Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 7 Jewish Sports Stories of the Decade - #2

Story #2 might sound like a repeat from 1965. As well all know, maybe the most well known Jewish sports story of All time, Sandy Koufax did not pitch game 1 of the World Series because of Yom Kippur. To think about what that meant to not only the Jewish youth but Jews everywhere is remarkable. Koufax's decision said to the world my faith is as important as my fastball. That Jewish students, Jewish athletes, and Jewish workers can for a moment forget about their daily rituals and focus on God and their Judaism. It gave people courage and made them feel an undeniable sense of pride.

In September 2001, Shawn Green took Koufax's lead and did not play on Yom Kippur. Green said he considers himself "a role model in sports for Jewish kids." At the time the Dodgers were competing for a playoff spot (not quiet the World Series) and Green led the team with 49 home runs. While some of you may feel that this doesn't deserve the #2 ranking, think about it this way. Michael Jordan's amazing dunk from the free throw line was ridiculous. As it any less ridiculous because Dr. J did it first? No, amazing is amazing. And not playing baseball on Yom Kippur is just that, amazing.

Before the game was loaded with Jewish ball players there was a long break of standout players. Sure now we have Kinsler, Braun, and Youkilis but Green bridged the gap between them and Koufax, Greenberg, Stone, and Holtzman. So, story #2 of the decade goes to the message sent by Green by taking off for Yom Kippur something Kinsler, Braun, and Youkilis have yet to do.

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top 7 Jewish Sports Stories of the Decade - #3

How can we say enough about the story of 2009...Omri Casspi? The "King of Israel" is story #3 of the decade. So, first we were excited that Casspi got drafted into the NBA. But do you know how much nachas we feel because Casspi is good. Instead of just simply telling you about the fact that he has moved into the Kings starting lineup or how he is averaging in double figures or how he is going to clearly receive votes for Rookie of the Year we have decided to just include a bunch of articles and videos (below) about the new King in the NBA. I cannot tell you how many articles I receive about Casspi about how good he has been. Kings games are shown all over Israel (even the embarrassing come back against my Bulls). He also makes Sportscenter with Tyreke Evans on a weekly basis.  Casspi arriving in the NBA, simply put, has been Awesome.

Sports Illustrated
NY Times
US Today
Bleacher Report

Highlight Videos:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top 7 Jewish Sports Stories of the Decade - #4

For the USA the 2008 Olympics meant two things, the return to basketball dominance and the insane accomplishments of Michael Phelps. And as much as basketball swept the nation because of its popularity it was hard for anyone to not watch the pool. Phelps captivatity an entire country before, during, and even after the Olympics.

But the Jewish story was the success of his teammate Jason Lezak and female swimmer Dara Torres. Both were the oldest swimmers on their teams, but that didn't stop them from coming home with medals. Lezak won gold in the 4X 100 freestyle relay and his team set a new world record. Lezak stood out is in the final leg he took the lead from the French. It was an amazing race. He was took home a bronze in the 100m freestyle.

Torres won three silver medals (50m freestyle, 4×100 medley relay, and 4×100 freestyle relay). She added these medals to her already large trophy case, having won 9 medals before the 2008 Olympics including four gold medals. 2008 was her 5th Olympic games dating back to 1984. She did not race in 1996 or in 2004.

Together they made quiet the splash into mainstream culture. Maybe on the same level as this story was the fact that Lezak missed 2009 World Aquatics Championships to compete in the 18th Maccabiah Games in Israel. Lezak was given the honor of lighting the Maccabiah torch at the Opening Ceremony. He came home with four gold medals.

These two truly brought Jewish Americans a lot of pride. They come in as story #4 of the decade.

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

Monday, December 28, 2009

Top 7 Jewish Sports Stories of the Decade - #5

The #5 story of the decade is very near and dear to my heart. William Davidson, a Jewish philathropist, owned the Detroit Pistons, Detroit Shock, and the Tampa Bay Lightening. And something miraculous happened in 2003-2004. All 3 of Davidson's teams won their respective championships. He became the first sports owner to win 3 championships in 3 different sporting leagues. This was really an amazing accomplishment.

