Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous Jewish sports’ Category


Jewish sports update, January 29, 2018

Posted on: January 29th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan


No game for Omri Casspi and the Golden State Warriors. Maybe the extra time off — their next game is tomorrow night at the Utah Jazz — will help him in his post-flu recovery.


No games; All-Star break. Action resumes tomorrow with Jason Zucker and the Minnesota Wild visiting the Columbus Blue Jackets; Brandon Leipsic and the Vegas Golden Knights visiting the Calgary Flames; and David Warshofsky and the Colorado Avalanche visiting the Vancouver Canucks.


If I were scheduled to make $20 million this year, I’d be a good sport, too. Ryan Braun says he’ll play anywhere his Milwaukee Brewers want him to. Including second base (?).


Laetitia Beck of Israel placed 10th in the LPGA Pure Silk Bahamas Classic for her second career top-10 finish. She placed eighth in the same event last year. Beck finished at 3-under par, seven strokes behind winner Brittany Lincicome.

Alexander Levy of France finished fourth in the European PGA Tour Dubai Desert Classic. He finished at 19-under par, four strokes behind winner Li Haotong of China.

Thanks to Bob Wechsler for the linx info.


The South African Minister of Sports boycotted the Davis Cup match between his country and Israel Boo-hoo.



Jewish sports update, January 10, 2018

Posted on: January 10th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan


Only two MOT games last night. Michael Cammalleri took one shot on goal in 12:32 as the Edmonton Oilers (18-23-3) couldn’t overcome a 2-0 deficit in the first period, losing to the host Nashville Predators, 2-1.

Jason Zucker took three SOG in 19:20 in the Minnesota Wild’s 3-2 overtime loss to the visiting Calgary Flames. The Wild are (is?) 22-17-4.

On tonight’s docket: Zucker and the Wild move on to Chicago to face the Blackhawks. Zach Hyman and the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Ottawa Senators.


Omri Casspi and the Golden State Warriors were off yesterday. They host the LA Clippers tonight.


This could be a make-or-break season for LA Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson.

There’s been chatter that Baltimore orioles pitcher Richard Bleier could wind up in the starting rotation, but according to this piece, maybe he’ll be the closer?


There are all sorts of metrics the scouts use to see if an athlete  is “worthy” of playing in the NFL, such as the Wonderlic Test. But how much does character count? Is the young man a good team guy? And how easily can rumors quash a career? Josh Rosen might be the target of negative assessments. We know he doesn’t want to play for the Cleveland Browns, but what are the chances the NY Jets claim him?

Only a Game, the public radio sports show, offered this segment on quarterback Bennie Friedman in their series on the history of the forward pass. You can hear the story — “The Son Of Jewish Immigrants Who Became Football’s First Passing Specialist” — here. Thanks to the very informative SportsBiblio.com for the link.


I don’t know how much Jewish content there is in This Book Has Balls: Sports Rants from the MVP of Talking Trash, by the actor Michael Rapaport, but I’m including it just on the basis of the cover:

Image result for michael rapaport book balls


Just as long as Goldberg doesn’t need The Undertaker

Posted on: January 25th, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

When I was younger I used to enjoy watching the WWF shows on Saturday. The spectacle, the ridiculousness…very cool. But then it began to get bigger and bigger (and dumber and dumber).

Now, of course, the only interest I have is Bill Goldberg. To be honest, I don’t know if he’s a good guy or a bad guy. Either way, you know there’s some anti-Semite who would love to see something untoward befall him.

So the question is, what do the “experts” predict in his next big event?

Despite a terrible promo Monday night, Goldberg is still one of the hottest commodities in wrestling and a legitimate threat to walk out of San Antonio the No. 1 contender for the Universal Championship.

Goldberg shouldn’t walk away victorious in the Battle Royal. Not only does he already have a built-in storyline against Lesnar, but there are also several much younger Superstars who would benefit from the rub of winning a Royal Rumble.

