Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Top 10 Stories of the Year - Shana Tova From TGR

Its about to be the start of a New Year. Here is looking back at the year that was. Ups and downs. There are links to stories in case you missed them. 

Honorable Mentions: Hillel Nationwide Basketball Tournament, Alex Tyus' Move to Israel, Kenny Anderson to Coach at a Jewish High School, Lawrence Frank Coaching Pistons, Casspi and Bar Raphaeli Dating?, and Wittels Short of Record.

10) Toledo' Shafir Drops 40 in NIT Final 
Naama Shafir, an observant Jew, led Toledo to a NIT Championship by scoring 40 points against USC in the finals. Hazzan Jamie Gloth said it was amazing. Shafir and teammates visited Israel in the summer. We are excited to follow her in the upcoming season. Click HERE for more.


9) Casspi Traded
After months of speculation, Omri Casspi was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Israeli golden boy should do well running the with Kyrie Irving...if there is a season.Click HERE for more. We also saw Jason Marquis and Taylor Mays get traded this year.

8) Macho Man Passes Away
Unfortunately, some of the stories this year were less than great. Macho Man Randy Savage Passed away. Our hearts went out to his family and friend. Click HERE for more.

7) Ralph Branca Jewish
Legendary MLB Pitcher, who had hidden his Judaism, is now admittedly Jewish. This sparked a lot of interest for old time baseball fans. Branca was best known for letting up the shot heard round the world. Click HERE for more.


6) Farmar and Scheyer Headed to Maccabi Tel Aviv
Jon Scheyer has made aliyah and will suite up for Maccabi Tel Aviv, while Jordan Farmar, pending the NBA season, will join him in a solid back court. Maccabi should be in legit contention for a championship. Click HERE for more.

5) Championships to Go Around
The biggest news is that Mark Cuban finally reached the top of the basketball world when his Dallas Mavericks were crowned NBA champions. In the wrestling world Kelly Kelly became the first Jewish female world champion and Colt Cabana, whose character is Jewish became the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Also, Ian Kinsler and Scott Feldman lost in the world series, but were American league champions last season.


4) Bruce Pearl Out at Tennessee
Another bad story, as Bruce Pearl is gone from Tennessee after violating NCAA rules. He was the best Jewish coach in the game and will be missed. We await his eventual return to the court. Click HERE for more.

3) New Jews and Non-Jews to MLB
Over the past MLB season we have seen several Jewish new comers. The list includes, Ryan Lavarnway, Michael Schwimer, Paul Goldschmidt, and Josh Satin. All have performed fairly well and their futures look bright. But two others with whom there was believed to be Jewish lineage are now off the list in Dylan Axelrod and Jason Kipnis. Maybe bigger news than the 4 newcomers was Kipnis wearing a cross, which crushed Jewish baseball fans.

2) Braun in Contention for MVP
This could have been the top story, but it hasn't happened yet. That being said Ryan Braun is my vote for NL MVP (yes over Matt Kemp). Kemp's numbers are great, but Braun's team is in the playoffs. With a 30/30 season, Braun could be the first Jewish MVP since Hank Greenberg. Kinsler also reached the 30/30 club this season. Click HERE for more.



1 - Tie) Carimi Drafted in the First Round
Yes, I am biased because he is a Bear. But in reality, we have a handful of Jewish football players, but none drafted in the first round. Hats off to Carimi for the story of the year. Click HERE for more.

1 - Tie) Israel to Compete in WBC
This story will stand alone, hopefully, in 2012 and 2013 as the Israel team is assembled. But as for now its awesome thinking about an all Jewish team. Click HERE to read more.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Monday, September 26, 2011

Interview with Richard Michaelson - Author of Lipman Pike

Its been a while since we have had an interview. But hear is a conversation I had with author Richard Michaelson who has brought much attention to the forgotten Lipman Pike.



