Friday, July 31, 2009

It looks like TGR fans don't think Casspi will have such a great NBA career.
Out of the NBA within 5 years
4 (44%)
Career Benchwarmer
2 (22%)
NBA Starter
2 (22%)
NBA All Star
1 (11%)
NBA Hall of Famer
1 (11%)


Check back next week for a new poll.

Sunday there will be a TGR farewell to Aaron Peroda.

We are also still hoping to have interviews from Maccabi softball star Maiya Chard-Yaron, Shaun Weiss from the Mighty Ducks, and former WCW Champion Diamond Dallas Page.

Shabbat Shalom,
Jeremy

Shawn Green -o- Roids



As we all know there is a list from 2003 of 100 Major League Baseball players that tested positive for being on the juice. It seems that every day there are new names released. First it was ARod, then Sosa (and he still had to cork his bat), and now Manny and Ortiz. This list has not been seen in its entirety, which causes me to think what if our beloved Shawn Green was on that list.

There are three easy ways to tell if a certain player was on steroids. First, did they inflate like a balloon? For example, Mark McGwire is freakishly big. Sosa went from his twig like figure on the South Side to a behemoth on the North Side. The second way to tell is if there is a drastic increase in performance. For example, it what world would Brady Anderson hit over 50 home runs. I know which world, a steroid world. Finally, if a players body just totally falls a part. Jeff Bagwell comes to mind the most, but he hasn’t been on any list yet. Also, um…. can anyone say Mo Vaughn?

Shawn Green was definitely not in categories 1 & 3. He never got that big or retired due to body not holding up. But he fits in nicely in category 2. In Green’s first 3 full seasons he did not hit more than 16 home runs. Then in 1998 his power numbers jumped. He hit 35 dingers. Followed by 42, 24, 49, and 42. Then in 2003 it dropped back down to 19 followed by 28 and 22. Then he just started on a drastic decline.

I am not saying that Green took steroids. I have no idea if he did and I certainly have no proof. But as names slowly are revealed I pray that Green is not on that list. He was a Jewish ball player that my generation could be proud of. He took off for Yom Kippur and openly spoke about being Jewish.

TGR will do more stories on Green in the future, but for now let’s keep our fingers crossed that he never participated in any needle activities.

And Let Us Say…Amen
-Jeremy Fine
Photo of Dexter Jackson by: www.localfitness.com.au

Jewish Sports Blog

Jewish Sports Blog

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tisha B'Av

Tonight and Tomorrow is the fast for Tisha B'Av. I will be taking a break from writing.

But...still searching for a Nickname on Omri Casspi. Suggestions Welcomed.

Also, check out today's article on Jerry Reinsdorf's pursuit of the Phoenix Coyotes.

And coming soon... Interviews with former WCW Champion Diamond Dallas Page and Might Ducks star Shaun Weiss (You know him as Goldberg).

Have an easy fast
-Jeremy Fine

Reinsdorf Not Concerned With Economy

Legendary Chicago sports team owner Jerry Reinsdorf is attempting to make another purchase. He already owns the Bulls and the White Sox and CBS Sportsline reports he is leading a group to buy hockey’s Phoenix Coyotes.

“Reinsdorf's offer to buy the team for about $148 million was expected. Another group of investors headed by Canadian-born businessman Daryl Jones submitted a letter of intent to submit by Aug. 5, the date set for sale of the team.” – www.cbssports.com

One major concern for Coyotes fans is that they don’t want the team to move from Glendale. But Reinsdorf’s offer would keep the ice in the hot sweltering state of Arizona.

I understand why Coyotes fans would be nervous. It was not too long ago that the Coyotes were the Jets and playing up in Winnipeg Canada (sick throw back jersey might I add). But instead of being Coyote fans being scared, I think they should be excited. Their franchise has never won a Stanley Cup. And with Reinsdorf comes winning. He has 6 championships with the Bulls and a World Series with the White Sox. 7 Championships and not too mention they have Wayne Gretzky as their coach. I am pretty sure he knows a thing or two about winning. Together that is a lethal team and Coyote fans should expect results.

Personally, I don’t really care about the Coyotes. In fact it might be cool if the Coyotes moved back to Winnipeg or somewhere different like...Aurora (home to Wayne and Garth big time hockey fans). I am covering this story because Reinsdorf is Jewish. To me, as long as the Coyotes don’t divert Reinsdorf’s concentration on getting some talent to surround Derrick Rose and making sure Gordon Beckham is comfortable for the next 10 years he can buy whatever he wants. Except of course any piece of the Green Bay Packers.

