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


Do you feel a draft?

Posted on: June 7th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

JewishBaseballNews.com offers this list of Jewish players taken in the recent MLB draft:

  1. Image result for a.j. bregmanNoah Davis (P), UC-Santa Barbara, Cincinnati Reds (Round 11/#319 overall)
  2. Zack Kone (SS), Duke University, Pittsburgh Pirates (13/384)
  3. Michael Wielansky (SS), College of Wooster, Houston Astros (18/552)
  4. Simon Rosenblum-Larson (P), Harvard University, Tampa Bay Rays (19/570)
  5. Jake Miednik (P), Florida Atlantic, Cleveland Indians (20/613)
  6. Albee Weiss (C), Cal State-Northridge, Minnesota Twins (23/694)
  7. Ben Gross (P), Princeton University, Houston Astros (34/1032)
  8. A.J. Bregman (P), Albuquerque Academy, Houston Astros (35/1062)
  9. Itamar Steiner (P), Niles North High School, Chicago Cubs (40/1208)

JBN points out, “The most recognizable name in the group is A.J. Bregman, a high-school pitcher and brother of Houston Astros star Alex Bregman. If he signs, Houston will have two Bregmans in its franchise.”

Jice update: Stanley Cup, Game 2

Posted on: May 31st, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

Andre Burakovsky had two more assists to help the Washington Capitols beat the host Vegas Golden Knights, 3-2. Pretty economical in that he only had 10:54 of ice time. That ties the series at a game apiece.

The first assist came at 17:27 in the first period to tie the game at 1-1. The second turned out to be the game-winner, giving the Caps a 3-1 lead at 9:41 in the second period.

Image result for Andre Burakovsky


Lest we forget: Philip Roth

Posted on: May 23rd, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

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



Philly Jewish Sports Hall announces new inductees

Posted on: May 17th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

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.

And now, the rest of the story (UPDATE)

Posted on: May 16th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Breaking News: Arizona Cardinals select Josh Rosen as their #1 pick

Posted on: April 26th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

He was the 10th overall selection. Mazel tov, Josh. The Cardinals had traded up to get him.

Here’s the story from the local paper, the Arizona Republic. And the video announcement.

Earlier today the Washington Post published this article, “A guide to Josh Rosen, the best quote in the NFL Draft.”

Josh Rosen to the Cardinals.

Rosen is the first Jewish first-round pick since Harris Barton by the San Francisco 49ers in 1989. Other Jewish first-rounders: Sid Luckman, 1939, Chicago Bears; Merv Pregulman, 1944, Green Bay Packers; Dan Dworsky, 1948, LA Dons; Mike Sommer, 1958, Washington Redskins; Ron Mix, 1960, NFL Baltimore Colts and AFL LA Chargers; Steve Tannen, 1970, NY Jets. HT to Bob Wechsler for the info.

JML Update, April 26, 2018 (games of April 25)

Posted on: April 26th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

Alex Bregman had a bases-clearing double in the fourth inning to give the Houston Astros (17-9) a 3-0 lead and all the runs they would need in a 5-2 win over the visiting LA Angels (16-9). Ian Kinsler was 0-for-4 in the losing cause.

Ryan Braun shows signs of coming out of his April doldrums, going 3-for-five with a double and two runs scored as the Milwaukee Brewers (16-9) beat the host KC Royals, 6-2. He is 5-for-8 over the last two games.

Joc Pederson was 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the sixth to give the LA Dodgers their first run, but they ended up losing to the visiting Miami Marlins, 8-6. The Dodgers (11-12) made it interesting scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth, but it was too little, too late.

Kevin Pillar was 0-for-4 as the Toronto Blue Jays (14-) fell to the visiting Boston Red Sox, 4-3.

Danny Valencia was 0-for-4 as the Baltimore Orioles (6-18) lost to the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, 8-4. Richard Bleier did not appear in the game. The oh-fer dropped Valencia’s batting average to .135. I happened to flip ion the MLB Network the other day when he was up with new on base and struck out on three pitches. The announcers were not very complimentary, calling him a selfish player because they thought he was hellbent on hitting a home run.

Max Fried did not appear for the Atlanta Braves (13-10) in their 5-4 win over the host Cincinnati Reds. Bob Wechsler pointed out in an e-mail,

For the first time in history, two Jewish pitchers have an ERA of infinity during the same season.

Zach Weiss gave up two walks, two homers and four earned runs without recording an out before the Reds sent him back to the minors after one game earlier this month.

Yesterday, Max Fried made his season debut for the Braves and faced two batters — a walk and a game-winning homer. At least he had a 3.81 ERA in nine games last season.

This is not good, especially following Brad Goldberg’s 8.25 ERA in 11 games with last year’s White Sox.

He further suggested not making a card for this in the next go-around of the Jewish Major Leaguer set.

Gabe Kapler‘s Philadelphia Phillies (15-8) beat the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-3.


Nice to be included (Josh Rosen)

Posted on: April 25th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

USP NFL: COMBINE S FBN USA INI haven’t been posting nearly enough about UCLA QB Josh Rosen, who is expected to go very nice in the NFL draft. So it was a nice surprise to get an email from USA Today asking for my comments. Here’s the result from Josh Peter’s article “Josh Rosen can join Sid Luckman on short list at NFL draft”:

Rosen’s father is Jewish, and his mother is Christian. He attended a Catholic high school, St. John Bosco in Southern California. But he had a bar mitzvah and he identifies as Jewish.