Davidson passed away in 2009. Besides being a sports team owner he has given so much back to the Jewish world. His interests include Israel and Jewish education. He gave millions of dollars to those two causes notably the entrance at Robinsons Arch near the Western Wall and the JTS School of Education.

William Davidson was a special human being and 2003-2004 were special years for this amazing man.

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

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Korean Jew

Ryan Sadowski has left San Francisco and Houston. He has decided to move to Korea. Click here to read the story.

Top 7 Jewish Sports Stories of the Decade - #6

Today we bring you story number 6. If it were the late 90s this story would have been number 1, almost for sure. But the story was dying down by the year 2000, yet it was strong enough to put here at number 6.

In the late 90s Tamir Goodman did for basketball what Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg did for baseball. He turned it into a Jewish phenomenom. There wasn't a Jew who didn't know of Tamir Goodman. Labeled the "Jewish Jordan" by Sports Illustrated he found himself on magazine covers and television shows.

But eventually the "Jewish Jordan" turned out to be more like the "Jewish Sam Bowie"...and that is even stretching it. By 2000 Goodman was no longer holding a scholarship to then top program Maryland. He was reduced to going to Towson University. There he found little success on the court. After a little more than a season Goodman moved to Israel. He began playing in the Holy Land for several years on a few teams.

This year he announced his reitrement from the game of basketball. Goodman's career never lived up to the hype. But Goodman brought many Jewish fans to the game of basketball. He still works on getting kids excited about basketball and helping them realize they do not have to choose between the ball and their tefillin.

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

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Top 7 Jewish Sports Stories of the Decade - #7

Over the next week we will be posting the top 7 stories of the decade. Normally, we go by a Jewish calendar here, but this is a special occasion. This list is totally of the opinion of TGR but we are fairly confident that we made the right choices. We felt the top 6 stories were pretty obvious. The 7th (today's story) we struggled with. Just so you know the stories that were thrown out were Bar Refaeli making the cover of Sports Illustrated. Trust me it was hard to take her accomplishment off the list, but we felt our reasoning for keeping it had little to do with sports. Also, just coming up short were Andre Tippett's induction to the Football Hall of Fame and 2008 Baseball All Star game having three Jewish players. So what is number 7. One word.


No not the hockey player from the Mighty Ducks, but rather Bill Goldberg of WCW/WWE fame. Now people might not be happy with number 7 and think that we here at TGR love wrestling too much (at least I do), but hear me out.

After Bill Goldberg, probably one of the most famous and recognizable wrestlers ever, left WCW (or WCW died) he was out of a job. Goldberg, after much dispute and months/years of negotiations finally joins the WWE in 2003. Soon thereafter he wins the World Heavyweight Championship at the pay per view titled Unforgiven.

So why is this so important or worthy of the 7th slot. Goldberg, unlike many Jews, has never concealed his Jewish identity. From day one, everyone in the wrestling world knew that Goldberg, a fomer NFL Linebacker, was Jewish. And that made Goldberg special to the Jewish world. Finally, a Jew kicking ass all over the world. He speared the crapped out of everyone from Hulk Hogan to Ric Flair.

TGR decided to give Goldberg slot number 7 because of his Jewish pride and never backing down from a fight (even the fake ones).

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

Shameless Plug For Myself

So besides blogging every week/day I am also in rabbinical student. I recently gave a 2 minute Dvar Torah that was featured on Koach's website (Koach is the Conservative Jewish group on college campuses). If you want to check it out (note it has nothing to do with sports) go to Click near the corner with my picture. If my picture is removed click on the podcast and you will see my name. I was responsible for Parashat Vayigash.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Shabbat Shalom

Its been a while since there has been a Shabbat Shalom post. Bust lots of great stuff coming up that I wanted to inform you about.

Congrats to Jason Marquis on finding a new home in Washington.
Also, thanks to Yaniv Simpson for the interview.

