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

Now pitching…

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Wed, 27 May 2015 20:41:32 | by Ron Kaplan

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51g-1P0spZL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgWon’t be posting tomorrow. I’ll be at the “author’s pitch” portion of the Jewish Book Council’s annual event, trying to get JCCs across the continent to have me speak about my forthcoming title, The Jewish Olympics: The History of the Maccabiah Games, at their various book events.

The pressure is on. I have to sell the idea in two minutes or less.

Wish me luck.



Another reason I feel justified in being a vegetarian

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Wed, 27 May 2015 17:07:59 | by Ron Kaplan

I know, I know: this is treif anyway…

But what is up with that new and very creepy KFC commercial starring the resurrected Col. Sanders?

“…Because if there’s two things I’m certain of, it’s that baseball will always be America’s number one sport, free from corruption, scandal, and cheating of any kind. And two, the summer meal featuring my Kentucky Fried Chicken tastes better than a no-hitter.”

What the hell does a no-hitter taste like? Maybe the late Dock Ellis cold have opined on this since he historically pitched his under the influence of LSD; maybe he could taste it.

Did the writers of this caca know anything about baseball? Are they trying to be ironic? And if so, does that mean the summer meals also have a lot of faults?

I posted this on Facebook earlier today and a few commenters love the spot. They argue that the purpose of advertising is to get people emotional about the product/company.

Does that still count if that emotion is ridicule or revulsion?


Jewps update, Playoff edition

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Wed, 27 May 2015 16:46:03 | by Ron Kaplan

Congrats to David Blatt and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who swept the Eastern Conference Finals over the Atlanta Hawks (owned by MOT Steve Belkin), with their 118-88 win last night before the happy home crowd. The Hawks, with a regular season record of 60-22, were the best in the East, followed by the Cavs.

Cleveland now awaits the winner of the Western finals between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets (owned by MOT Leslie Alexander), who also-finished one-two, respectively, in the conference. Golden State could wrap it up with a win tonight, leading in that series 3-1.

The final Finals begin Thursday, June 4.

Meanwhile, the Israeli-American Council, “the preeminent Israeli-American organization in the United States,” feted Blatt in a press release:

Shawn Evenhaim, chairman of the Israeli-American Council (IAC), the largest Israeli-American organization in the U.S., issued the following statement tonight about the Cleveland Cavaliers’ winning the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs and reaching the NBA finals.

“On behalf of all Israeli Americans in the United States, we congratulate David Blatt, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the City of Cleveland on their thrilling victory as Eastern Conference champions of the NBA,” said Evenhaim. “David is an Israeli-American success story – a true leader and role model who symbolizes our love for both Israel and the U.S.”

The U.S.-born Blatt was a standout basketball player at Princeton and later immigrated to Israel, where he was a basketball star. He went on to coach teams in Europe and Israel, where he led Maccabi Tel-Aviv to the European championship, and then became the first Israeli-American head coach in the NBA.

Does anyone else get the feeling that Blatt is in kind of a no-win situation? If the Cavs win, well, they were supposed to, regardless of who was their coach. And if they lose, well, Blatt screwed it up. Just wondering.


A posthumous Mazel Tov

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Wed, 27 May 2015 14:38:57 | by Ron Kaplan

http://static01.nyt.com/images/2014/12/15/nyregion/15OBITBERGER/15OBITBERGER-blog427.jpgSy Berger, the man who popularized the baseball card for Topps, was one of three  electees in the Baseball Reliquary’s most recent voting for the Shrine of the Eternals.

Joining Berger, who was named on 33 percent of the ballots, are Steve Bilko and Glenn Burke, who were named on 31 percent each.

The three electees will be formally inducted into the Shrine of the Eternals in a public ceremony on Sunday, July 19, at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, Pasadena, California.

The five runners-up in the election were Bob Costas (30%), Bo Jackson (29%), J.R. Richard (29%), Lisa Fernandez (26%), and Charlie Finley (26%).

