Monday, December 28, 2015

Top 10 Jewish Jerseys

As a child I was a big fan of sports jerseys. I would buy all sorts of athletes' jerseys. The problem was once that player got traded, it took years before some of them became retro and "acceptable" to wear again. I am still waiting on my Rex Grossman jersey to be cool again. Below is a list of what we thought were the top 10 Jewish jerseys to wear in 2016. Honorable mentions: Ryan Braun Striped Brewers, Mike Cammalleri Red Devils, Geoff Schwartz Giants Blue, and Hank Greenberg Tigers.



Jordan Farmar - Yellow Lakers
It seems that Jordan Farmar's NBA days are behind him. And he is back to playing in Israel for Maccabi Tel Aviv. His MTA days will be limited and he will probably retire within a year or two (maybe with one last effort to play in the NBA). But Farmar's two stints with the Lakers make his jersey retro and his playing for MTA makes it a legit Jewish jersey.


Jason Zucker - Red & Green Wild
I live in Minnesota. Zucker jerseys are popping up everywhere. Hockey jerseys aren't cheap, so the Wild fans most really love this MOT. Zucker is hip because he isn't the best player on the team but he is young and a fan favorite.


Jay Fielder - Dolphins
With the Jay Fiedler jerseys we are color-blind. Both Dolphins home and away are sweet jerseys. Fiedler is a classic jersey for Dolphin fans but Jewish fans as well. There are usually a few being sold on Ebay at a time. This jersey is in the retro category.

Josh Rosen - UCLA
We don't care if your UCLA jersey is White, Gold or Blue. We just want you to support Josh Rosen. He is truly the next big thing in Jewish sports. The true Freshman quarterback showed incredible poise in his opening campaign. We cannot wait to see what he does next...in a UCLA or NFL jersey.




Joc Pederson - Dodgers White
Pederson jerseys are flying off the shelves. Of course, its a nod to his phenomenal start in 2015 and his sweet rookie stroke. Collectors and fans love the newest sensation. But a Joc Pederson Israel WBC jersey would also be acceptable (actually preferred).


Nancy Lieberman (Cline) - Mercury or USA
Now she goes by Nancy Lieberman but in her playing days there was a Cline at the end. There is only one jersey of hers available on Ebay or Amazon and it is autographed. But if you can find one, grab it. Great jersey for your collection and rare in the sense that WNBA merchandise isn't as common as NBA. Her new found success with the Kings and her Hall of Fame playing career make her jersey awesome.


Kevin Youkilis - White Red Sox
There is something iconic about the Red Sox White jerseys. And there is something iconic about Kevin Youkilis. Not only was he a fan favorite, Youkilis is now retired so his jersey is back to being cool. You know when it wasn't cool? When he was playing for the Yankees.


Julian Edelman - Old School Patriots Red
You can find Julian Edelman jerseys everywhere. He is a part of the Tom Brady crew. His jersey is cool because he is cool. But what you should really check out is his own clothing site. I recently bought his JE11 hat. I do not regret it.


Omri Casspi - Purple Kings / Maccabi Tel Aviv Yellow
Casspi is still the King of the Jewish sports world and his jersey should be no different. The only question is do you want to rep him in Kings purple or Maccabi yellow. You cannot go wrong either way. His Kings jersey is easy to find online. His Maccabi jersey is more difficult. Both will forever be great Jewish jerseys.


Sandy Koufax - Dodger White
There probably will never be a jersey that can top the Koufax White Dodger jersey. It is legendary to baseball, to the Dodgers, and to Jews. Buy it. Rep it. Respect it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Interview: Former Royals Pitcher Tony Cogan




Its World Series time. So its time for Jews everywhere to find a connection to the Series. Well, Kevin Pillar is done. Theo Epstein didn't come through. How about we go back in time a little. Introducing Tony Cogan. Tony played for the Royals, although is admittedly a Cardinals fan. Tony recently joined TheGreatRabbino.com Speaker Series. Here is his take on the ups and downs of getting to the Majors and the best pizza in Chicago.

Image result for tony cogan baseball
 
1)  Tell TGR a little bit about yourself?
I live in Chicago with my wife, our young son, and our golden retriever. We are expecting our second child in late February. I grew up in the North Suburbs of Chicago and love the city, the Midwest, and its people. I have a passion for the outdoors – fishing is on top of the list. I am actively involved with the Scleroderma Foundation of Greater Chicago.


