Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We Love Him/We Hate Him

We have stated before on this blog that we have a Love/Hate situation with Bruce Pearl. We love what he has done at Tennessee. We love the fact that such a high profile coach took time out of his summer routine to coach the USA team at the Maccabi games. But we hate him for how he treated the Illini back in the Deon Thomas days. 

And now Bruce Pearl is back in the news surrounded by a controversy over his comments about the KKK. Not sure we hate him for this, but it made national news so we had to cover the story.

Pearl said: "I've got a tough job, I've got to put these guys from different worlds together, right? I've got guys from Chicago, Detroit. I'm talking about the 'hood! And I've got guys from Grainger County, where they wear the hood!". At first people laughed and then Pearl started getting heat for his KKK referrence. - www.sportsline.com

Pearl went on record and apologized for his comments. "I made the statement in jest to describe the diverse group our staff recruits year-in and year-out," Pearl said in a statement released Friday to the Associated Press. "Unfortunately while I was trying to excite the crowd and encourage employees to give, I made an inappropriate joke." He said he "certainly did not intend to offend anyone and I apologize to everyone, especially the people of Grainger County," - www.sportsline.com

Grainger County was a reference to Tennessee player Skylar McBee. McBee's father was understanding that Pearl slipped up and accepted his apology.

We here at TGR simply wanted to bring you this story. No comment from us regarding this issue.

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

Monday, September 28, 2009

Julian Edelman Update

So after much research I have found out the truth behind Julian Edelman's Jewish background. His former college roommate and Kent State starting Defensive Tackle has confirmed for me that Edelman's father IS Jewish but mother IS NOT. Edelman considers himself Jewish, which is good enough for TGR. Frist himself is Jewish and also one heck of a football player.
 -Jeremy Fine

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Taking Off Like Sandy...

Hope everyone out there has an easy fast and meaningful Yom Kippur.

-Jeremy Fine

Saturday, September 26, 2009

30/30 Under 30

This week Ian Kinsler did something only 33 other players in the history of Major League Baseball have ever done. That might sound like a lot, but if you remove the steroid era players Kinsler joins the company of guys like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Bobby Bonds. In fact before the late ‘80s only 6 players had accomplished 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season.

Kinsler becomes the second Jewish player to join the 30/30 club. The first was Shawn Green in 1998 for the Toronto Blue Jays. That year Green hit 35 home runs and swiped 35 bases. But the difference between Kinsler and Green is that Kinsler has the potential to do this year in and year out. He is not an overpowering guy. He just has a beautiful swing that allows him to keep his head on the ball and drive it out. Now we know Green also had the power to jack one, but Green never had the wheels that Kinsler has. Kinsler is probably the fast and most threatening Jewish base stealers ever.

Two players joined the 30/30 club in 2008, Grady Sizemore and Hanley Ramirez. This year only Ramirez has the chance repeat those numbers. Sizemore most definitely will not (as most Sizemore fantasy owners know he is not having his best season). Matt Kemp is also threatening to join the 30/30 club and stands 4 homers shy of the mark as of today.

This is truly a great accomplishment for any player, Jewish or not, and our hats off to Ian Kinsler. This young second basement has joined the elite major leaguers. He is a fantasy owners dream having both speed and power. I see no reason why Kinsler can’t be a 30/30 guy for many seasons to come.

Although TGR’s polls showed that Kevin Youkilis was this year's best baseball player (winning the Hank Greenberg Award - MVP of TGR) I want to publicly write that I voted for Kinsler myself. While Braun and Youkilis have had tremendous years and their teams have been successful, the Rangers came out of nowhere. They have surprised everyone as a threat to win the wild card. And with their golden boy Josh Hamilton not putting up his 2008 numbers, much of the dirty work has been because of Kinsler. So wild card contention, team leader, and the 30/30 club made Kinsler my pick.

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

Friday, September 25, 2009

We Found Our Guy

For a while I thought this blog would obsesses over Omri Casspi (we still might). He got drafted a little before we started this blog. But then I got an email from a good friend and fellow Ramahnik, David Rosenberg about USC Trojan Taylor Mays. Mays is the best safety in the nation and arguably the best defensive player in the country. And we here at TGR are no officially obsessed with Taylor Mays. Obsessed.

Mays has started since his freshman year for coach Pete Carroll. He was a two time All American and in his junior season he was a Jim Thorpe Award Finalists (award for the best defensive back in the country). Not to mention he was doing this on the USC Trojans, arguably the best program in the last three years. In his first three seasons he has played in three Rose Bowls and won all three (one against my Illini). Not too shaby.

Some of you might be saying, this guy is Jewish? Oh yes he is. His father is former NFL defensive lineman Stafford Mays. He played for the Cardinals and the Vikings (where Pete Carroll was an assistant coach). His mother is Jewish. Mays even had a Bar Mitzvah. When asked about it he said, "I don't think at the time I really understood what it meant. Now, looking back on it, I feel like I have come a long way in regards to maturity and becoming an adult. I think it helped me do that."- www.usctrojans.com.