Voting percentages for all fifty candidates are expected to be posted shortly on the Baseball Reliquary website.


Israel Tennis Centers Foundation hosts exhibitions to combat child poverty

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Wed, 27 May 2015 14:21:48 | by Ron Kaplan

The Israel Tennis Centers Foundation is hosting two fundraising events in the New York Metropolitan area the first week in June:

  • Scarsdale, NY – Tuesday, June 2nd at 6 pm – Tennis Exhibition & Reception
  • Short Hills, NJ – Friday, June 5th at 6:30 pm – Shabbat Supper

Under the banner “Empowering Israel’s Children…Beyond Tennis and Beyond Borders,” the ITC has arranged for a group of children and their coach representing various centers throughout Israel to visit the two communities and tell their inspiring stories about life in Israel and the important role that the ITC has played in their lives.

ITC team photo

Since the opening of the first center in Ramat Hasharon back in 1976, almost a half million children have been positively impacted by the life skills they have been taught. This achievement is especially significant given the serious level of child poverty in Israel, currently affecting moire than 35 percent of all children living in Israel — the fourth highest among all developed nations. The ITC goes far beyond training children become better tennis players; the real focus is helping them to develop the skills necessary to be productive and self-supporting members of Israeli society.

Through its social impact programs, a wide range of children are served, including youth at risk, immigrants, and children with special needs, from autism and ADHD to Down Syndrome as well as those with developmental and physical disabilities. Tennis has the unparalleled ability to bring together children from different religions in coexistence programs, promoting understanding, cooperation, and friendship on and off the court.

Meet 18-year-old Ellie, a member of the visiting Israeli contingent whose life has been turned around by the ITC. Ellie is a soldier in an elite unit of the Israeli Defense Forces and an alum of the Nussdorf-Mark Families Israel Tennis Center in Jaffa where she was taught valuable life skills that enabled her to excel in school and graduate with top marks. As part of the center’s “Coexistence Program,” playing alongside Arab children, she discovered the importance of tolerance, understanding and respect for other cultures. “I am so thankful to be part of the ITC family where I learned the importance of judging individuals by their worth and not where they came from,” Ellie said. “I have made strong friendships that endure to this day.”

For more information or to attend these events, visit the ITC website or contact Jacqueline Glodstein, ITC Vice President/Global Development, at 212-784-9201 or jglodlstein@israeltenniscenters.org.


JML update, May 27, 2015

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Wed, 27 May 2015 14:08:16 | by Ron Kaplan

Scott Feldman was in Dr. Jekyll mode last night, pitching six innings of one-run ball to lead the Houston Astros to a 4-1 win over the host Baltimore Orioles, who grounded into three double plays in the first three innings. Feldman gave up three singles and a double, walked three and struck out two to even his record to 4-4.

Ryan Lavarnway did not appear for the Orioles, who designated him for assignment. Not too surprising, sorry to say.

Kevin Pillar was 0-4 and made a throwing error, but the Toronto Blue Jays pulled out a thrilling 10-9 victory thanks to Josh Donaldson’s three-run walk-off homer. Donaldson had hit a solo shot in the first inning as well. Danny Valencia did not appear in the game for the Jays.

Ryan Braun was 1-4 with his sixth double of the year and drove in his 37th run as the Milwaukee Brewers lost to the visiting San Francisco Giants, 6-3. Of course he hit it on a count of three balls and no strikes, just as the announcers said he never swings at a three-and-oh pitch.

Joc Pederson did not lead off the 9-0 LA Dodgers win over the visiting Atlanta Braves with a home run. He only singled twice in four at bats. The Dodgers scored six of their runs in the fourth inning.

