Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jews and Baseball

Title made you smile right?

You and I know that Jews and sports in general make everyone smile. Do you remember the line from Airplane after the stewardess approaches a little old lady with a big stack of magazines and asks:

"Would you like anything to read?"

The little lady smiles and says, "Something light."

The stewardess flips through the magazines, finds a small two pager, offers it to the little old lady and says,"How about this leaflet, 'Famous Jewish Sports Legends.'?

Oh yeah, Jews are not known for their athletic prowess ... business, yes ... arts, yes ... athletics, no. So this afternoon, I was browsing some baseball movies (getting ready for the season) when I saw the title, Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story. GOTTA RENT THIS ONE.

I knew there were a few who played the game like Koufax and Greenberg and Youkilis (although Red Sox fans used to think he was Greek). But Jews didn't have many ... or so I thought.

My buddy Joe Sambito pitched for Boston and Houston in the 80s. He's Italian. I knew that Italians had encyclopedias filled with athletes like Berra, Campanella, Di Felice, Garagiola, Giambi, LaRussa, Pepitone, Di Maggio. But I really thought there were only a few of my people in the game.

I found out that the very first Jewish baseball player was a Dutch Jew named Lipman Emmanuel Pike. He was the team's leading scorer with 3 HRs a year. In 1866 he was paid $20 with the Philadelphia Athletics ... the first pro league.

The 1880s were not good for Jews. Many emigrated from Europe to escape the pogroms. Baseball was a wonderful "leveller" and a game that Jewish parents encouraged their kids to play to fit in. Unfortunately, antisemitism was at an all time high. Phil Cooney of the Yankees, Harry Kane of the Tigers, Reuben Ewing of the Cardinals all were Jewish ... and all took new names as players (They also were all born with the name Cohen).

It was the era of the Black Sox scandal and the era that Henry Ford accused the Jews of fixing the World Series.

John Mc Graw, manager of NY Giants brought Jewish players into the game to increase ticket sales in the heavily Jewish population of New York and to counter the ticket sales for the Yankees (with the the popularity of Babe Ruth, Sultan of Swat).  He brought in Mo Solomon who was nicknamed "Rabbi of Swat". He had the highest batting average .375 of any Jewish player. The Giants also had a player named Andy Cohen (used his REAL name). It worked 40,000 people came to see the games  ... half were Jews. They even sold Ice Cream "Cohens" at the concession stands..

The first Real Jewish superstar was Hank Greenberg, born in New York. He was a giant of a man ... 6' 4" and signed with Detroit Tigers. He, like Sandy Koufax after him, struggled with playing on the high holidays. As the story goes,  he went to rabbi in Detroit and asked what he should do. Rabbi said, "well, the bible says that the children were playing ball in Jerusalem on Rosh Hashanah ... so it must be okay." Hank played, Detroit won and the headlines the next day read ... "Happy New Year (in Hebrew)". Hank held many records as a hitter and the year that Ruth hit 60, he was only two behind him.

Sandy Koufax was the smartest most accurate left handed pitcher of his time in 50's and 60's. Played for the Dodgers first in Brooklyn then LA. In his first 6 years he was very inconsistent but dominated baseball after that. Four no hitters in four seasons ...  but in 1965 ... he decided to retire before his arm gave out. He led in every category a pitcher could attain . Won 75% of games in the 60s. By the way ... Koufax did not play the World Series on Yom Kippur and was applauded for that by his fellow teammates and extended community.

Casey Stengel was once asked "Who is the best pitcher you ever saw?"

 Stengel didn't name his own Yankee pitcher, Whitey Ford ... he simply said, "The Jewish kid."

Of course ... there are many more Jewish players today, roughly 4% of all ball players are Jewish (I feel like Adam Sandler) ... you just might not know that they are in the tribe ... here are a few:

Best Jewish player in the 90s? Toronto Blue Jay and LA Dodger Shawn Green. Green had the best performance in any game in history of baseball ... 4 homers, a double and a single.

Best Jewish player in this decade? Kevin Youkilis of Red Sox and now Yankees fame. Has the weird stance at the plate .... like he's just getting ready for a bathroom break ... He has also dominated defensive play at first base.