Football is starved for a really good Jewish player. Igor Olshansky starts and David Binn made the pro bowl, but neither of these guys are dominant. Now insert Mays. He is flashy, even wears the #2 in honor of Primetime Deon Sanders. And he is a good, really good. I am kvelling. Sports Illustrated did an early mock draft and Mays went fifth to the 49ers drawing comparisons to the great Ronnie Lott. So, why wouldn't TGR be obsessed with our first Jewish stud in the NFL since...Sid Luckman?

So TGR has found its guy. We will be following Mays throughout the season, throughout the draft, and throughout his (what looks to be) a hard hitting NFL career.

And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine
Picture by: Bobak Ha'Eri

A BIG Shabbat Shalom

Well it has begun...our new site is up www.thegreatrabbino.com. Thanks for those who have visited so far. Our official Re-launch preimre is Oct. 6th. Hope you will visit the site (and tell your friends to as well). We will have an interview NBA Hall of Famer and 2 Time Olympian Nancy Lieberman!!

Coming Soon:
* We interviewed Professional Wreslter Colt Cabana and he was great. That should be up sometime after the relaunch.
* The Baseball Talmud's author Howard Megdal also was kind enough to tell us a little about his new book.
* We have been working diligently tracking down College baseketball and football players so that we can have our own All American Teams. Great results thus far. We will be having an interview with Drew Goldsmith of the Penn Football team.
* A Three piece story on MJ's connection to the Jewish world.
* Ian Kinsler is one home run away from the 30/30 club....when that happens we will bring you the story.

Whats New:
Check out our TShirts, Jewish resources section, and our list of current Jewish Athletes. 

Poll Results:
The poll is still going on. If you haven't already please vote.

Shabbat Shalom and have an easy fast on Sunday night/Monday.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

PNC Kosher Food Update

Just a note: PNC ballpark no longer serves Hebrew National Hot Dogs and there are no more Kosher Dogs in the stadium.

Cup of Tea for Harry Shuman

I have spent the last six days in Pittsburgh (and some in West Virginia). I was hired as a Rabbi to conduct services at Pitt/CMU Hillel. Yesterday my wife, sister-in-law, Dr. Adam Kessler, and I went to a Pirates game. Apparently PNC Park is the best of the new stadiums (I found it to be like a large minor league ballpark with an amazing view...Miller was better). And while the Pirates don't have any current Jewish ball players (they traded John Grabow to the Cubs mid-season) I decided to look around to see if the Pirates have ever had any Jewish ballplayers.

I found one (besides Hank Greenberg...figure I'll have enough to write about him through the next few years). A player by the name of Harry Shuman. Shuman played only three years in the bigs 1942-1944. He got in a total of 30 games where he pitched a total of 50.2 innings. His win-loss record was 0-0, never factoring in a decision. He played his first two seasons with the Pirates an ended his career with the Phillies.

Shuman was one of those players who got a chance to play during World War II. Many players got drafted by the Armt to defend our country and Shuman got his chance to play in the majors. He spent the later years of his life helping the Philadelphia Democratic Committee. Sadly, Shuman died in 1996.

While Shuman's playing days weren't so impressive you could say he loved his state. Besides helping them politically he played only for the Pirates and Phils. Kinda a cool fact.

Harry Shuman was a Jewish ballplayer and for that TGR is happy to inform you about him and his small imprint he left on the game of baseball.

And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine
Temporary Photo by: TheZackMorrisExperience

Monday, September 21, 2009

Jewish Sports

Jewish Sports

JPost Article -MLB Baseball: Next Year in... the World Series?

NEW YORK - It is a warm day out at Citi Field, the new home of the New York Mets, and game time is approaching.

As thousands of hopeful fans make their way through the turnstiles, staring in wonder at the pristine stadium's large and spacious rotunda, announcer Gary Cohen takes his seat up in the diminutive broadcast booth overlooking the playing field.

Like a proficient student of Talmud, he pores over various texts with devotion and intensity, scouring through data on today's match-up, as he prepares to televise what would prove to be yet another frustrating Mets defeat.

There have been a lot of those this season, as any Met fan can tell you. Starting in late June, a year full of promise quickly unraveled as a parade of injuries and miscues sent the Mets hurtling on a downward slide in the standings and straight out of contention in the National League East.

But little of this adversity seems to affect Cohen, whose deep voice and boundless enthusiasm for the game are two of the trademarks that have made him a fixture on the New York sports scene for the past 20 years.

"I never tire of baseball," he tells me in earnest. "Never. When the season is over, I'll watch every post-season game. Every inning," he says.

And, Cohen insists, he still gets a thrill each time he walks into the stadium, "even in bad years, like the Mets are having this season."

After stints calling minor-league games, Cohen joined the Mets lineup on the WFAN radio station in 1989, at the age of 31. It was a dream come true for the self-described "huge sports fan," who had started rooting for the Mets back in 1964, when he was just six years old.

Back in those days, of course, the Mets were the laughing-stock of the major leagues, which they had joined in 1962, setting a dubious modern record for most losses (120) in a season.