2) You pitched at Highland Park High School. Ever go back to catch a Giants game?


I have been to one or two since graduating, but most of my time was spent away from home. I spent the majority of my off-seasons training with other ball players in northern California, close to school. I did, however, give private lessons in HP for a number of years following retiring from baseball.

 
3) Was it hard to jump from college (Stanford) to the minor leagues? What is the biggest difference?
Actually, it was surprisingly not that tough of a jump. The big jump was minors to majors. When I got to the minors out of college, I was frothing at the mouth to pitch to wood bats! I felt like the edge was tilted in favor of pitchers because most of the guys were coming out of college or high school and had to make an adjustment to using wood bats. That actually gave me a fair amount of confidence going into my first pro season. The playing field leveled as I moved up the ladder.

4) What was it finally like getting to the majors?

 It was an incredible experience. I made the team out of spring training after only two minor league seasons – so it was quite a surprise. I was not really expecting to be invited to major league spring training let alone making the team. On the last day of spring, the team was making final cuts and a few guys were still hanging out, waiting to talk to management. I was on pins and needles and one of the other players, Chris Wilson, pulled me aside and forced me to sit down and play cards with him to calm my nerves. When I finally got in the office, I had a good feeling, but still wasn’t sure. Then, Tony Muser (the manager of the Royals at the time) sat me down and told me that I was going to be on a plane to New York to face the defending champion Yankees on opening day. I will quote him… “you did a nice job in spring training, now don’t get all poopy pants on me!” Three days later I was in Yankee Stadium!

 Image result for tony cogan baseball

5) When did you know it was time to finish your career?


That is a very tough question. A lot of thought and consideration went into the decision. I was still physically able to play when I ultimately hung ‘em up. I can’t say that “I knew” it was time, but it felt like the right time for me.

6) What have you been up to since baseball?


I am now an investment adviser. I work with a great team in the Private Wealth Management division at William Blair and Company in Chicago. I am a husband, a father of a two year old boy, and have one on the way.

7) You played for the Royals. Are you a Royals fan? Do you have them winning it all?


I am a fan, but it’s more about the current team and less about the fact that I played for them. Technically, I am a Cardinals fan, but mostly I am a fan of the game and good baseball. I like the Royals’ chances in ’15, but if they lose and this is printed after the fact you can strike my prediction from the record.

8) Since you are a Chicagoan. Where is your favorite place to grab pizza?
Great questions – there are so many great places to eat pizza in Chicago. I am not much of a deep dish fan (blasphemy!) My current favorite would have to be Piece Pizza in Wicker Park. I am drooling just thinking about it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Interview: MLB's First Female Baseball Coach Justine Siegal

Just a few weeks ago headlines across the country were talking about Justine Siegal. Siegal has become Major League Baseball's first female coach, as she is a special instructor to the Oakland As. Siegal is joining elite company with other trailblazers like Becky Hammon and Nancy Lieberman in the NBA and Jen Welter in the NFL. Two of these four women are Jewish! We have interviewed Lieberman in the past and we are excited to introduce you all to Justine Siegel. Both are a part of The Great Rabbino Speaker Series and can be booked for events (TheGreatRabbino.com). Welcome to the Bigs Justine!


1) Tell TGR a little bit about yourself?
I’m a mom of a 17 year old girl. Its been quite the journey with her and we are very close. Without her support I could not have done any thing that I have been doing over her life time. …Pursing a PhD, coaching college, running a nonprofit, etc. She doesn’t even like to play baseball. But she knows my work is important because its about not letting gender boxes define you and being who you want to be.

2) When did you get into baseball?

I played T-ball and just never stopped. I had a great time until I was 13. That is when the first of many coaches told me I should quit because I am a girl.

3) What is "Baseball for All”?

Baseball for all is a national nonprofit providing opportunities for girls in baseball, including playing, coaching, umpiring, and other leadership positions.

4) What was it like to be the first female to throw batting practice?

Preparing was a a lot of hard work. I knew if I messed up it would be a long time before another woman would be given a chance. But it was really cool. Like being in a movie. I have all my MLB jerseys hanging in my closet. My daughter and I (who was 13 at the time) drove 800 miles in 5 days to throw to 4 MLB teams. I asked her what it felt like to be living the rockstar life of traveling, she responded “they stay in better hotels.” It was all pretty fun and amazing.

