Kaplan's Korner

Jews are known as "the people of the book," but they're also the people of the ball and bat and net. Kaplan's Korner, a new blog from New Jersey Jewish News, is dedicated to bringing the latest sports news and commentary on Jews in sport at a local, national, and international level.

Kaplan's Korner on Jews and Sports © 2015 New Jersey Jewish News

Another “Eloi” moment?

Permalink  Leave a comment
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:35:07 | by Ron Kaplan

Whenever I learn of a situation where another library closes or a cache of baseball material is thrown away due to lack of space, money, or interest, I refer to this scene from the 1960 film version of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.

http://radio-indiana.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/SI-first-Issue.jpegThat’s how I felt after reading Jeff Pearlman’s piece in The Guardian, “The heartbreaking farewell: the world’s greatest sports library checks out,” about changes at the iconic Sports Illustrated that seem to necessitate the casting off of so much historical data. There seems to be some question about exactly what will happen to the stuff: will SI move all this somewhere else? Will it be turned into confetti? Will some enterprising data-philes hang out near the SI office and scoop up big plastic garbage bags full of unrealized treasure?

A particular “Eloi moment” from Perlman’s article:

[A] few weeks ago a young sports fan asked me if Sports Illustrated still exists in print. My verbal reply, “Of course.” My mental reply, “F******ck.” (My edit; Perlman went full “u.”)

But I can’t be too disheartened; at least the kid knew that SI was a thing. Young folk just get their information in different ways these days. As long as they’re reading something.

http://ww1.prweb.com/prfiles/2008/03/20/791374/BWAttachment791374-7.jpgSeveral years ago, the publication created SI Vault, ostensibly a digital replication of every issue. I particularly enjoyed the advertisements that served as a sort of time capsule of styles and tastes through the years. (Somewhere I have the first pages of a project I had planned about the passage of time as revealed through those ads.)  What a joy that was. But somewhere along the way it abandoned that presentation and offered only the text, without of the “Illustrated” part that put SI on the map in its toddlerhood. How much work could that have been? It’s a simple scan turned into an Issuu situation. The current SI Vault interface makes it unwieldy and not a whole lot of fun.


JML update, Aug. 28, 2015

Permalink  Leave a comment
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:03:09 | by Ron Kaplan

Most of the boys were off last night. And the ones who play probably wish they had the day off, too.

The Detroit Tigers managed just two hits and neither of them came from Ian Kinsler, who was 0-4 with a strikeout in the 4-0 shut out at the hands of the visiting LA Angels.

Joc Pederson was 0-3 with a walk and a strikeout as the LA Dodgers beat the host Cincinnati Reds, 1-0.

And the play of the year?

Even the batter had to give the pitcher props for getting ‘er done.

Addressing the elephant in the room (Julian Edelman)

Permalink  Leave a comment
Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:59:32 | by Ron Kaplan

Okay, let’s get this over with.

The JTA did this piece on New England Patriots star Julian Edelman earlier this week, about his trip to Israel, the places he went, the things he did,, etc. (including praying with tefillin).

I’ll say it slowly so we all get it:






There’s no denying that Edelman has Jewish heritage. But according to the sources that decide these things, that doesn’t make him a member of the tribe.

I don’t want to besmirch Edelman’s motives, but this whole thing reminds me of this Seinfeld episode:

I also wonder if there is any motivation for Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ Jewish owner, to push Edelman as a Jew for potential marketing purposes. I doubt it, but you never know. Kraft is a huge philanthropist and has been a promoter of the American version of football in Israel, where they already play the “other” kind.

According to the JTA piece, “Edelman’s marketing company Superdigital – which has helped him create an impressive social media presence, even by the high standards of professional athletes – filmed the journey.”

Edelman was in country for 10 days. You’d think he’d learn more than just “Yalla.”

Will Edelman take the “proper” steps to become a true Jew? Perhaps. But until then, not MOT.

In the meantime, there’s still Nate Ebner.

JML update, Aug. 27, 2015

Permalink  Leave a comment
Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:41:11 | by Ron Kaplan

Lot of MOT teams in actions with very few actual MOTS in action.

Kevin Pillar had two singles and his eighth home run of the year to help the Toronto Blue Jays beat the host Texas Rangers, 12-4. He also made another nice defensive play. The Blue Jays are roosting atop the AL East by two games over the NY Yankees, who lost to the visiting Houston Astros, 6-2.  Scott Feldman did not appear in the game for Houston. He did take time to host a group of veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project at a recent Astros-Tampa Bay Rays game.

Ian Kinsler hit a triple (#7) in four at bats as the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander took a no-hitter into the ninth inning en route to a 5-0 win over the visiting LA Angels.