Sam Fuld had one of the Oakland As’ seven hits in a 1-0 loss to the visiting Detroit Tigers, who scored the game’s only run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly. Ian Kinsler was given the night off. Ike Davis remains on the disabled list and might be out longer than expected. When Davis was on the NY Mets in 2011, he was involved in a collision with third baseman David Wright on an infield pop-up. It was a shocker when something so innocuous landed Davis on the DL for what turned out to be four and a half months One thing always seems leads to another for this guy.

Maybe it’s because I don’t really follow the media from non-NY/East coast teams, but does any city opine on their team’s manager as much as the Tigers? In a “progress report,” Brad Ausmus received only a 38 percent approval rating, according to an on-line fan poll, for whatever that’s worth.

Jason Marquis did not appear in the Cincinnati Reds’ 2-1 win over the visiting Colorado Rockies, also a walk-off affair. Craig Breslow did not appear in the Boston Red Sox’s 2-1 loss to the host Minn. Twins. This was not a walk off. Actually, the outcome was foretold in the first inning when the Twins scored both of their runs.



Jewish Tiger an endangered species?

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Tue, 26 May 2015 17:41:00 | by Ron Kaplan

https://cdn2.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/JqNqI4DVsjqbL8g0Z9ewa5kPX5c=/0x142:2152x1577/709x473/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/46391818/GettyImages-474434004.0.jpgIan Kinsler is not the only Detroit Tiger having problems of late. There’s a new round of heat on manager Brad Ausmus, now that the team has lost six of their last nine while the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins have played better. The Tigers have fallen to third place, three games back.

Now it’s still very early and they have been without the services of the stud starter Justin Verlander as well as closer Joe Nathan, starting catcher Alex Avila, and designated hitter Victor Martinez, all of whom are on the disabled list.

You’d think this was New York, the way the local media is panicking, apparently believing the Tigers should win every game and anything less is Ausmus’ fault.

More on Ausmus here and here and here.

So you better order one of these before it’s too late.

Insult to injury

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Tue, 26 May 2015 16:54:05 | by Ron Kaplan

As I mentioned in the previous entry, Ian Kinsler has been on one of his cold streaks lately.

For the third time this year, Kinsler has gone at least three straight games without a hit. Twice he has gone hitless in four straight contests.

But on Saturday, Kinsler matched a feat accomplished by only two other MOTs (three depending on whether you consider the Federal League a “Major” league) when he hit into  a triple play against the visiting Houston Astros.

With runners and first and second and no out (obviously) and the Tigers up 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Kinsler hit a ground ball to third baseman Jonathan Villar right at the third base bag for first out. Villar then threw to second baseman Jose Altuve, who zipped it over to first baseman Chris Carter to complete the deal against the speedy Kinsler.

In a way, Kinsler has nothing to be ashamed of. The batter usually has to hit the ball hard to allow the defensive the time to pull off the play.

The other Jewish players to “GITP” (ground into a triple play) include

  • Jimmie Reese (born James Herman Solomon) as a member of the NY Yankees against the Boston Red Sox on June 1, 1930
  • Morrie Arnovich as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies against the NY Giants on July 12, 1937
  • On May 20, 1914, Guy Zinn of the Baltimore Terrapins grounded into a triple play against the Kansas City Packers.

Kinsler is also in some elite company: Hall of Famers who have done the deed: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb (twice), Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and both Waner brothers Paul and Lloyd, among others.

JML update, long weekend edition

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Tue, 26 May 2015 15:59:08 | by Ron Kaplan

I’m baaaaack.

Off on Friday for my daughter’s graduation from the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU (where Robert DeNiro gave a well-received commencement speech), coupled with Memorial Day adds up to a lot of catching up to do.


Braun hit a two-run home run during the fifth inning yesterday. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Ryan Braun remained hot. Since Friday, Braun had five hits in 11 at bats (he appeared in Sunday’s game as a pinch-hitter). Those hits included two doubles and two home runs — one in the first inning of Friday’s game against the host Atlanta Braves in an 11-0 win, the other, giving him 12 for the season. He’s also been an RBI machine, with six over those four games and 15 in his last 10, giving him 36. He ranks fourth in the National League in both categories. Unfortunately, the Milwaukee Brewers still stink; they lost three of the four contests.