Poll Results:
Looks like Sandy Koufax was the no brainer. Glad to see Dolph Schayes and Mark Spitz getting some votes.

Upcoming TGR News/Stories:
Next week is going to be great as we count down the top 7 stories of the decade. Normally, we run on a Jewish calendar but we made an exception.

We interviewed former ATP player Paul Goldstein and we should have that article up soon.

We also hope to have some bowl predictions from Kent State Defensive Tackle Sam Frist.

TGR is in the works trying to get a hold of Sam Fuld and Dolph Schayes. I can see light at the end of the tunnel. Keep your fingers crossed.

As 2009 is coming to an end we would like to thank everyone for reading thus far. In February we will try to do some more work on the site including interviews and promoting. We are nearing a legit10,000 hits which is a major accomplishment, thanks to everyone who has helped out.

Shabbat Shalom for Jerusalem.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tiger Tiger Woods Ya'll

I would be so impressed if anyone got my obscure movie reference in the title. Yes, it is from Down to Earth starring Chris Rock and Stifler's mom. But seriously the biggest sports story in the world is Tiger Woods. Except this story doesn't surround the Masters or a knee injury, rather it is the affair he had on his wife. Woods' actions changed his world and subsequently the world of golf for an unknown period of time.

So TGR what is the Jewish connection here?

As much as we hate to admit it, Woods' mistress Rachel Uchitel is...well..a MOT (member of the tribe).

Uchitel's grandfather was Maurice Uchitel who was a Jewish immigrant from Ukraine who had a successful shoulder pads business. His success in the shoulder pads business eventually lead to him owning the famous Eden Roc hotel in Miami and El Morocco nightclub in Manhattan.

According to my sources Rachel Uchitel was raised Jewish and had a Bat Mitzvah.
 Obviously, we do not feel adultery is okay in any way (please don't think TGR feels that way) but a story is a story. And Tiger Woods stories are rare in the Jewish world.

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jason Marquis Signs

We are glad to report that Jason Marquis has signed a two-year deal worth $15 million dollars with the Washington Nationals. This is move drastically improves the Nationals rotation which...let me put it this way...stinks. While Marquis would not be considered an Ace on most teams, he will almost for sure be the Nationals opening day starter. He won 15 games last season and posted a 4.04 era (solid numbers for Coors Field).

Yuri Foreman's Punch Out

Yes Dimitriy Salita got pummeled. But never fear Jewish boxing fans. Meet Yuri Foreman. He is an Israeli middleweight boxer and the current World Boxing Association Super welterweight Champion.

Born in Belarus, Foreman and his family moved to Israel when Foreman was 9 years old. He trained in Arab gyms. The stares made him tougher. He quickly became an amteur boxer and won 3 national boxing championships. He took his skills to New York and in 2001 he won the New York Golden Gloves. As an amateur he went 75-5. As a pro he is 27-0.

The craziest part of Foreman's story is that he wants to be Rabbi. He says both boxing and Judaism are spiritual outlets for him. He currently studies in the morning at the IYYUN institute.

So it would be cool to one day call Foreman a colleague . Obviously, not because of my boxing skills. Foreman is really a Jewish inspiration, not just because he wears a Jewish star while he knocks out is opponents, but because he continues to further his Judaism while not compromising his job and other passions.

Keep and eye on Yuri Foreman. He is definitely won of the most inspiring Jewish athletes of today.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Run Fred Run

Fred Lebow, born Fischel Lebowitz, loved running. He loved running so much that he founded the New York City Marathon. A huge feat for a Jewish boy from Transylvania, Romania.

Lebow, who died in 1994, would be proud of how much the marathon has grown. The first race in 1970 had 55 finishers. Lebow finished 45th running it in 4:12:09. Two years after being diagnosed with brain cancer in 1990, Lebow ran the marathon at 5:32:35. He was 60 years old at the time.

In 2009 there were 43,660 finishers in the NYC marathon. It is a totally different race today and even more of an amazing accomplishment. The marathon is now one of the largest in the world.