The hope from most fans is that Goldberg is the No. 1 overall entrant in the match so everyone gets to witness his full entrance. After he makes his way to the ring and the crowd is electric with excitement, that’s when Lesnar’s music should hit…

Predicted Finish: Eliminated First

Tirvia time

Posted on: March 3rd, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

Not to make light of the subject….

This comes via my Facebook friend and Jewish sports ace Maxwell K.:

What is the only major league baseball team to display an Israeli flag on its uniform? And why? (It’s because of someone “Who Is Jewish” but not necessarily a player or somebody else in baseball)


The flag was a memorial tribute to an Israeli who had an association with an American city with a major league team. No, not the 1972 Oakland A’s. Some of the players wore armbands after the Munich Olympics but everyone on this team wore the patch with the Israeli flag.

Continue for answer

The answer: The Houston Astros


The reason: In tribute to Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died in the crash of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003.


In it for the long run: Marriage proposal greets Miami marathon runner at finish

Posted on: February 4th, 2014 by Ron Kaplan

From the JTA:

A marriage proposal awaited a runner at the finish line of the Miami Marathon.

New Yorker Rachel Avisrur, who was running in the Feb 2 race marathon to raise money and awareness for Chai Lifeline, was surprised to find her boyfriend Avi Wolf at the finish line holding a bouquet of flowers.

Wolf then dropped to one knee and asked to marry Avisrur. He told NBC Miami that he chose to propose at the marathon because he knew it was important to her.

“You only live once,” he said. “She supports Chai Lifeline. I knew she was here and wanted to surprise her with something she loves to do.”

Some 300 runners ran to support Team Lifeline, many of whom pushed children with chronic illnesses and cancer survivors in wheelchairs along the route. The organization runs a camp for Jewish children with life-threatening illnesses and provides other support.

Avisrur told NBC that she is “the happiest person ever. I thought he was in New York.”

She said yes.

A New York invitation to Boston Marathoners

Posted on: October 24th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

Brought to you as a “public service announcement” as per Peter Berkowsky, founder of the International Minyan for NYC Marathoners.

Tragedy interrupted the most recent runnings of the two most famous long-distance races in America.  The bombing at the Boston Marathon in April shook the entire nation.  And the New York City event last fall was canceled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  In a gesture of solidarity, a longstanding institution at the NYC Marathon is reaching out to honor its visitors from Boston on Nov. 3.

The 43rd New York City Marathon, with its field of 48,000 entrants, is expected to attract as many Jewish athletes from around the world as participate in the quadrennial World Maccabiah Games.  And for the 30th straight year, the International Minyan for NYC Marathoners will be there to accommodate them.  The outdoor morning services are held in a designated tent at the Fort Wadsworth staging ground on Staten Island, just minutes from the Verrazano Bridge starting line.  The Minyan has become a tradition at the five-borough road race, and is now the oldest religious service at any sporting event in the world.

The inaugural service, in 1983, drew 26 participants, and over the years, the Minyan has attracted thousands of Jewish runners from all across the United States and six continents.  As many as 200 runners are expected to participate in three services this year, scheduled for 7:15, 8:15, and 9:15 a.m., to accommodate those assigned to the four starting waves of the race.

This year, for the fourth time in our history, the NYC Marathon will be run on Rosh Chodesh, a semi-holiday marking the start of the Jewish month.  This will necessitate a longer service, to include reading from the Torah.  Minyan organizers have announced that aliyas and other service honors will be offered first to mourners, and then to anyone who ran in this year’s Boston Marathon.

The NYC Marathon was previously run on Rosh Chodesh in 1986, 1993, and 2010, and this will be the last time this century that the first Sunday in November will coincide with the beginning of a Jewish month.  1986 was also the year the NYC Marathon was moved from October to the first Sunday in November, a switch made by Fred Lebow, the late President of the NY Road Runners Club, at the request of our Minyan, to avoid a conflict with Simchat Torah that year.  The later date for the event has remained a fixture ever since.

The Minyan tent is located just two blocks inside the entrance to Fort Wadsworth, and is identified on all the site maps and in the race program.  Runners are encouraged to bring their own prayer books, tefillin, and prayer shawls. Because Marathon officials now offer an incentive for runners not to check baggage with them at the start, JRunnersClub, the logistical manager of the Minyan, will provide its own checking service, respectfully transporting these personal religious items to a secure location in Manhattan, close to the finish line.  (This service extends only to religious items, and not to items of clothing or other personal belongings.)

The pickup location will be at Cong. Shearith Israel, the famed Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue at the corner of Central Park West and West 70th Street.  Continuous minyans for minha (the afternoon service) will be available for runners on the portico of the synagogue facing Central Park.

Join this truly unique experience for Jewish runners at the NYC Marathon, in celebration of the historic 30th International Minyan, and help to salute those who ran in the Boston Marathon this year.  For more information, contact Minyan founder and director Peter Berkowsky (fud42@comcast.net, 973-992-6775) or JRunnersClub in Brooklyn (info@jrunnersclub.org).


Not to perpetuate a stereotype or anything…

Posted on: January 25th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

But the Sports Agent Blog, founded by Darren Heitner, who serves as chief editor, posts a weekly “Shabbat Shalom Friday Wrap-Up.” Although there isn’t anything inherently Jewish about it, it’s still most interesting for its behind-the-scenes insights and links to other top stories of the past week.

Here’s the latest entry.


Posted on: January 15th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

In 1991, I “auditioned” for a new softball team. I had been playing slow pitch/arc in town but had become a bit bored, so when some old friends from Brooklyn told me about their fast-pitch team in Freehold, I thought I’d give it a shot.

In the first at bat of the first day of “spring training,” I pulled a soleus muscle stretching a single into a double. It felt like someone had thrown the ball at me and hit me in the calf. It hurt, but no so much that I was about to pull myself out of the game. In fact, if memory serves, I went 7-8 in the double header and didn’t have to do much work in the outfield.

Of course, once the adrenaline wore off…

In happier (and thinner) days with BT buddies, from left, Joe and Bob.

It took about seven weeks to heal completely, without the benefit of any kind of physical therapy; just rest and anti-inflammatories. I went on to have a very good season and stayed with the team for another couple of years, when I broke the pinky on my glove hand while playing third base. Of course, it took be two weeks and countless painful bumps before I found out it was broken and submitted most unwillingly to surgery — two days before we moved into a new house.

After taking a couple of years off, I tried the local slow pitch thing again and didn’t really feel a comeradery with my teammates. Then I turned 50. 😛

As the sports editor for the paper, I received request to publicize a 50-and-older league but because it was not specifically Jewish, we couldn’t use it. I could use it however, and to make an already too-long story shorter, I joined and have had a pretty good time since.


In the first game with my team, playing second base, I tried to turn a double play on a low throw from our third baseman. After the relay to first, my finger felt a bit odd, but I attributed that to the very cold evening. Upon further examination, I saw the pointer digit ad an unnatural angle. Without even thinking, I jerked it back into place and went about my business.Again, no PT, just some OTC drugs.

These games were different than the ones in Freehold, taking place several times a week rather than just Sundays, so I was forced into a DH role for a week or so.

I say this all as a (very) lengthy intro to quarterback Robert Griffin III’s injury in the NFL Wild Card game against the Seattle Seahawks.

RG3, as he is popularly called, underwent  five hours of surgery to repair ligament damage sustained during the game, on top of injury earlier in the season. The rookie had been cleared by the Redskins’ medical staff and obviously wanted to play, given the importance of the situation. A lot of blame went around as to who was responsible; many called for the firing of head coach Mike Shanahan and/or team consulting physician Dr. James Andrews.

The point is, professional athletes, at least those at the highest levels of the game (or those in which teams have made major investments), receive a level of care usually unavailable to the weekend warrior. The pressures all around are enormous. After all, the careers are extremely limited; the average for most is less than six years, so you don’t want to spend a moment more than necessary off the field.

Pardon the Interruption discussed this yesterday. The show is based in Washington, DC, and both Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon worked for the Washington Post, so the connection with the Redskins is perhaps a bit stronger for them than the majority. They spoke about him with sadness, as if this had happened to a member of their own families, as they wonder about his future.

Former Major Leaguer Doug Glanville contributed this piece for Time about who’s in charge of an athlete’s body. Eye-opening stuff. And none of these even touches on the scandal and long-lasting “legacies” of head injuries that have been in the news the past couple of years.

The cliche is that an athlete gives his all to his team/employer, but time eventually runs out. And since sports is, after all, a business, these young men (and women) eventually get cast aside.

Several years ago, a Senior Professional Baseball League had a run. The idea, not unlike my 50+ league, was to put former Major Leaguers on a level playing field, so to speak, and give fans an opportunity to see them one more time. But the League, under the commissionership of Curt Flood, failed; I guess it was too sad to see these former stars in the diminished light of time.

Me? I’m still going to play as long as I can. A Jim Bouton famously concluded his Ball Four, “You spend your life gripping a baseball, and it turns out that it was the other way around all along.”


Who knew? Yes.

Posted on: December 21st, 2012 by Ron Kaplan

A few months ago Bob Costas and Jerry Seinfeld sat down to deconstruct the famous Abbot and Costello routine, Who”s on First.

Jimmy Fallon recently took it a step further in this bit featuring Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, and a couple of other guys regular viewers of the show probably recognize.

Of course this one, by the Boys in the Hall comedy troupe, featuring the world’s worst straight man,  is still the best:

High-profile writers lend expertise, affection to Jewish Jocks compilation

Posted on: November 15th, 2012 by Ron Kaplan

Raise your hand if you, like me, are tired to the cliche about the thinnest publication being a treatise on Jewish sports heroes (or some riff thereon).

It is therefore with an understandable sense of pride that I recommend Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame.

While this collection of 50 essays isn’t just about baseball, there are several entries, both consisting of “the usual suspects” and a few surprises about the national pastime. I corresponded with some of the contributors, who were nice enough to share their thoughts about their subjects.

Jane Leavy, who wrote Sandy Koufax : A Lefty’s Legacy, considered by many (including me) to be the best bio of the Hall of Famer, continues to kvell about her favorite Jewish player in her essay, “The Best Bar Mitzvah Guest Ever.”

Some of the writer’s in Jewish Jocks were given their athlete as an assignment but as Leavy wrote in an e-mail,

It was my choice.  I guess, honestly, I felt a bit proprietary and I felt I had one more thing to say about what a mensch he is. Also enough time had passed that I felt it was okay to divulge this personal anecdote, which illustrates his ability to do what so many celebrities wouldn’t dream of doing.  First he shows up at her Bat Mitzvah, knowing how much his presence meant.  Then, he graciously slips away, driving home — five hours each way — rather than upstage my daughter at her party.  How elegant, how classy:  the reluctant star who would not interfere with her star turn.

On the other hand, Marc Tracy, who co-edited JJ with Franklin Foer, reached out to Robert Weintraub, author of The House That Ruth Built: A New Stadium, the First Yankees Championship, and the Redemption of 1923 for his topic, Mose Solomon, who played barely a few months for the old NY Giants (“Mose Solomon: The Hunt for the Hebrew Ruth”).

In my case, it was pretty straightforward.  Marc … had read my book….  In the narrative, which concerns the building of Yankee Stadium and the Giants-Yankees rivalry that informed the sequence of events that led to it, I write about John McGraw’s search for a Jewish player to goose attendance (which was suffering thanks to the Babe and his new digs across the Harlem River), the discovery of Mose, and his all-too-brief career.  Marc was a fan of the book and the Mose story, so he asked me to adopt his chapter of the book as an essay for JJ.

So I had already done the research long before the project.  While doing it, I discovered much I didn’t know about Mose.  All I really knew about him was his nickname, “The Rabbi Of Swat,” which I think was drummed into my head in Hebrew school when I was eight-years-old.  But I didn’t have any idea about the cynical nature of his being brought to New York, nor his instant popularity, despite the fact he hardly played.

Mark Leibovich, a reporter for The New York Times, contributed an essay on Cubs’ GM Theo Epstein (“The Baseball Genius Who Didn’t Save the World”):

Frank let me choose between Theo and Kevin Youkilis, who was then with the Red Sox, because he knew I grew up near Boston and loved the team. I picked Theo, who has always interested me as a local kid who achieved his dream job, and became a hero in the process. I only knew the basics of his background: that he grew up in Brookline, came from an accomplished Jewish family (dad a novelist, grandfather wrote Casablanca), went to Yale and loved the Red Sox. I had never met him before.

I did a fair amount of research in that I spent some time talking to Theo and his family. My biggest surprise is that Theo agreed to talk to me at all, given how guarded he typically is with his public profile. I was also surprised at how self-aware he was about his own choices, or at least how open he was about them: particularly vis-a-vis his angst over not having done anything more “substantial” with his life.

I was pre-disposed to liking him, partly out of gratitude (he helped end the Red Sox World Series drought!) and partly from watching how he conducted himself in such a high-scrutiny/high-hysteria job over many years. I came away liking him even more.

David Margolick, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and author of Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling , and a World on the Brink offered his thoughts on Al Rosen in “I’m Not Greenberg.”

I think I was probably given a choice of several people, and since baseball interests me more than other sports, I chose Rosen. Happily, because, though I was dimly aware that he’d been a great player, I didn’t know the details — I’m not an Indians fan, and he played before my time — and I was happy to learn them.

I’m always pleased to break new ground rather than plow over all the familiar stuff, so Rosen’s relative obscurity was an additional inducement. Also, Rosen is still alive, so I had the chance to speak with him, which was a great treat. I did a fair amount of work; I had my former colleague at The New York Times pull the clips on Rosen from the Times‘ morgue, and read over many of them. I read an oral history he’d given many years ago, and spoke to him at considerable length. He’s a wonderful story teller with a crystal-clear and precise memory. He’s also extremely intelligent and well-spoken, which one doesn’t always get writing about this world. Ditto that he didn’t only go through the motions or tell the same old stories. I got the feeling that he was interested in our discussion and dug deep to come up with his answers. He was a perfect gentleman. That might have been the greatest and most pleasant surprise, along with his numbers, and how spectacular a career he’d have had had he not gotten hurt.

As you can tell, I very much enjoyed the experience and left it convinced Rosen was exemplary for more than his statistics.

Dahlia Litwick, who covers law and the courts for Slate.com, took up Marvin Miller, the first head of the Players Union, in “Three Strikes and a Walkout.”

Actually Miller was assigned to me and despite a lifelong love of baseball (Montreal Expos!) and a background in the law I didn’t know much about Miller at all. I actually did a bunch of research including reading up on Curt Flood and reading the court opinions.

I think for me the big surprise was the contrast between this kind of dandy-looking, self-confident Miller and the fear he instilled, the way he was characterized as a thug and a bully. I thought that was fascinating and spoke to something interesting about powerful Jews.I also can’t believe the passion the fight over his place in the baseball Hall of Fame engenders — that fight is en fuego.

I loved writing this because it made me think a lot about the role of law and lawyers in convincing those who are being exploited that they are — in fact — being exploited.

Other baseball contributors include:

  • Ron Rosenbaum on Arnold Rothstein
  • Ira Berkow on Hank Greenberg
  • Jonathan Mahler on Daniel Okrent (one of the founding figures of fantasy baseball)
  • David Leonhardt on Bud Selig
  • Stephen J. Dubner on Adam Greenberg

I’ll add their thoughts as they arrive, as well as a select group of contributors on other sports personalities.

In addition, I’ll be posting a “Korner Konvesration” with coeditor Marc Tracy shortly, as well as a review by David Hollander, author of 52 Weeks: Interviews with Champions! Hollander has a special place in the Korner: he was the subject of the first story which launched the sports section in the Jewish News in 2006 which eventually led to this blog. So you can blame him.


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