Pederson gestures to Jimmy Rollins after hitting a solo home run during the first inning on Saturday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Also doing well: Joc Pederson. His eighth-inning home run on Friday turned out to be the gamer in a 2-1 win over the visiting San Diego Padres. The next game, Pederson led off the game with a four-bagger for the third time this year, (effectively giving him back-to-back dingers). That gives him 12, tying him with Braun. Pederson is also second in the NL with 31 walks.

Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, on the other hand, is ice cold: 0-16 in his last four games.

Kevin Pillar isn’t faring much better much better for the Toronto Blue Jays with one hit in his last 13 at bats. Teammate Danny Valencia made two starts over the weekend, going a combined 3-7.

Oakland As’ glove man Sam Fuld had three hits — including a double — in 15 at bats with three RBI. Ike Davis remains on the disabled list.

Ryan Lavarnway made a rare star, going 0-4 in a 5-2 loss against the host Miami Marlins on Sunday. That dropped his batting average to an anemic .107.

Jason Marquis of the Cincinnati Reds had a weird pitching in in his last start. He gave up 10 hits, including a home run, in just 5.2 innings against the Colorado Rockies yesterday. But all those hits amounted to just four runs, two of which were unearned. The Reds lost 5-4, but Marquis was not involved in the decision. He also hit his first double of the season, his only hit in two at bats.

Craig Breslow appeared in one game for the Boston Red Sox over the holiday. He tossed one inning of scoreless relief in a 7-2 loss to the host Minnesota Twins.

Scott Feldman of the Houston Astros gets the start tonight against the Orioles in Baltimore.


Why not? The Lakers aren’t doing anything else these days.

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Thu, 21 May 2015 17:55:29 | by Ron Kaplan

The Maccabi Haifa professional basketball team, the 2013-14 Israeli Super League runner-up, will play a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Sunday, Oct. 11, at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time (Monday, October 12 at 4:30 a.m. Israeli time).

Maccabi Haifa’s trip to the United States will mark the fifth time in six years the team will travel to North America to face NBA competition.  In the previous four trips, Maccabi Haifa has faced 10 NBA opponents, including the then-New Jersey Nets, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, and Toronto Raptors).  That makes Maccabi Haifa the second all-time among international basketball teams in games played against NBA opponents.

https://fedweb-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/2/7/MACCABI-6-white-back-250x115.jpgMaccabi Haifa has a long and storied legacy as it was one of the original eight teams to form the Israeli Premier League for the 1954 season. Under the ownership of American businessman Jeffrey Rosen, Maccabi Haifa won their first Israeli League championship in the franchise’s 60-year history during the 2012-13 season and were an Israeli League Finalist in the 2013-14 season.

Maccabi Haifa’s charity program, “Haifa Hoops for Kids,” a joint initiative between Maccabi Haifa and the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey, has hosted over 25,000 underprivileged and special needs children in Israel at Maccabi Haifa home games. The team will hold charity basketball clinics for children in the Greater Los Angeles area during the NBA preseason tour.

“The Los Angeles Lakers are arguably the most prestigious team in the NBA, and bringing Maccabi Haifa to play in front of such a passionate and Israel-centric fan base only continues to grow our brand globally,” said Rosen in a statement.


Jewps, there it is.

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Thu, 21 May 2015 16:35:58 | by Ron Kaplan

Actually, I always thought the phrase was “whoops, there it is” which would make the title of this entry more appropriate. Seems like it should be. But it’s not. I don’t care; I’m sticking with it.  See here for context.

Anyway, David Blatt‘s Cleveland Cavaliers won the first game of the Eastern Conference finals, beating the host Atlanta Hawks, 97-89. The fewer games that remain, the more scrutiny on Blatt, as the media has to fill their time/space with something. The on-line Jewish magazine Tablet, ran this very Jewy piece, “Is the Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers a Philip Roth Character?” (I would love to read Blatt’s Princeton senior thesis, “The Natural: The Seminal Work of Bernard Malamud’s Early Novels.”


Tonight in the Western Conference finals, the Golden State Warriors host the Houston Rockets. The Warriors lead 1-0 in that series.

Congrats to Cobras

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Thu, 21 May 2015 15:43:32 | by Ron Kaplan

The Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School Cobras of Livingston, NJ, won the sixth annual Columbus Baseball Invitational Tournament on Tuesday, May 19. The three-day tournament — Also known as the “Jewish World Series” — featured entrants from New York, Jew Jersey, Illinois, California, and Ohio.


People of the Book: Jeff Katz

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Thu, 21 May 2015 15:36:40 | by Ron Kaplan

Normally, I post things like this beforehand…

We attended our daughter’s graduation from NYU, held at Yankee Stadium (that’s her on the first base side. Not, not that one; that one, the cute one). Now normally, when a ballgame is over, the fans all skedaddle as quickly as possible. Yesterday, however, was wall-to-wall people, milling outside, trying to meet up with their kids. Actually, milling is probably not the correct word, since it connotes actual movement. And technically, being outside the Stadium, there were no walls, but you get my meaning.


We went out for a late lunch and since I don’t get to Manhattan that much and Jeff Katz, author of Split Season: 1981: Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball,was the featured guest at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse, I decided to stick around. (I recently had him on for a Bookshelf Conversation.)

The event was well-attended. Katz, fellow-MOT and currently the mayor of Cooperstown, grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island, so many of his old cronies showed up for another entertaining session hosted by Clubhouse proprietor, Jay Goldberg.


JayKatz KatzKap


But in addition, there were a few baseball writers in attendance including landsmen Lee Lowenfish and former Major League pitcher Bob Tufts, who appeared in 11 games as a rookie for the San Francisco Giants in 1981 and is now an adjunct professor at NYU where he teaches business development.

As it happens, I’ll be in NYC for my “audition” at the annual Jewish Book Council for my forthcoming The Jewish Olympics: The History of the Maccabiah Games, the same day as  Steve Steinberg, co-author with Lyle Spatz of The Colonel and Hug: The Partnership that Transformed the New York Yankees, will be the next Bergino guest. Maybe I’ll see you there.


JML update, May 21, 2015

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Thu, 21 May 2015 14:20:53 | by Ron Kaplan

Ryan Braun served as the designated hitter for the Milwaukee Brewers last night, hitting his second home run in two games against the host Detroit Tigers, but it wasn’t enough as his team lost, 5-2. In the previous game, Braun hit the first of three consecutive homers in the third inning, a three-run shot in a game the Brewers would win, 8-1. He is up to 10 home runs — four in his last six games — to move into the top 10 in the NL in that category (fifth place), and 28 RBI (seventh).

Meanwhile the Tigers’ Ian Kinsler is still looking for his first four-bagger. He was 1-4 last night with his 11th double, the 300th of his career. On Tuesday, Kinsler accounted for the team’s lone run when he walked, stolen second with two outs, went to third on an error, and came across on single.

Tiger’s skipper Brad Ausmus was ejected from Tuesday’s game for arguing balls and strike with the ump after Kinsler fanned in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s loss. Good on him; us Yids got to look out for each other.