Lebow was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in 2001. He also formed the Empire State Building Run Up, the Fifth Avenue Mile, and the Crazy Legs Mini Marathon. He served as the president of the New York Road Runners Club for 20 years.

After his death 3,000 mourners came to the finish line of the NYC Marathon where a memorial service took place. There is now sculpture of him East Side Central Park Drive at 90th St. But every year the statue is moved near the finish line of the Marathon.

Lebow is remembered by runners everywhere. He should also be remembered as an amazing Jewish athlete and inspiration for Jews everywhere.

For more information on the New York City Marathon click here.

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

Friday, December 18, 2009

Jewish Minor Leaguers of 2009

Once again Josh Borenstein wrote an amazing piece. This time on Jewish minor leaguers. Instead of trying to outdo his article (which I would never do justice to) I am just giving you the link.

Click here for 2009 Jewish Minor Leaguers

Thursday, December 17, 2009

HS BBall Tournament

Jewish High School Basketball Tournament. Check it out this week.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Article on Oy!

Click here for my article on Chicago Jewish High School Basketball.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yossi Benayoun - "The Kid" Can Play

So I need to honest with everyone who reads this. I am not a soccer fan. For the most part I find it boring. I would rather play ping pong, swim laps, or work on my basketball skills than play soccer. Maybe its my bad ankles or maybe its because a high scoring game is 3-2, I just can't really get into soccer. But recently I got an email from an old friend, Justin Ziemba (Sir Yes Sir), about an Israeli soccer player named Yossi Benayoun. Apparently, he is really good and as Justin put it "Right now, one of the hottest players is Yossi Benayoun." So if that is true TGR feels it is our job to give you the scoop of the Israeli soccer phenom.

Originally from Dimona Israel Benayuon was nicknamed "The Kid" because he started his career at age 9 playing for Hapoel Be'er Sheva. By age 11 Benayoun was already considered a soccer star landing on the cover of magazines. Soon Benyoun moved on and began playing for Maccabi Haifa. In 2002 he left Israel and began playing all over the world. Now he plays for Liverpool as an attacking middle infiedler. He is signed to play their through 2013. Since moving over to the premeir league he has a total of 23 goals, not bad for a middle infielder. But what is so impressive are how crucial the goals and assists he scores/dishes out are.

Benayoun is still drawn to his Israeli roots and serves as the captain of the Israeli Nathional Team. By Israelis he is known as the kind of player who puts his body on the line. In 2001 he won the Israeli Premeir League MVP and Maccabi Haifa won its first of back to back titles.

Well I repeat I am not a big soccer kind of guy. But if there was anyone worth following it would be Yossi Benayoun. Jewish. Israeli. And straight up good.

For more information on Yossi Benayoun click here or you could watch his highlight video below.

And Let Us Say...Amen.

- Jeremy Fine
Photo by: Jose Porras

Monday, December 14, 2009

College BBall Note

Davidson's Jake Cohen leads his team in scoring with 13.4 ppg and in rebounds with 5.4 rpg. The absence of Stephen Curry has launched Cohen to the top of the team's stat sheet.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Meet Yaniv Simpson

 So we had college basketball week awhile ago, but we want to keep bringing you NCAA news. Here is an interview with Monmouth's Yaniv Simpson. And Israeli baller everyone should be watching.

1) Can you explain your Jewish/Israeli background? Have you been/lived to Israel? 
I was born in Brighton England and moved to Israel when i was 6 years old. I lived there until I was 21 then moved here to Monmouth NJ. My Mother is Israeli and my father is British. I hold dual citizenship.

2) What do you expect to do once your days at Monmouth are over?

I had rough injuries back in Israel. I tore my ACL twice on my right knee. In 2003 I played for the Maccabi Tel Aviv youth club at the European Championships. The main reason I came to the states was to get an education while playing D1 basketball. The plan is to go back to Europe and play pro baksetball either in Europe or Israel D1.

