Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jewish Sports Dolls

Ian Kinsler, Ryan Braun, and Kevin Youkilis among many sports star dolls/puppets.


To check them out click HERE.

The Ultimate Shabbaton

Last weekend, from May 18-20, current and former members of the Ramah Berkshires ultimate frisbee team came together to participate in the 8th annual St. Johnsbury Academy Invitational in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. With over 50 high school-age teams participating in the tournament, making it the largetr youth ultimate tournament in the United States, the weekend had the potential to be unforgettable for the Berkshires participants. However, this specific team was unlike any other team at the tournament. Due to the fact that many of the members of the Camp Ramah in the Berkshires ultimate team were religious, players, coaches and chaperones alike spent the weekend balancing keeping Shabbat observances with playing ultimate. While the team was not directly sponsored by Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, a conservative Jewish sleep away camp, almost every member of the team knew each other from the camp, and as a result decided to sport jerseys displaying that name. The weekend began with three sets of carpools driving up six hours to a motel within walking distance of the playing fields. Friday night Shabbat services followed soon after. A classic Friday night meal was provided by chaperone and co-organizer Rabbi Steve Kane which included numerous Shabbat songs and plenty of carbohydrates.

The next morning, the players loaded their gear onto a truck to be driven by a non-Jewish tournament director followed by everyone walking about 1 mile to the fields. While phones and cameras were tempting, each member of the team tried their best to keep all of the observances. However, as soon as the first game began, all thoughts of Shabbat turned into thoughts of ultimate. Yet, during a break in the action, during lunch, the team recited hamotzi and birkat hamazon with other teams looking on in admiration. Although the team experienced little success in the win-loss column that day, they were able to close out Saturday with Mincha (the afternoon service), Maariv (the evening service) and Havdalah. While throughout the weekend the team experienced a number of rough losses, the real success came in their ability to participate in secular activities while still maintaining a Jewish religious atmosphere. “I was very proud of all the boys who davened kabbalat Shabbat, sang Shabbat zmirot and recited birkat hamazon, with the same spirit as they played their ultimate frisbee games” said Rabbi Kane. “This is exactly the blend that we look for as committed Jews who want to engage in the secular world.” One player, starting handler Jake Horowitz, put it best when he said “It was exciting to be on the field with the people I love doing the two best things in the world: playing ultimate and practicing Judaism.”

For more information on the tournament visit: http://vyul.org/content/blogcategory/26/215/

- Elan Kane

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

TGR at the Trop

This summer I will go to at least4 stadiums and two of them new. The first on the list was Tropicana Field in Tampa Florida. So people make fun of the Trop. Its slanted, the roof is weird, and no one goes to games. It is true the Trop has a bizarre look, but I think it gave it unique character which is the number one most important thing for a stadium. It is also true that there were only a few people there. That was bothersome because most everything was closed.

But I will say this about the stadium, it was very fan friendly. There were tons of kid activities...which I did NOT partake in. At the end of the evening, as I scoured for the Super Sam Fuld cape, I eventually was given one which was great. And free parking! There was also this cool Ted Williams museum, as he was a resident of Fort Petersburg Florida and helped get the Rays (Devils Rays Z'L) started.

Although I did not find kosher food, the Jewish part of the Trop was in the Williams Museum. There was a nice wall dedicated to Jewish Baseball Players. There were also stands presenting Hank Greenberg and owner Stu Sternberg. Lastly, there we many mentions of Sam Fuld and that made for a nice Jewish experience.

Park number #20 down. Target Field will be #21.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Where Are They Now: Former Maccabi Tel Aviv/NBA Players

Today we are looking for former Maccabi Tel Aviv players, not Jewish, but who played in Israel. As Maccabi Tel Aviv continues to be a European powerhouse, these players have kept them at the top of the league.

Maceo Baston - 2003-2006 were Maccabi Tel Aviv's glory days. We all know about Anthony Parker, but he played alongside Maceo Baston who also had tremendous success for Maccabi. Like Parker, Baston went on to the NBA. Baston played for the Pacers and Raptors but did not have too much success. He then went on to play in the Ukraine and Spain. Baston came back to Israel where he made a name for himself but only played 7 games for Bnei HaSharon. He was waived by the Pistons during the 2012 preseason and remains a free agent.

