Monday, October 23, 2017

Interview: NFL Receiver Greg Camarillo

Greg Camarillo is the man. From practice squad to NFL receiver, he turned his story into the ultimate story of out kicking one's coverage. Hard work. Determination. Dream achieved. After a solid NFL career he finds himself helping other student-athletes, sharing his story with the next generation. We caught up with Greg to hear more about his journey.

Share on Twitter or Facebook by tagging @RabbiJeremyFine and the opportunity to win a sign Camarillo card!

1) Greg you had a solid NFL career. What was your biggest achievement?Overall, my biggest achievement is just making an NFL roster. I was a walk-on punter/receiver entering college and never was a starter at Stanford. I got lucky to get an undrafted tryout with the Chargers, an opportunity I capitalized on. After a year on the practice squad, I was able to make the roster and play on special teams. A single achievement would be in Miami when I scored a touchdown against the Chargers, my former team. That moment represented how far I had come from being a practice squad receiver to scoring a touchdown as a starter against my old teammates.

2) Looking back at your NFL career, what would you have done differently?

There's not much I would have done differently. During the lockout and CBA negotiations, I was not able to work out at the Vikings facility so I stayed in Miami and worked with a personal trainer. I had a very specific diet which greatly helped my training. I wish I would've learned about that earlier in my career. 

3) As a receiver, who was the best quarterback to play with?
Chad Pennington was the most receiver friendly quarterback I ever played with. He threw the most catchable balls. He had impeccable timing and accuracy and was also a great communicator. I always knew exactly what he was looking for and where he would throw the ball. In addition, he was a great team leader.

4) Your college career was unique as you started out as a punter. How did you change your game to acclimate to becoming a NFL receiver?
My biggest growth came from being on scout team in both college and the pros. On scout team, you're going against the first team defense and facing the best corners on the team, usually in situations that favor the defense. Going against the best forces you to improve and hone your skills. 

5) What advice do you have for young High School or college players trying to get noticed?
Have fun while working hard. Sports should be fun but that doesn't mean joke around. Give it everything you have so you don't have any regrets but also remember that, ultimately, it's a game. Getting noticed will come with hard work. Don't focus on getting recruited. Focus on doing your best and let the rest fall into place. 

6) What was your Jewish life like growing up?
I grew up in a multi-racial,  multi-religious house so my life was very unique. I also grew up in a neighborhood with very few Jewish families. I took great pride in my unique background, especially during the holidays. 

7) What are you up to these days?
I'm living in San Diego with my wife and three daughters (4.5, 2.5 yrs old and a little baby that's 1 month). I'm working at University of San Diego focusing on student-athlete development, which is career and leadership growth for our athletes. I'm also an analyst for NBC's Football Night in San Diego.

8) What is the one thing you miss most about your playing days?I really miss the overall grind. The physical and mental determination of putting all of my energy into something. It's now very rare that I will exert myself to a physical extreme. I miss the satisfaction from that moment when I knew I gave it everything I had. 

9) Anything else you want to add?
Skol Vikes!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Interview: Former Notre Dame QB Gus Ornstein

Recently, I began tracking down some great Jewish football players. Gus Ornstein, while never on an official opening day NFL roster bounced around practice squads. But he was best known as a quality NCAA Quarterback. First made a name for himself at the legendary Notre Dame but eventually transferred to Michigan State. We caught up with Ornstein to hear about his career and where he is today. Thanks to Ornstein for connecting with TGR!

1) Tell TGR a little bit about yourself?
I grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan until I was about 7 and then my family moved to Tenafly, NJ. I attended the Fieldston School for high school. I was drafted by the Seattle Mariners my senior year of high school but turned it down to play football and baseball at Notre Dame. I ended up transferring after one year because I lost my red shirt year after appearing in a game vs Navy. I went to Michigan State and played baseball and football there. I was drafted by the Kansas City Royals after my sophomore year but turned it down to focus on football and then was drafted by the Yankees after my junior year. I took a semester off from MSU and went to play one year of minor league baseball with the Yankees.

After my season with the Yankees I decided to return to football and played one season at Rowan and led them to D3 National Championship. I was then signed as undrafted free agent with the Rams. I was then cut by the Rams and returned to MSU in order to graduate and graduated Suma Cum Laude.

I then spent time with Colts, Dolphins, Jets and KC Chiefs. I also played a season in NFL Europe with the Scottish Claymores. and a season in the CFL with the BC Lions

2) You got to play for Lou Holtz. What kind of a coach was he? 
Lou was an incredible coach and motivator. He was also very demanding and expected a lot and would put a lot of pressure on you in practice in an effort to simulate the pressure you would face in a game. He once told me the three toughest jobs in the world were President of the US, Mayor of NYC and QB at ND!!

3) Not many Jewish athletes go to Notre Dame. What was that experience like? 
It was an incredible experience. There was a great Jewish community in South Bend and they were very supportive and would reach out to me all the time. I learned a ton while there and many people learned a lot from me as well. I truly enjoyed my time in South Bend and my decision to leave was purely a football decision.

4) Why did you decide to transfer to Michigan State? What was the biggest difference between the two schools? 
I decided to transfer because I had lost my red shirt year at ND after playing in a game vs Navy. In the off season I had asked Holtz if I would have the opportunity to compete with Ron Powlus for the starting job and he basically said that Ron would be the starter no matter what. That meant that since I had lost my red shirt year that I would sit behind him for the next 3 years and never play. When looking to transfer I visited Ohio State, LSU and MSU and really fell in love with MSU. I liked that they were bringing in a new coaching staff and that I would be the first QB recruit to come in with that staff- I also liked that they were going to be putting in a pro style offense. 

I loved MSU- much bigger school than ND and I ended up really enjoying the size of MSU. I also ended up being a communication major and had amazing professors- two of which I am still close to today.

5) You moved around the NFL a bit. What was the most challenging part of the transition from college to the pros? 
I found it difficult to break in and get an opportunity. In each experience I felt that I could play and felt it was hard to get the opportunity to really prove myself. I had incredible experiences on each team that I played for and met amazing people and developed great relationships. But would have loved to have been able to stick with one team and made a career out of it! I felt I had the ability but just never got into the right situation or when in the right situation just did not really get that chance to prove my ability.

6) Where was your best experience in the NFL and why? 
I love Indy- loved being able to be around Peyton and learn from him. That was just an incredible experience and he was an awesome guy and tremendous leader and mentor. I learned so much during my time in Indy. I also loved that coaching staff and really felt that my skill set fit with what they were trying to do offensively. I also enjoyed the staff and the guys on the team- just a great atmosphere with that group.

7) Who was the best player you played against and with
The best player I played against in college would probably be Sam Madison or Grant Wistrom and best player that I played with would have been Derrick Mason at MSU- in the NFL- Peyton Manning.