Favorite Jewish player today?

My personal favorite is Sam Fuld .... he does it all as a utility player and by the way ... he's got Type 1 diabetes and he's also ... all of what? ... 5'4"? And he's a RAY!

So that's just a little about Jews and Baseball.

See? We can do a few more things (well, I can't... but other Jews can)! Be sure to rent the movie ... there is much more.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

And You Thought News Was Depressing

Every so often, I'll scan the pages of HUFFPOST News of the Wierd. Yes, there is such a place (

Here are a few gems:

Was He Wearing His Seat Belt?

YORK, Pa. -- Police in Pennsylvania say a dog that was left in an unattended vehicle knocked it into gear and the car struck a pedestrian. West York Police say the accident happened shortly before 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and the pedestrian was found lying in the street. The York Daily Record reports ( police say the car had been left running when the dog inside pushed it into drive, causing it to slowly start moving. Police say the pedestrian tried to stop the car before it hit a parked truck, but was unsuccessful and was caught between the two vehicles. He hit his head, fell to the ground and was found unconscious. He was treated at a hospital for his injuries.

I wonder how this guy tried to stop the car ... He apparently thought he was Superman, able to leap tall buildings and stop moving cars with his bare hands. Or ... Maybe the guy's wife trained the dog well.

The Booby Prize of the Month

Brazil. -- We've heard of milking it for the camera, but this is udderly ridiculous. Sabrina Boing Boing, a Brazilian model, is woman of many talents including DJ'ing, impersonating Pamela Anderson and her latest endeavor, breastfeeding calves. It appears to be quite the mooooving experience too. Boing Boing instagrammed photos of herself lending her ample breasts to an unsuspecting calf on the side of the road in her native country. Happy as that farm animal might be, people in Brazil are having a cow over the photos, which were accompanied with the caption, "some things don't need to make sense, just worth it!" This isn't the model's first teat tasting experience either. Last week, the self-proclaimed animal lover caused another stir after posting instagram photos of herself feeding an ostrich some ripe fruit, conveniently tucked beneath her exposed breast.

Sabrina currently works at Sea World where you'll see her each day prior to the killer whale show suspended from a trapeeze ... upside down ... with ... well you get the picture.


CASHTON, Wis. -- An Illinois man accused of stealing 21 tons of Wisconsin cheese has been arrested in New Jersey.New Jersey authorities say the 34-year-old man from Plainfield, Ill., was arrested Tuesday afternoon.New Jersey State Police Lt. Stephen Jones said Wednesday the man was driving a refrigerated truck carrying 42,000 pounds of Muenster cheese. Jones says the cheese company, K&K Cheese in Cashton, Wis., valued the cargo at $200,000. New Jersey Detective Oliver Sissman tells WISC-TV in Wisconsin that the suspect used false paperwork to obtain the cheese. Company spokesman Kevin Everhart says they can't guarantee the cheese hasn't been tampered with, so it didn't ask for the product back. Jones says if the cheese passes inspections by health authorities it will be donated to charity.

What wasn't reported was that the man stole a Nabisco truck the week before filled with 35,000 boxes of Ritz crackers and was apparently planning a party for some close friends.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pinterest Schminterest

Ever heard of Pinterest?

If you are a single female either waiting for marriage, planning a wedding, hoping to land a guy or just nosey about what other women are looking at ... you are probably familiar with it. From what my wife read to me in the paper today, 68% of users fall into this category.

Why do I care (you might ask)?

Because I'm on it. That's right ... I got on Pinterest yesterday because I heard it was a cool new craze and a place to get information for stuff like blogs (That means that apparently whoever is giving me information about this is either ... a. As old as me and out of touch or  ... b. Just hearing the same crap I am.)

Am I getting off Pinterest?

Well ... other than pictures of Matzah phone cases (which my buddy Alan sent me) or a plate of corn and peas labelled PORN, I think I might be done with Pinterest. Besides ... all my wife's friends are "friending" me gushing about my new membership.