Marcus Fizer - In 2007-2008 Fizer played for Maccabi after 6 seasons in the NBA. But like most of his career he did not spend too much time in the same place. Fizer, once top NBA draft pick, left Israel for Puerto Rico and then one game in Taiwan. In 2011 Fizer announced he wanted to make an NBA comeback but faced an uphill battle with 3 torn ACLs. In 2012 Fizer and his family created a KickStarter, for a creative project called The Rad Ones.

Carlos Arroyo - Arroyo spent the 2008-2009 season in Israel, where he played point guard and was the MVP of the Israeli League Finals. He averaged 15.3 PPG and 5.8 APG. Arroyo had been in the NBA for 6 years before he went off to Israel, but his great season in Israel warranted a second run in the NBA. Arroyo signed with the Miami Heat. Currently Arroyo is playing in Turkey for Besiktas Milangaz and is considered a solid guard who has had great success on the international level. Arroyo plays for the Puerto Rico National team.

Alan Anderson - After Arroyo left, in 2009-2010 his point production was replaced by Alan Anderson. Anderson was a NCAA star at Michigan State playing for Tom Izzo. After a successful year he went on to sign with the NDBL. This year he finally reached the NBA and is currently under contract with the Toronto Raptors. In 17 games, Anderson averaged 9.6 PPG and became a late season starter.

While it looks like we have probably seen the last of Baston and Fizer in the NBA, and while Arroyo plays overseas lets hope Anderson keeps progressing and repping Israel through his NBA success.

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

10 Best Jewish Owners in Sports

More than Jewish players have been making news (at least good news) the Jewish owners have emerged. TGR thought it would look at the top Jewish owners in Sports (the 3 majors sports...would've included the NHL but we do not have confirmation on Jeremy Jacobs or Stu Siegel).  We might be missing some so feel free to help us out.

Dan Snyder - Washington Redskins - Snyder has tried to make moves over the years but most have bombed. But now he has RGIII, this could be the big move that he has coveted for so long.

Jeffrey Laurie - Philadelphia Eagles - The Dream Team never lived up to the hype (at least in year one). The Eagles still have a solid team led by Michael Vick. During Laurie's tenure the team has competed and been looked at as a team willing to make the moves to win.

Stuart Sternberg - Tampa Bay Rays - Sternberg is the principal shareholder in the team. More importantly he has created not only a team, but a culture of winning in a division with the big boys. For the last five years he has given the Yankees and Red Sox all they can handle and often coming out on top.

Dan Gilbert - Cleveland Cavilers -  Gilbert makes the list because of how much pride he has in his team. He hated, not just for himself but for his city, when Lebron abandoned them. Gilbert has made it his personal mission to overcome that loss. Great start by drafting Kyrie Irving, a star in the making.

Lerner Family - Washington Nationals - It has taken some time but the Nationals are a force to reckon with. Jayson Werth's injury (and contract) will hurt them, but how can you not be psyched about Bryce Harper. Kid's got game.

Zygi Wilf - Minnesota Vikings - Sure the Vikings were not so great this past year, but anyone else read about Wilf's desire and will to keep the Vikings in Minnesota. I would want to play for an owner like that. 

Jerry Reinsdorf - Chicago Bulls/White Sox - Reinsdrof owns two major sports teams. He has 7 championships (6 with the Bulls and 1 with the White Sox). The Sox have made major moves almost every offseason over the last 10 years, not always panning out. The Bulls should have been title contenders this year but...well...that whole Derrick Rose injury you might have heard about.

Micky Arison - Miami Heat - I hate that he is on this list. But we need to give credit where credit is due. Last year he inked Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James. They are still playing and winning.

Mark Cuban - Dallas Mavericks - No owner in sports cares about their team more. Cuban would do anything to win. He will go after Deron Williams this offseason and he will go after him hard. Cuban is a fan's owner, that's why we love him.

