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October 5, 2015 / 22 Tishri, 5776
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A Pair Of Pitchers… And Some Welcome Changes


Craig Breslow and Jason Marquis will be wearing different uniforms this season.

The two pitchers also share a unique trait among those labeled “Jewish players” by the media: Breslow and Marquis both have two Jewish parents.

Most of today’s so-called Jewish players just have one Jewish parent (usually the father) and had no real connection with Judaism while growing up. Assimilation has taken its toll on baseball, too.

Marquis, pronounced Mar-kee, grew up in a family that attended a Conservative synagogue, and he had some Hebrew education and a bar mitzvah. Marquis made his baseball reputation playing ball in the Staten Island area and made his big league debut at 22 in 2001.

He dreidled around with six National League teams since then before signing as a free agent with his seventh – the Minnesota Twins. Last year Jason had a good start with Washington, going 8-5, with a 3.95ERA before being dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He didn’t impress his new team, losing his only decision and posting a high ERA of 9.53 before an injury shelved him for the rest of the season.

Breslow,31, has never started a major league game while with five big league teams. A valuable lefty reliever, he was traded by Oakland to the Diamondbacks, his sixth team. He’s equally tough against right-handed and left-handed batters, with righties hitting a combined .224 against him and lefties just .227

Breslow grew up in Connecticut and attended a Reform temple in Bridgeport before heading to Yale. He majored in biochemistry and molecular biophysics and is considered by most as the smartest player in the big leagues.

Breslow has talked about going to medical school after his playing career. He’s been particularly interested in childhood cancer research since his sister was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 14.

* * * * *

Baseball finally got it right: Fifteen teams in each league; three divisions of five teams each in both the A.L. and the N.L.

Moving the Houston Astros from the National League to the American League’s West division rights a longtime wrong. The A.L. West had only four teams and the American League had one fewer team than the National.

And Houston’s being in the same division with the Texas Rangers will create an instant rivalry in the Lone Star State.

MLB also created another Wild Card slot for the postseason, with a one game winner-take-all for the right to be the Wild Card team in the playoffs. The one game gives the division winners an extra day off. Sure, the one game means the team with the inferior record might beat the Wild Card club with a better record, but that’s why teams have to try harder to win the division.

Before, a team – such as St. Louis last season – just had to win the Wild Card to get into the postseason. Now managers have to shoot for winning their division.

It should translate into much more interesting Octobers. But we will have to wait until 2013 for its implementation.

Author, columnist and lecturer Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years before earning a World Series ring in a front office capacity. Cohen, the president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul, may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

About the Author: Author, columnist, and public speaker Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years and worked for a major league team, becoming the first Orthodox Jew to earn a World Series ring. His column appears the second week of each month. He can be reached in his suburban Detroit area dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

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