8) What was your Jewish life like growing up? 
For me Judaism was always associated with family. We did not spend much time in temple but we always celebrated all the high holidays and always made sure we get together with family and extended family on those days and would always discuss and relate the holiday. Still to this day I love the Jewish holidays as I look forward to getting together with family and I look forward to discussing the holidays- especially now as I have three daughters of my own- it is important that they understand their Jewish identity. I also found my Jewish identity grew stronger as I moved around the country- growing up in NYC and going to high school in NYC I was surrounded by Jewish people- but as I went through my career there were so many times when I was the only Jewish person around and that was very challenging at times and made me appreciate the upbringing I had that much more as well as my Jewish culture and identity.

9) What are you up to today? 
I am currently the athletic director at Fieldston (my alma mater!) I am in my 4th year as the AD and my 13th year as head football coach and I absolutely love it! Fieldston has always been an incredibly special place and to have the opportunity to have returned home has just been so rewarding for me

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Kublanow Makes the Ravens
Former Georgia Bulldog and MoT Brandon Kublanow has caught on with the Baltimore Ravens. One problem he is on the injured reserve. Hopefully he heals quickly and gets on the field.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

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Julian Edelman will miss the entire 2017 NFL season with an ACL injury. Get Healthy Soon JE11!

Rough Day in the Jewish NFL

It was a very rough day in the Jewish NFL. The following list of guys were cut by their respective teams. All showed promise and were rumored, by some, to make their teams. Hopefully they will get signed to practice squads or with other teams.

Mike Bercovici - 2nd Year QV - LA Chargers
Daniel Braverman - 2nd Year WR - Chicago Bears
Anthony Firkser - UDFA FB - NY Jets
Mitchell Kirsch - UDFA OL - Chicago Bears
Gabe Marks - UDFA WR - NY Jets

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Interview: Arm Wrestler Ed Grossman

At TGR we love hearing stories about Jewish athletes that aren't in the four major sports. We have covered Pro-wrestling, swimming, and others. But never have we interviewed an arm wrestler. Meet Ed Grossman, an over 60 arm wrestler from Chicago who is just getting started in competition.

 Ed Grossman with World champion Vazgen Sagoyan

1) Tell TGR a little bit about yourself.
I am 60 years of age.  I am married to Lydia for over 35 years and have one daughter, Iris, who just started law school at DePaul (where I also went).  I was born in St. Louis but my family moved to Chicago when I was very young. I grew up on the far north side and in Niles.  I went to Niles North High School, the University of Iowa for one year and then Indiana University in Bloomington.  I now live in Palos Heights.  I co-founded the Chicago Legal Clinic, Inc., a not-for-profit provider of legal services to those who cannot afford a private attorney.  The organization has served over 450,000 people since its founding in 1981.

2) How did you get involves in arm wrestling?
I was always pretty good at arm wrestling.  I was relatively small but always had good upper body strength.  I was a gymnast in high school (see below) and did the rings, which is conducive to good arm strength.

3) Did you play High School sports? 
I followed in the footsteps of my two older brothers and was on the gymnastic team at Niles North, doing the rings.  I was on teams that were very accomplished but by no means was I the star of the team.  We had some excellent gymnasts.

4) How do you think you will fair in the competition?  
The competition will be very tough and I probably will not fare very well.  The sport of armwrestling is pretty big in Eastern Europe and they have some amazing armwrestlers there.  I am a little banged up left handed, but hope to be pretty competitive with my right hand.

5) How can others get involved? 
Anyone who wishes to get involved in a formal way with armwrestling can come to practices that occur in several locations in the Chicago area.  The team I am on Is called "Armed and Dangerous" and we usually work out on Sundays at 1:00 p.m. at the Brauerhouse in Lombard, Illinois.  A couple of my teammates are amazing, but since I am over 60, there is a bit less competition. But some of them have won national championships.  Anyone can join, as there is no fee, but you might have to buy the guys a pizza!

6) Is this your first experience? If not, what is it like?

In 1980 I entered an armwrestling competition that was world class, but just with my left hand, as my right arm was injured.  I took in the top 9 in my weight class.  After a 35 year hiatus, I was watching TV and ESPN had on world championship armwrestling matches.  One of the competitors was Allen Fisher, who is a few months older than me.  He was highly competitive, even at his age against much younger guys. So I figured I would give it a try. That was about two years ago.  So after training with my teammates since then, I guess I am as ready as I can be.

7) Anything else we should know? 
A couple of years ago I played in the world series of poker and that was an amazing experience. I am a licensed pilot and somewhat of an amateur magician.  However, I believe I am much better at armwrestling than those other vocations.  I guess now is my chance to see if that is true.  I am very proud that I will be representing the United States of America in this competition and I feel extra motivation to do well.

Good luck Ed and keep us posted!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Mazel Tov Ryan Sherriff

The St. Louis Cardinals have called up pitcher Ryan Sherriff. Mazel Tov to Sherriff on his first stint in the Bigs

In other news Max Fried has been sent down to get a few more starts in the minors but should be recalled in September.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Mazel Tov Max Fried

Mazel Tov to Max Fried on being called up to the Majors. Top prospect for the Atlanta Braves, and former 1st round draft choice of the San Diego Padres will be getting his first taste of the Bigs.

MLB Transactions

Ryan Lavarnway was back up with the As but sent back down to make room for returning injured players.

Craig Breslow was released by the Twins but has landed with the Indians. While he will report to AAA, the Indians could use his arm during their playoff run. Maybe Breslow gets his third ring?

Monday, July 10, 2017

More Israeli Leaguers

Add a few more Israeli Leaguers in the NBA Summer League trying to catch on:

Sir'Dominic Pointer - Cavs 
Maalik Wayns - Wizards

The Passing of Aaron Rajman

In tragic news, Jewish Orthodox boxer Aaron Rajman was murdered last week in his home. Our condolences to his family and friends. May his memory be for a blessing. Read more HERE.

Casspi Signs with Warrior

Omri Casspi has inked a one-year league minimum deal to play for the World Champion Golden State Warriors. Casspi took less to be in GS and is excited about being on a contender. Mazel Tov Omri!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Cammarelli Back with Kings

Mike Cammarelli has signed with Los Angeles Kings on a one-year deal. This is Cammarelli's second stop in LA.

Others from Israeli League Giving it Shot

Its time for the NBA Summer league. Several players who played in Israel last year, one of the main European training grounds/stops outside the NBA will have a shot in the summer league. Others have used Israel as a launching pad to the NBA including a top pick from last year Dragan Bender, Israel legend Anthony Parker, and current NBAer Alan Anderson.

James Bell - Clippers
Darion Atkins - Suns
Darrell Williams - Warriors
Eric Griffin - Jazz 

No announcement yet on TJ Cline of Richmond, son of Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman.