3) How do you feel about the upcoming season both for yourself and the team?
The team is looking very good. We have a lot of talent. We are no longer young so we are looking to have a successful season overall. Both coaches and players have high expectations so we just wait and see. As for myself, I am currently injured. My ankle is suffering from a pretty bad orthopedic injury. Hopefully, I will avoid surgery and be able to play this season where I would expect to be an important factor in our success as I started for the team the past two seasons. 

I know Gal Mekel that used to play at Wichita State. He now plays for Maccbi Tel Aviv.

5) What has been your greatest accomplishment, thus far, on the court? What are your goals?
I scored 26 points and 7 Rebounds at a game last year my junior year. As mentioned before I have been basically on and off injuries before and since I’ve gotten here. I would love to have one whole season without getting injured which doesn’t seem that realistic this season giving the current circumstances. My main goal is to get healthy for this season and win the NEC championship.

6) How do you feel about your Israeli/Jewish heritage? What is your biggest connection? 
I am Israeli, proud to be a part of a unique country and culture that is like no other in world. My mother is 1 of 11 children in her family which also consist of 34 cousins on that one side so we are a very big family that is also something to be happy about.

7) Can you tell me a little bit about yourself in general?

 I am 24 years old. Basketball has always been my dream. I also play the piano. I enjoy travelling a lot and experiencing new cultures. My favorite athlete of all times is Michael Jordan. Dwane Wade is my favorite player that is still active. I am very connected to both my parents and my brother who lives in England.

8) How do you feel about the rise of Israeli basketball both in Israel and in the States? 
I think that it is very important for young Israelis that would want to experience something slightly different. Is makes you a better player and a better person. It offers you an opportunity to get a degree and play basketball that is all sponsored by the University. Not many get to experience such a privilege. Omri Casspi is also our first israeli basketball player to make it to the NBA. I’m sure he will do an honorable job at representing us and I wish him all the best!

9) Who are some of your favorite players or players you look up to the most? Who do you model your game after?
Michael Jordan – all time
Dwane Wade – active platyer.
Lebron James – Absolute beast
Kobe – best in the world.

Being a shooter I can't help it but to think of Ray Allen, best shooter in the NBA. Reggie Miller, however, was the best shooter of all-time.

TGR thanks Yaniv for his time and we hope he gets better soon.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Colt's Championship Match

Colt Cabana lost in his non-title match against Ring of Honor Wrestling Champion Austin Aries this past Saturday night. This match took place in Chicago Ridge. Below are both parts of the match.

Part 1

Part 2

Hopefully, Colt will bring home some championship gold soon.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Okay, raise your hand if you hate the Bowl Championship Series. Know that all of your hands are raised you can put them down. But maybe things will get better (aka a playoff system). College Football's BCS has hired Ari Fleischer (Jewish) to change its image. You might remember Fleischer as the press secretary for President George W. Bush.

Fleischer currently runs a firm that assists athletes and various sports organizations on media relations. In 2008 he was hired by the Green Bay Packers as a consultant. He also serves on the board of the Jewish Republican Coalition.

The BCS is a disaster. Fleischer is just the big name and capable person to clean up its image. It will take a lot of work because probably everyone who is reading this (or in the world for that matter) thought about raising their hands.

Good luck to Fleischer and please change the BCS now!
And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hanukkah Sale!!!

 In honor of Hanukkah TGR is having a sale on ALL TShirts!!!
"My shirt makes me more Jewish and a better athlete just by wearing it"
- Satisfied customer Adam Katz

Click on the Tshirt on the right hand side of the site or here.
Happy Hanukkah.

CJHS 3 Headed Monster

Two weeks ago we had High School sports week. TGR reached out to three juniors (Aaron Cohn, Adam Seidenberg, and Zach Spellman) at Chicagoland Jewish High School. They have been playing together ever since I have known them. Whether it be camp, school, or the Maccabi games these three are always together with a ball in their hands. I have witnessed all of their games improve and I am quite impressed. I interviewed the three about their basketball lives and what it means to play for a Jewish high school. There was what they had to say:

1) 1) How long have you all been playing together and where?
Cohn: Zach, Adam, and I have been playing together since 4th grade at the JCC basketball league.  I played there through sixth grade playing on house league and travel teams, and then in 7th grade all three of us made the Schechter basketball team.  All three of us made the team again in 8th grade.  Freshman and sophomore year, the three of us played both JV and Varsity together on the CJHS basketball team, attending the YU tournament in NY freshman year and the Cooper Yeshivah basketball tournament in Memphis sophomore year.  After sophomore year, Zach, Adam and I all made the Maccabi basketball team. This year, the three of us play Varsity together and are all on the starting lineup, and are excited to once again attend the YU tournament in March. 