 Image result for justine siegal


5) What is your role with the Oakland As?

I was a guest coach at instructional league. So I was working with minor leaguers. It is unknown if I will be given any other coaching positions. But a handful of guys asked me to be there at Spring Training.

6) You used to coach at a Jewish school. What was that like?

I taught PE at the Montessori Jewish Day School in Toronto. Its a beautiful school. We celebrated all the holidays. When Jasmine was 6 her favorite movie was Ten Commandments. She watched it over and over.

7) Do you think female's will begin to gravitate more towards baseball than softball?

I think many females want to play baseball they just don’t feel its really open to them. The more they its open and welcoming, the more they will play.

8) Who is the greatest player you have ever worked with?

Steve Delebar was on the Brockton Rox with me. He went on to pitch in the MLB All-Star game.

9) What else do people need to know about Justine Siegal an Baseball for All?

I have a PHD in sport psychology. That I started what is now Baseball for All at the young age of 23. I have attached an essay I wrote for Chasing Dreams book.





Thank you to Justine for her time. I am looking forward to hearing about her success and the many girls she influences in the years to come!


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Potential WBC Lineup

Theoretically the Jews could put together a very dangerous lineup for the Israel WBC team.

1. Kevin Pillar - LF
2. Ian Kinsler - 2B
3. Ryan Braun - RF
4. Joc Pederson - CF
5. Ike Davis - 1B
6. Danny Valencia - 3B
7. Ryan Lavarnway - C
8. Alex Bregmann - SS
9. Scott Feldman - P

Bench:
Sam Fuld
Nate Freiman
Cody Decker
Josh Satin
Ben Guez

Pitchers:
Jason Marquis
Jon Moscot
Richard Bleier
Craig Breslow
Aaron Poreda
Josh Zeid
Jeremy Bleich
Zach Weiss

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Decker (Finally) Gets a Call Up

Congrats to Cody Decker who has been finally called up to the Majors after 7 years in the Minors!. Read more HERE.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Josh Rosen Shines


Josh Rosen, true Freshman starting Quarterback at UCLA, had a fantastic Week 1. Read HERE for more.

Phillies GM Out


Ruben Amaro Jr, Phillies long time General Manager, will not have his contract renewed. Click HERE for more.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Interview: Hebrew Hammering Cletus Seldin





Meet the newest Jewish boxing sensations Cletus Seldin. He isn't just hard hitting, he is repping the Jewish people hard too. Take notice...or else.


 1. Tell TGR a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Shirley, NY, which is a working class neighborhood in
Eastern Long Island.  I graduated from Longwood High School and I
played multiple sports through my years there. I was the starting
cornerback on the 2004 Long Island championship team, I was a 2nd in
the state wrestler, played lacrosse, I held the state record for a
deadlift of 470lbs at 145lbs, and I took 5th place in the Eastern USA
regionals bodybuilding competition. Don't mess with me when the Dallas
Cowboys are on and I'm a food connoisseur. Outside of the ring I'm a
really laid back, fun guy to be around, but when I work, I work hard and I don't let anything get in the way.

2. How did you get into boxing?
I started boxing around 2005 after my brother took me with him to
the MMA gym where he attended. I was actually pretty good naturally
because of my wrestling background and believe it or not, I tapped out
the Sensei my first day there. I even worked my way up to a brown belt
in Judo. But what I found out was that my stand-up fighting ability
was pretty bad. There was a local boxing gym in Shirley that trained a
couple big name guys and they had a really good amateur reputation in
the Golden Gloves. When I started there I was getting knocked around
pretty good by experienced amateurs until made a decision to start
going every single day until I was beating those same guys, and that’s
what I did. I started winning exhibitions and winning amateur
competitions and now the rest is history.

3. Have you ever considered going into MMA or wrestling?
MMA yes. Before I started boxing like I said earlier I was doing
MMA training.  But once I started excelling in boxing, I haven't
really looked back toward MMA. I can't say that I never will in the
future, but as of now I am 100% committed to boxing.  As for WWE,
nope, never really crossed my mind.

4. How did you get the nickname The Hebrew Hammer?
The Hebrew Hammer alias started when I was still competing as an
amateur. I was going to all of these tournaments and people started
noticing my really hard hitting right hand.  They would say "Wow, that
kid has a hammer.  What is he, I don't know.  Umm, I think he's
Jewish. Yeah he's got a hammer, The Hebrew Hammer" And that was it,
I'd go here, they said it, and I'd go there they'd say it and
eventually I just stuck with it.  I'm the Hebrew Hammer.