Also nothing to do with Israel or Jews but a shout out to Illini Malcolm Hill giving it a shot with the Magic. 

Leaf Drafted

Israeli TJ Leaf (not Jewish) was drafted by the, now rebuilding, Indiana Pacers number 18th overall. He will be the 3rd Israeli to play in the NBA (Omri Casspi and Gal Mekel preceded him).

Shawn Dawson is Back

Israeli Shawn Dawson who made waives in the NBA Summer League last year impressing both the Wizards and Pelicans is giving it another shot. He has signed with the Houston Rockets to try to catch on with the team. Dawson was one of the final cuts last year and headed back to Israel. He is 6'6 and can play both shooting guard and small forward. He is also known as a terrific defender.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

MLB Jewish Draft Picks

1. Keith Weisenberg (P), Braves (Round 14, #410)
2. Sam Delaplane (P), Mariners (23/693)
3. Jordan Scheftz (P), Indians (23/702)
4. Harrison Simon (P), Padres (24/708)
5. Preston Grand Pre (SS), Dodgers (24/730)
6. Zane Gurwitz (2B), Angels (26/775)
7. Elliott Barzilli (3B), Marlins (32/959)
8. Andy Rohloff (P), Giants (37/1116)
9. Dylan Horvitz (C), White Sox (38/1137)
10. Jacob Hoffman (SS), Athletics (40/1191)

Source:, JBN

Leaf not Jewish

Confirmed by the NY Times, TJ Leaf is NOT Jewish. However he is Israeli and has dual citizenship with Israel and America. He is projected to be drafted in the early 20s of the 2017 NBA draft. Once he gets onto the court it would make him the 3rd Israeli to play in the NBA (Omri Casspi and Gal Mekel).

Monday, June 12, 2017

Berger Repeats at St. Judes

Mazel Tov to Daniel Berger shot a 4-under (66) and erased a 3-shot deficit and win the St. Jude Classic for a second straight year.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

MLB News: Welcome to the Show Brad Goldberg 
Congrats to Brad Goldberg on getting the call up to the Big Leagues by the Chicago White Sox. Goldberg figures to be in the mix as he has been very solid in AAA. With Sox pitching staff has been plagued by injuries  and when healthy Goldberg could get sent back down, but should eventually be a permanent fixture on the roster. Goldberg played for Team Israel in the Qualified and in Japan.

In other news - The Good is that Danny Valencia (9 straight hits) and Alex Bregman is crushing Home Runs. The Bad is that many MoTs are injured Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler and Joc Pederson. Lets hope for some health this summer!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Interview: Former MLBer Andrew Lorraine

The story of Andrew Lorraine is a really story of the successful journeyman of Major League Baseball. Raising star who made it to the Big Leagues quickly. But like many Major Leaguers its hard to find a perfect fit. Many fizzle out or cannot overcome the adversity. Lorraine was not that guy. While he played all over the league and World, teams continued to find value in his services. Longevity was the strength of his career. Truth be told, teams are still finding value in him now as coach and scout. Lorraine was part of the mastermind of Team Israel. And we were lucky to get to spend some time talking to Lorraine and hear about his journey and where he is today.

1) Tell TGR a little bit about yourself?

I have been in professional baseball now for upwards for 25 years. I played college baseball at Standford University for three years. I was drafted by the Angels. I made a quick ascension to the big leagues as a prospect and then kind of putted out a few times and bounced around a lot, most of my career. I ended up playing for eight Major League teams. And basically bouncing around the Minor Leagues most of my career, AAA with 14 organizations. Played multiple years in Latin America, winter ball in Venezuela mostly, over 10 times in Venezuela, several times on Puerto Rico, Dominican and Mexico as well. I went overseas and played in Italy and Taiwan. I was a player coach in Italy and then I took over as a coach in the collegiate summer league in the Hamptons in New York, in its first year in 2009 for the South Hampton Breakers. Got some coaching experience there.

When I was done playing I took a job with the Mariners as a pitching coach, worked  seven years with the Mariners in the Minor Leagues, basically all levels up to Double-A. Last year in Jackson I was the Double-A pitching coach and we won championship. And in the meantime got working with Team Israel first in 2012 with Brad Ausmus, was his pitching coach and we didn't make the qualifier in the World Baseball Classic we got eliminated by Spain. And came back on the team in 2016 with Jerry Weinstein and we qualified in Brooklyn and made it to the World Baseball Classic and I was the pitching coach for that club in Korea and Japan. We ended up winning the first region in Korea and finishing in third place, as the last team eliminated in Japan. It was a wonderful experience. In the meantime last fall between the qualifier and the start of the season I was hired by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a professional scout so right now I work as a pro scout for the Pirates covering Pacific Coast League and the Mariners and the Rangers.

2) How did you first get started with baseball?
My parents enrolled me in TBall as a kid and park and rec softball. I began hardball at 11. My parents were a little afraid of the hardball because when I was younger I got hit in the head in a pickup baseball game with some friends, smacked by a line drive and fractured a bone in my face when I was 9. My parents were always worried about me. I began playing in Pony League in Valencia California. Played different levels based on age. I was a late bloomer actually and didn't pitch much. I didn't end up getting on the mound as a left handed pitcher until my last year in Bronco League, eventually moving to the Junior Varsity at Heart High School as a Sophomore and then Junior year on the Varsity. I had a pretty good Senior Year and started getting recruited by Division 1 schools and was drafted  by the New York Mets but ended up going to Stanford, played three years at Standford and eventually drafted by the Angels as a Junior. Then went back to school to finish up my degree.

3) Many times a middle relief pitcher can bounce around the league; what was the most difficult part of that experience and how did you make the best of it?
I did a lot of starting early in my career. I ended up being a jack of all trades, able to pitch as a veteran swing man later in my career. The good thing about my career was that I was very durable. I was able to pitch without injury. I had a few minor injures (neck and back), never had an arm issue. I was able to take the role and roll with it. I think there were times it was difficult because of moving around a lot. I got to the Bigs quickly as a 21-year old kid and I thought I was going to be there forever. I wasn't ready for the bounce around, up and down. Looking at things now from a scouting perspective its easy to see why I had the career I had but I obviously didn't see it from that perspective at the time, I felt that I just had to work harder. I made a lot out of my career but at the same time I didn't pitch as well as I would have liked to to stick with one club and landed a good contract.  For me it was knowing there was always an opportunity somewhere, I just had that knowledge I could add value to a team and as a teammate. It was a challenge, and one has to grind it out and wait for an opportunity to apply your trade. The big leagues were always the goal.