And Let Us Say…Amen
-Jeremy Fine

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Hidden Hall of Famer – Joe Gordon

Overshadowed by the Hall of Fame induction of the greatest lead off hitter of all time, Rickey Henderson, and long time deserving power hitter, Jim Rice, was the induction of former Yankees second baseman Joe “Flash” Gordon. Yes, there is another stupid Yankee in the Hall (I am sure Jeff Abraham is happy).

Gordon, who never made it into Hall of Fame through the regular voting, finally got in through the veteran’s committee. He was a 9 time All Star and an American League MVP. He was none as acrobatic and a great fielder. On this years Veteran’s ballot, which is voted on by Hall of Fame members, were 10 greats who never made the Hall via the normal voting. The ballot contained Ron Santo (arguably the only Cub I have respect for), former White Sox great Dick Allen, and base stealing god Maury Wills (super nice guy I met him). Unfortunately, Gordon passed away in 1978 and did not see his name enshrined in Cooperstown.

But for TGR readers, a bigger question than his Hall of Fame status remains. Was Joe “Flash” Gordon a Jew? I have been researching this for quite a while and all I can say is maybe. Both the Baseball Almanac and Wikipedia (“Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information.” –Michael Scott) which contain lists of Jewish baseball players exclude Gordon from their lists. But both of these lists are flawed and are missing several Jewish ballplayers. Other websites and blogs say that Gordon was in fact Jewish. Many state that he did not admit it until late in his life. He was quiet about being Jewish because of anti-Semitism.

I think today it is amazing how we celebrate our Jewish athletes. Starting with Koufax and Greenberg and now with Youkilis and Kinsler, we no longer have to hide our heritage. Whether we believe these Jews should play on Yom Kippur or not, whether their mothers are Jewish or not, it is important to support their achievements. So one-day future Hall of Famers can wear their team’s hat and kippah proud.

Congrats to Joe “Flash” Gordon.

And Let Us Say…Amen
-Jeremy Fine

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Israeli Mitch Richmond


One of my best buddies in the whole world, former International President of USY, Josh Taff recently sent me an email that I would like to discuss. It is about his father Rabbi Bob, Abba, Taff. Rabbi Taff is a huge Sacramento Kings fans. Yes, I know he may be the only one, but still I respect him for standing by a team whose greatest player of all time is Mitch Richmond.

So when the Kings drafted Israeli player, Omri Casspi I knew that Joshie’s dad would be doing something. And he did. Rabbi Taff led many of his congregants to Israel and arranged a visit to Casspi’s home. It was arranged through mutual Israeli friends right before Casspi was leaving for the Kings summer league.

Casspi is arguably he most highly anticipated Israeli to come to the NBA. His summer league stats were decent. He recently posted 10 points, had 4 boards, 2 steals, and two assists against the NBDL Summer League Select team. While Casspi’s numbers haven’t been overly impressive, the crowd has loved his hustle. He has even gotten standing Os from Kings co-owners the Maloof brothers.

For the last few years Casspi has been playing for the best team in Israel Maccabi Tel Aviv. There he has been playing with former NBA players and competed against the best European talent. Now he looks to take that Israeli hustle to the highest level in the NBA.

Obviously, Josh and Rabbi Taff will be closely following Casspi’s progress. But I believe it is all of our duties to become Kings fans. To support Casspi and what he is doing. We should follow his stats, buy his jersey, and talk up the young man who is a promising young star. Casspi is a role model for Israeli and Jewish boys and girls. And more importantly he is a message to the world that Israelis are thriving. They are living normal lives and doing normal things. And some of them can dunk right over you.

TGR will be following his progress throughout the season.

We would also like some ideas for a nickname for the Israeli born baller. Please make suggestions in the comment area below.

And Let Us Say…Amen
-Jeremy

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hump the Schwab

Today, I felt like paying my respects to arguably the greatest sports game show ever Stump the Schwab. The game that aired on ESPN was hosted by the Stuart Scott and starred Howard Schwab, a large cuddly Jewish guy with a goatee who knew everything about sports. The show ran from 2004-2006. Contestants would first compete in various trivia questions in which Schwab would merrily participate to show off his knowledge. Whichever contestant had the most right answers through two rounds would face off with Schwab at the very end.

