forward Omri Casspi


JFL update, Sleeper Bowl Edition

Posted on: February 5th, 2019 by Ron Kaplan

Sorry. It’s taken me this long to wake up from that snoozer. Granted, I probably wouldn’t have watched the whole thing anyway because I had to get up at 3 a.m. for work, but I did managed to see the final field goal through the end.

Obviously the only reason I’m writing this is the Jewish participation factor in the New England Patriots’ 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

We begin with Nate Ebner, the free safety who appeared on 23 special teams plays (85 percent). It was his third Super Bowl appearance.

Image result for julian edelman relentlessNow we come to the issue of Julian Edelman.

Those of you who have been following the Korner for any length of time know that I have never “considered” him as a MOT, abiding by the decision of the Jewish Sports Review.

I’m still waiting for something definitive. I’m going to be reading his 2017 book, Relentless: A Memoir, to see if there’s any religious reference. Certainly there’s no shortage of Jewish media ready to claim him, given the paucity of Jews in sports in general and the NFL in particular. Especially since Edelman was named this year’s MVP. And this JTA story on his being the first Jewish player to earn such an honor is making the rounds. Edelman even refers to it in this story. Along with this one about his perhaps being the best Jewish football player ever. Well, obviously that’s a question for denate.

From the Jerusalem Post:

Edelman’s father is of Jewish descent and Edelman is openly Jewish. During a holiday season NFL Network interview in 2014, when the broadcaster asked Edelman if he was ready to give some good “Christmas answers,” Edelman responded, “Well, I’m Jewish, but I’ll try to keep it to Hanukkah presents, even though Hanukkah’s over.”

I wonder how they define “openly Jewish”?

I know there have been stories and videos of Edelman visiting Israel, wearing a kipa at the Western Wall, etc. and I don’t know what’s in his heart and soul. But I can’t help be reminded about the episode of Seinfield in which he accuses his dentists of converting to Judaism “for the jokes.” The skeptic in me thinks this has at least a chance of being some way to capitalize on that lack of the chosen people in pro sports.

Terrible, I know.

And I also know that the JSR‘s policy is somewhat questionable as well. After all, there are several Jewish athletes whose mothers are not Jewish (there goes the halachic definition), who have never had a bar mitzvah ceremony or even formal Jewish education and they’re included. A very touch subject. I’m thinking Edelman may be Jew-ish as opposed to Jewish.

Image result for julian edelman, Israel

Image result for julian edelman, Israel





Omri Casspi update, January 31, 2019

Posted on: January 31st, 2019 by Ron Kaplan

The Israeli import missed his third straight game due to knee soreness as the Memphis Grizzlies (20-32) lost a tough one in overtime to the host Minnesota Timberwolves, 99-97.

The Grizzlies have now lost 21 of their last 25.

Give credit to the 13,000-plus rugged souls who braved the -20-degree Minneapolis weather to attend the game.


Omri Casspi Update

Posted on: January 29th, 2019 by Ron Kaplan

Image result for omri casspi, grizzliesWhat, hurt again?

Yup, Omri Casspi has missed the last three games for the Memphis Grizzlies (19-30, 14th in the Western Conference) with an apparent knee injury.

In his last game, Casspi scored 18 points with five rebounds, and four steals in 25 minutes during Friday’s 99-96 loss to the visiting Sacramento Kings, one of his former teams.

CBSSports.com noted that “Casspi swiped a season high steal total while reaching double figures in scoring for the fourth time in his last six appearances. The 30-year-old veteran is averaging more minutes per game here in January than he had in any previous month this season.”

If only he could stay healthy.

The Grizzlies have lost 20 of their last 24 games.


Talking about Hank Greenberg at SABR Day

Posted on: January 29th, 2019 by Ron Kaplan

Posted this to my blog about baseball books, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m simply offering the link for the event which featured fellow MOT authors Howard Megdal (The Baseball Talmud) and Lincoln Mitchell discussing their work.

The entry includes the nearly one-hour video of the panel.


Jice update, January 29, 2019

Posted on: January 29th, 2019 by Ron Kaplan

With only two games on the docket last night and neither of them involving MOTs, here’s a very “fast break” as the NHL resumes from its brief All-Star respite. By standings…

  • Toronto Maple Leafs (30-17-2), featuring Zach Hyman (eight goals, 10 assists) are third in the Eastern Conference and second in the Atlantic Division. Here’s a Q&A with him from the Toronto Sun.
  • Washington Capitols (27-17-6), featuring Andre Burakovsky (six goals, six assists), are fifth in the East and second in the Metropolitan Division. He broke his 14-game goalless streak last week.
  • Minnesota Wild (26-21-3), featuring Jason Zucker (13 goals, 12 assists), are fifth in the Western Conference and third in the Central Division.
  • Arizona Coyotes (23-23-4), featuring Jakov Chychrun (three goals, eight assists) are eleventh in the Western Conference and sixth in the Pacific Division.
  • Los Angeles Kings (20-26-6) featuring Brendan Leipsic (four goals, nine assists) and Nate Thompson (three goals, two assists) are last in the Western Conference and the Pacific Division.
  • Other notables:
    • Josh Ho-Sang (NY Islanders) was sent back to the Bridgeport Sound Tiger of the AHL on Jan. 8.
    • Jason Demers (Coyotes) sustained a season-ending injury in November.

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