Gotta admit, some of it is pretty cool ... like the freakish baby head candles with wax falling in one of their faces or the 25 Ways To Tell You're Grown Up (like hearing your favorite song on an elevator or  when older relatives feel comfortable telling you sex jokes.)

Oh well ... maybe I'll stay on a little longer. Who knows, maybe I'll get into place settings and flower arrangements.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


"Say ... Joel ..."

That's how Sammy started the phone call he made tonight. No, hello ... or how are you ... or I just got your message. No, just, "Say ... Joel ..."

"Hi dad. I just called you ... did you get my message?"

The television is turned up so loud in the background I could hardly hear him. "Say ... Joel ... did you get my message?"

"No ... I just asked you ..."

"I got a hearing aid. Aren't you proud of me?"

"That's great ... are you wearing it? Because  I can't hear you with the TV so loud."

"I put it on in the morning and I take it off at night."

"Dad ... turn down the TV ..."

"What's that? Yeah, at first there was a lot of static you know ..."

"Dad ... I can't hear you ... PLEASE turn down the TV."

"I don't mind them at all. I can hear fine now."


"I'm watching television now. I can hear it great."

"I give up."

"Tomorrow .... did you say? We going to breakfast?"

"No ... I just called you to tell you we were back in town. You wanted me to call ..."

"Downtown? We are going downtown?"

"No ... no ... I just ..."

"Well. I just called to see how you were and to tell you how I'm doing with this hearing aid."

"Dad ..."

"You take care too."

I stared at my phone as he hung up.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bye Big East ... Hello Broderick

How sad it is ... no longer will we have a Big East Basketball Tournament in Madison Square Garden. Instead, there will be a tournament for the Catholic 7 ... the remaining teams ... who will "buy the name" and start a new tradition.

For USF ... it was a really sad time. We lost in the first round of the last tournament on Tuesday night. We were there.

Enough said.

I took a shot of the scoreboard in the first five minutes when we were in the lead 12-8. (the only time)

Debbie fraternized with the mascot ... Rocky. It was the one highlight.

Tonight, there was another high point. We saw a great remake: Nice Work If You Can Get It.

Here's the story ... It's the Roaring Twenties, and a cast of outrageous characters gather in New York to celebrate the wedding of a wealthy playboy. But things don't go as planned when the playboy meets a bubbly and feisty bootlegger who melts his heart.

It stars Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara. Featuring Judy Kaye (Best Featured Actress in a Musical) and Michael McGrath (Best Featured Actor in a Musical). And ... Blythe Danner showed up in the last act.

The Gershwin Boys were at their best. Go see it ... you won't be disappointed!

Back tomorrow. Bye from the APPLE.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Have you seen my Emmy?

The Emmy arrived a week ago.

I know, I know ... those who work for me have heard just about enough of this Emmy. I mention it often in meetings:

Me- "Here's the itinerary for the upcoming donor trip ... any questions?"
Staff- "Well, I do have a question about travel ..."
Me- "Just a second .... have you all seen MY EMMY?"

If you missed my original Emmy blog, we won in the Children/youth category (12 and under) for A Chicken Named Mac. www,

Mike Sexton wrote it and Kevin Riley animated it. I ... um ... just watched it. Actually, I wrote the ones that didn't win this year but Mike and Kevin took pity on me and let me share the prize.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Will you still feed me?

When I get older
Losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine?

If I'd been out
Till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me
Will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

Well ... I reached THAT age yesterday.

I remember when I first heard the song, I thought no way I'll live that long! Sixty-four seemed ancient. Just to be sure, I checked the newspaper today and didn't find me listed in the obits.

Last week I heard that 70 is the new 30 ... not sure who makes those predictions but I'll buy it. Centuries ago, apparently people died of stuff like colds or hangnails or acne and there were no doctors. Health carte reform meant inventing soap.

So, that said,  I must be about 25. That's just the way I feel and look  ... 25 ...  (in dog years).

Ballad of the Big Prostate

Here’s a little country tune I wrote just yesterday to commemorate a dark day in my history. I don’t have a tune but realized you can use an...