2) Who is the go to player on your team?
Spellman: This year our go to player is up in the air, its between Aaron Cohn and Daniel Eisenberg. Whoever is hot in the game will get the ball from me.

3) How has it been being the new kid of the block with Ida Crown and Yeshiva around?
Seindenberg: It is tough being new with ICJA and Yeshiva. Freshman year we got killed by Ida crown every time we played them for JV. And we beat Yeshiva once and lost once. Last year we beat Ida crown for the first time since CJHS created a JV and varsity team. This year’s games should be really close. Also, my close friends from Schechter go to Ida Crown so it is very strange playing against them.

4) What is it like playing for a Jewish school? Have there ever been any issues caused by other teams?
Spellman: I think it’s a very unique opportunity to represent a Jewish school. While we may not always wear kippahs when we play, we have a reputation for being Jewish. In the past few years we have had some struggles with the Muslim schools we have played. There have been numerous occasions on the court where elbows or even punches were thrown, and last year there was an incident off the court where they wrote degrading and racist slander on one of our teammate’s car. This caused us to drop out of the league we were previously in.

5) Do you have pregame music, snacks, or rituals?
Spellman: When we have away games somebody usually gets pizza for the bus rides, but that’s cause we're pigs. I always listen to music before the games. Before the games I listen to chill music like Dave Matthews, but come game time and warm-ups I like listening to Rap and Hip Hop. During then I typically listen to Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy.

6) Who is the best Jewish player you have ever seen?
Cohn: The best Jewish player I have ever seen is a kid named Max Feldstein, a Senior at Ramaz high school in New York.  I saw him play in the YU tournament freshman year, and randomly met him on the courts in Jerusalem during a Pesach break, and again at maccabi two summers ago.

7) Why is basketball important to you?
Spellman: Besides the fact that its an awesome recreational sport, I’ve learned many things from it. It has instilled upon me a work ethic and determination that I would never have obtained. Also, it’s a great game to play with friends and I enjoy just playing pickup whenever I can with my buddies.

8) Why is it important playing for a Jewish team?
Cohn: It’s important to me to play for a Jewish team because it is a way of representing the Jewish community at large. A lot of the schools that we play against do not have a lot of exposure to Jewish culture, and by playing those schools we give them a taste of what it is.  However, this also comes with responsibility.  If we aren’t respectful during the games, we could skew their view of Jewish people forever because this might be their only opportunity to be with Jews.
9) What is the Jewish sports world missing? How could you as players benefit from more exposure, camps, tournaments, etc?
Seidenberg: The Jewish sports world is missing height. Jews are typically short and that is why competition isn’t as hard. The Jewish sports world is just as competitive and I don’t think it is missing anything too significant.

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

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Maccabi Haifa Show

On November 12th Versus aired a show entitled Inside Israeli Basketball. The show features the journey of Jeremy Tyler who skipped his Senior season of High School to play in Israel for Maccabi Haifa. TGR ran a story about Tyler a while back. To read it click here. The show will air on Thursdays at 4pm EST and again on Sundays at 2pm and 10pm. Besides Tyler the show will fcous on Maccabi Haifa team throughout the season.

Maccabi Haifa is owned by Jeffrey Rosen of Aventura, FL. They were the runner-up in the Israeli Premier Basketball league last season. The team contains a number of U.S. players, including Davon Jefferson of USC Todd Golden of St. Mary’s, and Jesse Pellot-Rosa of Virginia Commonwealth. Earlier this year Maccabi Haifa announced the reitrement of Tamir Goodman.