Ryan Braun was 1-3 with a walk as the Milwaukee Brewers’ lost 6-2 to the host Cleveland Indians.

Neither Danny Valencia nor Sam Fuld appeared in the Oakland Athletics’ 8-2 loss to the host Seattle Mariners.

Ryan Lavarnway did not appear in the Atlanta Braves 6-3 loss to the visiting Colorado Rockies.

Joc Pederson did not appear for the LA Dodgers in their 7-4 win over the host Cincinnati Reds. As if Pederson hasn’t been the center of enough unwanted attention, this guy analyzes one of the struggling rookies at bats from Astros pitcher Mike Fiers no-hitter against the Dodgers last week.

Joc Pederson

“This the exit?”

Craig Breslow did not appear for the Boston Red Sox in their 3-0 win over the host Chicago White Sox.


Israeli hoops champs to play Euro games in U.S.

Permalink  Leave a comment
Wed, 26 Aug 2015 14:44:34 | by Ron Kaplan

Six-time European championship team Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and three-time champs EA7 Emporio Armani Milan will play “Euro Classic” games in America for the first time this October. They will face off on Thursday, Oct. 1, at Chicago’s United Center, and again on Sunday, Oct. 4, at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

The two teams have one of Europe’s most enduring rivalries on the hardcourt. In 2014, Maccabi defeated Milan in a  best-of-five playoff to advance to the “final four” and eventually win the Euroleague title. In 1987 and 1988, Milan  beat Maccabi in consecutive championship games that featured such legendary players as Bob McAdoo, Mike  D’Antoni, Dino Meneghin, Mickey Berkowitz, Doron Jamchi, and Kevin Magee.

“Americans know their basketball, which is precisely why we are sure they will like what they see of the Euroleague’s
unique style of play,” said Euroleague president and CEO Jordi Bertomeu. The two teams, he said, “are steeped in history, but they also play the kind of basketball that we are sure will be to the liking of fans in Chicago and New York.”


Jordan Farmar, an eight-year NBA veteran with the Los Angeles Lakers, New Jersey Nets, and Los Angeles Clippers, now plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Maccabi Tel Aviv will be making its third appearance in Madison Square Garden, after having played against the New York Knicks in 2007 and 2009. The Israeli team recently opened an office in New York City as part of its global  expansion plans.

“We always see thousands of our fans come out to our games in the U.S.,” said team general manager Danny Federman, “as was the case this past October when we played in Brooklyn against the Nets and in Cleveland against  the Cavs. We’re happy to present a chance for American basketball fans, Maccabi fans, and the strong Jewish-American communities in New York and Chicago to see us in their hometowns.”

The games will mark the second U.S. appearance of the Milan team. “As a club we have a tradition of strong relationships with U.S. basketball,” said team president Flavio Portaluppi. “Five members of the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield,  Mass., have also been members of our team. So we feel this historical step is consistent with our values and our past. Hopefully we’ll make our owner, Giorgio Armani, and all our Milan fans proud of the way we’ll represent them.”

Tickets for the Euro Classic game in New York can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office or through Ticketmaster. Visit ticketmaster.com and search “Maccabi.” Use promo code “NJJN” to save 20 percent, courtesy of New Jersey Jewish News.

JML update, Aug. 26, 2015

Permalink  Leave a comment
Wed, 26 Aug 2015 14:15:08 | by Ron Kaplan

Ryan Braun served as DH and cracked his 23rd home run of the year in the Milwaukee Brewers’ 11-6 loss to the host Cleveland Indians. The two-run shot increased his RBI total to 75, seventh in the National League. He also singled in his four at bats.

Kevin Pillar was 1-4 and stole his 16th base as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the host Texas Rangers, 6-5.

Danny Valencia was 1-3 with a walk and drove in a run (#43) on a sacrifice fly, but the Oakland Athletics lost to the host Seattle Mariners, 6-5. More than a few think he should be a full-timer in 2016. Sam Fuld entered the game as a pinch-runner and singled in a subsequent at bat.

Manager Brad Ausmus gave Ian Kinsler got a “well deserved” day off as the Detroit Tigers lost to the visiting LA Angels, 8-7.

Ryan Lavarnway did not appear for the Atlanta Braves in their 5-1 loss to the visiting Colorado Rockies.

Joc Pederson did not appear in the LA Dodgers’ 5-1 win over the host Cincinnati Reds. Nor is he likely to in the foreseeable future.

Craig Breslow did not appear in the Boston Red Sox’s 5-4 loss to the host Chicago White Sox.