If you just look at the stats line, Jason Marquis, who took another loss for the Cincinnati Reds 7-1 against the host KC Royals — it was pretty ugly (love that expression). He allowed four earned runs on four hits in 3.2 innings. But the play by play seems to show a kinder, gentler story: in the second inning a double, ground out to move the runner to third, and a sac fly to score him. In the fourthttp://d3k2oh6evki4b7.cloudfront.net/images-014/headshots/8/8e334012_mlbam.jpgh two single; a wild pitch to move the runners to second and third; a fielder’s choice at second to score a run; a stolen base to remove the double play possibility; another sac fly; and a single. Of course, it didn’t help that the Reds offense left 10 men on base. JWCG (Jewish water-cooler gossip) has the Reds release Marquis and promoting another MOT — Jon Moscot (right) — from AAA. Moscot is 6-0 in seven starts with a 2.06 earned run average.

Danny Valencia was 2-4, including a run-scoring double in the fourth to give the Toronto Blue Jays a 3-0 lead over the visiting LA Angels. Unfortunately for the Jays, the game continued and the Angels came back for the 4-3 win. Kevin Pillar appeared in the game as a pinch-runner.

Joc Pederson had one of the LA Dodgers’ six hits as they were shut out for the second straight time by the host San Francisco Giants, this time by a score of 4-0.

Sam Fuld walked as a pinch-hitter in the Oakland As’ 6-1 loss to the host Huston Astros. Scott Feldman did not appear for Houston. Ike Davis is on the DL for the As.

Craig Breslow did not appear for the Boston Red Sox in their 2-1 loss to the visiting Texas Rangers.

Ryan Lavarnway did not appear fo the Baltimore Orioles in their 4-2 looss to the visiting Seattle Mariners.

Speaking of ejections, check out this scenario:

The Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper, the NL-leading home run hitter this season, was ejected in the third inning by home plate umpire Marvin Hudson. Initial speculation was that Harper was out of the batter’s box, a no-no according to the new speed-up rules. True, Harper had stepped out, but it was only because the ump was “exchanging ideas” with Nats manager Matt Williams over a strike call. Harper made the mistake of “showing up” the already-frustrated ump at the wrong time.

If he’s your guy, you might call Harper self-assured, confident, cocky. If he’s not you might call him arrogant or have some other less-complimentary description. Here’s the narrative, but watch for yourself:

“I don’t think 40,000 people came to watch him ump tonight,” [Harper] said. “Plain and simple. I really don’t think they did. Especially when we’re playing the Yankees. The Yankees are a good team, we’re a good team. We’re rolling. The way I’m hitting, I don’t want to get tossed. No reason for me to get tossed in that situation. I don’t think I really did anything bad to really get tossed. But maybe he just had a bad morning. Maybe he didn’t get his coffee.”

Does Harper really think such condescending comments are going to endear him to umpires — who, like us Yids, tend to stick up for each other? This was the second time in a week Harper has been tossed out of a game. And by the way, Washington beat the NY Yankees, 3-2, without his services. Just sayin’.

Is it just me?



Soccer boss to visit Israel, Ramallah in bid to thwart suspension vote

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Tue, 19 May 2015 17:33:14 | by Ron Kaplan

From the JTA:

The world soccer federation’s boss, Sepp Blatter, is preparing to travel to Jerusalem and Ramallah in a bid to resolve a dispute over a Palestinian effort to have Israel banned from the association.

Blatter, president of the Switzerland-based FIFA, told reporters on May 15 that he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas when he arrives in the region next week, the Associated Press reported.

“Netanyahu would not receive the FIFA delegation if he would not be ready to make concessions,” Blatter said, referencing Palestinian conditions for dropping their national soccer federation’s demand that Israel be suspended for allegedly preventing Palestinian soccer players from playing internationally.

The Palestinians have threatened to push for a vote by FIFA’s member nations during an international conference by delegates on May 29. Blatter is on record as opposing the vote and Israel’s potential suspension for reasons he has said are political and unconnected to soccer.

Recently, the president of Brazil’s soccer federation, CBF, which is one of the most prominent bodies on FIFA, also expressed his opposition to the vote.