4) Who was your favorite manager to play for? Who was the toughest hitter you faced?
Hard because you usually equate your favorite to how you perform. I didn't have fond memories of playing in Oakland because I didn't pitch well there. But honestly it wasn't bad at all there. By the same token I loved Chicago because that's where I pitched my best baseball for the Cubs. I had some cool managers. Terry Kennedy was my AAA manager in Iowa with the Cubs and Jim Riggleman the manager with the Cubs in '99. I was lucky to have Buck Rodgers my first spring training, Marcel Lachemann and Art Howe, Lou Piniella with the Mariners, some were cool people. Charlie Manuel was in Philadelphia while I was there and Davey Lopes.

As far as players, for me the toughest guys were right handers. Barry Bonds comes to mind. The right handed hitters who had power who could eliminate pitches on me and drive the ball the other way. Jeff Kent stands out as a really tough out. Gary Sheffield. And other guys in AAA because I was a soft throwing left-hander so if I left a ball over the plate they could drive the ball. Bond was maybe the best guy I ever played baseball with all things aside. He could be the greatest player of all-time. He was the only guy I could think about that we all said "Barry is coming up soon."

5) How did you get to coach for Team Israel and what was that experience like?
Got involved with Peter Kurz the President of IAB and then Brad called me and got involved that year and then stayed with the team four years later. The experience was incredible. I can't even describe it. Seeing the kids and how tight-knit they were. It began with the club being close in Jupiter in 2012, it was such a let down. And to see them come back and the leadership they took. I thought it would be tougher to bond them together again, but they are even closer. As far as representing Israel with Israel across my chest that was a dream for me as a kid, I felt tremendous pride. There was nothing like that when I was playing. I could imagine how those kids feel to be on the field. Great feedback from people all over the world. Japanese fans wearing Israel stuff. Great people, selfless, we want to get Israel back in the WBC in four years. We are really proud of what we accomplished.

6) Can Team Israel, with maybe the help from Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, Alex Bregman, etc compete for the championship in 2021?
If we had all of the Jewish ballplayers that identified as Jewish we'd have a much better club but I think we were proud to have the guys we had who wanted to play for us. We want the guys to want to play for us. I'd love to have all those guys on our club. I do believe if we have Joc, Kevin Pillar, Braun, Bregman, and Scott Feldman those are great ball players. Do they want to play for Team Israel? I don't know. We'd be a tough club. We could give it a good run. It will be tough to beat what we did but on paper a much better chance.

Big thank you to Andrew. A real mensch on the bench! Looking forward to Team Israel 3.0.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Other Rookies in Camp

Ron Kaplan notes three other rookies to get tryouts. Good luck to them all!

Anthony Firsker, 6-3, 230-lb. TE, Harvard — Jets 
Brandon Kublanow, 6-3, 293-lb. C, Georgia — Baltimore Ravens 
Mitchell Kirsch, 6-5, 300-lb. OL, James Madison — Chicago Bears

Sunday, April 30, 2017

JNFL Draft and Outlook

Congrats to the Adam Bisnowaty out of Pitt who was drafted in the 6th round by the New York Giants who moved up to get him.

Gabe Marks, the PAC 12 all-time receptions leader, surprisingly went undrafted but did sign as a free agent with the Jets.

We are looking into Tarik Cohen's (Bears draft pick) MoT-ness. Do not trust random tweets :)

Also look for Mike Bercovici, who signed with the Chargers in January, to make the team. And potential long snapper Drew Ferris to catch on as well.

Current NFL Players:
Daniel Braverman - Bears
Nate Ebner - Patriots
 Julian Edelman - Patriots
Ali Marpet - Browns
Mitchel Schwartz - Chiefs 

Aaron Murray's father is Jewish but is believed to be a practicing Christian.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Interview: Olympian and Super Bowl Champion Nate Ebner

There are few Jewish athletes I have wanted to interview more than Nate Ebner. Not because he is the best Jewish athlete playing right now, but he might be the winningest. It seems like wherever Ebner goes success seems to follow. From his days at the legendary Ohio State Football program, to playing a vital role on the Super Patriots, to his Olympic rugby run Ebner is a tremendous athlete and winner. With the NFL draft, my favorite day of the year, drawing near we spoke with one of the NFL's best Jewish players of all-time.

1) What is it like playing for the Ohio State Buckeyes? Is the Michigan game as big of a deal for the players as it is for the fans?
Playing for Ohio State is an amazing experience.  More fans every Saturday than any other pro team or college team can say they have other than 1 or 2 exceptions.  It is also one of a couple of Universities that prepare you for the NFL at the level in which they do it.  Its nearly like playing professional ball the way meetings and practices and workout programs are handled.  The OSU Michigan game is a big deal for everyone, fans, players, coaches, the city of Columbus.  Its something you start talking about as soon as the football season is over and your starting to prepare for the next season.  We have a countdown clock that literally goes 365 waiting for the kickoff of “THE GAME.”  Every off season workout has some Michigan additive for motivation.  So when it comes time for the game it is as big of a deal as all the hype because its been hyped all year long and it doesn’t matter what you do all season if you lose that game its like having a losing season.  And a lot of the times, that game is very important because its at the end of the season when both teams have a lot on the line and need to win.

2) When did you realize that the NFL was a real possibility?
I realized the NFL was a real possibility after my senior season, having a great year on special teams, and my pro day at Ohio State where I put together a great day of numbers which would've put me among the top in the Combine in every single event we tested in.  
3) You went from one of the winningest college programs to one of the most storied NFL franchises. What similarities do OSU and New England share?
They are similar in regards to how hard we work.  At both places it has been extremely hard work… but its been worth it.  We meet a lot in both places, we break down opponents a lot, and we work extremely hard on the practice field and in the weight room.

4) What is the best part of being a Patriot? What was your favorite moment?
The best part of being a Patriot is being a part of a winning atmosphere that is a product of hard work made up of a bunch of really good people.  Listening to Coach Belichick talk about how were going to go about each week or each day is great to be a part of.  My favorite moment has to be winning the super bowl… twice! No question.  There’s nothing like it.
5) How does playing in the Olympics compare? Were the Patriots and the NFL supportive?
Playing in the Olympics compares in the sense that its the pinnacle of the sporting world, millions of people are watching between the television and the actual arena.  There’s also a lot on the line in both situations.  But there are a lot of differences between the two as well.  The Super Bowl is every year while the Olympics is only once every 4 years! And this was the first time rugby was in the Olympics since the 1920s!!! So in terms of “time” a lot more is riding on the Olympics. 