Very few were able to actually Stump the Schwab. If they did it came down to the wire and Schwab would get a nearly impossible question about a sport that is slightly annoying, like figure skating, and he would barely lose anyway.

But all Jewish sports fans loved this game. They felt pride in the fat Jewish guy dominating every sports category. My personal favorite episode starred college students, one from Yeshiva University. It was amazing seeing the little modern Orthodox boy go head to head with the sports trivia God.

Schwab’s sports knowledge career started with College and Pro Football Weekly and then blossomed into a job with ESPN as a researcher. Then his ability to know everything about every sport got him his own show.

I think I can say that from 2004-2006 it was a young man’s dream to go one on one with the Schwab. It’s like how everyone deep down inside wants to be on Jeopardy…but imagine it was Jeopardy with categories you really cared about. Topics like “Players on the 2005 White Sox”, “Traded Cubs players in the Hall of Fame”, and “Chicago Bears quarterbacks since Jim Harbaugh (please dear God allow for Cutler to be the answer)”.

Occasionally, you can catch Stump the Schwab on ESPN Classic and when you do you know you feel like I do…it is your lucky day. Thank you Schwab for making all Jews feel like we can own the sports world (at least in knowledge).

Below is a link to an episode if for some reason you have never seen the greatest sports show ever.



And Let Us Say...Amen
-Jeremy Fine

Friday, July 24, 2009

No Posting on Shabbat

There will be no posting on Shabbat. But the results of the first fan poll is in:

The best Current Jewish Athlete is:

Ryan Braun - 9 votes
Jason Lezak - 6 votes
Jeremy Bloom - 2 votes
Jordan Farmar - 1 vote

15/17 votes were about players we did a story on.

Congrats to Ryan Braun and thank you to all of you who voted.
Check out this weeks poll and click those ads.

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

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mark Buerhle and Jewish No Hitters

In the middle of writing my next article something happened that overshadowed the White Sox sending down future Jewish stud pitcher Aaron Poreda. Mark Buerhle threw a perfect game. The game of perfection was the second no-hitter of his career. How could I not mention arguably one of the greatest sports performances I have witnessed (especially coming from my favorite White Sox pitcher of All Time)?

So it got me thinking about how many Jewish pitchers have thrown no hitters (basically I wanted to write about Buerhle but him not being Jewish I needed to find a connection to this blog). There have been, according to my count, 6 no-hitters thrown by Jews (Thanks to Noah Liben for later correcting me that there are two other Bo Belinsky - who converted out and Joe Horlen - who converted). But in regards to the ones people care about, there have been 4 no-hitters thrown by none other than the great Sandy Koufax. Ken Holtzman threw the other two no-hitters. The only thing that made me feel better about mentioning that two of the no-hitters were thrown by a Cub was that Koufax threw a perfect game against the North Siders.

Surprisingly enough Holtzman has more wins than Koufax with 174 to 165, which is the most by any Jewish pitcher. But to compare them isn’t really fair. Sure they were both lefties and had sick curveballs. And they were clearly two of the three greatest Jewish pitchers (Steve Stone aka Stone Pony being the other). Koufax is regarded as arguably the greatest pitcher ever. Besides the 4 no-hitters he had 3 Cy Youngs, 2 World Series MVPs, and 1 MVP. His career ERA is 2.76 (wow) and he was 165-87 with 2396 strikeouts. In 1963, 64, and 66 his ERA was under 2.00 (insane). Did I mention in the postseason, when it counts the most, the Dodgers made it four times and never had an ERA over 1.50 (that is just unfair to hitters).

Holtzman was great too. He won three World Series with the Oakland Athletics. He also won 18 games or more from 1972-75. And while Koufax might have been known as the better pitcher the two Jewish legends faced each other once with Holtzman got the win in which he called his “greatest thrill in the game.”

For now forget about the two great Jewish lefties to throw no-hitters. Today everyone, Jews and non-Jews alike, should raise their glasses to Mark Buerhle and for that matter Dewayne Wise (video of the catch of the year below).