Robert Kraft and Tom Brady - Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots

Robert Kraft - New England Patriots - If no owner cares more about their team than Cuban, no team cares more about their owner than the Pats do for Robert Kraft. Kraft has put the people in place for the Pats to always be contenders. Oh yeah, and he has Tom Brady.

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

Friday, May 11, 2012

David Stern is TGR NBA Sportsman of the Year

Congrats to NBA commish David Stern on being named TGR NBA Sportsman of the Year. Stern helped settle a brutal dispute during the NBA lockout to give us a season. Many thought there would be no basketball in 2012 (after last night's Bulls loss I kind of wish that was true) but Stern and company worked out their differences. The other nominees were Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert for drafting Kyrie Irving and turning the franchise around as well as NBA players Omri Casspi and Jordan Farmar. Farmar seemed like a lock upping his average to around 10 ppg all season but sat out a good portion with a groin injury. Casspi played solid minutes and started a good number of games for the Cavs, but ultimately did not put up great numbers and found himself moving from starter to bench player middle of the season.

Mazel Tov to the Commish.

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

Moran Samuel Moves More Than Boats

Last month at the Gavirate international rowing competition for disabled athletes in Italy, Israeli rower Moran Samuel won the the gold medal. For most medalists, their country's national anthem is played. However, since organizers apparently did not think Samuel would win the event, a recording of HaTikva (Israel's National Anthem) was not available. Upon hearing the wrong national anthem being played, Samuel began to shake her head and asked for a microphone. She then began to sing HaTikva. "If you look at an obstacle as an obstacle, there's a good chance it will knock you down," Samuel told Channel 2 news afterwards. "If you look at an obstacle as a challenge, then you'll do the maximum to overcome it. There can be small challenges, like the anthem and me taking the mic and singing, and there can be bigger challenges." Samuel became paralyzed at age 24 when she woke up with a rare stroke in her spine. Since then, she joined the National Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team, before taking up rowing. She is seen as an inspiring and moving figure to many, and hopes to win a medal at the Paralympics this summer in London.

- Elan Kane

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Minors But Important

TGR wanted to do a quick look into the minors and check up on some of the up and coming MLBers. With Cliff Lee back for the Phillies, Michael Schwimer heads back to the minors. Click HERE to read more. In 5 games (6.1 IP) Schwimer was 0-1 with a 8.53 ERA, striking out 3 and walking 5. We have not seen the last of him this season.

While Schwimer was flirting the the majors, the Mets Josh Satin, who played for the Mets last season is hitting .264 in 31 games for the AAA Buffalo Bisons. He also has 2 HRs and .298 OBP. Red Sox cather  Ryan Lavarnway has been with the Pawtucket Red Sox posted a .260 BA, 2 HRs, and a .360 OBP. The other two AAAers who have yet to play in the majors are Eric Berger (Cleveland Indians) and Mauricio Tabachnik (San Diego Padres). For his current team he is 0-1 in one started with a 3.00ERA.  He struck out 6 in the game and sported a pretty sweet Rollie Fingers mustache. Tabachnik is 2-1 in 14.2 innings with a 4.91ERA including 11 Ks.

Ben Guez Ben Guez #80 of the Detroit Tigers poses for a portrait during Photo Day on February 21, 2011  at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida.

Two others to keep your eyes on are Nathan Freiman (Padres) in AA is hitting .308 with 11 HRs and Ben Guez (Detroit Tigers) who is only batting .238 but is a big prospect.