1)    Tell TGR a little bit about yourself?
I am a poet, children’s book author, and art dealer. I was born in East New York, Brooklyn, where my dad had a small hardware store. We were 100% secular (or rather, anti-religious). I had no bar-mitzvah, nor did I attend Hebrew school. My books explore issues of race and social justice.

It was not until my wife converted to Judaism --against my wishes--(she went into labor while in the mikvah; but that is her story to tell) that I began exploring my heritage. I have been fortunate to have been awarded the 2009 Sydney Taylor Gold and Silver Medal from the Association of Jewish Librarians—the only time in the award's history that one author has been honored with their top two awards. Two of my books have also been finalists for the National Jewish Book Awards. 


2)    
What inspired you to write the book?
 
A few years ago, I was working on my children’s book A is for Abraham: A Jewish Family Alphabet .  My task was to narrow down all of Jewish knowledge into 26 letter. Takes a bit of chutzpah, but I agreed to try. So I decided to choose 26 general themes where I could discuss basic Jewish categories. For instance D is for King David, and under this letter I was able to write about the Biblical King, but also the Jewish traditions of poetry-- since David is traditionally considered to have authored the Psalms. At one point K was for Koufax (K ended up as Klezmer), and I intended to discuss Jewish sports heroes. In the research process I came across the name Lipman Pike.   I asked many of my sports-crazy friends, and no one had heard of him. How could this be?

 


3)What did you learn about Lipman Pike?
 
Read the book!!  But here are a few tidbits: He was the first “professional” ball player—the first player, that is, accused of accepting payment when the League was still supposedly all amateur (of course many players were taking money “under the table,” but the Jewish guy got blamed ) . Lip therefore became known as “the first player “paid to play.” Partly because of this incident, the next year, in 1871,  the league changed the rules and allowed “professionals,” and formed the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players. Lip went on to be baseball’s first home run king.

In 1872, his 2nd year as home run king, Lip hit 17.14% of all league homers--  a player to league percentage that wouldn’t be bested till 1920 when Babe Ruth set the record of 20% (54 for Ruth/269 for the rest of the league).  The last time a player's % of HRs was in double digits was in 1938 when Hank Greenberg hit 58 HRs while the entire American League hit a total of 564. 
 Lip went on to a stellar career, and he remained proud of his Jewish roots. How could I not want to share his story? I would like to help him reclaim the title of baseball’s first superstar.

4) Do you have passion for baseball?
I am sorry to have to publicly admit to the Great Rabbino that I was never a big fan.  My prior knowledge began and ended with the famous game Sandy Koufax declined to pitch. My interest is in history. That said, I finished this project with a renewed respect for how sports have shaped the trajectory of our country.

5) If you could do another book about a Jewish athlete who would it be?Stay tuned. I am working on one now (from the time when basketball was dominated by Jews). 

6) Who are your World Series picks?
See question 4. I would rather tell you who won in the 1870’s.

7) What’s next for you and the book? 
This summer I spoke at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and I am working to get Lip inducted next year when they consider the old-timers (email me and I’ll tell you where to send letters—and while you are at it—he is also not in the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Commack—a shanda, as they say—though he is in Israel). Here is a nice article which recently appeared in the Jerusalem Post Baseball's Hall of Fame needs to recognize Lipman Pike

As for the coming fall-- I am, as they say, on the road and peddling my wares. In the next few months I’ll be speaking about Lip in NY, Boston, Florida, and wherever else I am invited. Lots of Jewish Book festivals coming up! Check my website and join my mailing list or friend me on facebook to see if I am coming to your town! You can find me at www.RichardMichelson.com

And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Thursday, September 22, 2011

NFL D-Linemen News

The good news is that Igor Olshansky has finally found a home, singing with the Miami Dolphins after the release of RB Larry Johnson. Olshansky will certainly help their D-Line. Click HERE for more.