Their performances on the field were so atrocious that it once led manager Casey Stengel to mutter in disbelief, "Can't anybody around here play this game?"

Asked why he chose to embrace a team at the bottom of the standings, Cohen is quick to reply, "Well, my father was a Yankee fan and I was a rebel."

In reality, though, there was a deeper reason. The Mets, he says, "seemed like the team of a younger generation. Casey Stengel called them the 'youth of America' and I was nurtured as a Met fan. And when I was 11 years old they miraculously won the World Series in 1969 and I guess that hooked me for life."

His passion for the Mets, as well as his encyclopedic knowledge of their history, was very much on display during the 17 years that he spent broadcasting the franchise's games on radio.

Cohen enjoyed working on the airwaves, and fans took to him as well, so much so that when lead announcer Bob Murphy retired in 2003, the scepter naturally passed on to Cohen.

Just two years later, however, Cohen found himself facing an opportunity he simply could not turn down: making the move over to the tube.

The Mets were starting their own cable channel, SNY (Sportsnet New York), and in late 2005 Cohen was offered the chance to become not just the voice of the team, but its face as well.

"I was very much a committed radio person," he recalls. "I had resisted moving to TV many times but this was the chance to get on the ground floor of a new enterprise, albeit in a familiar setting. It seemed to be the right time to make the move and it has really worked out well," he says.

The jump from radio to television went seamlessly for Cohen, though he did have to make some adjustments, such as, "talking less, getting along with others and, of course, dressing better."

Beyond these differences, Cohen is highly cognizant of what separates the two media. In radio, he notes, "you are the event for the listener. You are their eyes and their ears for the game."

By contrast, in television, "you are just a small piece of a larger operation. People can see the game, and I've got a producer, a director, a cameraman, tape operator and sound people, as well as ex-ballplayers alongside me providing analysis."

The result is that as a television broadcaster, "you are more of a traffic cop and a gate keeper, but I think there is a certain challenge to it in that you have to make your mark with brevity as opposed to with the great eloquence one might employ on the radio."

Cohen's philosophy of broadcasting is surprisingly didactic, almost professorial in approach, which suits someone who graduated with a degree in political science from New York's Columbia University.

"We try to educate fans because I've always felt that the more people watching know about the intricacies of the game, the more they are going to enjoy it," he avers.

"I am very fortunate to work with two wonderful color analysts in Keith Hernandez - who was one of the best players ever to play for the Mets - and former pitcher Ron Darling, who is about as erudite about the art of pitching as anyone I have ever come across, and they are able to explain the intricacies of baseball in a way that I'm not capable of because I never played the game professionally," he says with characteristic modesty.

One of his other defining traits in the eyes of the public has been his unbridled honesty.

Cohen calls them as he sees them, and doesn't hesitate to criticize the team he has cheered on since childhood.

During a recent broadcast, for example, when a Mets pitcher was throwing the ball quite well late into the game, I heard Cohen quip that, "there haven't been too many eighth innings for Mets starters this year," an unmistakable reference to the inadequate performance of the club's pitching staff.

Later in the same game, when a Mets batter went after a bad pitch, Cohen noted that, "We've seen him swing at more unhittable inside pitches."

"The way I see it is that it is our job as broadcasters to tell the truth," he insists. "I recognize that's not always possible because of the constraints that are put on some broadcasters, but we are very fortunate that the Mets and SNY have asked us to be honest and I think that provides a better service to the people watching."

This year especially, as the team's fortunes sagged, Mets fans were hungry for answers.

While Cohen stresses that injuries have played "an enormous role in the Mets downfall this year," he does not think that tells the whole story.

"Even when the Mets had their entire team, there was something a little bit off. They made some unaccustomed mistakes in big spots, whether it was not sliding when they should have or missing a base or failing to cover a base," he says, adding, "and since they lost their front-line players, it kind of exposed the underbelly of the team and the fact that they really didn't have the second-line players they needed to fill those holes."

As Cohen sees it, "this organization has a lot of work to do when this season is over to try and figure out how to rebuild their program for the future."

Cohen is obviously proud of his Jewish identity and makes no attempt to hide it. During a broadcast last year, he discussed his Jewishness on-air with fellow announcer Keith Hernandez, fondly recalling some of the Yiddish that he learned in his youth.

But he is also a very private person and prefers not to delve into his personal life too deeply, beyond saying that he has never visited Israel and that he has not experienced anti-Semitism either on or off the field.

Although no Jews play on the team, Cohen agrees that American Jews have always seemed to have a strong attraction to baseball, which he attributes to the game's distinctive qualities.

"I think that unique among American sports this is very much a thinking man's game," he declares.

"It is a game that you can watch as a casual fan and enjoy, but I think that baseball also works on many different levels and there is a certain cerebral nature to it which appeals to people of some intellectual curiosity, and I think that's probably the connection that you are looking for," he said.

Asked if he saw any similarities between the long-suffering Mets and the Jewish people, Cohen thought for a moment and said, "Mets history has certainly been one of profound failure punctuated by grand achievement."