5. What was your Jewish life like growing up?
There are very few Jewish people in the town and in the schools
where I grew up. So there was plenty of misinformation and Jewish
banter. Nothing really offensive, it was more ignorant humor type of
stuff and you learn to adapt. But I was a tough little kid back then.
Small but tough, and eventually everyone realized that if you said
something that I really didn't like, you were going to have to answer for
it, or fight. But I did like growing up in a Jewish household. It
makes you feel part of something special and you have a certain
insight that can't be learned. We weren't terribly religious, but we
kept the holiday traditions, I had a bar-Mitzvah, and everyone in my
family all have Hebrew names as well.

6. What is next for Cletus Seldin?
The next step for me is to become a contender for a World
Championship Title shot. I feel ready whenever they are. Ultimately I
want to fight anyone in the world at 140lbs with a belt. I want to
fight them all and I want all the belts.

7. What does life look like after boxing?
If I can get another 3 or 4 solid years out of my career as a boxer
that would be great.  Right now I'm in top shape, I feel excellent,
and I can easily fight at least 4 to 6 times a year.  As for life
after boxing, I don't know with certainty where this road is taking me
now, so I couldn't tell you where it'll take me then.  But I can tell
you that I've always been solid on my own 2 feet, so wherever I do end
up after boxing you can expect good things.

8. What else should TGR fans know about you?
TGR fans should know that I do what I do not only for myself, but I
do it to represent a part of every hard working American, and everyone
with dreams, ambition, drive, and the courage to do what it takes to
get where you want to be.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Interview: MLB Legend, All Star, Gold Glover Shawn Green

In order to make room for our newest venture we are back to hosting the blog on its original site. TGR will still confirm Jewish athletes and stories, conduct interviews, and more. But the evolution of the site is to bring more of these Jewish athletes to your events and hear their stories in-person.

One of the best TGR speakers is none other than former MLB All Star Shawn Green. Shawn was the player my generation looked up to as a Jewish athlete. Today he finds success in a different arena. Contact TheGreatRabbino@gmail.com to learn how you can meet Shawn Green.

 
1) What have you been up to since you retired?
I retired to spend more time with my wife and two daughters. I wrote a book that came out about five years ago called  “The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 mph.” I was doing a lot of speaking with the book. I have been involved in a few businesses, mainly Tech Startups. Currently, I work for a company called Green Fly which mainly handles media apps.

2) Do you think the National League should adapt the DH? Would you have played longer?
I like old school baseball. I am not a big fan of interleague play. I believe the game should be innovative but there is something about old school baseball that I love. I liked when it was a true World Series and the leagues had advantages and disadvantages. It threw a wrench in the mix. It was like two very different games going on which was exciting. I do not think a DH in the National League would have kept me in the game any longer. It is more for infielders rather than outfielders. Leaving the game had less to do with not being able to play anymore and had more to do with not wanting to play anymore.

3) What was it like playing for Israel in the World Baseball Classic? How good was Joc Pederson?
Playing for Israel in the WBC was a lot of fun. It was great to put on an Israeli uniform. There were a bunch of young Jewish players and it was definitely the smartest team I have ever been a part of. While playing I got to know Joc. Joc was coming out of A Ball. We all knew he would be special because he has a beautiful swing. He reminds me a lot of Lance Berkman because of the way he swings and the backspin he hits the ball with. He is young and getting better. Right now he hits lots of home runs and his strikeouts will reduce because of his natural swing.



4) What is the hardest being away from the game?
I was burnt out when I retired. I do miss the comradery. And I miss the flights but not the travel. There is also something about the physicality of a sport. Like taking batting practice and honing a craft. I do not miss the stress of competition but I do miss the success of accomplishing physical goals; it is a lot of fun to hit a home run.

5) What was your greatest professional accomplishment?
I am proud of a lot of things. My first few years were a big challenge mainly because I was platooning. Getting over that hump and becoming an everyday starter and All-Star was gratifying. Also the Golden Glove and 35 stolen bases were major accomplishments. My critics believed I couldn’t do either. These things stretched me and got me outside my box.