On a sour note, Antonio Garay was fined $15,000 for his hit on Tom Brady. For more click HERE.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Israeli Sports Update

We thought it would be nice to give our readers some time to catch up in whats going on in the Israeli Sports World. Here are some recent articles:

Israel's Loss to Turkey - Soccer

Maccabi Tel Aviv Fan Punished for Slurs

Alex Tyus Waiting for Rosh Hashanah

Israel Expects Windsurfing Medal in 2012

Davis Cup Dream Shattered

Monday, September 19, 2011

Can't Bear the Bad News


The Bears 2011 #1 draft pick Gabe Carimi suffered a dislocated knee in Sunday's loss to the Saints. Carimi had shown promise starting games 1 and 2 of the season. Carimi is rumored to be out a month. To read more click HERE.

The YK Dilemma

Ron Kaplan wrote a really nice piece on the possible Yom Kippur dilemma this year for some Major Leaguers. Read Below:

"Yom Kippur falls out on the evening of Friday, Oct. 7, and Saturday, Oct. 8.
Just taking a quick look at the MLB post-season schedule reveals:
  • The fifth games of the National League Division Series (the first round of playoffs)  — if necessary — will take place Friday.
  • The first game of the American League Championship Series (second round) will take place on Saturday.
Game times have not yet been decided nor does it take into consideration any postponements for weather or other reasons.

So the possibility exists that Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, Scott Feldman (assuming he’s on the post-season roster), Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Lavarnway, and Michael Schwimer (although they probably won’t be on the Red Sox and Phillies, respectively,  post-season rosters) might have some thinking to do. (If Tampa Bay manages to beat out Boston for the AL wild card, that means Sam Fuld instead of Youkilis and Lavarnway).

Now, I obviously don’t know any of these fellows personally, but I wonder if anyone will make a Koufax/Greenberg-like stand. As far as I know, Braun has never been “observant” in any form, plus Friday night would represent the deciding game for the Brewers and whomever they draw as an opponent. It would be easier for the American League players, since it would “only” be game one of the LCS. Youkilis has always spoken about the connection he has with his religion, so it will be interesting to learn his decsion. I know nothing of Kinsler’s or Feldman’s sentiments on the matter. Fuld has been mostly a bench player over the last few months so it would be relatively easy for him to miss the game without impacting his teammates."

Do you think any of them will sit out? Neither do I.
And Let Us Say...Amen.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Braun Gets 30/30 in Style


Thursday we told you that both Ryan Braun and Ian Kinsler were close to 30/30 (Home Runs and Steals). Well Braun got there quickly. Hitting two home runs on Friday to reach the 30/30 club. Now with 31 home runs, lets see if he can get hot. Maybe 40/40?

Braun is really making a strong case for MVP.

Click HERE for more on Braun and the 30/30 Club.

And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine

Friday, September 16, 2011

Omri's Top 10 Plays of 2011

Not sure how this slipped by me but its a little NBA excitement while we wait.


Schwimer Gets the Win


While Cliff Lee did most of the dirty work, Michael Schwimer picked up his first Major League victory yesterday. Schwimer came in to pitch a solid 10th inning after Ryan Howard doubled in what would be the deciding run in the top half of the inning.

Congrats to Schwimer and we hope there is more to come.

Thank you to Nathan Fisher of Beth El Synagogue Center in New Rochelle for sending in the information

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chasing 30/30

Both Ryan Braun and Ian Kinsler are chasing the 30/30 club. They are both in pretty good shape going into today.


Ryan Braun - 28 HRS and 31 SBs.

Ian Kinsler - 29 HRs and 25 SBs.

Looks to be a two way race for Jewish MLBer of the Year.

We will keep you updated.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Question Marks All Around

According to Ron Kaplan, Dylan Axelrod is NOT Jewish, although sources have disagreed. We will follow the story as it continues.

Kaplan also noted that Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks, while raised Christian in fact has a Jewish father.

