Archive for the ‘“Ripped from the headlines”’ Category


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, “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.

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. 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.

Where has the time gone: Kevin Youkilis

Posted on: December 27th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

I don’t know what I’m having a harder time wrapping my head around: that Kevin Youkilis has been retired for five years or that his name appears on this year’s Hall of Fame Ballot?

Here’s his capsule bio from the HoF Ballot page:


1st year on the ballot…Played 10 seasons with Red Sox, White Sox and Yankees…Three-time All-Star (2008-09, 2011) and 2007 Gold Glove Award winner at first base who twice finished in Top 10 of the American League MVP voting (2008: 3rd; 2009: 6th)…Hit better than .300 in three seasons (2008-2010) and recorded an on-base percentage of .400 or better in two seasons (2009-10)…Topped 20-home run mark twice (2008-09) and reached the 100-RBI mark once (2008)…Led AL in sacrifice flys in 2006 with 11…Played in seven Postseason series over four seasons, hitting .306 with 22 runs scored and 17 RBI in 29 games…Member of Red Sox World Series championship teams in 2004 and 2007.

This writer thinks the mistakenly nicknamed “Greek God of Walks” should be inducted just because of his unique batting stance, but let’s be real here: Most likely Youkilis — who appears on the ballot with 34 other former major leaguers — will not get enough votes to return for the 2020 voting.

Youk ranks seventh all-time among JMLs in home runs (150); seventh in RBIs (618); seventh in runs scored (653); and ninth in hits (1,053). None of those numbers are Hall-worthy.

The Baseball Writers Association of America will announce the results on Jan. 22. Any electees will be inducted on Sunday, July 21, at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown.

Big Deal, Little Deal, No Deal?

Posted on: December 25th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

The good folks at Pardon the Interruption have a regular segment by this name in which they rate the importance of certain issues that pop up in sports, Usually it’s something like social media comments by athletes or arguments bewteen players and officials, but here’s one I’m tossing in (disclosure: I have not watched the show lately to see if they reported on it, although they have been on holiday hiatus recently).

So here’s the deal: LeBron James tweeted about a song he likes that has what many believe to be anti-Semitic overtones.

Some —  like Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind — think it’s a big deal.

Others — and I won’t get into whom they might be — think it’s no deal. I fall in the middle. I’m not as outragd as some, but rather a bit annoyed.

Should we take it on faith that a grown man like James didn’t realize the lyrics might be offensive? I don’t think so. He’s been a round long enough to know the score.

Should we accept that he’s sincere in his apology? I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

That’s all I have to say on the matter.

Speaking up, speaking out

Posted on: December 4th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

Following the attack at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, the Steelers adjusted their logo to reflect their solidarity with the Jewish community. This has become a part of the social media culture, much like the “((( )))” was actually adopted by Jews as a self-identifying “in four face” against on-line antisemitism, as reported by Jonathan Weisman in his riveting book (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump.

The Steelers also honored the victims prior to their game against the Browns on October 28 with a moment of silence. And a number of them came to some of the funerals.

I can’t watch these things without welling up.

As we all know, there aren’t a whole lot Jewish athletes out there, and even more rare is the standout, a Hank Greenberg or a Sandy Koufax who has a major impact. But there are some who were quoted in this AP story, “Jewish Athletes Making Their Voices Heard,” that has appeared in several newspapers around the country. Among them are Brad Ausmus, newly-appointed manager of the Los Angeles Angels; Omri Casspi of the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA; and the NFL’s Josh Rosen (Arizona Cardinals) and Julian Edelman (New England Patriots), whose actual Judaism continues to be a sticking point.

If he can make it there (Ryan Lavarnway)

Posted on: November 9th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

Welcome to the Big Apple, Ryan Lavarnway.

The 31-year-old catcher signed with the NY Yankees today. He is expected to serve as “insurance” for Gary Sanchez, who underwent surgery on his non-throwing arm yesterday.

Lavarnway made his debut with the Boston Red Sox in 2011 (Kevin Youkilis was a teammate). He has also played for the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Oakland A’s, and the Pittsburgh Pirates where he went 4-for-6 with a double. On Sept. 18, Lavarnway drove in the winning run with a pinch-hit single in the 11th inning, giving Pittsburgh a 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

Over seven years, Lavarnway has a .208 batting average with seven home runs and 43 runs batted in. He was a member of the Israel National Team at the 2017 World Baseball Classic where he was named the Pool MVP for the group that included Israel, Korea, Chinese Taipei, and the Netherlands.

Image result for ryan lavarnway Israel

Sanchez is expected to be all right for opening day 2019, so don’t get all excited about Lavarnway getting the starting assignment.

JML Update, World Series Edition: Pre-Game One

Posted on: October 23rd, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

One’s in, one’s not.

Ian Kinsler is projected as the starting second baseman for the host Boston Red Sox, while Joc Pederson is not among the opening nine for the LA Dodgers.

This marks the second straight year that two MOTs have opposed each other in baseball’s final showcase. You may recall that Pederson created quite a story in the 2017 Fall Classic, belting three home runs and a couple of doubles in a losing cause against the Houston Astros. Alex Bregman had a couple of long balls himself in that one for the ‘Stros.

Kinsler has appeared in two World Series, 2010 and 2011 while with the Texas Rangers, in which he batted .293 (12-for-41) with no home runs and two RBIs.

Image result for ian kinsler, world series



Welcome back, Brad

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

Image result for brad ausmusBrad Ausmus returns to the ranks of field generals in baseball. He was named as skipper of the LA Angels, replacing long-time manager Mike Soscia who had ben with the team since 2000.

Ausmus, 49, led the Detroit Tigers for four seasons (2014-17). He took the team to the post-season in his rookie year, but was eliminated in the LDS series. Some say that his initial campaign was a success (90-72) because he inherited a good squad from his predecessor, Jim Leland. Ausmus finished under .500 in two of the next three years. He served in the front office of the Angels as a special assistant to the general manager.

As a player, Ausmus — primarily a catcher — enjoyed an 18-year career with the Houston Astros, LA Dodgers, Tigers, and San Diego Padres. He appeared in a JML-leading 1,971 games and finished with marks of .251 batting average, 80 home runs, and 607 runs batted in.

Ausmus was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. In a 2009 article published by the Jewish Journal  of Greater Los Angeles, Ausmus — who also managed the Israeli National Team in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in 2013 — said, “I have had quite a few young Jewish boys who will tell me that I am their favorite player, or they love watching me play or they feel like baseball is a good fit for them because it worked for me, or it worked for Shawn Green or other Jewish players at the Major League level. It has been a sense of pride. If you can have a positive impact on a kid, I’m all for it.”

Image result for brad ausmus israel

JML Update, Playoff Edition: Breaking News — UPDATE

Posted on: October 8th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

Congrats to Alex Bregman and the defending World Champion Houston Astros who move on the the ALCS following their three-game sweep over the Cleveland Indians. Bregman continued his excellent season by going 5-for-9 with home runs in the first two games. He also had a double, four walks, and four RBI.

Game One highlights:

Game Two highlights:

Also, congrats to Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers who move on to the NLCS following their three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies. Braun had five singles in 13 at-bats plus a stolen base.

UPDATE: The LA Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves, 6-2, to move on as well. Joc Pederson was 1-for-6 last night, 4-for-14 overall, including a double. His one home run led off the first game and gave the Dodgers the only run they would need in their 6-0 victory.

Max Fried appeared in all four games, including retiring the only batter he faced last night. He was perfect in the first two games, but gave up a homer in the third meeting. Totals: 2.1 innings, one run, one hit, one walk, one strikeout.

The means there’s only one series left. Last night the Boston Red Sox embarrassed the host NY Yankees, 16-1. Ian Kinsler did not start, but he came in as a defensive replacement in the seventh, going 1-for-1 with a walk and scoring twice. Overall, 3-for-9 with a double and an RBI.


JFL update, Week 5

Posted on: October 8th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

Greg Joseph‘s 37-yard field goal with two seconds left on the clock in OT gave the Cleveland Browns (2-2-1, T 3 NFC North) a 12-9 win over the visiting Baltimore Ravens. Joseph — who was signed for the second game of the years after the Browns’ opening-day kicker proved to be a deficit — also connected on a 35-yarder in the third quarter but missed from 55 away as regulation ran out. He also clanked one off the goal posts on a PAT attempt.

Josh Rosen made his second NFL start a good one, leading the Arizona Cardinals to their first win of the season (1-4, fourth in NFC West) with a 28-18 win over the host San Francisco 49ers. Rosen completed 10 of 25 pass attempts for 170 yards — 75 of those coming on a TD pass in the first quarter.

Image result for josh rosen

Tackle Mitchell Schwartz once again appeared on every offensive play (70, plus another six (25 percent) on special teams, as the Kansas City Chiefs remained unbeaten (5-0, first in AFC West) took a 30-14 decision over the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kicker Greg Joseph was 2-for-2 in field goal attempts (25 and 28 yards) for the Cleveland Browns (1-2-1, T-3, AFC North) in their 45-42 overtime loss to the host Oakland Raiders. He also made two PATs.

Strong safety Jordan Dangerfield made one tackle on special teams, participating in 17 plays (63 percent) as the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2-1, T 3 AFC North) crushed the visiting Atlanta Falcons, 41-17.

On Thursday, the New England Patriots (3-2, 2nd, AFC East) beat the Indianapolis Colts, 38-24.  Free safety Nate Ebner appeared on 24 special teams plays (77 percent).

Tackle Ali Marpet and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2, third, NFC South) were on their bye week.


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