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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, May 23, 2018 (Games of May 22)

Posted on: May 23rd, 2018 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

Alex Bregman had two doubles (14, tied for fourth in the American League) and a walk in five plate appearances to go along with a run scored, and RBI, and a stolen base (#4) to help the Houston Astros (31-18) beat the visiting San Francisco Giants, 11-2. As per CBSSports.com, “Bregman extended his hitting streak to six games (8-for-23, four extra-base hits) and has reached base safely in 17 of 19 games during the month of May. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as it was during May when he started to bust out last season. He’s slashing .286/.383/.529 this month, raising his season line to .270/.381/.427. The Albuquerque native may be one of those players whose bat heats up as the weather does.”

Image result for richard bleierRichard Bleier had his worst outing of the season for the Baltimore Orioles. He entered the game against the visiting Chicago White Sox in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and one out and allowed two of the runners to score (sacrifice fly and single) before being lifted, earning him his first blown save. Danny Valencia did not appear for the O’s (15-33).

Despite his recent struggles, Joe Posnanski deemed Bleire the one good bit of news for the woeful Orioles:

No, there isn’t much good news in Baltimore … but at least there’s Richard Bleier. What a story. He is a 31-year-old lefty who generally does not break 90 mph. In an era of strikeouts, Bleier hardly ever strikes out anybody. And yet — armed with a sinker and impeccable control — he has been fantastic. In 15 2/3 innings, Bleier has earned the win in two of the O’s six victories, and he has an 0.57 ERA. He is a throwback to the time of closer Dan Quisenberry, who pitched to contact, made hitters beat the ball into the ground and used to say, “natural grass is a wonderful thing for little bugs and sinkerball pitchers.”

Ian Kinsler remained in the leadoff spot and was 0-for-3 with an RBI on a sacrifice fly as the LA Angels (26-22) lost to the host Toronto Blue Jays (23-25), 5-3. Kevin Pillar was 0-for-4. Kinsler’s batting average dropped to .197 while Pillar has seen his batting average drop from .322 on May 3 to .287, which seems to be following a pattern over his career: a really hot start followed by so-so production. His 18 doubles are second in the AL.

Joc Pederson entered the game for the LA Dodgers (21-27) as a defensive replacement in their 5-3 win over the visiting Colorado Rockies. He did not come to bat.

Ryan Braun remains on the disabled list for the Milwaukee Brewers (30-19), who shut out the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks, 1-0. He spent some of his recent time off helping on a Habitat for Humanity project. He is eligible to come off the DL on Thursday.

Gabe Kapler‘s Philadelphia Phillies (27-19) fell to the visiting Atlanta Braves, 3-1.

 

Lest we forget: Philip Roth

Posted on: May 23rd, 2018 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

Image result for philip roth,The iconic author of The Great American Novel — one of the most underrated pieces of baseball fiction according to many — died yesterday at the age of 85.

Although he was a frequent story subject in the New Jersey Jewish News while I was there for more than a decade, I never had to opportunity to interview him. I would have loved to ask why he wrote about baseball, compared with his other “more serious” themes.

Roth was a complex person, hard to know from what I’ve read and not that comfortable with being the subject. I enjoyed most of his writing although I’m not enough of a literary expert to delve into the nuances of his work.

Many of his stories have been made into movies; I wonder why that didn’t happen for TGAN? I listened to the audiobook version and was not overly impressed with the narrator’s interpretation.

Here’s Roth’s obituary from The New York Times as well as the paper’s review of the book, published in 1973.

And a few more items regarding his baseball work:

 

Image result for philip roth, baseball

 

 

 

JML Update, May 22, 2018 (Games of May 21)

Posted on: May 22nd, 2018 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

Richard Bleier picked up his second hold in two straight games for the Baltimore Orioles (15-32) who held off the host Chicago White Sox, 3-2. He allowed one hit in one inning of work. Danny Valencia was 0-for-4 as the starting third baseman (batting fifth).

Joc Pederson was 0-for-4 as the leadoff batter and starting left fielder in the LA Dodgers’ (20-27) 2-1 loss to the visiting Colorado Rockies.

Gabe Kapler‘s Philadelphia Phillies (27-18) shut out the visiting Atlanta Braves, 3-0.