The day after his brilliant but ultimately unsuccessful start, Scott Feldman did not appear in the Houston Astros’ 15-1 shellacking of the host NY Yankees. Things got a little chippy in this one.

A few observations:

  • It’s fairly subtle because the Yankee announcers haven’t picked up on it yet, but look at the first and second-base umpires slowly moving towards home plate at about the 11-second mark. That’s when the fun begins.
  • Look at little Jose Altuve — listed at 5’6″ — trying to calm down Carlos Gomez (50 seconds).  Then look at the shot of Feldman (6’7″) towering over everyone in the dugout (1:47).
  • “Homer” broadcaster Michael Kay accuses Gomez of trying to take out the legs of the Yankees second baseman on a double (1:30 and again at 1:50), but when you see the replay, the contact is minimal and, to me at least, incidental, not intentional.

The Mets also had a moment:

This is the Phillies feed. The Mets broadcasters were much more vocal against the “quick pitch ” by reliever Hansel Robles, noting that a batter could be injured because he is still setting up and nopt necessarily looking yet. The Phillies broadcasters barely mentioned that.

Oh, no, he didn’t…

Permalink  Leave a comment
Tue, 25 Aug 2015 21:34:07 | by Ron Kaplan

According to Francois Carrard, a Swiss lawyer who has been appointed to the embattled FIFA’s so-called reform board, soccer, “is not a true American sport. There, it is just an ethnic sport for girls in school.”

Maybe it’s the language barrier, but I wonder what he means by “ethnic?” Forget the numb-skulled assertion that only females play.

Then again, he also defended Sepp Blatter.

The title of today’s New York Times story on this carries the headline “A FIFA Reformer on the Offensive.” I think that’s a type. I think they really meant to say “A FIFA Reformer is Offensive.”

Are you kidding me? (Schilling’s “Nazi tweet”)

Permalink  Leave a comment
Tue, 25 Aug 2015 21:13:41 | by Ron Kaplan

I’m getting to the saturation point when it comes to ex jocks manning the booths and chairs on ESPN and the MLB Network. I get that they are supposed to bring an extra something to the plate, as it were; that their years of experience give special insight unavailable to those broadcasters who, like the late Howard Cosell, “never played the game.”

But let’s face it: some of these guys are deathly dull, some inarticulate, and some, just plain dumb.

Case in point, this headline:

ESPN Benches Schilling for Nazi Tweet”ESPN Benches Schilling for Nazi Tweet”

The story, published on The Daily Beast, reads

ESPN has suspended analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling after he tweeted a meme Muslims to Nazis. “Curt’s tweet was completely unacceptable, and in no way represents our company’s perspective. We made that point very strongly to Curt and have removed him from his current Little League assignment pending further consideration,” the ESPN statement read. Schilling also has an extensive collection of World War II memorabilia including Nazi uniforms.

The original item comes from Deadspin, which, as far as I’m concerned, has to choose whether they want to be a satirical site like The Onion, or a hard-news outfit; you can’t pick and choose.

The Deadspin entry:

SchillingTweetOpinions on the suspension vary.

This is not the first time Schilling has shown questionable judgment in his life observations.As per the New York Post:


Schilling, who appears on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball with Dan Schulman and former MLBer John Kruk, was working on broadcasts of the Little League World Series when he was suspended. Just the sort we want talking to the youth of America.

I find it interesting that, as of this writing, there’s nothing on the ESPN site about all this, although it is mentioned on several entertainment sites like EW, TMZ, and Variety.

Richard Sandomir, The New York Times‘ sports media reporter, posted this to the paper’s site this morning.

Belated birthday wishes to the other Ron

Permalink  Leave a comment
Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:50:27 | by Ron Kaplan

Felicitations to Ron Blomberg, who turned 67 on Sunday.

I’ve had the occasion to chat with Blomberg off and on over the last several years. He’s one of those guys who always talks to you like you’re his best friend. Wish I had that kind of personality, but I’m more like this, albeit a bit younger:


Anyway, where was I. Oh, yeah, Blomberg.

He wrote The Designated Hebrew with NJ landsman Dan Schlossberg in 2012 and has been a staple of Jewish baseball life, appearing in the documentary Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story.

Blomberg led the Bet Shemesh Blue Socks to the one and only championship in the Israel Baseball League in 2007, beating Art Shamsky’s Modi’in Miracle for the honors.

Blomberg was also one of the coaches when I went down to Yankee Fantasy Camp in 2009 when they featured a program for observant Jews.


Oh, the places you’ll go (SSP)

Permalink  Leave a comment
Tue, 25 Aug 2015 16:27:34 | by Ron Kaplan

So far I’ve heard from people in South Africa, Buenos Ares, Israel, Canada, and Belgium about The Jewish Olympics.