For weekly tv times clikc here and for a promo for the show click here.

The show sounds cool. I look forward to watching.

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

76 Seconds

Last night light welterweight champion Amir Khan knocked out (then) undefeated Dimitriy Salita (Jewish) in 76 seconds.

Not good for the Jewish boxing world.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New Player's Union Leader - Michael Weiner

Donald Fehr has stepped down as baseball player's union head and inserted in his place is Michael Weiner. He sounds Jewish and he is. Weiner's just had his first news conference where he spoke about expanding the first round of the playoffs starting in 2012. The players want it and Weiner wants to give it to them.

"Weiner was unanimously approved as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association during the annual meeting of its executive board in Scottsdale, Ariz. The 47-year-old Harvard graduate was hired by the union as a staff lawyer in 1988 and was promoted to general counsel in 2004. He succeeds the 61-year-old Fehr, who had been in charge since December 1983 and in June announced his intention.  During bargaining in 2002 and 2006, Weiner was among the union's chief negotiators. He praised management for 'a recognition that the union is a fixture in the game' but admitted some baseball owners may push for a tougher proposals in bargaining to replace the contract that expires in December 2011." 

But Weiner is also proud of his Jewish heritage he has even been teaching Sunday school for fourth and fifth graders at the Jewish Center of Northwest Jersey. His rabbi, Ellen Lewis, said of Weiner “Anybody who can teach Sunday school to a bunch of fourth and fifth graders can handle just about anything.” -

This is a great honor for Weiner and the players union seems happy with their new leader. He brings a quirky smile, a laid back attitude, and intelligence to the position. And most of all he is a big fan of the game (even if its for the Bronx Bombers).

Good luck to Weiner.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Friday, December 4, 2009

Shabbat Shalom

A nice week at TGR. Lots of email this week. Thanks to everyone who writes in.
Big fight coming up for Dmirti Salita. Good luck to him. Unfortunate news for Lawrence Frank.

Upcoming TGR for the next 2 weeks:
Lots of articles coming up in the next two weeks. We sat down with college standout Yaniv Simpson and we will be bringing you that interview. Also, we have some soccer news.

I will be gone for my honeymoon so breaking news might not be posted but there will still be stories. We are also waiting for a few interview replies.

Scheyer was the leading vote getter for NCAA player of the year. Although Duke dropped a heartbreaker to Wisconsin this week.
Our new poll asks who was the greatest Jewish athlete of all-time?

TGR News:
My wife and I headed out to Kfar Maccabiah where Maccabi Tel Aviv and the Maccabi games are all run. We had a great time. Got to see this village area and got to see the Maccabi Hall of Fame. There were some amazing pictures. I got to me with the Deputy Director Rabbi Carlos Tapiero. He is a great guy and hopefully TGR will have some big news soon.

And Let Us Say...Amen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Interview: Sports Photographer Steven Freeman

Two years ago I got an email from a good friend asking if I had extra High Holiday tickets (hot commodity I know=)). It was for a man by the name of Steven Freeman. Turns out Steven is one hell of a good guy and a sports photographer (doing a lot of shoots for the Detriot Pistons). I have seen his stuff and it is awesome. In October I interviewed Steven and here is what he had to say:


The Great Rabbino: Hey Steven its been about a year hows it going?

Steven Freeman: Things are good. October is one of my favorite months with MLB playoffs, NFL and NBA all at once.

TGR: So, Steven you have been taking pictures for the Detroit Pistons for a while now. How did you get that gig?

Steven: It's an interesting story. I was photographing the writer Adam Rapp for his new book jacket in 2000 and he happened to bring along his girlfriend. I used the last few frames to do some portraits of them together and made a couple 8x10 prints. A few weeks later Adam mentioned his girlfriend gave the prints to her mom who was married to Bill Davidson the owner of the Pistons. Adam commented how much she liked the photographs and said she was going to call me. Truth is, I hear that all time so didnt think much of it. A few weeks later Karen Davidson called and asked if I would be interested in photographing her husband. I did his official portrait as well the team President Tom Wilson. I've photographed for the team ever since.

TGR: What makes photographing athletes fun? Have you ever gotten to play with any of the players?

Steven: Athletes are especially interesting simply because Im such a big fan and appreciate their talents. It's fascinating to see them up close without all the action, see what they are really like in person, and talk sports for real. Very often they ask me all about photography. The conversations are very much the same as ones you and I've had. I've played at the Pistons practice center with Jason Maxiel and Lindsey Hunter, afterward one of the coaches asked if I was a free agent. I said yes I am. He responded "I'm not surprised." It was great fun. I've played with Michael Ray Richardson--he shots 3s from way behind the arc.I've also shot around with different players over the years during. I once stole the ball from Tim Hardaway during a Dream Team 2 session. Rebounded for Shaq. Worked out with Rip Hamilton.

TGR: Who is the best player you have shot? Has any shoot been better than all the rest?

Steven: Part one is easy--Michael Jordan. I photographed him during the 1997 all star game in Cleveland. All the shoots are different, it's hard to pick just one. I photographed Chauncy Billups and Tayshaun Prince having a pregame ritual brunch at a restaurant for SI, it was so cool being behind the scenes with them being themselves, not posing, just being regular guys. No one had ever gone with them before, not even anyone from the team, it was nice to have their trust. I photographed Deion Branch for SI right after winning the MVP of the Super Bowl, it just amazed me how he insisted on calling Mr Freeman all through the shoot. Last season I photographed Ray Lewis for NBC Sunday Night Football, the shoot was geared around cooking for game night, it was a little surreal being around one of the fierest NFL players of all time, seeing for myself that he's actually very funny and down to earth. One more was Mind that Bird who won the Kentucky Derby this year--her photos are some of my favorites.

TGR: Have you ever shot any Jewish players? What was that like?

Steven: During high school I attended the 1981 Maccabiah games and traveled with the American Basketball team. I was really just a young fan so it was a big thrill. Future NBA star Danny Schayes was the the center piece of the team. Willie Sims who was dubbed the Super Six Man at LSU was also on the team, afterward he played several years in Israel. It was such a thrill to be amongst the athletes, in fact it was the early impetus that set my future in motion. A few years later NBA Hall of Fame legend Dolph Schayes who was my neighbor hired me to photograph at his basketball camp, it was my first sports-photographer related job. I first met NBA ref Dick Bavetta there, 9 years later he was pleasantly surprised when we were reunited at the NBA for a shoot. Turns out I just photographed him again this week for the league, the morning after the refs signed their new contract-that was exciting and fun.

TGR: If you could shoot one athlete who would it be and why (former or present)?

Steven:It would be really interesting to photograph LT, he was so intense and possibly the best Linebacker of all time. Smokin' Joe Frazier would also be a great subject. I'm a golfer so add Tiger to the list. Top three, ok?

TGR: What kind of other stuff do you shoot? How can people find your work?

Steven: Lately I have been photographing three different cookbooks with Chef Emeril Lagasse. I have photographed politicians for the US State Department including sessions with President Clinton and President Bush. In fact the first day on the job I photographed Prime Minister Ehud Barak when he was in NY for the UN meetings. I've also photographed various celebs and business people for magazines such as People, Time, Entertainment Weekly, NBC, Nike and many more. People find my work on my site:

TGR: Last and most in the world can you be a Pistons fan?

Steven: That's easy. The Pistons are one of the rare teams in sports who play the right way, as a team, and play hard. They're also a bunch of great guys. There's nothing like the noise in The Palace of Auburn Hills!

TGR: Steven thanks for joinging us on TGR. We will keep an eye on your stuff. Talk to you next Rosh Hashanah?

Steven: Absolutely! Have a great year. Good luck with your Bulls. Go Pistons!

Below are some of Steven's pictures. Great stuff.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Jared Mintz vs. Georgetown

Sent in by TGR fan Beni Gliksberg:
Jared Mintz of Lafayette led his team with 16 points and had 4 rebounds in a loss to 18th ranked georgetown.