Ryan Braun remains on the disabled list for the Milwaukee Brewers (29-19) who beat the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-2. But he’s still managing to keep busy.

No game for Kevin Pillar and the T0ronto Blue Jays or Ian Kinsler and the LA Angels.

 

 

JML Update, May 21, 2018 (Games of May 18-20)

Posted on: May 21st, 2018 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

Joc Pederson was 2-for-5 with a triple (#3) with a run scored as the leadoff batter and left fielder as the LA Dodgers took the first game of a doubleheader against the host Washington Nationals on Saturday, 4-1. He also threw out a runner at second. He had the same role in the nightcap  (necessitated by a rainout the day before), doubling (#5) in three at-bats plus a walk and another run scored in a 5-4 win. He came out of the game in the ninth for pinch-hitter Matt Kemp, who doubled in the winning runs in the ninth. On Sunday, Pederson entered the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth. He doubled (#6) in his only at-bat, driving in a run and later coming around the score as the Dodgers (20-26, fifth in NL West) swept the Nats with a 7-2 win.

After sitting out Friday’s 8-3 loss by the LA Angels to the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, Ian Kinsler had a double (#6) in three at-bats with a run scored in a 5-3 loss. He returned to the lead-off spot on Sunday, going 0-for-4 with a walk and his fifth stolen base as the Angels (25-21, third in the AL West) salvaged the last game with a 5-2 win.

Kevin Pillar was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Friday in the Toronto Blue Jays’ 3-1 loss to the visiting Oakland A’s. The next day, he was 0-for-2 with a walk and an RBI on a sac fly in a 5-4 loss. In Sunday’s finale, Pillar was 0-for-2, coming out of the game for a defensive replacement in the eighth as the A’s completed the sweep of the Jays (22-25, fifth in AL East).

Alex Bregman was 1-for-4 as the Houston Astros beat the visiting Cleveland Indians, 4-1, on Friday, making this nifty play for the first out of the game.  He hit his fourth homer in a 5-4  loss the next day, his only hit in four at-bats. He had two more hits (in four at-bats) on Sunday in a 3-1 win to improve to 30-18, first in the AL West.

Danny Valencia was 1-for-3 with a run scored on Friday as the Baltimore Orioles (14-32, last in theAL East) beat the host Boston Red Sox, 7-4. He sat out Saturday’s 6-3 loss and was 1-for-4 in Sunday’s 5-0 loss. Richard Bleier earned a hold on Friday, although he did allow an inherited runner to score, giving up two hits in 2/3 of an inning. It was his only appearance in the three games.

Ryan Braun remains on the disabled list for the Milwaukee Brewers (28-19) who took two of three from the host Minnesota Twins.

Gabe Kapler‘s Philadelphia Phillies  (26-18, second in NL East) dropped two of three to the visiting St. Louis Cardinals.

Just sayin’: The NY Mets are hurting for outfielders, so much so that they’re experimenting with Dominic Smith, playing him in the pasture when he’s always been a first baseman. Why not give Zach Borenstein — a member of the Israeli team at the World Baseball Classic — a chance?

 

JML Update, May 18, 2018 (Games of May 17)

Posted on: May 18th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

Kevin Pillar was 2-for-4, including his 18th double of the year as the Toronto Blue Jays (22-22) lost 10-5 to the visiting Oakland A’s. He drove in a run with a sac fly and scored another. Sadly, there are some who see his strong start in a less-than-charitable light.

Danny Valencia — starting at third and batting seventh — had two of the five hits (in four at-bats) for the Baltimore Orioles (13-30) in their 6-2 loss to the host Boston Red Sox. Richard Bleier did not appear for the O’s.

Ian Kinsler was 0-for-4 as the LA Angels (25-19) lost to the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, 7-1.

Joc Pederson was 0-for-1 after entering the game as a defensive replacement as the LA Dodgers (17-26) shut out the host Miami Marlins, 7-0.

Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros had the day off.

Gabe Kapler‘s Philadelphia Phillies (25-16) beat the host St. Louis Cardinals, 6-2. In case you haven’t notice, the Phillies are just a half game out of first place in the NL East.

Was this trip really necessary? The Atlanta Braves called up Max Fried to start yesterday’s game against the visiting Chicago Cubs. But when the game was cancelled, Fried was returned to the minors.

As I was sayin’: The Milwaukee Brewers have put Ryan Braun on the 10-day disabled list. All I can think of is the Mets’ David Wright. He’s seen an outstanding career side-tracked thanks to injuries over the past few years.

 

Philly Jewish Sports Hall announces new inductees

Posted on: May 17th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

The Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame will induct six new members in its next class, according to a story in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. They include Lou Scheinfeld, a “longtime executive who now serves as president and CEO of the in-the-works Museum of Sports”; former University of Pennsylvania basketball standout Bruce Lefkowitz; the late boxer-turned-trainer Marty Feldman; former MLB catcher Jesse Levis; former field hockey and lacrosse star and coach Lauren Becker Rubin; and longtime Maccabi youth basketball coach Brian Schiff.

 

JML Update, May 17, 2018 (Games of May 16)

Posted on: May 17th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

Kevin Pillar was 2-for-5 with an RBI (and two strikeouts) as the Toronto Blue Jays (22-21) beat up on the host NY Mets in a rain-soaked game, 12-1.

Joc Pederson had a double (#5) in five at-bats as the LA Dodgers fell to the host Miami Marlins, 6-5. He had a couple of good defensive plays, including this catch and an assist, throwing out a runner at third base.

Alex Bregman picked up his 14th double, his only hit in four at-bats, and scored a run as the Houston Astros (28-17) beat the host LA Angels, 2-0. Ian Kinsler was 1-for-3 for the Angels (25-18).

Make that two games in a row in which the previously stingy Richard Bleier has allowed the opposition to score. This time it was one run on two hits in .2 innings (one strikeout). he also allowed one of two inherited runners to score as the Baltimore Orioles (13-29) lost to Gabe Kapler‘s Philadelphia Phillies (24-16), 4-1. Danny Valencia did not appear for the O’s.

Ryan Braun missed another game as the Milwaukee Brewers (26-18) beat the host Arizona Diamondbacks, 8-1. Braun has been plagued by back issues and may end up on the disabled list.

 

And now, the rest of the story (UPDATE)

Posted on: May 16th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

To take a page from Paul Harvey (no relation to major Mets disappointment Matt)…

I have been majorly remiss in not reporting on anything but baseball. So let’s address that now.

NBA

Omri Casspi has laid up his final shot for the Warriors. (Photo: Facebook)Omri Casspi was waived by the Golden State Warriors just before the end of the regular season, thereby terminating his chance to make it into the playoffs. It’s not a stretch to say that the timing sucked. Casspi — the first Israeli to make it to the NBA — was a pretty good guy to have coming off your bench, regardless for whom he played. Obviously it was too late in the season for another team to pick him up, but here’s hoping we’ll see hime again next season. By the way, T.J. Leaf may be the first Israeli to make it to the post-season, but he’s not a MOT.

NHL

At this point, Andre Burakovsky (Washington Capitols) and Brendon Leipsic (Las Vegas Knights) are the only two Jice-men still active.

Burakovsky — whose connection with Judaism has been an issue over the last couple of years (he claims he’s not Jewish but the Jewish Sports Review stands by their “ruling” that he is based on their qualifications) —  appeared in 56 games for the Caps (49-26-7, third in the Eastern Conference), putting 12 pucks in the net and assisting on a baker’s dozen. Washington leads the Tampa Bay Lightning two games to one in their conference matchup. They beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, four games to two. In the next round, they put away the Pittsburgh Penguins, also 4-2.

Leipsic, a 23-year-old rookie, had five goals and 17 assists in 58 games for the amazingly successful expansion Knights, who ended their inaugural season with a mark of 51-24-7, good for third place in the West. They are tied with the Winnipeg Jets in the Conference Finals at 1-1, having knocked out Jason Zucker and the Minnesota Wild in the first round. The Knights then ousted the San Jose Sharks, 4-2, in round two to move to the next-to-last step.

Zucker had an outstanding season for the Wild (45-26-11, fourth in the Western Conference). He appeared in all 82 games and led all Jewish players in goals (33) and assists (31). Zucker did not put up a point in the series with the Jets. He is also a finalist in the running for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, given to “the NHL player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune,

Zucker and his wife, Carly, raised funds for the Zucker Family Suite and Broadcast Studio at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, a space that allows children and their families to watch Wild games in a game-like setting. They donated $160,000 to start the project, and also contributed $1,600 for each goal Zucker, who wears No. 16, scored (33) this season. In seven months, the project has raised more than $900,000.

Zach Hyman and the Toronto Maple Leafs made great leaps over the last two seasons. They came in at 49-26-11, fourth in the East. Compare that with 29-42-11 in 2015-16 and 40-27-15 last year. They were eliminated in the first round of this year’s playoffs by the Boston Bruins.

Michael Cammalleri — at 35 the senior statesman among Jewish NHLers — appeared in a total of 66 games, split between the LA Kings (15 games, three goals, four assists) and Edmonton Oilers (51 games, 4/18), to whom he was traded in mid-November. The Kings finished in the seventh spot in the West with a record of 45-29-8. They were swept by the Knights in the first round. The Oilers were pretty awful, however, 36-40-6, eighth in the West.

Jason Demers appeared in 69 games for the Arizona Coyotes  (29-41-12, last in the West), contributing six goals and 14 assists.

Jakob Chychrun, also a member of the Coyotes, had his share of injuries, appearing in just 50 games with four goals and ten assists.

Josh Ho-Sang was a lightning rod for the NY Islanders this year. For some reason, he was constantly in the news, an indicator of why the team was doing poorly, even though he scored twice and assisted on 12 in just 22 games. He spent most of the year with the AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Some said he had a bad work ethic, a bad attitude, etc. Others say he was injured and didn’t want to let on. Let’s just hope for better times ahead. The Isles finished 11th in the East at 35-37-10.

NFL

Not much to report since the Arizona Cardinals selected Josh Rosen as their No. 1 pick (10th overall) in the NFL draft, much to the former UCLA QB’s annoyance. And that annoyance has stirred up something that may or may not be there, as far as anti-Semitic sentiments go. Tablet Magazine took a tongue-in-cheek approach in this piece.

Image result for josh rosen, anti-semitism

Despite the JSR’s declaration that Rosen meets their requirements, this piece from The New Yorker would seem to go against the one about not identifying with another religion. According to the article by Zach Helfand, “Rosen is the son of a Jewish father and a Quaker mother. He had a bar mitzvah but attended a Catholic high school, where he went to weekly mass and gave confession twice a semester.” So unless that confession thing was just going through the motions…

BTW, the question of religious identity is always tricky. A Jewish lad might have a bar mitzvah (although I guess “having” one is a moot point since it’s automatic) but later decide to convert. A Nazi might say, once a Jew, always a Jew. I leave this issue to more enlightened and educated minds.

As for the handful of other JFLers:

  • Ali Marpet preparing for a new position on the O-Line?
  • The NY Giants waived Adam Bisnowaty, who never made it to the official roster. UPDATE: Since posting this earlier today, news came down that he was claimed off waivers by the Detroit Lions.
  • Also around: Mitchell Schwartz, KC Chiefs, of whom great things are expected next season; and Nate Ebner (New England Patriots), who will be coming back from a season-sending injury.

MSL

Soccer. Ugh.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know my antipathy for the sport. Too much running around with nothing to show for it. Too much moving back and forth of players between teams and leagues. Too much time between games. Zzzzzz. But in the interest of fair play, I should mention the few Jews in the Major Soccer League. Thanks to the folks at JSR and Bob Wechsler for doing the leg work on this.

According to their calculating, these are the Jews of the MSL (standings as of this writing):

  • Steve Birnbaum, Defender, DC United (1-5-2, 11th — last — in Eastern Conference)
  • Benny Feilhaber, Midfielder, Los Angeles Football Club (6-2-2, second in Western Conference)
  • Zac McMath, Goalkeeper, Colorado Rapids (3-6-1, ninth in West)
  • Daniel Steres, Defender, LA Galaxy (2-5-2, 11th — but not last — in West. That’s another thing: 23 teams in the league? They couldn’t have found one more to make things easy?)

Wechsler added in his email on the topic:

  • Andrew Jacobson of Vancouver and Zach Pfeffer of Colorado have retired.
  • Jonathan Spector of Orlando does not identify as Jewish. His Jewish grandfather was Art “Speed” Spector, was the first player ever signed by the Boston Celtics.
  • Kyle Beckman of Real Salt Lake is listed as Jewish in many sources. He recently married a woman in a Greek Orthodox ceremony. From what I hear, you must be willing to be ID’d as Greek Orthodox in order to participate in its wedding ceremony.

So there you have it, folks. I know there are several items I’ve neglected, such as Soren Thompson‘s upcoming induction into the USA Fencing Hall of Fame, and for that my apologies. I hope to do better in the future.

In the meantime, don’t forget about my most recent book, Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War, in this, the 80th anniversary of that special season.

 

JML Update, May 16, 2018 (Games of May 15)

Posted on: May 16th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

Sorry no post yesterday, but just my luck that my street lost power during the storms that hit the area. Won’t get it back until tonight at the earliest but since I have the day off, I’m writing remotely from my local library. So without further adieu…

With 27 walks so far in 2018, Alex Bregman has already drawn almost half the number he did all of last year, helping him to a .387 on-base percentage entering the Astros’ game Monday night. Photo: Karen Warren, Staff / Houston Chronicle / © 2018 Houston ChronicleAlex Bregman was 1-for-3 with a walk, scoring two runs as the Houston Astros (27-17) beat the host LA Angels (25-12), 5-3. Ian Kinsler had a double in four at-bats for the Halos.

Ryan Braun (back tightness) did not appear for the Milwaukee Brewers (25-18), who lost to the host Arizona Diamondbacks, 2-1. Is he heading into that portion of an athlete’s life where every little knick and ping is a big deal?

Joc Pederson flied out as a pinch-hitter in the fifth for the LA Dodgers (16-25), who lost to the host Miami Marlins, 4-2. Pederson remained in the game in center and was 0-for-1 in a subsequent trip to the plate.

Kevin Pillar was 0-for-4 as the Toronto Blue Jays (21-21) lost their interleague scrimmage with the host NY Mets, 12-2.

The game between the Philadelphia Phillies (Gabe Kapler) and Baltimore Orioles (Danny Valencia, Richard Bleier) was postponed by rain.

 

JML Update, May 14, 2018 (Games of May 11-13)

Posted on: May 14th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

MOT of the Weekend honors goes to Danny Valencia, who was 4-for-5 yesterday with his fifth home run, three runs scored, and four RBIs to help the Baltimore Orioles (13-28, last in the AL East) annihilate the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, 17-1. The solo shot came in the second inning and gave the woeful O’s a 1-0 lead. He drove in another on a force out in the third, another on an infield hit in the fourth, and the last on a bloop hit in the seventh. Valencia was 0-for-3 in Saturday’s 10-3 loss and did not play in Friday’s 9-4 win.

As for Richard Bleier, well you knew his streak couldn’t go on forever. He gave up two runs on three hits and a walk on Friday — his only appearance for the weekend — and saw his ERA “soar” from 0.44 to 1.17.

Kevin Pillar was 3-for-13 with his AL-leading 17th double and his fourth stolen base as the Toronto Blue Jays (21-20, third in AL East) lost two of three to the visiting Boston Red Sox.

Alex Bregman was 3-for-8 with two doubles and three walks as the Houston Astros (26-16, first in the AL West) took two of three from the visiting Texas Rangers.

Ryan Braun had a double and walk in three plate appearances in Friday’s 11-10, 10-inning win by the Milwaukee Brewers over the host Colorado Rockies in which he also scored one one and drove one in. He was 0-for-8 for the rest of the weekend, striking out four times in yesterday’s contest. The Brewers (24-17, first in NL Central) took two of the three games.

Ian Kinsler was 2-for-10 but walked four times as the LA Angels (24-16, second in AL West) dropped two of three to the visiting Minnesota Twins.

Joc Pederson was 2-for-12 with two RBIs as the LA Dodgers (16-24, fourth in NL West) lost three to the visiting Cincinnati Reds, who swept the four game which began on Thursday.

Gabe Kapler‘s Philadelphia Phillies 23-16, second NL East) split a two-game series with the visiting NY Mets (the second game was rained out).

 
 
   
 

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