The Patriots were extremely supportive of me playing in the Olympics.  Did you see the shirts they all wore while my games were on!?  A lot of players throughout the team and league had reached out to me to wish me luck and let me know they’ve been keeping up and watching.  The Pats watched one of my games in the squad room as a team in between meetings and when I got back a lot of the players told me about it and what they thought and it was all very positive and supportive.
6) Would you consider playing rugby in the next Olympics? Is it hard to balance with the NFL?
I would definitely consider playing rugby in the next Olympics, however its a long ways a away and I have a lot of football in front of me until then so we will see when the time comes how my body is feeling or if its even in the cards.  But of course I’m always interested.  It was a long year last year going straight from an NFL season straight into training for rugby then touring the world trying to make the USA team and push myself to get myself where I needed to be physically to make that team.  Then go straight into another NFL season where we went all the way to the Super Bowl! So from a duration standpoint it was a grind at times, but I enjoyed every minute of it!
7) What was your Jewish life like growing up?
As a youngster I went to temple on Sundays with my dad.  We would celebrate the major holidays.  As I got older my football games were on Sundays so that interfered with going to temple.  I kept celebrating the holidays with family and still do when the football season doesn’t get in the way. 
8) Do you, Julian Edelman, Bob Kraft and Andre Tippett ever celebrate holidays together?
We have yet to do so. 
9) Outside of football and rugby is there anything else you work on; business, charity, etc?
I do as much charity with the Patriots Charitable Foundation as I can when I have time.  I also try to get into rugby as much as I can in my free time in the off season to help grow the sport.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

MiLB Signings

Ryan Kalish has re-signed a Minor League Contract with the Cubs.

Nate Freiman, of Team Israel fame, has signed with the Long Island Ducks

Jeremy Bleich has signed with the Somerset Patriots.

Sam Fuld's name has come up as a potential replacement for the Pirates injured Starling Marte. Let's hope!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Interview: Vassar Coach BJ Dunne

There are some really great Jewish sports stories in college basketball, especially with college coaches coming through the ranks. These coaches gather once a year during the Final Four for bagels and lox (not a joke). One of these terrific coaches is BJ Dunne who has been incredibly impressive in his young coaching career. He is the Head Men's Basketball coach at Vassar which is a Top 10 academic institution and recruits nationally. Earning the head coaching job at a young age comes with a lot of challenges but Coach Dunne has met them head on and thrived. It can't be easy as a young coach to command the players attention, let alone respect. But from hearing Coach Dunne's story there is a reason why he is so successful; personable, intelligent, and loves the game.

1) Tell TGR about yourself?
Grew up in Medfield, MA. Attended Bates College and have been the Head Men's Basketball Coach at Vassar College for the past four years. Currently live in Beacon, NY with my fiancé.

2) What got you interested in coaching basketball? Did you play first?
I have always been in love with the game of basketball. I was shooting hoops as soon as I could walk. My grandfather got me a UNC practice uniform when I was about 8 years old and I never took it off. Before my family had a basketball hoop I would shoot into a milk crate in my driveway. However, I thought my athletic career was going to take a different path-I had a lot of Division 1 interest for lacrosse but a shoulder injury my junior year of high school directed my recruitment towards basketball and it couldn't have worked out any better. I played for two of my closest friends in the coaching profession today, Joe Reilly and Jon Furbush at Bates College. Being a student-athlete in the NESCAC allowed me to fulfill my dreams of playing college basketball at the highest level in Division 3. My coaches mentored, developed and challenged me to attack my academics and athletics with relentless enthusiasm, passion and energy. My teammates became my extended family and my coaches and teammates helped shape my passion for coaching.

The summer heading into my senior year at Bates College I interned with the newly formed Maine Red Claws in the NBA D League. The experience I had with them was amazing-I had my hands in everything from ticketing, to promotion, to player personnel. I loved the player personnel piece. I used to sit in the President's office and we would break down NBA Summer League games and work on a list of players who would not make NBA rosters. I loved evaluating talent but I quickly realized that in this current role I would never truly engage or have the opportunity to work with the players on the floor. It was at that moment that my love for recruiting and the desire to be on the floor and coach was cultivated.

3) What has the journey been like to a head coaching job? Did you coach elsewhere?
I have been so lucky in my journey. I played for two great coaches but more importantly great people. I have had the opportunity to work for Coach Brennan at Babson-the 2016-17 National Coach of the Year and 2016-17 National Champions as well as Coach O'Brien at Emerson College, former Head Coach and National Coach of the Year at Ohio State. I am so thankful for the administration and support at Vassar College for hiring me at the age of 25, which made me the youngest coach in the country at all levels.When I made the transition to the first chair on the bench it was humbling and exciting. I wake up every day and I get to do what I love with some of the people who I love the most. My student-athletes make what I do so rewarding. They give me a purpose in life and the opportunity to make an impact every day is something I value over winning games. Just the other day one of my former players texted me to tell me he was accepted to Duke Law School-how awesome is that?!

4) What are your career goals? 
My first season as a head coach, I was 25 years old and we had the best season in program history. We won 19 games and advanced to the conference championship game and I was honored to be named the Conference Coach of the Year.I had people telling me I was headed here and there and I was on the fast track to the Division 1-someone even compared me to Brad Stevens-which was amazing because he an inspiration to me. Things were moving so fast for me it was hard to take a step back and enjoy the small victories in my life. I am getting married to my best friend, love of my life and best teammate I could ask for in June and we are so excited to start a family and have them grow up in a college environment. I am so proud of my fiancĂ© and it is special for me to watch her go after her dreams too.At the end of the day, I do have lofty career goals. I want to be remembered as the best Division 3 basketball coach ever. I love this level. It is the purest form of athletics where passions for sport extend into the classroom, community service and extracurriculars. While I have personal goals I also want to attend many of my players weddings, help them learn, grow and develop into leaders and watch them accomplish their dreams. Nothing means more to me than when one of them asks me to be a personal reference for an internship or job application.

5) What is the biggest challenge about coaching D3? How does your recruiting process differ from D1?
I think the biggest challenge is our time with our student-athletes is limited. We only can work with them in the gym from October-March (if we are lucky enough). I love being around my student-athletes-they are what make this job so much fun and rewarding for me. The more we can spend with them the more opportunity we have to not just improve them as basketball players but as people.

Our recruiting is so different from Division 1. I envy Division 1 coaches-they have a strict calendar and Division 3 is like the Wild, Wild West! We constantly feel pressured to be out almost every weekend beginning in April and finishing in August because if we are not out evaluating or showing a recruit love, our competition is. This takes us away from our family and friends and can honestly wear a coach down traveling and spending so much time in a gym. I hope at some point they regulate Division 3 recruiting. I think this will enhance the basketball that is being played and recruits won't get burnt out!

Our process also differs in the admissions process. Vassar has some pretty high academic standards-we are a top 10 Liberal Arts College so we have to find not only good basketball players but players who can be admitted on their own merit. Very little support in the application process is given by the coach and the only financial aid received is government based for what the family qualifies for. No scholarships for athletics are offered at our level.