And Let Us Say…Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

And the ESPY Goes to…Jason Lezak


The ESPY awards are like the Academy Awards for sports. Athletes from all sports wear their Sunday’s best and wait to hear their name being called in categories such as Best Male/Female Athlete, Best Team, and Best Comeback. This year Olympians, especially the U.S.A. swim teams, dominated many of those categories. One of those winners was Jason Lezak. Lezak won the award for Best Moment for the 4X100 medley relay.

But Lezak was not there to receive the award. Where was he you ask? Lezak was representing the U.S. at the World Maccabi games.

Lezak not only missed the ESPYs, he also missed the World Championships to race in the Maccabi games. This is a huge concept. A Jewish boy told the world that he NEEDS to be in Israel for the Maccabi games and one of the top competitions in his sport can wait. While swimming doesn’t carry with it the popularity that baseball does, this is comparable to Sandy Koufax missing a game for Yom Kippur. Here me out. Sure, it is not as big of a religious statement, but in a time where the majority of American Jews recognize their Judaism as cultural and when Birthright and other trips to Israel have boomed in the last 10 years, Lezak became the poster boy. He said to the Jewish world, you can be a proud dedicated Jew and an Olympian (or atop any profession you shall choose).

It has been quite a week for the Lezak. Besides the ESPYs and competing in the Maccabi games, he was named to the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and lit the torch at the opening ceremonies.

I am sure Lezak’s presence in Israel has given Israeli boys and girls better exposure to the sport. It has mad swimming cool and excited. Next year, I expect to see Jerusalem pools full with young Israelis receiving instructional swim lessons. This is truly a monumental and memorable Jewish sports moment.

I think the ESPYs should have given Lezak another award, an award for the Athlete who has shown the most Jewish pride.

For more information on Jason Lezak check out his website below:

www.jasonlezak.com

Also, below is the press conference from when he announced he would be participating in the Maccabi games.

And Let Us Say…Amen.
-Jeremy Fine
Photo by: BASWIM

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Interview: Jewish All American Jonathan Abramson


Every year the Jewish Sports Review names a Baseball Jewish All American team. This year University of San Francisco’s relief pitcher Jonathan Abramson was named to the team. USF happens to be the Alma Mater of Chicago White Sox Jewish pitcher Aaron Poreda.

The future looks bright for this pitcher. Originally from Brentwood California, he is now spending his summer pitching for the Alexandria Aces in Cal Ripken Sr. League this summer. Number 18 has baseball in his blood. His grandfather, Robert, played ball at Georgia.

Via Facebook, Abramson was nice enough to answer some questions for The Great Rabbino. Below is the interview

INTERVIEW:
TGR: Hello Jonathan how is it going? Congratulations on being named to the Jewish All American Team. When did you start playing baseball?

Jonathan: I've been playing baseball since... T-ball so I guess five or six years old. I didn't start pitching until I was 9.

TGR: Do you have aspirations of playing in the big leagues? If so, any team you would like to play for?

Jonathan: Playing in the big leagues is obviously the dream, if I were ever lucky enough to have that opportunity I'd be stoked playing just about anywhere but my favorite team has always been the San Francisco Giants.

TGR: How did you find out about being named to the Jewish Sports Review All American team? Was it meaningful? Have you received any other awards?

Jonathan: I actually found out through a friend who had seen an article about it on another team's website. I really wasn't notified and might not have known if he hadn't seen this article. Any time someone names you to an award list I think it is meaningful, and I'm proud of being recognized on this list.

TGR: You told me that only you father is Jewish. Did you practice Judaism at all inside the home? Have you ever been to Israel?

Jonathan: My Dad is Jewish, and his parents were practicing, but our family has never really been religious, more secular. We celebrate Hanukah as well as Christmas every year. I am able to recite the Hanukah blessing but that is about the extent of my knowledge of Hebrew. I have never been to Israel but I have several friends who have been and my catcher in high school played on a Jewish summer team there, he loved it.

TGR: Alright, thank you for taking time to be interviewed by The Great Rabbino. Good luck and go Bulls!

Jonathan: Lastly- they made a mistake on the list, I go to the University of San Francisco (USF), not South Florida so... Go Dons!

Once again thank you to Abramson for helping us out. Good luck in the future. Hope to see you in the bigs some day. If you want to learn more information about Abramson click on the link below.

http://www.usfdons.com/sports/m-basebl/mtt/abramson_jonathan00.html

And Let Us Say…Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rubio and the Rabbi’s Brother

When you think about the Minnesota Timberwolves you think…Kevin Garnett? Terrell Brandon?Isaiah Rider? Mediocrity? The Twolves have been pathetic throughout their existence.