Then, in a nod to the traditional line, he said with a wry smile, "And Mets fans too have often found themselves hoping, 'Next year in the World Series'."

- Written by: Michael Freund Permission was given by Michael Freund to post this article on www.thegreatrabbino.com

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shana Tova/Happy New Year

Just as soon as we crossed 2,000 viewers we began approaching 3,000. Biggest amount of viewers in a single week.

I will not be posting for a while due to the holidays. But there is still a lot going on with TGR. We are in the beginning stages of launching our new website. We have officially bought the rights to thegreatrabbino.com and you can email us at info@thegreatrabbino.com. We hope the site will have many new features including Tshirts for sale, new ads, email, etc.

Thanks to our first correspondent Lauren Abraham for our new promos.

Award Winners:
2009 TGR Sandy Koufax Award: Scott Feldman
2009 TGR Hank Greenberg Award: Kevin Youkilis

Thank you to everyone for voting.

Due to the success of the last polls and the end of the year (Jewish year) we have decided to give out two more awards. One for the greatest Jewish sports moment/accomplishment of 2009 and the other to the Jewish athlete/sportsman of the year 2009. Below are the candidates and you can vote, as usual, on the side polls.

TGR Jewish Athlete/Sportsman of the Year:

1) Kevin Youkilis -TGR Hank Greenberg Award winner. First baseman for wild card leading Boston Red Sox.
2) Omri Casspi - First Israeli drafted into the NBA in the first round.
3) Bruce Pearl - Won his 400th NCAA basketball game. USA men's basketball coach at the Maccabi games.
4) William Davidson - Owner of the 2008 WNBA Champions Detroit Shock. Passed away earlier this year.

TGR Moment/Accomplishment of the Year:

1) Jordan Farmar wins a NBA Championship
2) Jason Lezak chooses the Maccabi games over the World Championships
3) Omri Casspi gets drafted into the NBA
4) Joe Gordon gets inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (might not be Jewish)

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Heavenly Experience

My wife and I (that sounds weird to say) got a lot of amazing wedding present (including my sling box). Most people want dishes, towels, and fancy vaacum cleaners...but not me. I loved everything people got me, trust me I did, but I loved nothing more than the White Sox tickets I got to September 8th's game against the As. Yes, I was excited about the As. Sure the Sox lost horribly. Carlos Torres gave up 5 runs in the first 3 minutes, but our seats were insane. Literally I was going insane while sitting 2 rows behind home plater. Now fine I have sat 2 rows up before thanks to Howie Labow. But this time, David Hackman gave me the experience of a lifetime by allowing for us to sit in his company's scout seats.

Jess and I got to the game an hour early. There was unlimited everything. Obviously, food I couldn't eat but an unlimited amount of popcorn, sodapop, and peanuts. But forget about all that stuff. Forget about seeing Minnie Minoso, who I end up seeing at least once a year somewhere in the city. The buffet was across from the visitors lockerroom. I stood on the field before the game. There were unlimited drinks. I was a kid in a candystore. Throughout the game, I tried hard to find a Jewish connection so that I could post pictures of the experience. And then a miracle happened, the As put in Craig Breslow

I haven't written about Breslow yet, but I should have. He was nasty. He threw total gas and retired the White Sox batters easily. Yes, I gave the RP award to John Grabow, but looking back on it that might have made a mistake. Their numbers were very close. But there is no doubt that Breslow will appear on TGR again. The kid has great stuff.

Breslow was drafted by the Brewers in the 26th round in 2002. He is a lefty who went to Yale and is often regarded as one of the smartest players in the game. So far in his career he has been a journeyman going from the Brewers to the Red Sox, to the Indians, to the Twins, and now catching on with the As. Here are his numbers this season (as of this arrticle).

58.1 6 7 48 3.86 1.17

It was a pleasure seeing Breslow pitch. Also, anytime anyone has free scout seats I am your man.

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

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Interview: Josh Borenstein - The Authority on Jews in Baseball

Right around the time TGR started I saw an article about a Jewish baseball blog. I went an visited the site called jewsinbaseball.blogspot.com. It was awesome. So I reached out to its creator Josh Borenstein for an interview to find out about his blog and every Jewish baseball player present and future. I must say that Josh's interview was as great as his blog.

The Great Rabbino: Hello Josh, thanks for agreeing to doing an interview for us about your blog.

Josh: Thanks for having me.

TGR: So, tell our fans what your blog is all about.

Josh: It's pretty self-explanatory. The blog covers past and present JMLs (Jewish Major Leaguers). During the regular season, I relate what each player did in each game and occasionally stick in my own two cents. I'll offer up some analysis on trends that I've noticed or something to look out for in the near future.

TGR: How did you get your start? And why did you chose to follow Jewish ballplayers?

Josh: I started the blog after a friend made the suggestion. He knew I liked to write and that I had become somewhat of an authority on the subject. Jewish baseball players have a special place in my heart, as baseball has been a lifelong passion for me. We're in the midst of a golden age for JMLs.

TGR: So there is clearly a controversy over who is better Kinsler, Braun, and Youkilis. Since you follow them every day, who is the best Jewish ball player?