A colleague of mine was on vacation in the Berkshires and saw it at The Bookstore in Lennox. Proud to be nestled in such august company as Harper Lee, Helen Macdonald, and Michael Oren, authors of best-sellers and well-received titles.


Remember, for a limited time, The Jewish Olympics is available from Jdeal for half off the cover price (plus shipping). See ad —————————————————————>


JML update, Aug. 25, 2015

Permalink  Leave a comment
Tue, 25 Aug 2015 15:57:01 | by Ron Kaplan

The Houston Astros couldn’t ask for much more from their starter Scott Feldman, who threw one of the best games of his career: eight shutout innings against the host NY Yankees, giving up just six singles while striking out six and walking no one. Unfortunately, the Astros managed just five hits and no runs, losing to the Yankees, 1-0, on a walk-off sacrifice fly. At least Feldman didn’t get saddled with the loss.

Danny Valencia continues to produce for the Oakland Athletics. His two-run homer capped a seven-run fifth inning to give his team the lead they would never relinquish, en route to an 11-5 win. It was his 12th homer of the year and the fifth since joining the As at the beginning of August. He also singled in five at bats and scored another run. Sam Fuld entered the game as a defensive replacement without coming to bat.

Another “perfect” day for Ian Kinsler. He was on base for all five of his plate appearances — three singles and two walks — and scored twice. But the Detroit Tigers still lost to the host Cincinnati Reds, 12-5. Maybe it was so perfect after all.

Craig Breslow did not appear for the Boston Red Sox in their 5-4 win over the host Chicago White Sox.

No games for Ryan Lavarnway and the Atlanta Braves, Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers, Joc Pederson and the LA Dodgers, or Kevin Pillar and the Toronto Blues Jays.

Ike Davis is out for the year for the As.

Line Drives:

* The New York Times‘ weekly “Extra Bases” column by Tyler Kepner includes recognition of Ryan Braun‘s new home run record for the Brewers:

Moving On and Up

Two years after serving a 65-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun has settled into a quiet kind of afterlife. He is a productive player — though not as productive as before — and he is tied through 2020 to a team likely to finish last for the first time in his 11 years in the organization.

As he waits for the Brewers to contend, Braun is rising on their records list. Last Wednesday, he became the franchise’s career home runs leader with 252, passing Robin Yount, a Hall of Famer. Braun did it in about 5,100 plate appearances; Yount — who never hit 30 home runs in a season — came to bat more than 12,200 times.

Braun broke the record on Aug. 19, the same date Yount hit his final homer, more than two decades ago. It was the perfect day to do it, if you like numerology: Braun wears No. 8, and Yount wore No. 19.

* According to what I can only imagine is a very unscientific poll, RantSports.com named Ian Kinsler as
the most hated player” in Texas Rangers franchise history. According to the “explanation,”

Hated By: Rangers Fans. Some of the comments Kinsler made about the Rangers organization after being traded to the Tigers were downright nasty. He clearly started to resent the team as his days in Texas wound down and he let everyone know it. Obviously, after a former player bad-mouths your team — the team he used to play for — you’re going to take exception.

In fact more than a few of the players who were hated had gone to other clubs, so the fans “scorned” factor has to be taken into consideration.

Kinsler was only the 28rth most-hated out of 30, so that says something. No. 1 was John Rocker of the Atlanta Braves. You remember Rocker, of course.

* Finally (but not Jewishly-related), in the category “something you don’t see every day” (or perhaps ever, according to Mets TV broadcaster Gary Cohen) goes this play in last night’s very entertaining Mets-Phillies game. Most of the attention was paid to the Mets setting franchise records for home runs and extra base  hits in their 16-7 win, but for me this was the highlight:

I don’t know what Howard is raising his hands about. It’s on him to make sure the umpire ruled the play an out, which he did not.

Guest column: Brad Klein on the next generation of sports journalists

Permalink  Leave a comment
Mon, 24 Aug 2015 19:52:24 | by Ron Kaplan

Ian Eagle, left, with Bruce Beck at their camp.

Ian Eagle of CBS Sports and the YES Network and Bruce Beck of NBC started their eponymous Sports Broadcasting Camp over a decade ago with the goal of teaching young people about the industry, providing students ranging from middle school age to rising college with a resource to achieve their dream of becoming a member of the media.

“We had a lot of knowledge and insight after our respective careers, and felt that we could give back in some way,” said Eagle in a phone interview. “I love being a student of this business, and even after my twenty-fifth year of being in the media, I’m still learning. Both of us felt there was a venue that we could share all of our experiences and maybe, inspire others to one day pursue a career in broadcasting.