Exit Kevin McHale. Enter new general manager/team president David Kahn.

Kahn has “nearly 15 years of front office experience in both the NBA and the NBA Development League, and 24 years of experience in positions directly related to professional basketball, Kahn will assume responsibility for all decisions made within the Timberwolves basketball operations department.” - www.insidehoops.com

Kahn is Jewish. In fact his brother is a friend of mine Rabbi Rob Kahn formerly a pulpit Rabbi in Minnesota and has since made Aliyah (my fiancé and I will be having dinner with them when we are in Israel).

Questions remain, how can Kahn (the GM) take the Twolves out of Garnett’s shadow. Garnett owns pretty much every Twolves record. Well for starters they have a solid young frontcourt. Kevin Love and Al Jefferson both have a nice touch inside and can bang the boards. They released three mediocre players for one in former Whitney Young star Quentin Richardson (props to my fiancĂ©’s High School). This year they added through the draft Johnny Flynn and Wayne Ellington. Both have tremendous upsides and athletic ability.

But the biggest task for Kahn will be getting his number one draft pick, Spanish sensation, Ricky Rubio to come to freezing cold Minnesota and play for a team that has simply put, just stunk.

Besides the cold, small market, and bad team the Twolves and Kahn face another huge obstacle to getting Rubio. The Twolves would need to buyout Rubio’s European contact. Can this actually happen? Well Kahn believes so.

“So team president David Kahn will head across the Atlantic next week to meet with the team personally in hopes of lowering the $6.6 million price tag that has threatened to keep the wunderkind point guard in Europe for at least next season. Kahn confirmed his plans to travel to Spain in a text message to The Associated Press on Thursday.” - Jon Krawczynski of sports.yahoo.com

Hopefully, Kahn’s trip is successful. Rubio is a great talent. He is young, quick, and most importantly he gives the Twolves the firepower and star that they need. But if not, maybe Kahn should stop in Israel to scout at the Maccabi games, because they need all the help they can get.

And Let Us Say…Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Monday, July 20, 2009

Jason Marquis Leads the League

Not Roy Halladay. Not Johan Santana. Not Zack Grienke. Not C.C. Sabathia. Rather Jason Marquis leads the major leagues in wins with 12. We are a little over half way through the Major League Baseball season and Marquis is on top of the baseball pitching hierarchy. And Marquis, who is putting together his finest season, is doing this for the Colorado Rockies in Coor’s Field the friendliest hitters park maybe in the history of the game. (Thank God it is not for his former team who we try not to mention in this blog).

Marquis is a Jew through and through. No questions to his status. Marquis had a Bar Mitzvah, baseball themed go figure. He grew up as a Conservative Jew (I’m Kvelling). He even went to Hebrew school and observed major Jewish Holidays (says wikipedia).

So can Marquis keep up this pace? Can he lead the league in wins and be in contention for the Cy Young Award? Probably not. Like I said before Coor’s is a tough place to pitch in. He also has never won more than 15 games. Plus he would have to beat out guys like Tim Lincecum, Johan Santana, and Dan Haren.

But if Marquis was able to continue his winning ways he would join Steve Stone who lead the league in wins in 1980 with 25 and Sandy Koufax who did it 3 times 1963,’65, and ’66 as the only Jews to lead a league in wins. Pretty good company.

B’Hatzlacha (Good luck) to Mr. Marquis. Keep up your winning ways and make us Jews proud.

And Let Us Say…Amen
-Jeremy Fine
Photo by: Jon Spielberger

Ryan Braun's Mother

The one sport that Jews love most is baseball. They love the tradition, the history, and the fact that their own can play. Most Jewish boys are given their father’s favorite team’s hat right out of the womb. In my case my father had two rules growing up: marry Jewish and your wife should be a White Sox fan. Check and check. Maybe we love baseball because Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg allowed Jewish boys and girls, men and women, to feel like baseball was their sport.

In 2001 when Shawn Green skipped his team’s game on Yom Kippur it brought back nostalgic memories and stories of Sandy Koufax. And today we linger for another great Jewish ball player, whose Judaism means as much as his batting average.