Josh: That's actually a tough question. They each have a lot to offer and have made strides in different areas of their game.

Youkilis is the most versatile of the three and is definitely the best two-way player. He's always been great at getting on base, but this year in particular he's been sensational. While Dustin Pedroia is the reigning AL MVP, you'd get little argument from Red Sox fans if you said Youk is their best player.

Braun has the most power of the three and is probably the best pure hitter. I foresee a lot of seasons where he hits .300 and above. Moving to the outfield from third base has also made his stock rise, as he wasn't much of a third baseman. He's also been more selective at the plate this year, which has made him more of a complete player.

Kinsler looks like he could be a perennial 20/20 player. The combination of power and speed he boasts is pretty rare. Traditionally, JMLs haven't been dangerous on the basepaths. Kinsler is an exception to that rule. So is Braun, to an extent. Kinsler has always had great range at second base, but in the past he's made too many errors. This year has been a different story. That said, durability has been a problem for him.

But to finally answer your question, I would say Youk is the best player right now. His value can be measured by both his offense and his defense. However, Kinsler and Braun will probably wind up with better career counting stats because Youk got a late start.

TGR: What kind of player do you think some of the young Jewish arms will be, specifically Aaron Poreda and Scott Feldman?

Josh: I like Poreda's ceiling, but he needs to work on his command and offspeed pitches. If he can get his breaking ball and changeup over with consistency, he'll give hitters nightmares. He was blessed with the ability to throw absolute gas. If he develops his secondary pitches to go along with that fastball of his, there's no telling what he'll be able to do. I wrote a post in July on the blog about why I thought him moving to the NL with the Padres will be beneficial to him.

Scott Feldman is an interesting pitcher. He's only 26 years old, and yet he's already reinvented himself. He got his start in the bullpen as a sidearm pitcher. And it was a good start. In the 50 2/3 combined innings he pitched in 2005 and 2006, his ERA was 3.38 and his WHIP was 1.243. But the two seasons that followed were mired in mediocrity. He remained in the pen in 2007. Last year, he was moved into the starting rotation and wasn't particularly sharp. In the offseason he worked on developing a cutter, changing his arm slot, and adding a few MPH onto his fastball - and it has certainly paid dividends. He's inducing more groundballs now and of late has been missing more bats. His recent performance against the Rays where he had 11 Ks in 7 innings showed that he isn't just a finesse pitcher; he can be dominant if he has it all going. Like Poreda, he has an ideal pitcher's frame. His mechanics are sound. Is he the next Sandy Koufax? No, but he might be the next Steve Stone.

TGR: Are there any Jewish minor league or college players people should watch out for?

Josh: Lots. James Rapoport (Cardinals), Brian Horwitz (Giants), and Jason Kipnis (Indians) are all promising Minor League outfielders. I especially like Kipnis. Sam Fuld is getting a chance to shine with the Cubs right now. Isaac Davis (Mets) looks like he could be a stud at first base. I still haven't given up on Josh Whitesell (Diamondbacks). Jonathan Fixler (Astros) has a lot of power for a catcher. Ryan Braun's brother, Steven, is a second baseman in the Brewers organization.

The Minors are teeming with pitchers, including the aforementioned Poreda. We've already seen a little of Ryan Sadowski (Giants), but there's a southpaw in that Giants organization who also looks pretty good. His name is Ari Ronick. The Phillies have two pitchers in Joshua Zeid and Michael Schwimer. The Indians have two pitchers in Jason Knapp and southpaw Eric Berger. The Mets have two pitchers in Jacob Goldberg and Jeffrey Kaplan. The Mariners have Brett Lorin. And last but not least, the Yankees have Jason Hirsh in their organization, who has been very good since coming over from Colorado. There are probably hordes more of good looking Minor Leaguers. It's hard to find these guys, as they don't get that much publicity.

I'm not as familiar with the college players, but I can tell you that my brother, Zach, is a very good player. He plays for Eastern Illinois and was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball. As a true freshman, his line was .394/.506/.547 in 137 ABs. He led all Division I freshmen in the nation in OBP and was ranked in the Top 25 overall in OBP. His average was in the Top 100 in the nation. Among freshmen, it was in the Top 10. I know this is shameless promotion on my part, but aside from the numbers he's put up, I've seen him play my whole life. And I firmly believe he's got what it takes.

TGR: Since baseball isn't year round, what do you do in the offseason?

Josh: In the offseason, the posts are more infrequent, but I tend to talk about players and achievements from the past, compelling human interest stories, leaders in various statistical categories, and transactions that have taken place. I'm also thinking about including some coverage of Minor Leaguers.

TGR: Josh thank you for spending some time with TGR. I know I will be following your blog as the playoffs draw closer. Good luck with everything.

Josh: Thank you. It was a pleasure. Ditto.

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

Friday, September 11, 2009

Shabbat Shalom

Great week at TGR. We have become backed up on stories. Next week I will post (God willing) an interview with Josh Borenstein about his blog and the Jewish baseball year. Its a super interesting article.