“Bruce and I take it very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Eagle said. “We want it to be a learning experience, but we know there has to be some fun along the way. Every year we put our heart and soul into it.”

Dave Popkin of ESPN3 and the Seton Hall radio network and David Siroty, a political commentator and radio host, assist Eagle and Beck with the camp, which was held this year from July 20-24. Popkin helps with the day-to-day operations while Siroty invented the idea of Beck and Eagle running a broadcasting program.

In addition to the knowledge and experience that Beck and Eagle bring to the table, guest speakers from sports media teach the campers about their specific branch of communications. Former speakers have included Frank Isola of the New York Daily News and ESPN’s Around the Horn, Evan Roberts of WFAN, and Kenny Albert and Kevin Burkhardt of Fox Sports, among others. They also bring back a handful of camp alumni who are currently in college to help run the program as interns.

During the 2015 session, Eagle and Beck taught the ins and outs of their industry including play-by-play, writing, and producing for television and radio. According to Eagle, the characteristics of each field is connected in one way. “The key word is preparation,” he said. “I think sometimes there is a perception that any broadcaster can just show up that day and do his or her job at a high level, but the reality is, there’s so much more that goes into it. Bruce and I feel that we’re teaching life skills that can help them in any walk of life.

“It is all about balance. Speakers creating some lessons within the day and exercises that can help you improve as a broadcaster… the original camp is more rudimentary to introduction to the world of media,” Eagle explained.

“You are actually going out into the field and learning how to cover an event, all aspects…. You are working in front of the camera and feeling the same pressure that a reporter would feel, going out and covering a story, and learning how to tell that story.” said Eagle

Beck and Eagle run the regular camp, designed for the first time attendees who want to learn the basics of the industry. Once that session is completed, the “graduates” are welcome to continue to an “advanced,” under the tutelage of Mike Quick of MSG Varsity.

A number of many campers have gone on to success in the business including Angelica Fattal of WFAN and NBC, and Scott Braun of the MLB Network and former play-by-play announcer for ESPNU. Beck and Eagle owners are pleased with the result and the effect their teachings have on the campers. “The most gratifying part is on the final day, when we meet the parents and to see the impact that the camp has had in their kids’ lives for that week, that’s rewarding,” Eagle said.


Yogi Berra, center, surrounded by Eagle, Beck, and a group of campers.

Editor’s Note: NJJN intern Brad Klein attended the Bruce Beck & Ian Eagle Sports Broadcasting Camp for the past two years.

Can’t be too surprised: Dodgers sit Pederson

Permalink  Leave a comment
Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:58:12 | by Ron Kaplan

Joc Pederson has lost his starting job for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The rookie had 20 home runs before the All-Star break and just three since then. He’s also seen his “slash marks” (batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage) plummet to .163/.333/.290. You wonder if perhaps his participation in Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati might have contributed. That has happened to a few sluggers since HRD became a staple of the midsummer classic. Pederson lost to the Reds’ Todd Frazier.


The Dodgers were just swept by the Houston Astros — increasing their losing streak to five straight — and have seen their lead in the NL West over the San Francisco Giants whittled down to just a game and a half.

HT to Alan Freedman, who posted the story on Facebook.

Will they never learn?

Permalink  Leave a comment
Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:44:11 | by Ron Kaplan

Every once in a while you find some athlete engaging in premature celebration. The way things are these days, how can you not learn from other peoples’ mistakes that show up on social media?

I hope U.S. road runner Molly Huddle, who suffered this calamity at at the 15th World Championships in China, won’t let this happen again.

Meanwhile Israeli triple-jumper Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko enjoyed a personal best at the WC, becoming  the first Israeli woman and only the second Israeli athlete to win a silver at the event, after pole-vaulter Aleksandr Averbukh 14 years ago.

JML update, Weekend edition (Aug. 24)

Permalink  Leave a comment
Mon, 24 Aug 2015 16:04:46 | by Ron Kaplan

After winning the Thursday opener of their four-game series against the visiting Texas Rangers, the Detroit Tigers dropped the next three. Ian Kinsler was 4-14 in that span, with his eighth home run and 32nd double. He scored twice and drove in three on the home run, which came in the bottom of the ninth of Saturday’s 5-3 loss, thereby averting the shutout. Kinsler is currently 10th in the American League in batting average (.304) and fourth in runs scored (80).

Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers dropped to of three to the host Washington Nationals. Braun had three singles in 11 at bats, scoring one and driving in run. He walked once and struck out four times.