Both have been added to our site and we have noted the changes.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

ESPN Taking a Stand

ESPN REMOVING ANTI-SEMITIC LEAGUES FROM ITS ONLINE  FANTASY FOOTBALL
 
'They May Have Been Fantasy Leagues but the hate is all too real'

New York – NY September 8, 2011- At the urging of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, ESPN is moving quickly to remove anti-Semitic leagues from their Fantasy Football. The names “Jews are Immoral,” another “Jews Are Terrible,” with banners and mottos reading “Burn Jews Wherever Possible” (screenshots available at www.wiesenthal.com), still another league, “Jews love pennies” lists President Obama as its creator.
“They may have been Fantasy Leagues, but the hate is all too real,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization. Rabbi Cooper who heads up the Center's Digital Terrorism and Hate Project, adding, “This is another example of bigots leveraging Internet portals to demean their 'enemies' and recruit for their causes. Unfortunately, the targeted enemy in this case was a Jewish father who was about to sign up his son to ESPN Fantasy Football,” Cooper said.
Wiesenthal Center and senior ESPN officials were in contact late yesterday and the process of removing the offensive material has begun.  In an email from ESPN’s Vice President of Communications, Josh Krulewitz stated in part:
“...offensive hate speech like the examples discussed here, have absolutely no place on our site. While we have systems in place to minimize the possibility for inappropriate team and league names, clearly with millions of users and deceptive ways around the safeguards, we can never completely eliminate it.  We very much appreciate when it's brought to our attention like you did in this case, and when it is, we pledge to move swiftly to address each case...the entry period for fantasy football is ending soon so no additional entries will be allowed. We will use that time to reflect on how we can improve this going forward. Thanks so much for your valued input.”
 
“ESPN responded quickly and in good faith to our concerns and we trust that ESPN will take all necessary steps to make it as difficult as possible for any racist or anti-Semite to leverage their popular site,” Cooper concluded.
 
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).
 
For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

White Sox Call Up Axelrod

White Sox call up pitcher Dylan Axelrod to fill out their team. Axelrod is part of a recent influx of young Jewish ball players. He is the first Jewish player on the White Sox since Aaron Peroda. The White Sox called up Axelrod who went 9-3 with a 2.69 ERA in 26 appearances (24 starts) in the minors this season. He was most recently in AAA Charlotte. Best of luck and you know we will be following his progress.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Olshansky Gets Cut


While his numbers were down, few thought Igor Olshansky's job was in jeopardy because of his play. But his contract was a problem. Saturday's NFL cuts came in and the Cowboys demoted the Defensive Lineman and the 2009 TGR NFL Player of the Year. Olshansky should find his way onto a different roster soon and we we will have that information when its available. Good luck to big Igor. For more click HERE.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Kenny Anderson Ready for JewBall

I had some wonderful coaches while at Ida Crown. I still keep in touch with Coach Peckler and Coach Braun, but how cool would it have been to have former Net and NBA Jam legend Kenny Anderson as your coach. Recently, David Posnack Jewish Day School hired Anderson to coach its basketball team. Posnack is located in Florida and is trying to improve their sports program. What better way then to bring in a pro.

Posnack is a small school and its basketball team went 10-11 last season. Anderson will not only bring respect and knowledge to the program, it is certainly a draw for Jewish students around the area. Wonder how Anderson will deal with the Jewish community....maybe he will bring in Derrick Coleman to be his enforcer.

And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine

Keep'em Coming: Welcome Josh Satin to the Bigs

 The Mets have been without breakout Jewish player Ike Davis for most of the year. But never fear, the Mets welcomed Josh Satin to the team on Friday. Satin plays all over the infield. "Satin is versatile with the glove. He played 57 games at 3B this season, 44 at 2B, 20 at 1B, and another 12 as designated hitter. Though this will be the Hidden Hills, Calif., native’s first stint on an MLB roster, he had 6 at-bats with the Mets during Spring Training this year, going 2-for-6 with 1 HR and 2 RBIs." - JewishBaseballNews.com

We look forward to seeing Satin in a Mets uniform and possibly forming formidable Jewish corners for the team next season. To read more click HERE.