“That’s pretty much the primary consideration for inclusion,’’ said Ron Kaplan, author of Kaplan’s Korner, a blog about Jews and sports. He later added by email, “Here’s wishing him mazel tov (good luck).’’

Short but sweet.

JML update, April 25, 2018 (games of April 24)

Posted on: April 25th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

In another meeting of MOTs , Ian Kinsler was 1-for-3 for the LA Angels (16-8), who edge out the host Houston Astros, 8-7. Kinsler also walked twice and scored two of the runs, including the one that tied the game at 5-5 in the seventh when the Angels scored four times for an 8-5 lead. Alex Bregman brought the Astros (16-9) closer in the bottom of the frame, driving in a run on a single to make it 8-6. He also doubled (#5) and scored a run.

Ryan Braun served as DH and batted third for the Milwaukee Brewers (15-9) in their 5-2 win over the host Kansas City Royals. He was 2-for-3 with a run scored and his 15th RBI on a hard shot that bounced of the pitcher’s foot.

Kevin Pillar was 1-for-4 with an RBI as the Toronto Blue Jays (14-8) beat the visiting Boston Red Sox, 4-3, on a 10th-inning walk-off home run by Curtis Granderson.

Joc Pederson walked as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and remained in the game as the left-fielder for the LA Dodgers (12-10), going 0-for-1 in a subsequent at-bat, but the Miami Marlins scored single runs in the eighth and ninth to win the game, 3-2.

Ryan Sherriff did not appear for the St. Louis Cardinals (13-9) in their 10-inning, 6-5 loss to the visiting NY Mets.

The 6-17 Baltimore Orioles (Richard Bleier, Danny Valencia) saw their game with the Tampa Bay Rays postponed by rain.

Gabe Kapler‘s Philadelphia Phillies lost to the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks, 8-4.

And welcome back Max Fried. The Atlanta Braves (12-10) recalled their top lefty prospect yesterday and his impact was felt immediately. And not in a good way. Fried, who made his major league debut last year and was doing very well in AAA, entered the game against the host Cincinnati Reds in the 12th inning and walked the first batter he faced. Scooter Gennett then launched the game-winning home run. It was Gennett’s second homer of the year; in fact both long balls came in this game. Final score: Reds 9, Braves 7, and an ERA of ∞ for Fried.

JML update, April 23, 2018 (Games of April 20-22)

Posted on: April 23rd, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

Alex Bregman gets MOT of the Weekend honors. He had six hits in 13 at-bats plus two walks. Bregman had one double, scored twice, and drove in a pair as the Houston Astros (16-7, first in the AL West) swept the host Chicago White Sox — outscoring their opponents 27-2 — and extended their winning streak to six games. Bregman has a five-game hitting streak. Big whoop.

Following his pinch-hit home run on Thursday, Ryan Braun followed up with another the next day to help the  Milwaukee Brewers (14-9m second in NL Central) beat the visiting Florida Marlins, 8-0. His fourth of the year came with a man on in the fourth to give his team a 4-0 lead.

Braun also singled in that game. The following night, he was 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI. He was hitless in four at-bats on Saturday as Milwaukee completed a three-game sweep.

Kevin Pillar was 2-11 from Saturday through Sunday as the Toronto Blue Jays (13-8, second in AL East) lost two of three to the host NY Yankees. Pillar struck out five times, walked nce, and stole his fourth base of the year.

Ian Kinsler was 2-12 with a run scored as the LA Angels (14-8, second in AL West) dropped two of three to the visiting San Francisco Giants.

Joc Pederson started each game in the weekend series for the LA Dodgers’ (10-10, third in NL West). He was 0-for-2 on Friday with a walk in a 5-2 loss to the visiting Washington Nationals. The next day, Pederson was 2-for-4 with his first home run of the year, a solo shot to dead center off National’s ace Stephen Strasburg to start off the scoring in the Dodgers’ 4-0 win. It was especially sweet because it came on Pederson’s 26th birthday!

Richard Bleier earned his third hold on Friday, allowing two hits, a walk, and a strikeout in two innings as the Baltimore Orioles (6-16, fifth in the AL East) beat the visiting Cleveland Indians, 3-1. It was his only appearance for the weekend.

Danny Valencia grounded out as a pinch-hitter yesterday, his only appearance in the three-game set of which the Indians won two.

Ryan Sherriff remains on the disabled list for the St. Louis Cardinals (13-8, first in NL Central). The second-year reliever is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment next week.

Gabe Kapler‘s Philadelphia Phillies completed a four-game sweep of the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates to improve to 14-7, second in the AL East.

Remember Ryan Kalish fondly: he announced his retirement at the age of  30 due to chronic knee problems. HT to Scott Barancik of JewishBaseballNews.com for the note. Here’s his Minor League Monday report. Also HT to Bob Wechsler, author of the The Jewish Baseball Card Book and Day by Day in Jewish Sports History, who reported

Outfielder Ryan Kalish has retired, Peter Gammons tweets. Kalish, who played the final game of his career on Friday with New Britain of the independent Atlantic League, is stepping away because of knee issues, per Gammons. Now 30, Kalish was once a promising prospect with the Red Sox, who grabbed him in the ninth round of the 2006 draft. Injuries were problematic throughout Kalish’s career, though, which helps to explain why he only amassed 422 major league plate appearances between the BoSox and Cubs. Kalish was a .245/.297/.349 hitter with four homers and 16 stolen bases in the majors.

Craig Breslow, on the other hand, just keeps going and going and…


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