Kevin Pillar had a great series to help his Toronto Blue Jays sweep their three games against the host LA Angels. Pillar had five singles and his 22nd double; scored five runs and drove in one. He also threw out a runner on the bases.

Joc Pederson had just three at bats over the weekend as the LA Dodgers were swept by the host Houston Astros. He struck out twice on Friday, but he was in good company: Astros pitcher Mike Fiers fired a 3-0 no-hitter. At least Pederson’s problems at the plate don’t seem to be affecting his defense, as evidence by this play in the eighth inning on Friday:

Scott Feldman gets the call for the Astros tonight as they come to New York to face the Yankees.

Ryan Lavarnway was 2-4 with his second home run for the Atlanta Braves in their 9-3 loss to the host Chicago Cubs yesterday. Thes hot came in the fifth inning with the Braves already losing, 8-0. It was Lavarnway’s only appearance in the three-game set.

Danny Valencia was 1-3 with a run, RBI, and walk in yesterday’s 8-2 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays. He was 0-4 on Friday in a 2-1 loss and did not play on Saturday, dealing with a balky hamstring which required an MRI.. Sam Fuld appeared as a defensive replacement on Friday and was 0-3 with a walk and sun scored in yesterday’s game. Ike Davis needs surgery for his ailing hip and  will not be  back this season. He finishes another disappointing season with  just a .229 batting average with three home runs and 20 RBI in 74 games. He had a hot start, hitting. 314i n April, but injuries reared their heads again.

Craig Breslow pitched in the Aug. 22 game, tossing 1.2 innings in which he walked one, gave up a hit that led to an unearned run, and struck out one. The Boston Reds Sox lost that game to the visiting KC Royals, 6-3.

Bergino Baseball Clubhouse hosts Mookie ‘miztva’

Permalink  Leave a comment
Fri, 21 Aug 2015 18:21:43 | by Ron Kaplan

MookieThe Bergino Baseball Clubhouse in NYC will host a fundraising event with former NY Met favorite Mookie Wilson on Thursday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m.

Wilson published his memoirs, Mookie: Life, Baseball, and the ’86 Mets, with Erik Sherman last year.

Landsman Jay Goldberg, the owner of Bergino, said in an e-mail:

In brief, the event came about strictly because of the mensch Mookie [is].  Erik and I tried to put together a book event last year [but it didn't work out].  We kept thinking about a way to do an event with Mookie, so I brought up the idea of something for charity.  Erik spoke with Mookie about his availability.  They finally came up with a date that worked for all.  Mookie said he’ll do anything, sign anything, whatever we want — but it has to be for the Viscardi School.

Frankly, I had never heard of the Viscardi School.  But after visiting them, I completely understood Mookie’s feelings.  It’s an amazing place.

Goldberg elaborates about his experience with Viscardi here.

Admission for this special event is $175. There are still a few spots open for this worthy event. For information visit the Bergino website or contact Bergino@aol.com or 212-226-7150.



A bicyle built for Jew?

Permalink  Leave a comment
Fri, 21 Aug 2015 14:50:19 | by Ron Kaplan

From the JTA:

In first, Israeli team competes in America’s top bike race

By Hillel Kuttler

As Israeli bicyclist Yoav Bear sped through the end of Stage 2 of the U.S.A. Pro Challenge race at nearly 11,000 feet of elevation in the Colorado Rockies, he thrust his water bottle into the hand of a young spectator clutching an Israeli flag.

Bear’s gesture made the day, if not the vacation, of the 13-year-old bystander, Ilai Engelhardt, a resident of the northern Israeli town of Avtalion who loves competitive biking. On Tuesday, his American uncle and aunt had brought Ilai to the race, which aims to be America’s version of the Tour de France and runs for a week every summer.

Yoav Bear

Israeli cyclist Yoav Bear competing in the U.S.A. Pro Challenge in Colorado, Aug. 18

Bear said that seeing an Israeli flag along the route warmed his heart.

“The encouragement spurs you to ride faster,” he said.

In the fifth year of the U.S.A. Pro Challenge, an Israeli team is making its debut among the 16 teams competing.

The mere existence of the Israeli team, called Cycling Academy, is remarkable. The idea of forming an Israeli club to compete on the international circuit developed serendipitously in late 2013, when Ran Margaliot, a former Israeli national cycling champion, went for a ride in the Nes Harim foothills outside Jerusalem and met Ron Baron, a recreational biker and fan of the sport.

Baron, a finance industry professional who lives near Tel Aviv, agreed to put up almost all the money required (about $1 million this year, with $100,000 going to cover the Colorado costs alone), and the pair got Peter Sagan, a successful Slovak cyclist, to lend his name to the venture.