If you couldn't tell we have a new template for the site. I think it seems a little more professional and allows for the side attractions to be noticed more.

We are gearing up for our 2,000 visitor. Very exciting

I spent most of the week cleaning up the blog, specifically uncredited pictures, so that I can launch the blog to a larger audience.

TGR Future:
1) A huge interview with Nancy Lieberman will be posted when we have a our big re-launch date.
2) We are trying to get some papers and magazines to plug the site. If you know someone who would be willing to do an article on us, please let me know.
3) New feature stories.
4) We will be following Ian Kinsler's pursuit of the 30/30 club.
5) Logo and TShirts in the works.

Poll Results:
Still another week to vote for the Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg awards. Results will be posted next week. Right now Feldman and Youkilis are in the lead.

If people have sports photos, of Jewish players, professional stadiums, etc please forwarded them my way. I will credit you on the site if you want.

Lastly, I want to announce that TGR has its first correspondent in Lauren Abraham. Lauren is working on story about the Dallas Cowboys announcer who is Jewish. We have word that a new TGR promo is in the works.

Shabbat Shalom,
And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jewish Open Update

Sadly Andy Ram (Israeli Jew…very nice) and partner Max Mirnyi (not Jewish) lost in the semifinals.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jewish Open

I was sitting at breakfast with my family and in the background was Sportscenter. The top story was John Isner downing Andy Roddick in the US Open. Immediately I saw the name John Isner and thought, what a perfect TGR article. But unfortunately I have no sources that confirm whether or not Isner is actually Jewish. Then I realized I have not written a story that involved the world of tennis. I actually really like tennis. I will watch a tennis match before a soccer game any day. I will hit a tennis ball over attempting to run on a treadmill. So I decided to do some research on Jewish tennis players.

To my surprise there were a lot, far more than I could write a small story about. So I quickly went to see how the Jews faired in the US Open. Unfortunately, we have not done so well.

In Men’s singles play Wayne Odesnik was ousted in the first round in 3 straight sets, as was Nicholas Massu (no 100% confirmation on his Jewish status but it is believed that his mother is Jewish). Jesse Levine did slightly better winning his first match 7-5, 6-1, 6-2, only to lose in the second round. Harel Levy, another Jewish player, only made it through one qualifying round and did not make the official tournament.

On the woman’s side Shahar Pe’er (probably the most well known Jewish player) won the first two rounds, but lost in the third round to Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The Jews have much more representation in the doubles brackets. Sergio Roitman from Argentina (Jewish) and his partner Sebastain Prieto (not Jewish) lost their first round match in straight sets, as did Wayne Odesnik and Michael Shabaz (not Jewish). Jonathan Erlich from Israel (major shout-out to the Israel boy) and his partner Jeff Coetzee also lost in the first round but made it to a third set (I guess that is a little better). Jesse Levine and Ryan Sweeting (not Jewish) won their first round match eventually to lose in the second round.

There is one Jewish player still fighting for hardware at the US Open. Andy Ram (Israeli Jew…very nice) and partner Max Mirnyi (not Jewish) have won the first 4 rounds and have reached the semifinals. We will keep you posted on Ram’s progress.

So while I continue to dig around to find out the religion of John Isner there seems to be plenty of Jewish hope in the game of tennis. Maybe it is the golden era of Jewish baseball, but it’s the bright fuzzy yellow era of Jewish tennis.

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

TGR 2009 Baseball Awards

Baseball is not only America’s pastime but it is also Jewish America’s pastime. As the end of the season approaches TGR would like to give out some awards to the best Jewish baseball players of the 2009 season (Most positions were decided due to the lack of competition). The two only positions with competition were RP and Owner/GM. Up for the RP award were Aaron Poreda, John Garbow, Scott Schoenweis, Craig Breslow, and Ryan Sadowski. It was close between Grabow and Breslow, but Grabow edged out Breslow due to a much lower ERA and more innings pitched. Also, Theo Epstein beat out White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, the Rays owner Stuart Steinberg and GM Andrew Friedman, Indians GM Mark Shapiro, Orioles owner Jerry Hoffberger, and Nationals owner Ted Lerner. Below is your TGR All-Jewish Baseball Team for the 2009 season.

1B – Josh Whitesell
2B – Ian Kinsler
SS – None
3B – Kevin Youkilis
C – Brad Ausmus
OF – Ryan Braun
OF – Sam Fuld
OF – Gabe Kapler
SP – Jason Marquis
SP –Scott Feldman
RP – John Grabow
Owner/GM – Theo Epstein

But there are two categories that we want the fans to decide. Please vote for the TGR’s Hank Greenberg Award (TGR’s version of the MVP) and TGR’s Sandy Koufax Award (TGR’s version of the Cy Young). Please send your votes to thegreatrabbino@gmail.com or vote directly on our polls. Once the voting concludes on September 15th, the awards will be handed out. Below are the nominees:

Hank Greenberg Award – Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler
Sandy Koufax Award – Jason Marquis, Scott Feldman

Thanks for helping out and I can’t wait to announce the winners!