And lastly, building a strong connection at our level is really important in the recruiting process. Unlike Division 1 where coaches can get on the phone and call their contacts, us Division 3 coaches really work to build and maintain relationships with our recruits and find out what they are about and what their interests are outside of basketball. They are playing at this level for the love of the game and the academic and post-college opportunities we can offer them. It is important to let them know I will do everything in my power to give them the best possible student-athlete experience and access to all that Vassar has to offer them.

6) What was your Jewish upbringing like?
My grandparents instilled a strong Jewish pride in me at an early age. We went to Temple on the high holidays and I attended religious school up until my Bar Mitzvah. After my Bar Mitzvah it was a challenge to continue to attend Temple because of my busy schedule but we always celebrated the high holidays.

Having an opportunity to serve as the Head Coach of Team USA at the European Maccabi Games ignited a new sense of pride in being Jewish. Being in Germany, the largest congregation of Jews in Germany since the Holocaust made me feel so proud to be Jewish, to represent my country and to be with so many others who shared the same religion and passion for sport. The way I would describe how my Jewish life folds into my coaching career is being proud of who I am. I've worked diligently to instill a sense of pride in our team. Being Jewish has allowed me to connect with something that is bigger than myself-we often ask that of our players too.

7) What else should people know about BJ Dunne and/or Vassar basketball?

We have a really strong group returning next season and we are very enthusiastic about our team's potential. We return 94% of our scoring and 86% of our minutes. We also return from injury one of the best players in the league and feature a strong recruiting class. Basketball has afforded me the opportunity to make some incredible friendships. I wouldn't have met my future wife if I was not a coach! Life is good-I hope that people work to celebrate the small victories in life, stay positive and live with tons of energy. Life is more fun that way and energy, passion and enthusiasm are highly contagious-share them!

8 in the BIGS

There are 8 MoTs on Opening Day MLB teams:

Joc Pederson - Dodgers
Craig Breslow - Twins
Ryan Braun - Brewers
Ty Kelly - Mets
Ian Kinsler - Tigers
Danny Valencia - Mariners
Scott Feldman - Reds
Alex Bregman - Astros

We do expect Richard Bleier and Brad Goldberg to be up during the season. And a high likelihood of seeing Ike Davis, Zach Borenstein, Ryan Lavarnway, Josh Zeid, Zach Thornton, and possibly Max Fried as well.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

2 New Kosher Stands to Open

Just got word that 2 new Kosher stands will be opening this season:

1) Minnesota Twins will have their second Kosher food stand, this being Vegan hosted by the Herbivorous Butcher!

2) Kansas City is adding the same stand that the St. Louis Cardinals host, Kohn's Kosher Cart.

Sounds like its going to be a yummy summer at the Ballpark!

The Mastermind Behind Team Israel

In my mind Alex Jacobs is the coolest guy in sports. First he has now been giving the title "Mastermind" which is usually reserved for fictional characters. Second, and most importantly, he was the individual responsible for compiling the talent for Team Israel. Alex is a baseball scout for the Astros but quickly transformed into the "Fairy Godfather" for the Cinderella story of the Jewish people. Tasked with genealogy, productivity, and a people weighing on his shoulders Jacobs did not disappoint. We spoke with Jacobs, who literally holds my dream job (note the jealous tone) to hear his story and whats next for Team Israel.

1) Tell TGR a little bit about yourself.
Born and raised an unhealthy Phillies fan in a suburb north of Philadelphia. Went to University of Massachusetts. Currently entering my 5 season a Professional Scout with the Houston Astros while living in Lakeland, Florida.

2)  How did you first get involved with Major League Baseball? 
Ever since I realized that playing professionally was out of the question, I began trying to figure out how I could to work in baseball. I was inspired by the 2003 Phillies actually. It was during the pennant race and Luis Castillo popped up to Mike Lieberthal to give the Phillies a half game lead in the wild card. The camera panned to General Manager, at the time, Ed Wade in the Phillies Suite pumping his fist with an emphatic Wooo! I wanted to be in that suite and feel what Ed felt that day.

I went to UMass which has a rich history in churning out MLB executives. I had several internships on both the business and baseball operation side of baseball. Before the Astros hired me to be a Pro Scout I worked for the Astros (Business), Yankees, Tigers, Dodgers, and Rays. Astros hired me for the 2013 season.You are currently a scout for the Houston Astros.

3) What is that experience like and what does it entail?
It’s been fantastic. Kevin Goldstein, my boss, hired me at the 2012 Winter Meetings. My job is to scour the lowest levels of professional baseball and find prospects before they turn into “prospects.” I spend my spring and summers, for the most part, away from my family and travel around the state of FL inventorying other professional teams for the purpose of player acquisitions, free agency, preparation, etc.

4) In many ways you were the main man behind the scenes for Team Israel. What was your main job with the team?
First off, there were many guys behind the scenes with us. Ben Werthan, one of the best advance scouting minds in the game. He was nothing short of incredible taking the lead from our advance preparations of our opponents. Adam Gladstone was a logistical genius and backbone of the entire operation. Without him, this would have crumbled. Jonah Rosenthal and Guy Stevens, who both couldn’t make the trip due to their responsibilities with their MLB clubs were incredible resources and provides exceptional support through the tournament. Jason Lefkowitz, a MLB Scout with Seattle and more drove a lot of this as well. Obviously, this is Peter Kurz of the IAB’s baby and he deserves a lot of credit for how much this has grown. As far as my role, it had a lot to do with the construction of the roster and to know Team Israel better than anybody else knew team Israel. Also, to be used as a rubber board for Jerry and his staff to bounce ideas off of as well as give off ideas…the good, the bad, and even the ugly. But in the end, the entire operation; the staff, players, support etc worked together as a whole. We all had one common goal. This was a complete effort by everybody involved which is what made us the most prepared Front Office and staff in the entire tournament as well as what made this experience very special.

5) Was there ever a possibility of landing some of the bigger name MLBers like Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, etc? Did any show interest? 
At first, we thought so, but seeing how long of a trip this was for some of guys, we knew it would be tough. We reached out to all of them, plus more. We 100 percent respect the opinions of all of the players and feel the best decision for them was whatever decision they made for themselves.

6) Will Team Israel make a play for Jason Kipnis or Paul Goldschmidt who have Jewish fathers but are Christian? 
We did! We had communication with both. Remember as much as the guys on this team were “Jewish,” we were still representing the state of Israel. And, in the state of Israel there are many Christians who live there.

7) Do you think we might see Alex Bregman, Kevin Pillar and other pros join Team Israel 2021 knowing we can play on the big stage? 
That would be fantastic. It was great to see Alex represent the USA as well as Kinsler. Regardless of who was watching, we do think that our performance in these games will make it easier to recruit for 2021. Whether it’s getting some of our players to come back and play again, or getting younger prospects to play for us in their prime. We do think there will be an uptick in participation where we most likely will have to make very difficult decisions as far as roster construction is concerned.

8) What is one thing you took from the Team Israel experience? 
My favorite question to answer. 28 ball players who compete against each other for 140 or 162 games every year coming into 1 clubhouse to form this ridiculous culture. Look at Team PR and Team DR. This isn’t a regular baseball game, these are guys playing for more than a pay check, in our case we are playing for our heritage while representing the State of Israel while also trying to grow the game there.

 9) What are your career goals or is scouting your dream?
Sure I do! Of course the dream is to eventually run your own club and be the one who gives the credit to my staff on the club's successes while accepting all the blame for any misfortunes. That’s the dream. But, in the end, I just want to make as much of a contribution to a baseball operations as I can.  
10) What was your Jewish life like growing up? 
It was good. I wish I took more advantage of the social aspect of it. I went to Hebrew school through being bar mitzvah’d. Then dropped out before confirmation but kept going to services as my mother was president of our synagogue and was very involved. I was in a Jewish High School fraternity as well. I hope that my contributions to Team Israel makes up a little for not completing my Hebrew studies ;)

Friday, March 17, 2017

New MoT NHLer: Josh Ho-Sang

According to Kaplan's Korner there is a new Jewish NHLer the Islanders Josh Ho-Sang. Welcome to the ice and Mazel Tov!

NCAA Tournament Jews

Often we highlight some of the MoTs playing in the tournaments. This year is led most notably by Spencer Weiscz of Princeton whose team lost a heartbreaking opener yesterday. Weiscz played all 40 minutes and led Princeton with 15 points. Today TJ Leaf and the UCLA Bruins take the floor. They are a #3 sleeper to win the tournament. Also playing today are Ben Carter of Michigan State and Roman Sorkin of Oregon.

The NIT has Sam Singer of California who will finished up his stellar career with an opening round loss, rarely used Ky Feldman & Jon Radner (Syracuse) and Cameron Liss (Illinois) and potential NBA draftee TJ Cline of Richmond.

Jeremy Lieberman (Wyoming) is playing in the CBI tournament.

Team Israel Bows Out

Congrats to Team Israel on a historic run eventually losing two straight to Netherlands and Japan. Israel went 4-2 in the World Baseball Classic. If you include qualifying round they were 7-2 with an all-time record of 9-3. Ryan Lavarnway took home the Pool A MVP Award. Great pitching from Jason Marquis and Josh Zeid. Other highlights include Hatikvah on the field, the team wearing kippot, and Megillah reading in the dugout. And of course the Mench on a Bench team mascot. It was truly an amazing run. Yasher Koach to all the players, coaches and those involved. Looking forward to bolstering that lineup and staff in 2021!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Interview: Orangeman and Israeli Ky Feldman

While Team Israel continues to wow us all, its also time for the NCAA Tournament. Last year the Orangemen made a historic run to the Final Four. This year is a little different as they enter as a #1 seed in the NIT. But both Orangemen teams had something in common; Israel baller Ky Feldman. Great is a great young player beginning to make a name for himself. So in time for the tournament here is a good story about an up and coming Jewish baller. 
1) Tell TGR a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Israel. My dad was American, but he moved out there after a year of playing basketball at Long Beach State to play professionally. He played for a few years, and then he coached for a while. In total, he lived there for 15 years, and that's where he met my mom. We moved to the United States with my little brother when I was 5, and we've been living in the Los Angeles area since then. I played high school basketball at Agoura High School, and I chose to walk on at Syracuse because my ultimate dream is to be a college basketball coach.

2) When did you know that you wanted to play college basketball and when did you realize Syracuse was a reality?
I think most kids that play basketball at a young age dream of playing in the NBA. By the time I got to high school, I realized that wasn't an option for me, but I still knew I wanted to play basketball for as long as possible, no matter what level. I never even dreamed of ending up at a program like Syracuse, and the opportunity kind of came out of nowhere. Going into my senior year, I was planning on playing at Occidental College, a Division 3 school in Los Angeles. My goal was to play and be close to home, but a couple months into my senior year my dad found a connection that allowed him to send some tape into the staff at Syracuse. I had no idea about any of it until we took a visit to Syracuse. We went to watch a practice, and at that point I still had no idea of the work my dad had been doing. Fifteen minutes into the practice, coach Boeheim walked over and started talking to me, and he told me that he had seen me play and that he thought I was good enough to walk on to the team. Until I actually heard him say that, coming to Syracuse wasn't even a thought in my mind.

3) What were walk-on tryouts like?
I didn't try out for the team. I was offered a roster spot but no scholarship, and I took it without hesitation.

4) Whats something people should know about being a college walk-on?
I think the one thing people forget a lot is that walk-ons were all very good high school players, so even though there are a lot of great perks, being a walk-on can be frustrating because we're playing a role that we're not used to. It's hard because we're not competing like we're used to, and it's a completely different mindset on a day-to-day basis. Our goal every day at practice is to push the scholarship players and do whatever the team needs us to do. On game days, it's about being good teammates and bringing energy to every game. Off the court, it's about being a good influence and getting good grades. Our role and our goal is completely different than what we're all used to, so it's a difficult transition for some guys.

5) What was the Final Four run like last year? Was it more exciting that you weren't a top seed?
The Final Four run was amazing. It was kind of difficult at the time to take it all in. We were so focused on winning the next game and advancing that we never really stopped to think about any of it. It wasn't until I stepped out on to the court at NRG Stadium in Houston that it really hit me. Seeing 80,000 empty seats there and knowing they would all be filled to see us play made me realize how amazing what we had done was. That was when we all understood how blessed we were to have had the opportunity to play on that kind of stage. It didn't turn out the way we wanted to, but it was still an amazing week. Being a 10 seed didn't make much of a difference to us personally, but I know it definitely made a difference to the media and the fans, and a lot more attention was placed on us as a result. If it affected us in any way, I would say it definitely helped us because we had a "nothing to lose/ us against the world" attitude.

6) What is the best lesson you have learned from Coach Jim Boehim?
The thing that makes him so great is how simple he keeps things when coaching. Watching the 2-3 on television and because of the high level of play, I thought I'd get here and it would seem like he was coaching different game. Instead, I've always been amazed at how simple everything is, especially with the 2-3. It's a very complicated defense, but he finds a way to break everything down into smaller, simpler parts, and at the end it all comes together. That's why we play it so well.

7) What was your Jewish life like growing up?
Growing up in Israel and for the first few years living in the United States, we were very religious as a family. The longer we stayed here, the less observant we became. Now, I would not consider myself an observant Jew. I do not keep Kosher or Shabbat, but I do go temple often. During the season, we have practice every night, but in the offseason I try to go every Shabbat. For me, it's more about the spiritual connection I feel while I'm at temple. That's what's most important to me.

8) Favorite Jewish food?
Definitely Jachnun. In Israel, we would all go to my grandma's house every Saturday for jachnun, so now, eating it always takes me back to that time. I don't have it very much now that I am in Syracuse, but when I do, it's definitely my favorite.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Interview: WBC Team Israel Pitcher Alex Katz

There are a lot of exciting elements to Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic. The major leaguers who are playing, the notion that Israel baseball is in the top 16 countries in the world, and the returning stars. Probably most exciting is the young players coming through the system that have a chance to shine. For a White Sox fan Alex Katz is one of the shining stars. Katz finished last season in A+ ball but is looking to make a jump this year. The WBC might be the best platform to show his stuff.

1) Tell TGR a little bit about yourself.
I grew up on Long Island, went to St. John’s University in Queens, NY and was drafted by the Chicago White Sox as a junior in 2015.

2) What do you expect this season? Where do you hope to be by seasons end?
I expect to build off of my past 2 pro seasons. There's always room for improvement. Most importantly, to stay consistent throughout the long season. I try not to think about each level, instead just focus on pitching my best, getting outs, and the rest will take care of itself.

3) Who is the best hitter you have ever faced and why?
Andrew Benintendi is one of the best hitters that I’ve ever faced. I pitched against him in the NCAA Regionals in 2015 and he ended up winning the Golden Spikes Award that year, and is currently the #1 prospect in baseball.

4) Team Israel has a lot of momentum going into the WBC. Can you make a run?
Without a doubt we can. The team is full of veteran players with a ton of experience, as well as young talent. The team we had at the WBC Qualifiers in September gelled together extremely well.

5) Who has been the biggest professional mentor in your young career?
My dad has been the biggest mentor for me throughout my baseball career. He doesn’t miss a game, whether it's through live feed on the internet or at the games. He knows me almost as much as I know myself. 

6) Whats behind your Twitter handle @Kittyelgato12?
It was kind of a joke soon after I signed with the White Sox. A lot of teammates called me Kitty and then some of my Latin teammates started calling me Gato, which means cat in Spanish.
7) What was your Jewish life like growing up? And today?

I was Bar Mitzvahed and went to Temple for the major holidays growing up. Currently, it is difficult to go to Temple as much as I did growing up because baseball takes up so much of my time. 

8) Favorite Jewish food and why?
Potato latkes. That’s one of my mom’s specialties. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March Madness Interview: Coach & ESPN's Seth Greenberg

It's March which means the greatest month in sports; March Madness! While you take a break from re-tweaking your bracket read our interview with former NCAA coach Seth Greenberg. Greenberg is currently one of the lead analysts for ESPN’s college basketball coverage and formerly a 2x ACC Coach of the Year at Virginia Tech, where he coached from 2003-2012. We caught up with the coach and welcome him to the TGR team. Check out to book Seth as a speaker at your next big event!

TGR: Growing up were you always around the game of basketball?
Greenberg: "I was around basketball at a very young age.  Myself and my older brother Brad would both go on to play high school and college basketball respectively."

TGR: Both you and your brother Brad have had such success around the game of basketball. Are you two competitive with each other? What about growing up?
Greenberg: "Brad and I have always been competitive with each other but at the same time we’ve been highly supportive of each other."

Greenberg went on the talk about the major impact coaches can have on athletes lives. Coaches do much more than coach on the court.  But he gave up the privilege of coaching to work with ESPN. "I get to be in the best seat in the best arenas with the rest of the Gameday crew" Greenberg joked. Hard to imagine a better seat than the coaches chair, but Greenberg seems to love it. He often shares his person experiences and perspectives with the viewers. In a sense he gets to coach the viewers through their basketball experience.

I went on to ask Greenberg about his Jewish upbringing. "I went to Hebrew school, had a Bar Mitzvah, still practices most of the holidays.  I had a Reform upbringing" Greenberg said. He also was proud of his Israel experience. "I actually coached in Israel for the USA team at the Maccabiah Games in July 2013" Greenberg added.

Greenberg's deep knowledge of the game and his 1st hand insight make him a valuable asset to the sideline, booth and Jewish people. The game of basketball is growing in Israel and for young Jewish ball players. Greenberg's legacy has helped lead the way.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Team Israel WBC Update

We spoke with Alex Bregman to get his thoughts on choosing Team USA over Israel. He informed us it was a tough decision but didn't want to go over to Korea before the season. From our experience, he is a huge mench, great guy and didn't take the decision lightly.
Craig Breslow, on the bubble with the Twins Big League Team, has chosen to forgo the WBC and focus on staying in the Majors.

Bleier Traded to the Os

Richard Bleier, after cracking into the Majors last year with the Yankees, was traded to in Division rival the Orioles. We expect Bleier to figure into the Os bullpen this season. Stay tuned.

Casspi Traded and then Released

Omri Casspi had a weird week. Traded alongside centerpiece and good friend Demarcus Cousins, it would have seemed that Casspi would play a major role for the Pelicans down the stretch. Scoring 12 points off the bench in his first game, gets injured towards the end and will require 4-6 weeks of rehab. The Pelicans then decide to release Casspi. We know he will catch on and hopefully heal soon.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Interview: Jose Bautista The Jewish Pitcher

One of baseball's most charismatic characters is the Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista. But in the 1990s there was another Jose Bautista. This Bautista was a journeyman reliever who played for 11 seasons and his journey led him to be one of the winningest Jewish pitchers of all-time. From the Dominican Republic, his father Dominican and mother Russian (Jewish), Bautista has remained in baseball since his playing days. We caught up with him to find out what he is up to now:


1) You were a relief pitcher during your career. What is the biggest challenge of being a relief pitcher?
You need to be ready every day. But for me that was fun because I love baseball. I always felt that playing baseball didn't really feel like a job. I always loved the game of baseball and felt lucky that I was the one from my family that got to play in the big leagues.

2) You were a bit of a journeyman and specialist in the Majors. Which team did you enjoy playing for the most?
The team I was most comfortable playing for was the Cubs. I did well in Chicago. I loved the Cub fans and the field. Those were my best years.

3) What have you been up to since your playing days?
I live in Florida and have all of my life. I have worked for the White Sox the last eight years and I am now able to move up to work with the Barons. I am happy to be with the Barons and excited to work with the team.

4) Do you enjoy coaching?
I love the chance to work with the kids. Six or seven of these guys I have worked with before and I want to help them get ready. We will have some interesting free agents as well. My job is to get them to the Majors as fast as possible.

5) Any desire to work with Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic?
I was asked to work with Team Israel but I was not going to be in town when they were in Brooklyn. But I would love to go to Israel and some day work with Team Israel.

6) What is Jewish life like for you?
I keep a kosher home. My wife is Jewish too. I try to act like my mom taught me.

Thank you to Jose Bautista for his time. Looking forward to seeing what he does in Birmingham in the 2017 season.