6) Who was the best pitcher you ever face and the best player you played with?
No question Mariano Rivera was the best pitcher I ever faced. He basically had one pitch and I could never hit it. Best player I ever played with was Adrian Beltre. He was super talented and truly an incredible ball player.  All four years we played together he showed signs of being MVP but what separates him from everyone else is he way he plays defensive. He also could have 3,000 hits and 500 home runs by the end of his career. He should be in the Hall of Fame.

7) Like Sandy Koufax you sat out on Yom Kippur. Is that decision still meaningful in your life?
I actually sat out three times. I sat out in 2001 after 9/11 but that did not get much attention because we were a few games behind the Giants. in 2004 we were a few games ahead and had two games that landed on Yom Kippur. I played in one game and sat out the other. When I was younger we acknowledged the holiday but we were not super religious growing up. In 2007 I again sat one game and played the other. 2004 became a big story juggling a religious decision in the modern workplace. It was the right decision for my family and looking back I am happy I made the decisions I did. 

To book Shawn at your next event or other Jewish Athletes check out TheGreatRabbino.com

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Interview: Indian's President Mark Shapiro

In our last interview being hosted by TheGreatRabbino.com we wanted to go big. I got a hold of one of the most influential Jews in baseball history. There are owners and there are players, but General Managers assemble teams and staffs. Who better to speak with than the President (former GM) of the Cleveland Indians Mark Shapiro. Mark is a great guy and has pulled off some amazing moves (highlighted below). Whats not in the interview is my telling him about how everyone my age has some love for the Indians mainly because of the movies Major League and Major League 2 (not Major League 3: Back to the Buzz). We want to thank everyone for reading over the last few years. We will now be hosted on TheGreatRabbino.blogspot.com. We encourage you to still visit TheGreatRabbino.com for your chance to meet Jewish athletes.




1) How do you get into the baseball General Manager/ Team President track?
There is not one answer to this question. When you find people who are successful it is because that are so passionate about that job that they are able to differentiate themselves in their highly competitive field. Everyone in baseball is smart. But each individual who is able to take what they are good at and use it to differentiate themselves, that includes players, will find success.

2 ) What was the best move you ever made for the Indians?
The Bartolo Colon trade was for sure the best transaction (The Indians traded Colón and Tim Drew to the Expos for Lee Stevens, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee). But I think my best move did not necessarily involve players. I have also hired a lot of people for the organization. I believe I empower the right people inside the organization and those moves often outlive the player transactions.

3) You appeared in the movie Moneyball. What was that experience like? Was it realistic?
It was not very realistic or factual. I was the Assistant GM at the time when Billy [Beane] was working towards changing the As. However, the book and movie both portray, some importance that has been implemented in baseball by As and Indians.

4) The Indians just drafted Brady Aiken. Are you excited about that pick?
We are very excited. When you look at draft board at any time there are a variety of ways a team can lean. Brady was a tough player to evaluate because of his injury but we were pleasantly surprised who was still available. He is a player with great talent and character. It is a very exciting move for the Indians.


5) How difficult is it to let great pitching like Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia go? Do you keep in touch with players you trade?
An organization or GM keeps in touch with different players on different levels. There is a certain level of professionalism within the job that comes to the forefront with every move. I am still close friends with Sean Casey and Victor Martinez. Victor among the toughest because of who he is as a person. My hope is that their time with Indians is part of their foundation and is positive experience in their baseball lives. When players look back on their careers, more than the uniforms, or cities they played for, it is the relationships that defined their careers.

6) Do you feel the National League will adapt the Designated Hitter?
I am not sure that adapting the DH would be the best idea but I do believe that with interleague play happening every day that clearly the MLB needs one set of rules.

7) What was your Jewish life like growing up and today?
I grew up in a Reform household bordering Conservative. Judaism was very Important to my parents while I was growing up. We attended a Conservative synagogue and I had a Bar Mitzvah. It was always a big part of family and culture. Today, Judaism plays into my life through  culture and also the values that religion instilled in me.

8) Knowing how passionate Cleveland fans are about Lebron James, if James wanted to sign a minor league contract with the Indians, would you entertain the idea?
This is an impossible question to answer. I am not big on adding unnecessary distractions around the players. I’d have to answer; what is his intent? The reality is, he is 31 years old. I have seen Lebron swing a bat and he should probably stick with basketball. 

Thank you again to Mark for his time and to all of you as well.