Archive for the ‘Jews and baseball’ Category


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.

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).

JML Update, May 11, 2018 (Games of May 10)

Posted on: May 11th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan No Comments

Maybe moving down in the lineup helped: Ian Kinsler was 3-for-4 including his second homer of the year, as the LA Angels (23-14) beat the visiting Minnesota Twins, 7-4. The two-run blast put the Angels on the scoreboard in the second inning.

Kevin Pillar hit is 16th double of the year and scored a run as the Toronto Blue Jays (20-18) lost to the visiting Seattle Mariners, 9-3. It was his only hit in three at-bats. Pillar came out for a pinch-hitter in the ninth.

Ryan Braun was 0-for-5 as the Milwaukee Brewers (22-16) topped the host Colorado Rockies, 5-2.

Joc Pederson was 0-for-2 with a walk and a run scored as the LA Dodgers(16-21) lost the the suddenly improved visiting Cincinnati Reds, 4-1. He came out of the game for a pinch-hitter in the seventh.

Neither Richard Bleier nor Danny Valencia appeared for the Baltimore Orioles (10-27) in their 11-6 win over the visiting KC Royals.

Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros had the day off.

Gabe Kapler‘s Philadelphia Phillies improved to 22-15 by sweeping their series against the visiting San Francisco Giants with a 6-3 victory.

By the way, Pillar and Bleier (middle and far right in the photo below) were named in tan article on MLB.com, “Here are 5 unsung heroes in the AL East.” Jack R. sent an email to JewishBaseballNews.com, which forarded it to me for your interest. As Jack noted, “40% Jews!”

Here’s the lowdown for both MOTs:

Blue Jays OF Kevin Pillar
Why you should know about him: Despite never having won a Gold Glove Award, Pillar is generally regarded as one of the top defensive outfielders. His Superman dives have become his own personal trademark across Canada, and he makes frequent appearances on the highlight reels.

Why you don’t: Pillar has never really offered much beyond his glove. Entering Wednesday, he had a career on-base percentage of .306, but surprisingly enough, it’s his bat that deserves some praise during the early stages of 2018. Pillar has moved into the heart of Toronto’s lineup, and he entered Wednesday tied for the Major League lead with 15 doubles. He also led the Blue Jays in hits (42), average (.309) and slugging percentage (.537).

What they’re saying: “When you look at him, his pitch selection has been good. He has been laying off some tough pitches and putting the ball in play. You hope he keeps on this run. He’s moved up into the middle of the order, and that’s a good thing. … He was playing pretty well and doing some things in Spring Training that carried into the season. That’s pitch selection and putting the barrel on the ball.” — Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale

Orioles LHP Richard Bleier
Why you should know about him: It’s tough to envision a reliever having a better start to a year than Bleier, who entered Wednesday with a 0.44 ERA in 20 2/3 innings. He’s allowed one earned run over 16 outings with a 0.92 WHIP, as he has quickly become Baltimore’s most reliable reliever.

Why you don’t: The Orioles are in last place in the AL East and entered Wednesday with the worst record in the Majors. Plus, Bleier doesn’t strike out a lot of guys and isn’t overpowering. Who can forget the bases-loaded spot in which he retired Judge and Giancarlo Stanton at Yankee Stadium last month? Bleier’s entire arsenal is under the radar.

What they’re saying: “He’s still under the radar a little bit, I think, because the strikeouts aren’t glaring at you. When you look at the peripheral stuff and don’t understand how Richard pitches, you may not be that impressed with it. But there’s a lot of parts about it that should get your attention. He’s not an Andrew Miller approach. But you’re seeing a guy really come into, ‘Here’s who I am, and here’s what I need to do to be successful.” — O’s manager Buck Showalter

Mazel tov, boys.



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