Margaliot, 27, calls the team a typical Israeli start-up — albeit in a realm where until now Israel has been virtually absent. Margaliot long had dreamt of becoming the first Israeli to qualify for the Tour de France, presumably on some other country’s team, but after falling short he turned his attention to improving opportunities for other Israelis.

The team aims to project a positive image of Israel at races and events – to show that it “is a normal country, and that this is part of the development of a young country,” Margaliot said.

The Cycling Academy’s 13 riders, all men, include five Israeli Jews and eight non-Jewish Europeans: four Poles, two Slovaks, a Czech and a Spaniard. Its diversity is by design, according to Baron, who owns the team. He wants to attract fans from the riders’ homelands, many of which, like Israel, lack a professional cycling culture.

The Israeli team has received inquiries from competitive cyclists throughout the world – including riders from Morocco, Algeria and even Iran, according to Baron. The Israeli rock star Ivri Lider, a biker, was enlisted to design the team’s green and black uniforms.

Among the highlights of the team’s first year are winning stages of the Tour d’Azerbaidjan, the Tour de Berlin and the four-country Visegrad 4 Bicycle Race.

The spectacle of the Israeli club’s rider — Daniel Turek of the Czech Republic — leading in Azerbaijan, with spectators in the Muslim-majority country lining the course, “was a proud moment,” said Tsadok Yecheskeli, an Israeli journalist who is handling the team’s media relations.

The cyclists train in Slovakia and Israel, but Colorado is being considered as an additional training site, Yecheskeli said. That’s because the altitude there offers ideal training opportunities — and because, Margaliot said, the team has received a warmer welcome this week in the state “than anywhere else in the world.”

Members of the Cycling Academy, Israel's first professional team, were hosted by Michael and Michelle Osterman in Steamboat Springs, Colo., on the eve of the start of the U.S.A. Pro Challenge, Aug. 16, 2015.    Photos courtesy Cycling Academy

Members of the Cycling Academy, Israel’s first professional team, were hosted by Michael and Michelle Osterman in Steamboat Springs, Colo., on the eve of the start of the U.S.A. Pro Challenge, Aug. 16. Photos courtesy Cycling Academy

As at other races, the Israeli team has built support this week distributing Israeli flags to bystanders at each stage of the Colorado competition. The race started Monday in Steamboat Springs and winds between several ski resorts before ending Sunday with a final leg stretching from the city of Golden to Civic Center Park in Denver.

One non-Jewish spectator, Gary Burge, waved the Israeli flag at Tuesday’s stage in the mountains outside Steamboat Springs. A veterinarian, Burge was there with his wife, Lori, and another couple because they are all cyclists who admire the world-class athletes competing.

“I don’t think it changed anything about how we look at Israel and the plight of Israel because we know it very well. But it’s one more thing to be inspired by,” Burge said. Noting the appeal of rooting for an upstart on the circuit with talented young riders at its core, he added, “You don’t have to be Jewish to be aligned with them.”

Burge said the couples were drawn to the team when their Jewish friends, Michael and Michelle Osterman, hosted a reception Sunday for the riders. The Ostermans had learned of the Israeli team’s existence just four days earlier.

Last Friday, the team’s director, Slovakia native Jan Valach, asked Michael Osterman to take the cyclists on a training ride. Osterman went the request one better, bringing them to the course of Stage 1, which they’d cycle three days later.

“It never dawned on me that Israel would have a pro bike team,” said Osterman, a retired marketing professional. “They’re planting the seeds to create something for the future — although for this event, it’s a pretty big deal that they made it this far, this fast.”

Osterman’s son, Matthew, runs a family business in Denver, the Sleeping Giant Brewery Company, which will host the Israeli squad for a mellow evening of drinking craft beer next Monday, after the race is over.

There’ll be chairs there, of course. But after sitting all week, the cyclists might very well opt to stand on their own two feet.

JML update, Aug. 21, 2015

Permalink  Leave a comment
Fri, 21 Aug 2015 13:52:20 | by Ron Kaplan

Ian Kinsler was 1-4, featuring his six triple of the year, and scored a run as the Detroit Tigers shut out the visiting Texas Rangers, 4-0, behind the one-hit pitching of Alfredo Simon. He also made a harmless error, just his ninth for the season.


With the departure of Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski, a renewed call has gone out for the dismissal of field manager Brad Ausmus (kudos to members of the team for sticking up for him). Dumbrowski wasn’t out of work for long; he was hire by the even-worse Boston Red Sox. The appointment came just days after a new minority-search initiative was put into place by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, generating this column by our friend Murray Chass.