And Let Us Say…Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Farmar Wants a New Job

He has spent four years in the NBA. All four of those years were spent on the Los Angeles Lakers bench. But now the Lakers point guard wants to start. And I cannot say I blame him. The former UCLA Bruin will begin next season behind veteran PG and clutch performer extraordinaire Derek Fisher. So now, after watching and learning behind Kobe (the greatest player West of Cleveland), Farmar believes it is his time. This is the first of many articles I am sure TGR will run on the only Jewish veteran in the NBA.

Farmar makes TGR because he is in the news discussing his current situation. "I want to run a team and be the lead guard," Farmar said Tuesday on the sidelines of a basketball clinic in Singapore. "Hopefully, it can be here [with the Lakers]. "There's a lot of jobs out there. I feel I have a lot to offer." – www.cbsportsline.com

Farmar’s minutes dropped last season behind Fisher. With the addition of Ron Artest and all-world Bryant, both bigger guards/forwards who can handle the ball, Farmar’s playing time might continue to decrease.

For now Farmar understands his situation. He knows that the Lakers like him enough to hold onto him with such a star studded team. But he has been in touch with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak about his future. Jewish basketball fans stay tuned to the future of our Jordan.

Here is the full CBS Sportsline article: www.cbssports.com/nba/story/12141600

Below is a sweet Farmar mix tape. Enjoy.

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

Friday, September 4, 2009

Shabbat Shalom

Well the Honeymoon is over...both for me and TGR. What do I mean by that? Well, first my actually honeymoon is over. Second, TGR will be trying to do a few new things.

1) We have a new look.
2) We will start covering new Jewish stories that are not just about professional sports. For example: Jewish pickup games, JCC reviews, DVD reviews, book reviews, basically anything Jewish sports related we are going to try to tackle.
3) TGR is going to try to start advertising and getting our name out there. So if you have a website, mailing list, or are speaking to a mass amount of Jews let us know if you can help us spread the word. Big thanks to Josh Borenstein for plugging The Great Rabbino on his site. We interviewed Josh and it should be up soon.

In the future:
Today I have set up a huge interview with Nancy Lieberman of ESPN. She is a former 2 time Olympian and the greatest female Jewish basketball player ever. We are also in contact with David Meckler, a professional hockey player, and the author of The Baseball Talmud. Also, Lauren Abraham, a TGR correspondent is working on getting a live interview/promo from the voice of the Dallas Cowboys.

Poll Results:
Over the past 2 months TGR has ran into 4 athletes, which was the best:
Rowdy Roddy Piper
3 (75%)
Randy Brown
0 (0%)
Jannero Pargo
0 (0%)
Jermaine O'Neal
1 (25%)

Looks like people love Rowdy. We had lower poll results, but also the worst poll question yet.

For the next few weeks we will have 2 polls up that will help determine the TGR End of the Season Baseball Awards. Please vote in the first ever TGR 2009 All Jewish Baseball Awards.

Thank you to everyone for a great first two months. Mazel Tov to Efrem and Lauren on their wedding last night.

Shabbat Shalom,
And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Vick's Return

One of the biggest stories of the past three years has been the Michael Vick saga. Vick was once one of the biggest stars in the NFL and arguably the most talented player in the league. Then he was caught torturing dogs by forcing them to fight. Vick was sentenced to around 2 years in prison and the Atlanta Falcons and the NFL moved on. Then about a year ago questions arose about what would happen to Vick once he was out of prison and eligible to return? Who would take a chance on the poster child for unethical behavior? Well a man named Jeff Lurie did.

Jeff Lurie, the Jewish owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, signed Michael Vick and took scrutiny from everyone. But Lurie’s decision was done for two reasons. One it made his team better. The knock on the Eagles for the past 7 years or so (including their four consecutive NFC Championship appearances) was that they did not have enough firepower around quarterback Donovan McNabb. But through the last two drafts they have added DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, and Jeremy Maclin. They are all young speedy talents. This was to go along with Brian Westbrook, one of the best running backs in the game. Now add Vick’s athleticism and potential in the Wildcat offense, the Eagle’s offense looks dangerous.

Second, Lurie signed Vick for another reason, to give a man a second chance. He said, "The question became somewhat, for me, 'Could this man I don't know, Michael Vick, become an agent for change?' Could one be counterintuitive here on my part, take away the hatred for this kind of behavior, and say, 'Going forward, can this human being, Michael Vick, like some that deserve a second chance, could he become a positive force in our community, Philadelphia, nationally?' Could that be, or is this just a method to reinvigorate a career and not really have both the remorse and the commitment?" (quote from Rich Hofmann of www.philly.com).

Vick, hated by most everyone for his actions, served his time and hopefully learned his lesson. He started taking the right steps to becoming a better person. He hired a mentor in former Colts coach Tony Dungy. He has begun doing some charity work. And has spoken publicly about his actions and has apologized for them. And now he has his second chance from Lurie and the Eagles.

