Archive for the ‘Because I can…’ Category


Ty-ing one on

Posted on: February 17th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Ty Kelly and his mother Diane, who is Jewish, traveled to Israel in January 2017 with a group of Jewish-American ballplayersTime for a little SSP: My interview with Ty Kelly, who made his debut with the NY Mets last year and is scheduled to participate for Team Israel in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, appears on the Jewish Baseball News website.Israel makes its debut on the international stage after winning in the qualifiers last September. Kelly was not on the team at the time because he was in the Majors.

One of the more interesting aspects of our conversation was his take on religious identity. No spoiler alerts; you’ll just have to read the article.

Unfortunately, Kelley was designated for assignment by the Mets just a couple of hours after we spoke. They have since outrighted him to their AAA affiliates in Las Vegas where he had so much success in 2016.

Kelly, shown here with his mom, Diane, was one of a group of Jewish-American players who visited Israel in January.


Birthday Greetings, Scott Feldman

Posted on: February 7th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Scott FeldmanHappy birthday to Scott Feldman. The tallest Jewish major leaguer to come out of Hawaii turns 34 today.

He was recently signed by the Cincinnati Reds to a $2.3 million contract and with bonuses he could earn as much as $5 mil. Here’s how the St. Louis Post Dispatch website views him, in context to how his presence might affect the Cardinals.

If things go according to plan, righthander Scott Feldman will claim the fourth spot in the rotation. The club gave the 33-year-old free agent a one-year deal after he went 7-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 40 appearances between the Astros and Blue Jays. Feldman has bounced back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation during his career. He started only five times in 2016. Four of those starts came before May. And all five occurred before Houston traded him to Toronto, where he got shelled, posting a 8.40 ERA in 14 appearances. Feldman has faced the Cardinals six times in his career, five of which came as a Rangers reliever in the 2011 World Series. He has an 8.71 ERA against St. Louis.

Here’s wishing him good health and good luck on the playing field.


Perfect timing for a little SSP (Hank Greenberg project)

Posted on: January 2nd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

(As in “shameless self-promotion.”) Actually yesterday would have been the perfect time as it would have been Hank Greenberg‘s 106th birthday. Considering that Tyrus Wong, illustrator for the classic Walt Disney flick Bambi, recently died at that age, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Hammerin’ Hank could still be with us.

As you may know, my new book, Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War, is due out on April 4. As the title states, it focuses on that one season during which Greenberg was within a few long foul balls from wresting the single season home run record of 60 away from Babe Ruth. Ruth had set the mark in 1927, but there was no pressure, no competition: if he broke his former record, well and good. If not, no big deal. He was enjoying a fun ride.

But as Ruth grew into a fat old man, a new generation of sluggers — Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Rudy York, and Greenberg — were poised to usurp his place in the record books, although no one could replace him as a legendary character and the man who many credit with “saving” the game following the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Those guys felt the pressure, especially from journalists hungry for sensational story lines. And as the season wore on and time was running out, that pressure built even more.

Of course, baseball was just a minor matter compared with what was going on in Europe. Hitler was creating bigger headlines every day as he stepped up his goal of world domination. The book compares and contrasts, using Greenberg and Judaism as the focal points (not all the anti-Semites were in Germany).

Hank Greenberg in 1938 is entering the home stretch now, having gone through a couple of rounds of edits before the proofreading, followed by the bound galleys or ‘arcs’ (advanced reader copies) which will be sent to reviewers in advance of the release date.

With a couple of books in the bank, I know enough to both enjoy the bustle and excitement of the weeks ahead as well as not having grand expectations that this will wind up on the New York Times‘ best-seller list. (No false modesty, just keepin’ it real.) Anyway, it keeps me busy and from being too depressed about not having a full-time job yet.



Now wait just one minute

Posted on: December 12th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

It bears repeating, so I’ve pulled this section out of the previous weekend updated:

  • Daniel Levitt played a whole minute off the bench as Cleveland State lost to host #18 Purdue, 77-53.
  • So did Ky Feldman, who at least got off a shot in Syracuse’s 99-77 win over visiting Boston University.
  • So did Josh Wolf for Lehigh in their 90-71 win over host St. Mary’s.
  • So did La Salle’s Hank Davis but he actually scored two points on free throws in a 93-78 loss to host Georgetown.



Korner review: Jewish Sports Review

Posted on: November 15th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

http://jewishbaseballmuseum.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Jewish-Sports-Review-187x300.pngThe Jewish sports fan’s best friend arrived recently: The November/December issue of the Jewish Sports Review.

Among the topic covered:

  • A thorough look back at the 2016 baseball season, from the majors all the way down to the independent leagues
  • A look ahead at men’s and women’s college basketball for DI, II, and III schools. This is important because for some reason the major sports outlets like ESPN do a crap job of keeping up with the women’s game.
  • An addenda for college football and soccer
  • A glimpse at the 2016-17 college wrestling scene
  • And a grab-bag of info in the “Sports Shorts”
  • Special feature: Benjamin Chernuhin’s essay on “Twenty Best Jewish Soccer Players of the Soviet Period”
  • Neil Keller’s “Jews in Sports” alphabetical quiz

The holiday season is upon and I can’t think of a better gift for the hard core sports enthusiasts on your list. So why not get them a subscription of six bi-monthly issues for $36. You won’t find this information anywhere else. For more, visit Jewishsportsreview.com.

Shalom, y’all

Posted on: September 13th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan 4 Comments

This marks the final entry for Kaplan’s Korner, at least in this iteration.

The NY Jewish Week assumes control over the New Jersey Jewish News tomorrow. They have decided not to continue the blog (or my relationship with the organization).


With Bruce Beck and Ian Eagle.

It’s a business decision, and I get it. I foolishly thought that, as a niche publication serving a specific community, the Jewish News might be able to merrily roll along while papers like The New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, et al, were all suffering drastic changes, reducing personnel and output  to the point where the pages produced are barely enough to properly line our bird cages. Like I said, foolish. I thought that the fact the the Korner was the most all-encompassing Jewish sports presence out there might be worth keeping around. Evidently not.

When the Jewish News suggested a sports blog several years ago to take the place of a stand-alone sports section in the print edition, I was skeptical. Although I absolutely hate the joke about the thinnest book in the world (I think you know what I mean without my having to say it), I was worried about finding enough material to make this a viable and sustainable presence. How wrong I was.

With John Thorn, official historian of Major League Baseball

With John Thorn, official historian of Major League Baseball

Hosting Kaplan’s Korner (the name was not my idea, by the way) gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing people in the sports world, from executives, to writers, to athletes, to fans (thanks for all the phone calls and e-mails).

It afforded the opportunity to participate in synagogue discussions, academic conferences, and Yankees fantasy camp. I even made it into the Times as a source for a story about baseball and the Yom Kuppur dilemma.

The blog gave me enough of a standing in the community  — shameless self-promotion ahead: 2014 Best Blog of the Year as per the New Jersey Press Association — to publish The Jewish Olympics: The History of the Maccabiah Games, which in turn led to my current project, Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War.

My only regret is that I never got to interview Tony Kornheiser. Maybe next time. (No, seriously, if some one knows Mr. Tony, let him know I’ve been looking for him.)

Plans for what, if anything, happens next are up in the air; I hope to know more in the coming weeks. If anyone is interested in keeping informed if and when this happens, you can contact me at kaplanskorner@gmail.com.

So in closing let me just quote from one of the late Douglas Adams, one of my favorite authors, when he said.



Rachmones for A-Rod?

Posted on: August 12th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

So tonight is the final game for Alex Rodriguez. Unless it’s not. It will be for the Yankees. But at 696 home runs (he’s scheduled to play tonight but the likelihood of a four-homer game is doubtful, wouldn’t you agree?). That would be fine with the Yankees, who have been out of love with the controversial player for years. They certainly do not want him besting the 714 hit by Babe Ruth, one of the most beloved figures in the game (even if Ruth didn’t hit all of them in pinstripes). But maybe someone will want to pick him up for the possible ticket bump? Kind of like Tim Tebow announcing he wants to play pro baseball.