Many of us see that quality in Milwaukee Brewer Ryan Braun. Jews all over the country refer to him as “The Hebrew Hammer”, a title given to him after the movie starring Adam Goldberg and Andy Dick (sweet casting). And once again our pride has been restored. Sure there are other players and even All Stars like Kevin Youkilis, Ian Kinsler, and Brad Ausmus, but Braun is the best. He is the chosen one.

I too have felt pride for Braun, but recently my Rabbi told me that, Braun is in fact not a Halachic Jew (Jewish law which states the mother needs to a Jewish). So I decided to do some research.

“Braun's father is Jewish and his mother is not Jewish. Although raised in no faith, he is clearly proud of his Jewish background as you can see in this recent interview with the The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle.

My statement that Braun was raised in "no faith" was based on information I received from the editors of the Jewish Sports Review, the most reliable and authoritative source on the Jewish heritage of athletes. They had received this information from Braun's college coach, who had got it from Braun, himself.” – Nate Bloom of www.interfaithfamily.com

The article continued:

“Then, on Aug. 28, USA Today Sports Weekly had a profile of Ryan Braun. About his Jewish background, the profile says:

Diane [his mother] has a much stronger connection to the major leagues than to her job. She grew up in the home where Detroit Tigers slugger Hank Greenberg once lived.

…Joe Braun was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and came to the U.S.A. at age 7. Diane was raised Catholic … Ryan was not raised Jewish and never had a bar mitzvah, but suddenly he's hearing from Jewish organizations claiming him as their own.

"He's totally not Jewish," Diane says, "I heard some organization started called him, "The Hebrew Hammer." I said, 'Oh no.' My mother would be rolling over in her grave if she heard that."

"Ryan [Diane says] is proud that people want to claim him now, but where were they before? You know how that stuff works."

So I guess it seems clear that Braun’s father is a Jew and his mother isn’t. Clearly they were not a family that practiced or preached Judaism in the home. So, can we can we believe in Braun?

With the attention Braun is getting it seems that Judaism is finally on his mind. With the chants of “Hebrew Hammer” and the recognition he is getting I am sure he thinks about his Jewish heritage.

The debate is settled; Braun is a Jew to some and a non-Jew to others. But whatever he is and whatever religion he practices or believes in, he is one hell of a baseball player.

And Let Us Say…Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tom Watson I Salute You

At the age of 59 I hope to be semi-retired, expecting grandkids, and am traveling the country watching my son play professional baseball (or basketball). But not Tom Watson. This weekend Tom Watson stormed into the British Open and almost accomplished arguably the greatest sports feat for anyone his age. Going into Sunday he was still atop the leader board and didn't seem to be mind the attention he was getting. He looked happy, determined, and genuinely living in the moment. It didn’t hurt that he didn’t have Tiger breathing down his neck.

Unfortunately, Watson came up short in his quest to become the oldest person to win a major (by over 10 years). In 1968 Julius Boros won the PGA Championship, he was only 48 years old. Watson lost to Stewart Clink in a four whole playoff.

So why am I writing about a golfer who isn’t Jewish. Well because Watson has stood up for Jews in the past and for that I need to show the old man some love. Recently at Shabbat dinner a good friend Howard Labow broke a story to me about Watson. Now Howie tells or emails me stories every day it seems, but this time it sounded to good to be true. Apparently, Watson is married to a Jewish woman (intermarriage is not something I want to discuss here) and is raising his children Jewish. The rest of the story is below:

“In the 1990s, however, Watson wasn't troubled only by a shaky putter. He found himself at the center of several controversies, most notably the headline-grabbing brouhaha that surrounded his 1990 resignation from the Kansas City Country Club. Angering his father, Ray, and many of his boyhood golfing pals, Watson felt it was "archaic" for his ancestral club to deny membership to one of his Jewish friends, H&R Block founder Henry Bloch. Married to a Jewish woman, Watson had a personal stake in the matter. But the resignation, which caused a long rift with his father even while prompting a preponderance of support mail, also cut to the core of Watson's belief system, his absolutist view of right and wrong.” – Edward Kiersh of www.cigaraficionado.com.

It seems that not only is Tom Watson a big time golfer, a supportive husband, but he is one hell of a good guy.

So today I salute Tom Watson for his effort on the golf course. I salute him for his strength to stand up for the right thing. I salute him for his courage to defend the Jewish people and stick it to the bad guys.

Tom Watson…my new favorite golfer.

And Let us say…Amen.
- Jeremy Fine

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lebron's New Buddy

A King needs a court. And while some people believe that the acquisition of Shaq-Fu-Daddy-Diesel was the best move for Lebron and company, a bigger deal went under the radar. On July 13th 2009 the Cleveland Cavaliers signed Anthony Parker. For those of you who don’t know Mr. Parker let me introduce you to him.

Originally from Naperville Illinois (big props) he went on to play his collegiate ball at Bradley University. He played briefly in the NBA before gaining fame and respect in Israel playing for Maccabi Tel-Aviv (that is the connection to The Great Rabbino). There he won two Euro-league titles and became a two time Euro-league player of the year. Simply put Anthony Parker put Israeli basketball on the map. Since Parker Israel has had an influx of past NBA players and college greats including Dee Brown, Carlos Arroyo, Will Bynum, and Maceo Baston (yes a Michigan plug in this blog). Many players go to Israel to play with hope that their future looks as bright as Parker’s. Not only was Parker great for Israel but also he continues to promote and speak openly about his great experience in the Holy Land.

Over the last three seasons he has played for the Toronto Raptors. Therefore he has gone unappreciated. But people who follow Israeli basketball would know that he has been a solid player. And fantasy owners know that he has been a great addition to any team in need of any category.

So what makes him so special as Lebron’s supporting cast.

1) Has averaged 11.9 ppg over his three seasons in Toronto. This gives Lebron someone to actually pass to who can take it to the rack.

2) His 3pt% is .423, which means he can stroke the J.

3) He is a lanky slasher and can defend, something the Cavs know very little about.

4) Most importantly he is a winner. He comes from a team that has made the playoffs twice during his three years. But most importantly his experience in Israel made him battle tested.

So keep an eye on #18 (for Chai) because he is going to be a good compliment for King James. He provides offense, defense, and most importantly wins.

So Shaq might be Superman but Parker is the kind of Robin that Lebron needs.

And Let Us Say…Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

The I is for Illini…or Israel?

For a sports fan I can’t think of anything worse than having a player snub your team. A true sports fan hates that player forever (or until he finally lands in your team’s jersey). For example, as of 2009 I now hate Jake Peavy who invoked his no trade clause, forcing my beloved White Sox to continue their pursuit of another starting pitcher. Although I have felt some justice from God as, shortly after declining to come to the South Side, landed on the DL possibly for the entire season.

Two of my sports nemeses are Tennessee Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl and Duke Basketball Guard Jon Scheyer. Now you may be asking how could you, a future rabbi, hate two Jewish men who are have agreed to take part of the 18th Annual Maccabi Games in Israel.

Here is how.

“Lest we forget the true facts: Circa summer of 1989, Iowa Assistant Coach Bruce Pearl lost a fierce recruiting war to Illinois for Deon Thomas. Thereafter, a vindictive Mr. Pearl relentlessly called the high school student at all hours day and night—surreptitiously recording the conversations—trying to get Thomas to admit that Illinois Assistant Coach Jimmy Collins offered him cash and a car.” – Dan O’Brien of www.Illinoisloyalty.com

Pearl attacked my Illini and Scheyer neglected them. Northbrook’s own chose to be an okay player for Coach K rather than be a stud for Coach Weber.

“Scheyer, his father, Jim, and a family friend were fortunate to visit the Final Four last weekend. Scheyer wore an Illinois shirt and sat among Illini fans.” - Jeff Mezydlo of www.illinihq.com

Even after their Final Four appearance and a chance to play for his state school, Scheyer ended up out East.

But Pearl had this to say, “This has been a fascinating experience for me and I'll tell you this much: this will not be my first and last trip to Israel. Being Jewish and being connected to Israel is part of who I am.” – Steve K. Walz of www.jewishpressads.com

But now I am faced with the decision. Do I forgive Pearl and Scheyer for their horrible crimes committed against the Illini because they are playing ball in Israel? Do I ignore Pearl wearing the wrong Orange and Scheyer in the wrong Blue and wish them the best (B’Hatzlecha) as they try to represent the US at the Maccabi games?

I will tell you this. I am rooting for them to play well and have an amazing experience in the Holy Land. I am less upset with them for their misdeeds and I will give them a second chance…at least from July 12th-23rd (the dates of the Maccabi Games).

And Let Us Say…Amen.
-Jeremy Fine