I think Lurie did the right thing. He helped his team and a human being. People who are apologetic and sincere deserve a second chance. We need to help those who need help. Sometimes this is against our better judgment but we should hope that those people stay clean and earn back the respect they once had. So I think Lurie did the right thing in signing Vick. But ultimately the NFL is a business and Lurie, Vick, and the Eagles’ success will be determined by wins and titles, as sad as that is.

And Let Us Say…Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Interview: Former Heavyweight Champion DDP

As I have stated before on this website I love wrestling. So much so that I tracked done former WCW Heavyweight Champion Diamond Dallas Page. He agreed to do an interview for The Great Rabbino. First Piper does the video and now DDP gives an interview (maybe I should start a wrestling blog). Anyway, here is the recap of my discussion with the former champ.

The Great Rabbino: Hello Diamond Dallas Page. Thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions. It is a pleasure having you on this blog.

DDP: Well just so you know my grandmother was Jewish (actually maybe my great grandmother). I only found that out recently but if I would have told the world know. It worked out really well for Goldberg.

TGR: So what have you been up to recently?

DDP: Well Jeremy, basically I have been promoting YRG (Yoga for Regular Guys). YRG is not just yoga, its yoga and strengthening your core all in one. And it is simple. If you can pick up a pencil, you can do YGR. It is a kickass workout and is the next evolution of working out. If you go on my website you can get a 5 part DVD set, a heart monitor, and an eating plan. Check it out, I promise it will change your life.

TGR: How did you come to doing this?

DDP: Well, I was on top of my game and at the peak of my wrestling career. We just shot Ready to Rumble and I was heavyweight champion. I got horrible news that I ruptured my L4 and I had three doctors tell me I would never wrestle again. I had just signed the biggest contract of my life. My wife told me to try yoga. At the time I was a total meat- head doing cardio and weights only. I thought yoga was a joke, but eventually I tried it. It began working. But it wasn’t hard enough for me so I developed YRG. The key to that decision was being adaptable. There are four keys to life and they are breathing, reacting, adapting, and action. Breathing controls all of that and can change everything. Without yoga I would not have been heavyweight champion at 43 years of age.

TGR: Okay now some wrestling questions. Recently I watched your Wrestlemania match against Christian at arguably the most star studded Wrestlemania ever. What was it like wrestling on the grandest stage of them all?

DDP: Wrestlemania was great and a hell of a lot of fun. People were surprised they put me over in WWE. Working with Christian was great. He is one of the best workers and has that special charisma. I hope he gets his shot. Christian loves playing heel and for him to put me over in Canada, his home area that was amazing of him to do. Vince was blown away with our match. My next match was basically my last because I hurt my neck. Vince wanted me to stay on as commentator and maybe one day I’ll do it. Kevin Dunn thought I would be like Jesse Ventura.

TGR: According to my research there are several major Jewish wrestlers including Macho Man, Goldberg, Raven, and Kane. Was there any bonding between the Jewish wrestlers backstage? Did any of you celebrate holidays?

DDP: I never really saw it. There were definitely cliques. But its not like just Jews are together or any other ethnicities. I hung out with Raven and Kevin Nash who are both Jewish. Goldberg was his own animal. I met him in a strip club and I told him he should start wrestling. When he shaved his head and got a goatee I thought it was stupid because of Stone Cold, but it worked out for him. I was a bit of a loner too but I helped guys. I did have road buddies like Foley, Stone Cold, and Raven. We would sleep three to a room because we were really broke back then.

TGR: When you first came to the WWE you had a weird, not so DDP type program with the Undertaker. Was that weird for you switching brands and being in a stalker role? What was it like working with the Undertaker?

DDP: Coming in as a heel after being a huge face was tough but not weird because I am an actor. I began my run in the WWE with The Undertaker, and he doesn’t sell. It was my own fault that I accepted it; it was my stupidity. But I enjoyed being with Taker. He is so strong and huge but it feels like he is barely touching you. Our styles would have really complimented each other if our roles were reversed. If I could do it all over again I would have done a People’s Champion vs. People’s Champion feud. Working with The Rock would have been amazing. Overall, I was very happy with my wrestling career. Many older wrestlers sound and act disgruntled but I never felt that way. I had a great history in the business. I am a part of the new Rise and Fall of WCW DVD coming out. I have two matches on it. One is with Goldberg, which aired on Nitro and got the highest TV ratings ever for a wrestling match. It was supposed to air on the PPV but Hogan and Warrior went too long and their match was a debacle, so they aired my match the following night.

TGR: Any advice for our readers?

DDP: You need to live life at 90%. 10% will happen to you and 90% you control. This is a message I want everyone to learn. Go to my website and learn all about it. Specifically watch the videos about Arthur Boorman and Howard Fine. Wrestling is predetermined but this stuff is real.

TGR: I know that now you do some motivational speaking and Yoga (my father just gave me your yoga book), but what is in store for DDP? Are you working on any new projects?

DDP: I am working on some movie roles that I can’t mention but check my website for more details. Also, I am involved in producing a television show and doing some speaking engagements.

TGR: Thank you again for helping us out. Good luck in the future. Check out his website below. That’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing.


And Let Us Say…Amen.
- Jeremy Fine