ARod was the topic of a segment on The Brian Lehrer Show which featured veteran sportswriter George Vecsey. basically it came down to Rodriguez screwed himself by denying and denying and denying and denying. Americans are great on second chances, but “fool me once…”

Lehrer and Vecsey speculated that Rodriguez might have an easier time getting into the Hall of Fame than Mark McGwire (even thoughm technically, he did nothing illegal), Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds because by that time PED may not be as big a deal as it was when voters were casting their ballots for the aforementioned quartet.

Makes no never mind to me in my life. Maybe MLB is just covering their collective butts for turning a blind eye on this for so long as long as it put money in their coffers. In the end, it literally is only a game. The consequences, for the most part, are trivial and effect only the parties involved. I’m sure Alex won’t lose a lot of sleep over it down the line.



Lookin’ good.

Posted on: August 8th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

From Israel21c.com

USA Today surprised many in Israel in ranking the Israeli uniforms No. 2 on its list of “17 best Parade of Nations outfits.” In effect, Israel won fashion gold from an American media outlet – its first of the Summer Games.

Hold the phone: If Israel came in second, should that be an ersatz silver medal?

Best dressed Olympians, or flight attendants? Israeli delegation poses for a photo before the Rio opening ceremony. Photo via Olympic Committee of Israel/Facebook

You can read the whole story here.

People of the book: The Dykstra debacle

Posted on: July 18th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

As you might have noticed from my weekly posting about baseball best-sellers, I’m not overly happy that Lenny Dykstra’s new memoir, House of Nails, is doing well. It came in at No. 11 on the most recent New York Times best-seller list for non-fiction.

This isn’t a case of schadenfreude. It’s that people are more interested in dirt from someone who many wouldn’t even consider a celebrity than more important issues from writers who toil so hard for such little return. As landsman Richard Sandomir, the Times‘ sports media columnist observes in his recent review, several interviewers — mostly, it seems, of the low-brow sports-talk radio shows, dote on Dykstra as if he was some sort of hero, kissing his butt with bro-praise, ignoring the terrible things he claims to have done to get ahead, including hiring private detectives to get dirt on umpires as possible blackmail material.

This is what holds our interest at a time when citizens and polic offers are being killed with sad regularity and the November elections portend such dire results?

In Sandomir’s considered opinion, House of Nails

… is not an eloquent autobiography, like Andre Agassi’s Open, and is more in keeping with the spirit of Jose Canseco’s Juiced. It is not explosive, unless his accusation that the former Mets manager Davey Johnson drank a lot is big news. It is rather a narcissist’s delight, so relentlessly focused on Dykstra’s ego and antics that you need to rest occasionally from the Lenniness of it all.

At least Canesco’s book served a purpose in bringing to light the reach of PED, even though many in the baseball hierarchy sought to turn a blind eye to the situation. What life lesson is Dykstra offering?

Add to that his firing of veteran author Peter Golenbock (another landsman) as his co-writer because, as Sandomir writes, “Dykstra said he had needed to take control of the book to preserve his singular voice, which is notably profane and blustery and as obsessed with sex as a pubescent boy.”

Arrested development (pick whichever meaning you will)?

(I’ve also lost some respect for Stephen King, whose blurb is featured on the cover. Unless it’s one of those situations where the publisher cobbled together words that King included in his assessment, although not necessarily in the order in which it appears.)

I often link the books in these entries to the Amazon page, hoping to earn a few coins if some of you readers decided to order the various merchandise. Not this time.

Reviewing the Review

Posted on: July 8th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

http://jewishsportsreview.com/images/jsr.jpgRecently received the July/August issue of the Jewish Sports Review. Highlights include:

  • 2016 College Baseball Teams, for DI, II, III, and NAIA schools
  • 2016 College Softball Review for DI, II, III, and NAIA schools
  • 2016 Men’s College Lacrosse All-America Team
  • 2016 Women’s College All-America Lacrosse Team (DI, II, and III)
  • 2015-16 Girls’ and Boys’ High School All-America Basketball Team
  • Sports Shorts
  • An updated all-time list of Jewish skaters in the NHL. Interesting to see that Andre Burakovsky is still included, despite all the kerfuffle he made a few months ago about not being Jewish.
  • A “Jewish in Sports – Letter “TS'” quiz

Subscriptions are $36 for one year, $60 for two. Given that this kind of information isn’t available in this format anywhere else, it’s a must-read for fans of Jewish sports. Visit their website for more information.


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