Ryan Lavarnway did not appear for the Atlanta Braves in their 7-1 loss to the host Chicago Cubs.

Craig Breslow did not appear for the Boston Red Sox in their 4-1 victory over the visiting KC Royals.

Scott Feldman did not appear in the Houston Astros’ 1-0 loss to the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.

All the other JMLs’ teams were off yesterday.

Oversight committee: I failed to note that Oakland Athletics outfielder Sam Fuld was ejected from the Aug. 17 game against the Orioles in Baltimore. Fuld had gone a tidy 575 games nice and clean, i.e., without ejection. That ended on this play:

As this article from ESPN points out, the tosser, umpire Brian Knight, serving behind the plate, is “one of the league’s most prolific ejectors. When that unstoppable force (the ejector) met the immovable object (the non-ejected), well, we know who’s going to win.”

“For a limited time only…”

Permalink  Leave a comment
Thu, 20 Aug 2015 15:57:32 | by Ron Kaplan

Another shameless self-promotion…

JDeal logoThe “people of the book” are privy to special deal: For the next 22 days and change, The Jewish Olympics will be available as a big deal from Jdeal: a hair off half-off the cover price (plus $3 shipping). Click here for details.

The Jewish Olympics was written up in the South African Jewish Report. I must admit, it was flattering to be described as “well-known.”

I think any writer worries that s/he might get something wrong, especially when it comes to far away people and places where it bwas difficult to find information, so I read this with fingers crossed. Whew. No major gaffes.

I also received a Facebook message from a gentleman in Buenos Ares who purchased a copy. I guess I forgot that this isn’t just something for folks in the U.S. of A.


JML update, Aug. 20, 2015

Permalink  Leave a comment
Thu, 20 Aug 2015 15:04:08 | by Ron Kaplan

Ryan Braun‘s 22nd home run of the year proved to be the winner as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the visiting Miami Marlins, 8-7, avoiding a sweep. Braun’s blast — the 252nd of his career, placing him atop the team’s on the all-time list — came in the sixth inning to make the score 8-6. He also walked and scored another run. Braun is eighth in the National League in home runs, ninth in RBI (72), and fifth in runs scored (71).

Braun becomes the only JML to lead his franchise in that department. Hank Greenberg hit 306 for the Detroit Tigers to lead that team until Al Kaline wound up with 399. Greenberg lost essentially four and half seasons due to World War II, so there’s no way of knowing how many more he might have had.

Ian Kinsler continues to hit well when he’s not leading off. Following his 5-5 performance on Tuesday, the Detroit Tigers’ second baseman singled and doubled (#31) in five at bats, scored a run, and drove in one (56 on the year) on a sacrifice fly to help beat the host Chicago Cubs, 15-8.

Danny Valencia drove in a run on a ground out to start the scoring for the Oakland Athletics against the visiting LA Dodgers. He was also responsible for the ultimately game-winning run which scored on a double play (although you don’t get an RBI for that). Sam Fuld entered the game as a pinch-runner and remained as a defensive replacement without coming to bat. Ike Davis did not appear for the As. That’s because they put him on the disabled list again. At first I thought it might have been the result of his recent relief outing, but no, it’s the lingering results of his previous hip situation.

Although he wasn’t charged with an error, Joc Pederson had a rough time on this double, allowing Eric Sogard to come across with the game-tying run. He was 0-2 at the plate but walked once and scored a run.

The Toronto Blue Jays’ Kevin Pillar is also struggling offensively. He was 0-4 in their 7-4 loss to the host Philadelphia Phillies. Pillar is batting just .143 in August (8-56) with one double and one RBI. Maybe it’s fatigue: he’s appeared in all but one of the team’s 121 games.

Ryan Lavarnway did not put the ball in play once in four plate appearances — three strikeouts and a walk — as the Atlanta Braves lost to the host San Diego Padres, 3-2.

Craig Breslow did not appear for the Boston Red Sox in their 6-4 win over the visiting Cleveland Indians.

Scott Feldman did not appear in the Houston Astros’ 3-2 13-inning win over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.

Around the horn:

  • How desperate are the San Francisco Giants that they had to use pitcher Madison Bumagarner as a pinch hitter with two outs in the ninth? Granted, he’s a great hitting pitcher — batting .259 (14-for-54) with four home runs and seven RBI this season and singled as a pinch-hitter the night before in a 2-0 Giants win — but he stuck out to end the game, giving the host St. Louis Cardinals the 4-3 win.
  • Giants center fielder Juan Perez robbed Stephen Piscotty of a home run in the first with this nifty catch.