And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What Do You Do When You Lose Your Sports Job?

What do athletes do when they are done with sports?

A while back I read an article that during the NBA lockout Jon Calipari, who I am usually critical of, invited his former players back to school to continue their education. This time Capliari got it right. What an amazing thing to offer and just a brilliant idea.

What are the rest of the guys going to do? Some are playing exhibitions. Jordan Farmar is going to Israel and Omri Casspi is weighing his options. Others will join Farmar in Israel I am sure. Don't be surprised in Mark Cuban follows some of the guys out to Europe as well.


But what happens when you are fired like Bruce Pearl? Well, Pearl turned down the NDBL job which shocked me. Pearl is a phenomenal coach. He would have been great for the NDBL. But when coaches don't coach they do TV. Well, Pearl apparently has said no to that as well. Instead it looks like he will work in marketing. Read HERE for more. My hat is off to Pearl. By taking a step away from the game, he will learn more about himself and doing things the right way. It is inevitable that he will return to the sidelines and this time he will have a new perspective.

I have also been in touch with Ron Blomberg and Art Shamsky recently. Got me thinking about old timers who maybe did not make A-Rod type money. Those guys worked hard, played the game right, and now do different jobs  to make a living. They both work with the Jewish community, so if your synagogue or organization wants some great speakers and role models check out their websites www.ronblombergyankees.com and www.artshamsky.com.

I guess the point is, is that a sports career is complete ups and downs. Even if you make it, you are an injury/scandal away from losing it all. And even if that doesn't happen eventually it goes away (not everyone is Julio Franco).

And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine

Baseball Stadium Rankings

Recently, my wife and I got tickets to a game at Citi Field (thank you Marci). It marked the last stadium to visit on the East Coast (well...how I define East Coast...Braves and Tampa are in the South). Below is my rankings of all the stadiums I have been to and how it was as a Jewish experience.

Favorite Stadiums
1) Comiskey Park (I had to) - White Sox
2) US Cellular (I had to again) - White Sox
3) Fenway Park - Red Sox
4) Miller Stadium - Brewers
5) PNC Park - Pirates
6) Coors Field - Rockies
7) Citi Field - Mets
8) Citizen's Bank Ballpark - Phillies
9) Yankee Stadium (old) - Yankees
10) Yankee Stadium (new) - Yankees
11) Wrigley Field (Yes, that's right)- Cubs
12) Progressive Field - Indians
13) Rogers Stadium - Blue Jays
14) Camden Yards - Orioles
15) Kingdom - Mariners
16) Nationals Park - Nationals
17) Marlins Stadium - Marlins
18) Shea Stadium - Mets
19) County Stadium - Brewers

Jewish Stadiums
1) Yankee Stadium (old) - Just felt Jewish.
2) Shea Stadium - See above.
3) Camden Yards - Kosher food and minyan.
4) Fenway Park - Kosher vending machines
5) Progressive Field - Kosher dogs in less then kosher city.
6) Citi Field - Kosher stand and Ike Davis bobbleheads.
7) Yankee Stadium (new) - Kosher food all around.
8) Citizen's Bank Ballpark - Jewish heritage day and kosher food.
9) Rogers Stadium - Few fans to buy their kosher dogs.
10) Nationals Park - Kosher food for a kid friendly park.
11) Marlins Stadium -Kosher food not always open.
12) Coors Field - Hebrew National dogs (not supervised)
13) Miller Stadium - They really celebrate Ryan Braun there.
14) US Cellular  - Used to have Best Kosher dogs
15) Wrigley Field - Has featured Hebrew National
16) Kingdom -I was there with the Maccabi games, kind of unfair.
17) Comiskey Park - Old time Jews
18) PNC Park - Not too much going on
19) County Stadium -Don't remember, but shout out to Peckerman

And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine