Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Breslow Gets The Nice Guy Award

Sports Illustrated ran a contest trying to find the nicest guy in the MLB. While Jim Thome was the winner, there was only one pitcher on the list and that was the A's Craig Breslow (making him the nicest pitcher in the MLB). Congrats Breslow on the nice guy award. Check out Breslow's The Strike 3 Foundation HERE. His foundation heightens awareness, mobilizes support, and raises funding for childhood cancer research.

The Perfect Israeli Couple

While Omri Casspi might not have had the best season, it seems his offseason has been off the charts awesome. He has recently been linked to Sports Illustrated cover model and Israeli Bar Raphaeli. For more read HERE.

TGR fully endorses this Jewish love.

Braun Looking Like an All Star Starter

Mlb.com has come out with its first calculations of vote getters for the 2011 MLB All Star game. No surprise that Ryan Braun leads all outfielders. The MLB's Home Run leader has 971,809. Right behind him are Cardinals Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman (no Berkman is not Jewish). To see more click HERE. The Mets' Ike Davis is not in the top 5 for First basemen which is loaded with Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, and Prince Fielder. We hope to have updates on the AL soon which we hope will include Ian Kinsler, Kevin Youkilis, and possibly Danny Valencia and/or Sam Fuld.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Come Meet Gabe Carimi and Support UW Hillel

University of Wisconsin Hillel invites you to join them in warmly welcoming to Chicago the 2010 All American and new Chicago Bear, Gabe Carimi. Meet Gabe and many other UW alumni, Badgers and Bears fans at this special event.   

This event is a benefit for UW Hillel Foundation, serving UW-Madison's Jewish students since 1923. All proceeds will help grow UW Hillel's building Endowment Fund to sustain Hillel's operations and program well into the future. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011- Green Acres Country Club, 916 Dundee Road, Northbrook, IL
6:30-8:30 P.M.-
$250 per person (Your contribution to UW Hillel Foundation is tax-deductible)

Sponsorship Committee (In Formation): Bruce Bachmann, Joe Gutman, Jeffrey Hammes, Harris & Harris, Hochberg and Lowenstein Families, Michael Perlow, David Sarnoff, Norton Sarnoff.

TGR will be covering the event. Sound amazing. Alumni and Chicagoans I definitely recommend attending and showing some love!

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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Take on the Chicago Bulls Season and Future

I rarely write about non-Jewish sports related stories but I occasionally I will chime in. So today is my take on the Chicago Bulls season and future.

First, let me begin by saying it was an amazing season. Bulls fans should be very proud. Awards aside, they were the best team in the regular season. In an offseason where it was the Lebron James show, the Bulls who didn't land their #1 guy, did a great job building around their best player and escalating him to elite MVP status. Carlos Boozer finally gave the Bulls the inside scoring they have needed since Elton Brand left. Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, and CJ Watson gave them arguably the deepest bench in the league. Also, Luol Deng proved that he is a solid player in the NBA who can score and shoot it from the outside. Joakim Noah and Deng got noticeably stronger. So Chicago fans should hold their heads up high.

The loss to Miami was tough, very tough. Especially because Miami is this "evil empire" and Chicago, like the rest of the country, wanted to shove it in Lebron's face. So yes it hurts. The Bulls tanked in the final minutes of almost all 4 losses, horribly in the final 2 games. I chalk this up to inexperience and lack of options. A team with Miami's firepower needed to be put away. We did not lose because of free throws, Boozer, or Korver. Sure all of those things would have been nice. And yes, if Korver scored 12 points or Boozer dunked the ball a few more times it would have made a difference, but we lost because we could not finish. We made turnovers, bad shots, and coach Tom Thibodeau couldn't draw up 1 or 2 plays to get easy baskets.

In the offseason they will continue to hit the gym. Derrick Rose will get stronger. Noah and Deng will get stronger and Taj Gibson will put on some muscle as well. They will come back healthy and compete for the #1 seed again. I believe this team, with time can win the East and maybe the whole thing. But if they want to solidify themselves as real players and it might take two moves. Allow me to play General Manager for a second.

First, I try to send next year's Bobcat's pick (which the Bulls got for Tyrus Thomas), Carlos Boozer, and Omer Asik to Orlando for Dwight Howard. Orland will want an established player, a younger emerging player, and a lottery pick for Howard. I think the Bulls have the most to give. Then I send my two picks this year (and maybe my second rounder or next year's first) to move up and take Jimmer Fredette.

Why do these two moves help us? Well Howard is obvious. Defensively he changes everything. Howard and Noah inside would be impossible to get through. Howard and Noah also both crash the boards, Howard better than anyone in the league. Inside scoring would be a plenty without taking the ball out of Rose's hands. Gibson would still be strong off the bench to relieve them both. Asik and Boozer is a steep price to pay but Asik's stock is at a high after a strong playoff and Boozer clearly does not fit well with Rose. Fredette is that 2 guard we have craved. He will not be Ray Allen or Michael Redd (in his prime), but he is where JJ Reddick needed to be when he came into the league, and remember the Bulls tried signing Reddick. He can handle the ball better than Korver. He can already shoot from anywhere. He is NBA strong and is a winner. He also stretches the defense like Stephen Curry does for Monte Ellis. With these two players I think we are on our way.

Of course, I wouldn't mind Howard and Allen (on a 2 year loan) or even Jason Richardson. But to stay young and make an intimidating statement I think this is the direction they should go in. This keeps the ball in Rose's hands and tells the Heat we are coming for real. Howard and Fredette are winners and hungry. What we shouldn't do is sign someone just to sign someone. Remember we have the Bobcats lottery pick and 2012 is a deep draft.

It will be an exciting offseason (which has basically started for Bulls fans already). Go Cuban! Go Mavs!

And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine
p.s. I am also very annoyed by Scottie Pippen.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chicago Bulls Ice Cream

In honor of the Chicago Bulls, I want to introduce the TGR fans to Chicago Bulls Ice Cream. Good friend and TGR fan Naomi Sugar (formerly Remis) has started a blog about Ice Cream. Earlier this week she made one honoring the Chicago Bulls. Check out the 365scoops.com and the recipe.

Big game tonight. Go Bulls!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Congrats to Mark Cuban

Congrats to Mark Cuban and his Dallas Mavericks on making the NBA Finals. With the Mavs win it means that both teams in the NBA Finals will have a Jewish owner (Chicago and Miami are also both owned by Jews), meaning so will the eventual NBA Champion. Great news for the Jews!

Great seeing Cuban hold the Western Conference trophy and give it right to Dirk Nowitzki. And then Cuban went on to say, "We ain't done yet!" If the Bulls lose, my loyalties (and probably all of America outside of Florida) goes with Cuban and his Mavs.

TGR Makes the Chicago Tribune

TGR quoted in the Chicago Tribune. Click HERE to read (and hear more about Gabe Carimi).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Meet Portland Pilot's Coach Michael Wolf

Recently I got an email from a man named Michael Wolf. From time to time there are athletes and coaches left off lists we put together. After his wife sent him TGR, Wolf wrote in and he has been added to a growing list of Jewish coaches. We asked him if he wanted to be interviewed and here we are. Wolf is an assistant coach at Portland. Portland represents the WCC. Like the Pilots program, Wolf is on the rise.

1) How did you get your start in coaching College basketball?
After playing small college basketball, I returned to my high school to serve as an assistant coach.  We were fortunate enough to have 2 6'10" sophomores who ended up being McDonald's All-Americans and have enjoyed a 10yr NBA career (Jarron and Jason Collins).  That certainly makes you look like a good coach but it also gave me the chance to meet a ton of college coaches during those 3 years.  I drove across the country and back over 2 summers working Division 1 college camps and met a ton of people that way as well.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to coach High School or College but figured I needed to experience college basketball to know what I was deciding about.  Either way I knew I'd need a Master's degree to advance in my profession.   I applied to the Education program at Stanford and after I was accepted I called Trent Johnson (then an assistant at Stanford and now the head coach at LSU) and asked him about helping out in the program while I was there.  I had gotten to know their staff while they were recruiting Jason and Jarron.  It became an incredible year of learning and I just tried to be a sponge in every aspect of the program I could. I'm sure my coursework in the Ed school sufffered a little but in my mind I was there for the M.A. in college basketball and the degree in Education was a nice bonus.  It was also where I first met Eric Reveno, our head coach here at Portland, who was an assistant on that staff at Stanford as well.  Unfortunately I have the student loans to prove that it was a purely volunteer position and my wife can attest to the fact that I worked more like an investment banker despite the lack of salary.  
2) You played at Tufts, how was that experience?

Tufts was a phenomenal experience for me as I got to leave Southern California and embrace an entirely different part of the country. Boston is an amazing city to be a college student in with so many schools nearby and the rich history of the city itself.  Basketball was a big part of my life and I had an opportunity to play with a great group of guys who are still some of my closest friends even though we are scattered around the country.  We had a very talented group who needed someone to pass, screen and knock down the occasional open 3 so it was the perfect role given my limited abilities.  I was also really good at staying out of their way at the right times.  D3 basketball in the NESCAC is really something special as there are these elite academic institutions with nationally competitive basketball programs.  People tend not to realize how good basketball is at that level because it's not on TV but the difference between our league and division 1 was maybe an few inches inside, a half step on the perimeter and, at least in my case, a few inches below the rim.
3)You run something called the Hoop Group. Tell us a little bit about that.
I am no longer involved in The Hoop Group but it is still the largest grassroots basketball organization in the country in terms of the number of young basketball players that come through their programs.   It is headquartered at a 100,000 sq ft warehouse with 4 regulation NBA basketball courts on the Jersey Shore (no, "The Situation" and "Snooki" do not play pickup games there).  The Hoop Group runs the nation's longest running overnight summer basketball camp located in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania, the nation's largest college exposure camp series for high school players in addition to a massive operation of AAU travel team tournaments and winter high school showcase events.  They have their hand in a few more basketball related businesses but I have a hard time keeping track of them all now.
4) How does Portland look for next season? Any big recruits?
We are coming off the best 3 year stretch in the history of the school so the bar has been set pretty high in terms of expectations, however we lost 9 players in the last 2 classes and all but 1 of them are or will play professionally (and the last one still might find himself a chance to play).  It's an exciting time to be here as we continue to build a championship program and we feel the last 2 classes of recruits are more talented than any of the previous classes, at least at the outset.  If they can work as hard as our recent groups have then we could put together something pretty special in the next few seasons. The league as a whole has improved dramatically in recent years and with the addition of BYU to a group that had 5 teams win at least 19 games, it should make for a very competitive WCC season. We return one all conference guard in senior Nemanja Mitrovic and the challenge for him will be to take a leadership role and expand his game from being just a phenomenal shooter into a more complete player (if he's reading this he should be thinking DEFENSE first!!).  We signed 4 players this year that filled our needs perfectly including a Dutch junior national team post player, a local skilled combo guard from Portland, a post player from Southern California who was recently named 3rd team All-State and an explosive athletic wing from the Fresno area who was ranked in several national services as a Top 100 recruit (the first in our time here).
5) Whats it like competing against Gonzaga?
The challenge of playing Gonzaga is why I love college basketball.  They have been the gold standard in our league for over a decade and it's always a great opportunity to test yourself against the very best. Coach Few has managed to build something pretty special up there and it is a great atmosphere to play a college basketball game.  With the level of talent they possess year in and year out combined with how well coached they are, it forces you to be at your best in order to compete at that level.  Watching them have success on a national stage and knowing that we've been within 3 points with under a minute to play here the last 2 years, its a great barometer for where your program is on a broader competitive scale but in order to achieve our goals of winning championships and getting to the NCAA tournament we know we have to go through them at some point.
6) Saint Mary's has made a big jump in the WCC, can Portland do the same?
Over the last 3 seasons, Gonzaga, St. Mary's and Portland have the most combined wins in the conference so it's been rewarding to know we are competitive in that group but have not had the national .  We have split the regular season games with St. Mary's the last 3 seasons with each winning at home but they've been able to take care of business against the rest of the league and earn themselves the championships we are fighting for.  We feel like we are not at the top of the mountain yet but we can certainly see it from where we are now.  Watching their success and knowing that we've had our way with them at times makes us more committed to the challenge of finding our way to play at that level more consistently.
7) What are your future coaching plans?
I love what I do every day and the challenges of being a college basketball coach.  I am lucky to be passionate about my job and am probably one of the cliched people who "never worked a day in his life" because of it and I intend to continue to do it as long as someone will let me.  I'm really focussed on the task at hand and helping Portland basketball continue to grow.  We started this process together as a staff 5 years ago and we all still feel there are some milestones and goals yet to be accomplished. Obviously I'd love to be a head coach some day but for now my wife and children love Portland as much as I do so as long as they are happy, it allows me the ability to continue doing what I love doing here. 
8) Phil Jackson or Red Auerbach? Why?
As a Jew, I'm sure I'm supposed to say Red but I grew up in LA in the 80's so I not only have been a Laker fan my whole life but a Celtic-hater as well.  My time in college in Boston with Beantown roommates and teammates only hardened my disdain for the Green and White as we argued deep into the night about Magic vs Bird and those great teams of the 80s.  As a professional now in this business I have been able to distance myself from the irrational parts of being a fanand I respect so much what Coach Auerbach accomplished.  Empirically speaking though, Coach Jackson has won 11 titles with 2 different organizations and coached so many different types of teams and talent sets in an ultra-competitive modern NBA that I think he gets the nod.  What he was able to do in such clearly differentiated segments of his career is the most impressive to me but I'd be happy to carry the clipboard for either of them.

Thank you to Coach Wolf for his time. We will be following.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine

Monday, May 23, 2011

French Roasted

Lone Jewish singles player Shahar Peer was ranked 19th coming into the French Open, but was upsetted in the opening round. Bad string of luck this week for Jewish athletes. To read more about her click HERE. 

Foreman at Fight 4 Fitness

Former middleweight champion boxer Michael Olajide Jr. and business partner Leila Fazel hosted the fourth annual “Fight 4 Fitness” competition at their popular AEROSPACE fitness studio in New York City’s Meatpacking District. Fight 4 Fitness is an annual celebrity fundraiser that benefits the East Harlem School at Exodus House (“East Harlem”). East Harlem is an independent not-for-profit charter school that serves children in grades 5-8 that come from low-income families and the school's funding depends largely on donations from individuals, foundations and corporations.

With Special guest judges, Former WBA Super Welterweight Champion Yuri Forman, 4x National Champ-2 Time Golden Gloves Champ Eric Kelly, TV Journalist Tom Murro. The event was emceed by Maria Milito DJ host of the popular morning radio show on NY's Q104.3

The competition was fierce and the crowd love all of the competitors themed rings entries. After the Mitt Championship boxing competition finished (co-owner Lela Fazel retained her belt as the female champion.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Macho Man Randy Savage Passes Away

TGR is sad to report the passing of wrestling great Macho Man Randy Savage. Savage was mainly known for his days in the WWE (then WWF) and WCW. He appeared once in TNA but has not been involved with wrestling in quite awhile. He also appeared in the first Spider Man movie. He will be missed. For more read HERE.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

NBA Omer Counter

We began a tradition of sending out an Omer counter each year. Sorry we are late, but for those having trouble counting this year, here is our NBA Omer Counter.

We took the best player at each position. Most of our info is from the Bleacher Report and some we decided ourselves. There were a few numbers that lacked a solid rep like #46 Dennis Bell (who?) and #39 Greg Ostertag. Other numbers had tough competition like #6 Bill Russell and Julius Erving and number #32 Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, and Kevin McHale. For #34 we went with the Dream and moved Shaq to #36. While for #45 we bumped Chuck Person and gave the spot to Michael Jordan (yes, he is #23 as well). Enjoy!

1    Oscar Robertson
2    Moses Malone
3    Allen Iverson
4    Joe Dumars
5    Jason Kidd
6    Bill Russell
7    Pete Maravich
8    Kobe Bryant
9    Bob Petit
10    Walt Frazier
11    Isiah Thomas
12    John Stockton
13    Wilt Chamberlain
14    Bob Cousy
15    Earl Monroe
16    Bob Lanier
17    John Havlicek
18    Dave Cowens
19    Willis Reed
20    Gary Payton
21    Tim Duncan
22    Elgin Baylor
23    Michael Jordan
24    Rick Barry
25    K.C. Jones
26    Hedo Turkoglu
27    Jack Twyman
28    Sam Cassell
29    Paul Silas
30    Rasheed Wallace
31    Reggie Miller
32    Magic Johnson
33    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
34    Hakeem Olajuwon
35    Reggie Lewis
36    Shaquille O'Neal
37    Ron Artest
38    Kwame Brown
39    Greg Ostertag
40    Shawn Kemp
41    Dirk Nowitzki
42    Nate Thurmond
43    Brad Daugherty
44    Jerry West
45    Michael Jordan
46    Dennis Bell
47    Andrei Kirilenko
48    Walt Gilmore
49    Shandon Anderson

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kahn's T-Wolves Get the 2nd Pick

David Kahn sat in as the T-Wolves rep for this year's lottery pick. The T-Wolves had the best odds of getting the 1st pick, but the Cavs snuck into the 1 spot (and 4th). The T-Wolves dropped to #2. Gilbert is rumored to be Jewish but it is not confirmed. His son Nick was the representative.

Frank Gets 2nd Interview with Rockets

Once rumored for the Tennessee Volunteers job (as Bruce Pearl's replacement) it looks like Lawrence Frank might be headed to another NBA team. The Houston Rockets have brought in Frank for a second interview.

Frank was previously the head coach of the NJ Nets last coaching in 2009-10. Since he has been Doc Rivers' assistant in Boston.

Good luck. TGR would love to have a Jewish head coach in the NBA again.

Feldman Trying to Make a Comeback

Rangers RHP Scott Feldman is scheduled to make his second rehab start Thursday, this time for Round Rock against Colorado Springs. Feldman, who hasn't pitched this season due to right knee surgery, is scheduled for about 90 pitches or six innings.

High School Basketball League History

Jewish Hoops America is working on a piece about the history of Yeshiva League basketball. To read the work in progress click HERE.
For more basketball read our recent articles comparing Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson and vote for who will be this year's NBA Sportsman of the Year.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Red or Phil?


Phil Jackson has retired (for now). Most likely he will get bored after a few years and reappear when Mike D'antoni gets fired and the Knicks need a head coach. But for now Jackson claims that he is done. So the debate begins, who was better Red Auerbach (Jewish) or Jackson?

Lets compare the numbers.

Titles: Jackson 11, Auerbach 9

Games won: Jackson 1155, Auerbach 938

Seasons: Jackson 21, Auerbach 17

Hall of Fame: Both inducted

Coach of the Year: Jackson ('96), Auerbach ('65)

NBA's Top 10 Coaches of All-Time: Both

The numbers are so close that it is hard to settle the debate simply by looking at them. If anything Jackson has the slight edge with 1 more championship. Both also had great players. Jackson had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman on his Bulls teams while his Lakers had Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol. Auerbach had Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and K.C. Jones.

Auerbach late became a General Manager and took a front office leadership that Jackson never did. If I had to pick one I would go with Auerbach. While Jackson was a Bull, Jackson's job was always to take they top talent in the league and have them play as a team. Auerbach helped assemble the team and then coach it. He also never had Jordan. 6 of Jackson's titles were Jordan's dominance and will. Russell, probably the third best player of all-time (Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain in front of him) was a force for sure, but the ball wasn't in his hand like Jordan. He also had guys like Jordan and Bryant to help guide their other players like Rodman and Ron Artest.

Ultimately, I think Jackson will come back. If he does and wins another title I gave the edge to Jackson. If he losses I think Auerbach comes out on top.

Feel free to comment.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

Friday, May 13, 2011

Marquis' 100th Win in Perspective

Recently Jason Marquis won is 4th game of the season beating the Atlanta Braves. So far this season he is 4-1 with a 3.66 ERA on a Nationals team that
is 17-18. He ranks 6th among N.L. pitchers in fewest walks per 9
innings (1.60) and 9th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.714/tie). This win was special because it was the 100th of his career. He is the 5th Jewish pitcher to win 100 games. Ken Holtzman, Sandy Koufax, Steve Stone, and Dave Roberts are the other four. This a big accomplishment for Marquis who could have done this a year earlier had he not been injured for almost the entire season.

Marquis is definitely no Koufax and in fact does not yet compare to Holtzman and Stone both who in their prime were stellar. Although with 8 more wins he will pass Stone on the career wins list and move into 3rd place all-time. But Stone as a Cy Young and Marquis hasn't been close. (I am open to arguments). So where does the 5 winningest Jewish pitcher of all-time fair against today's top pitchers?

Roy Halladay - 174 Wins (14 Seasons)

C.C. Sabathia - 160 Wins (11 Seasons)

Mark Buehrle - 150 Wins (12 Seasons)

Barry Zito - 142 Wins (12 Seasons)

Carlos Zambrano - 120 Wins (11 Seasons)

Josh Beckett - 114 Wins (9 Seasons)

Cliff Lee - 104 Wins (10 Seasons)

Jason Marquis - 100 Wins (12 Seasons)

Tim Lincecum - 59 Wins (5 Seasons)

Clayton Kershaw - 30 Wins (4 Seasons)30

 This places Marquis somewhere in between Jake Peavy (102 Wins in 10 Seasons) and Carl Pavano (99 Wins in 13 Seasons). Not a bad position to be ranked.

Congrats to Marquis and keep the wins coming.

And Let Us Say...Amen.

-Jeremy Fine

Ike on the DL

Mets 1st Baseman was sent to the DL. Davis leads the Mets with 7 Home Runs. For more click HERE.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Davis on DL

Mets first baseman Ike Davis is headed to the DL. He currently leads the team in Home Runs with 7. To read more click HERE.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Carimi T-Shirt

Thank you to TGR fan Nat Sager for sending this in. It can be found at http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/da-bears-blog/finaltshirt2.jpg

Sunday, May 8, 2011

2011 NBA Sportsman of the Year

Since the NBA isn't loaded with players the annual TGR award in the NBA goes to anyone involved in the organization. Last's winner was Omri Casspi for obvious reasons. He had a solid rookie season and participated in two parts of NBA All Star weekend. But this year neither Casspi or Jordan Farmar were overly impressive so we look to some owners for this year's winner. Below are the TGR 2011 nominees for NBA Sportsman of the Year.

Mark Cuban (Owner Dallas Mavericks) - While is antics are crazy on the sidelines, Cuban has helped put together a solid team around Dirk Nowitzki. Over the last season and half they have added veterans Shawn Mario, Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood, and Peja Stojakovic. The Mavs are a solid pick to go to the NBA Finals.

Jerry Reinsdorf (Owner Chicago Bulls) - Another owner who might not of landed the big free agent but helped build around the NBA MVP Derrick Rose. His off-season included Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Keith Bogans, and Corey Brewer. Also, maybe the best non-trade of the season keeping Omir Asik instead of going after Courtney Lee.

Micky Arison (Owner Miami Heat) - For obvious reasons Arison is on this list. He landed both Lebron James and Chris Bosh, while maintaining his star Dwayne Wade. Unlike Reinsdorf and Cuban, Arison didn't fill in wholes he went and landed two huge fish.

To vote please go the side poll. 

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

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Bear Jew: Gabe Carimi

Chicago has had its share of great athletes, Michael Jordan, Frank Thomas, and Stan Mikita to name a few. The Bears have probably the richest of the Chicago teams with players like Walter Payton, Gayle Sayers, and Dick Butkus. But it has been a while since any Chicago team has had a great Jewish athlete. The Cubs had Ken Holtzman and Steve Stone but besides those two it has been hard for Chicagoans to rally around a top Jewish star. The one Chicago Jewish athlete that has Hall of Fame status is Sid Luckman. Luckman retired in 1950 and since Chicago Jews have been searching. And with the 29th in the 2011 NFL Draft the wait might have ended. The Chicago Bears selected Gabe Carimi out of the University of Wisconsin.
The last two NFL drafts have seen three Jewish football players drafted. In 2010 Tampa Bay took Erik Lorig in the 7th round. The other pick was Taylor Mays who was a projected first round pick. After getting snubbed by his own college coach Pete Carroll, Mays fell to the second round. But this year Carimi was selected in round number one. Jewish football fans have a player to finally cheer. Over the last few years there have been a bunch of up and coming Jewish athletes in other sports including Jordan Farmar, Kevin Youkilis, and Mike Cammalleri. But Carimi comes in immediately and is arguably the top Jewish NFLer. His numbers will not be flashy and he won’t be catching touchdowns, but he has the opportunity and potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler.
Carimi will play for an offensive line that is anchored by Olin Kruetz. He has one objective in the Mike Martz style offensive; protect Jay Cutler. The Bears have invested a lot of time and money in their quarterback and have done a poor job giving him time to throw the ball. So, Carimi needs to keep Cutler off his back and allow him to throw touchdowns.
In college Carimi won the 2010 Outland Trophy for the nations top interior lineman. He had 49 starts at left tackle and played in the 2011 Rose Bowl. He was also a unanimous selection 2010 Consensus All-American, and the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year.
That is what he has done on the field but in the synagogue he has been much more impressive. He grew up in a Reform synagogue where he was Bar Mitzvahed at Temple Beth-El in Madison. He had a Bar Mitzvah project that helped Habitat for Humanity. While in High School he helped in his synagogue’s Hebrew School. In 2007 Yom Kippur landed on a Saturday (game day). Carimi fasted up until an hour before the game. When asked if Yom Kippur lands on a NFL Sunday, he has already checked and says it is not going to happen.
He is not only Jewish but he cares about his religion. Caring brings Jews more pride than just playing sports. Yes, we love Sandy Koufax for being Jewish, but we hold him on a pedestal for not playing on Yom Kippur. We love Omri Casspi for playing basketball but we cheer for him more for embracing the Jewish community. And we follow Yuri Foreman for being a Champion, but we love him more because he is going to be a Rabbi. Carimi is not just another Jewish player; he will be a leader on the field and in the Jewish world.
We as Jews should celebrate this first round draft pick. Not just Bears fans, but Jews everywhere. Carimi is a public figure, one that embraces his Yiddishkite and can be a role model for young Jews everywhere. I know I will be watching him on a weekly basis, which is made easier by him wearing Blue and Orange. So welcome “Bear Jew” and Bear Down!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Jews on the Ballot

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Voting began 4/26/2011 for the 2011 All-Star Game, and all 6 Jewish position players were on the ballot.
The six include:
Fans can vote online by going here, and up to 25 times .
All-Star pitchers are selected by team managers, so the fate of Jewish throwers like Oakland A’s reliever Craig Breslow, Washington Nationals starter Jason Marquis and Chicago Cubs reliever John Grabow remains to be seen.
The biggest surprise on the list is the selection of Sam Fuld, who began the season a virtual unknown but has grown famous for his aggressive baserunning, daring catches and surprisingly productive hitting. MLB.com’s article on the All-Star ballot even mentions him:
Could the amazing first-month story of Rays outfielder Sam Fuld carry momentum through the voting?
As they say in Chicago, vote early and often.