Hope we see these guys soon.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Heyman Back in WWE

Monday Night Raw had a huge surprise as former ECW owner and WWE personality Paul Heyman returned to the ring to represent Brock Lesnar. Heyman has signed a short term deal, most likely through the end of the summer. Click HERE to read more about Heyman's return. Also the WWE has posted various links and videos.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Checking In With Our MLBers

Position Player Team B.A. HR RBI OBP SLG
1 Ryan Braun (LF) Brewers .280 8 18 .333 .610
2 Ike Davis (1B) Mets .168 3 9 .225 .274
3 Ian Kinsler (2B) Rangers .284 5 17 .378 .517
4 Daniel Valencia (3B) Twins .216 1 10 .231 .330
5 Kevin Youkilis (3B) Red Sox .219 2 9 .292 .344

Pitcher Team W L ERA SV SO BB
6 Craig Breslow (P) Diamondbacks 1 0 1.93 0 12 7
7 Scott Feldman (P) Rangers 0 0 4.82 0 6 3
8 Jason Marquis (P) Twins 2 1 5.40 0 8 8
9 Michael Schwimer (P) Phillies 0 1 6.35 0 2 4

Stats from JewishBaseballNews.com

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Catch Up Interview With Inaugural Israel Baseball League Champion Eric Holtz

In the summer of 2007, baseball players from around the world came to Israel to participate in the inaugural Israel Baseball League season. The League had players from such countries as the United States, Canada, Venezuela and Dominican Republic. To many, the league’s season was a flop, with lawsuits, resignations and other such problems arising during the first year, and the second season being canceled. However, to the championship team Beit Shemesh Blue Sox’s player-coach Eric Holtz, the league was a chance to realize a childhood dream to play baseball for a living. TGR caught up with Holtz, the league’s winner of the commissioner’s award for distinguished service, to find out what he has been up to as well as look into his future participation with Israel baseball.

1)      Could you give a few sentences about your experience playing baseball in Israel?
The experience of playing in Israel was Incredible. Getting to spend 10 weeks in Israel and get paid to do what I love so much... How could it be better? I got fresh Hummus daily, played baseball 6 days a week and got a chance to re-connect with my heritage.

2)      What you have been up to since the IBL ended?
Since the IBL, I have been playing and Coaching at the College Level until this year while I have turned into the Greatest Fan. My oldest is a freshman pitcher at Bucknell University and I traveled every weekend to watch him throw. My Daughter, now 15, is the Varsity pitcher for Valhalla, and my youngest Brett is on modified (7th grade). His Bar Mitzvah was this past weekend.

3)      Have you kept in touch with any of the players from the league?
I keep in touch with many of the player that I spent time with in Israel. Facebook is a wonderful tool for that as there were players there from 7 different countries so it’s hard to just pick up the phone and call Australia or Japan with the time differences.

4) Have you played in any other organized baseball leagues since the IBL?
I continue to play in the Westchester MSBL-Over 21 as well as the WRWBL (Westchester Rockland Wood Bat League which is 18 and over)-At 46, it is getting tougher.

5)      Have you been involved in trying to revive the league/is there a legitimate chance it will be revived?
I tried to help in 2008 to revive the league, but in my opinion it was a 2 fold problem.
(1)-Not enough Money or Capital
(2)-Baseball is TOO SLOW for Israeli Jews--Ex Patriot Jews represent the interest for Baseball in Israel-True Israeli's don't have the patience.

6) Tell TGR a little bit about the 2013 18U Team USA Maccabi Team you will be coaching that will be playing in Israel.
We will be holding tryouts in Los Angeles, Chicago and NY this summer to choose a roster for the following summer. It will be the first time to Israel since 2007.

7) Is your role with the team a direct result of being involved with the IBL?
I would have to say yes as I am coaching with another ex-IBL Player named Nate Fish.

8) For your players who have never been to Israel, what are some experiences outside of baseball you hope to share with them?
For the players that haven't been there, I would like them to feel the connection to Judaism and history like I did when I was there. I want them to March up Masada and sit in the baths of Cesaria and connect with ancient history-Baseball is only one small piece of the experience.

9) What do you think your team's prospects are?
We Better win Gold/1st Place etc-That's what my goal is-no second chance.

10) Is there anything else you want the TGR fans to know?
I would like everyone to know that Baseball Mirrors life and its ups and downs which is why it is the Greatest Sport going. It teaches you that you need to put your work in, because if you’re not, someone else is. There are no short cuts to success and Your Attitude determines Your ALTITUDE.

TGR would like to thank Eric for his time as well as wish him a good luck on his new team! 

-Elan Kane