“The CBF understands that soccer promotes peace and not discord, and should not be utilized for political ends,” CBF President Marco Polo del Nero said during a meeting in Sao Paulo with Eduardo Wurzmann, secretary of the CONIB federation of Jewish communities, CONIB said in a statement published May 14.


JML update, May 19, 2015

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Tue, 19 May 2015 14:17:31 | by Ron Kaplan

A traditionally light Monday…

Danny Valencia hit a two-run double in the sixth inning, his only hit in five at bats in a rare starting assignment, to help the Toronto Blue Jays beat the visiting LA Angels, 10-6. Kevin Pillar was also 1-5 but without a ribby. After his fifth-inning single, Pillar was caught stealing on a close play that was reviewed and allowed to stand.

In a meeting of MOTs, Ryan Braun came out on top as his Milwaukee Brewers beat Ian Kinsler‘s host Detroit Tigers, 3-2. Braun was 1-3 with a walk and his fourth stolen base of the year; Kinsler was also 1-3 with a walk and drove in one of the Tigers’ runs with a ground out to tie the game at 1-1. Braun also made another nice defensive play, as did Kinsler, in fact he made a couple.

Sam Fuld was 0-3 in the Oakland As 2-1 win over the host Houston Astros, dropping his batting average below the Mendoza Line at .194. But he’s in there more for his defensive skills than his offense, as proved by this play to take a extra base hit away from George Springer. I know the newer ballparks want to have some “personality,” but the Astros’ hill in center field just seems like an affectation.  Ike Davis is on the disabled list. Scott Feldman did not appear in the game for the Astros.

No games for Ryan Lavarnway (Orioles), Craig Breslow (Red Sox), Jason Marquis (Reds), or Joc Pederson (Dodgers).

Canadian football player fined for anti-Semitic tweets

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Mon, 18 May 2015 19:38:00 | by Ron Kaplan

From the JTA:

http://www.thestar.com/content/dam/thestar/sports/football/2015/05/18/alouettes-lineman-khalif-mitchell-apologizes-for-holocaust-denial-tweets/khalif-mitchell.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox.jpgMONTREAL (JTA)—Canada’s professional football league has fined a player for posting anti-Semitic material on his Twitter account.

The Canadian Football League fined U.S.-born Khalif Mitchell, a defensive lineman for the Montreal Alouettes, an undisclosed amount.

He also received the “maximum allowable” fine from his team, which signed him to a three-year contract in February.

Mitchell, 30, tweeted a link to a 2015 YouTube video called, “The Greatest Lie Ever Told — The Holocaust,” and has posted or retweeted material on ISIS.

The CFL took the action after being alerted by B’nai B’rith Canada. In a statement, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs also deplored Mitchell’s “hateful messages.”

Mitchell has since said he believed the Holocaust did happen.


Jewish-backed Buenos Aires rugby club takes national title

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Mon, 18 May 2015 19:33:49 | by Ron Kaplan

From the JTA:

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — An Argentinian rugby team with a Jewish history and many Jewish fans won the national league championship.

The Buenos Aires-based Hindu Club team won the Argentinean national title on Sunday after beating Club Newman in a vibrant 27-25 final.

Identified as the Jewish rugby team among the national clubs, Hindu fans display Israeli flags during some matches.

“During the 60s, a lot of Jewish families started to sign up for membership [in the club]. So we have a lot of Jews in the club, they are part of our identity and also many Jewish families have houses and live in the residential sector of our country club,” Carlos Solari, a former Hindu secretary general and former rugby player, told JTA.

Despite having Jewish members and fans, Hindu isn’t a Jewish institution.  Hebraica is the only amateur rugby team in Argentina under the auspices of a Jewish institution.

“We love the spirit of friendship and the values of rugby,” Javier Veinberg, the president of the Argentine Federation of Maccabean Community Centers, told JTA. The federation has about 55 affiliates and a network of 50,000 people.

“We want to attract more rugby players in Jewish clubs. Rugby teaches kids values like team work, respect for the others … [It] is a sport with interesting values to us as Jews,” Veinberg said.


JML update, weekend edition (5/18/15)

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Mon, 18 May 2015 15:03:56 | by Ron Kaplan

I always have mixed feelings when one of the Jewish players faces my favorite teams. I want them to do well as individuals, but I still want my guys to win. On the other hand, if my team has to lose, I want it to be because the MOT was the star of the show. Ryan Braun homered twice in the Milwaukee Brewers’ 7-0 win against the NY Mets on Friday. The first was a monster shot into the left field stands in the third (check out the cool “Statcast” info — which tracks the projected distance, exit velocity, and launch angle — here); the second a more modest poke over the right field fence in the eighth for the Brewers’ final run. He also made a fantastic diving catch the legendary Bob Uecker makes the fielding call towards the middle of the “Ryan Braun” link above). Braun drove in the only run the next day as the Mets bounced back with a 14-1 win that included a 10-run fourth inning, as well as his team’s only run in a 5-1 loss yesterday. All told, Braun was 3-10 with the home runs, giving him eight for the season, and five RBI (23).

Continuing on that player vs. team loyalty thread, if Scott Feldman or Jason Marquis faced the Mets, I would want them to each pitch a shutout until they came out for a pinch hitter late in the game, with the Mets winning in the final inning.

As it was, Feldman picked up his third win of the year on Saturday for the Houston Astros in a 6-5 victory over the visiting Toronto Blue Jays. He struck out 10 in just 6.2 innings, allowing three runs on five hits a (no home runs) and three walks. Kevin Pillar had just one hit on 11 at bats and Danny Valencia struck out as a pinch-hitter on Sunday, his only appearance in the series. The Astros swept the four game set, including the Thursday game.

Marquis was not so lucky. He was roughed up for six runs in three innings as the Cincinnati Reds dropped a 10-2 game to the visiting San Francisco Giants on Friday. Marquis allowed seven hits (two home runs) and walked two, while striking out four. His ERA ballooned to 6.63. Hope he’s okay; sometimes his spectacular failures are a prelude to finding out he’s injured.

Joc Pederson is seeing his balloon deflate (fill in Tom Brady joke here). He’s dropped almost 40 points on his batting average over his last 10 games, from .271 to .233. He was 1-9 (he struck out as a pinch-hitter on Saturday) over the weekend for the LA Dodgers against the visiting Colorado Rockies.

Ian Kinsler had a good series for the Detroit Tigers, who took two of three games against the host St. Louis Cardinals. Kinsler went a combined 5-11 with his 10th double of the year. He scored three, drove in two and stole his fifth base.

Craig Breslow made just one appearance for the Boston Red Sox, coming last night in a 5-0 loss to the host Seattle Mariners. It might have been a 4-0 loss, but Breslow gave up a home run in his .2 innings.

Who didn’t see this coming? The Oakland As put Ike Davis on the disabled list for his bad quad. Interesting in that first baseman Nate Freiman was not brought up to fill the spot temporarily.

Sam Fuld appeared twice for the As in the first two games of their series against the visiting Chicago White Sox as a pinch-runner, remaining to fill the designated hitter. The White Sox swept the three games; Davis did not appear in the finale.

Ryan Lavarnway appeared as a defensive replacement as the catcher for the Baltimore Orioles in their 6-1 loss to the visiting LA Angels on Saturday.

Jewps update, playoff edition (5/18/15)

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Mon, 18 May 2015 13:51:19 | by Ron Kaplan

Steve Ballmer’s LA Clippers blew a three-games-to-one lead to lose to the host Houston Rockets in the seventh game, 113-100. The Rockets now move on to face the Golden State Warriors.

David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Atlanta Hawks for the Eastern Conference finals beginning Wednesday.

Since hoops news is so sparse now, I thought I’d add a couple of recent pieces about Omri Casspi and whether the Sacramento Kings should re-sign him.