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January 30, 2015 / 10 Shevat, 5775
 
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Random Thoughts A Month Into The Season


   A local Orthodox attendance record was set at Detroit’s Comerica Park on Sunday Chol Hamoed Pesach as an estimated 500 frum fans were in the stands. They saw a good game as the Tigers downed the White Sox 3-0 on a beautiful sunny day. Seven families from my shul returned with suntans and they reported many shuls were represented in all sections of the downtown ballpark, about a 20-minute ride from my dugout.

 

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   It’s great to see Cleveland have a great April. The Indians finished the month with an 18-8 record, the best record in the American League. Only the Philadelphia Phillies over in the National League matched the Indians’ record.

 

   If you want to visit a nice downtown ballpark and a nice Jewish community, take a trip to Cleveland. Only about seven miles straight up Cedar Street from the home of the Indians is Taylor Road, the main street in Cleveland Heights, hub of the Orthodox community. If you continue up Cedar, it takes you through other adjoining communities.

 

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   Remember the good old days when we didn’t have to check our e-mails and people didn’t walk around with phones attached to their ears? And when we never heard of something called a “pitch count”?

 

   Pitchers were expected to finish what they started and the good ones did. In 1963 Warren Spahn was 42 years old but the great lefty enjoyed his 13th 20-win season. Amazing.

 

   Even more amazing was a game on July 2 of that year. Spahn started for the old Milwaukee Braves (for you younger fans, the Braves would move to Atlanta a couple of years later; the present-day Milwaukee Brewers wouldn’t come into being until 1970) and faced off against the great Giants pitcher Juan Marichal (who would finish the 1960s as the winningest pitcher of that decade) in San Francisco’s windy Candlestick Park.

 

   Both pitchers were still in the game, hooked up in a scoreless duel, when Willie Mays homered in the bottom of the 16th inning to tag Spahn with a 1-0 loss. Until Mays’s homer, each pitcher had yielded only eight hits.

 

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   Good riddance to Manny Ramirez. As many of you know, he abruptly quit the Tampa Bay Rays when it became known that he failed his second drug test and faced a 100-game suspension.

 

   Tampa Bay overpaid him and gave him another chance after he failed in a short stint with the Chicago White Sox last season. Two years ago he wore out his welcome with the Dodgers when he failed his first test and served a 50-game suspension. Manny had a short run as a celebrity among celebrities as Hollywood became “Mannywood.”

 

   Ramirez quit with a .312 lifetime average, 2,574 career hits and 555 career homers. Who knows how many of Manny’s round-trippers were performance-enhanced? There should, however, be a separate wing at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown for the steroid stars. They were great players and would still have been great without the added pump.

 

*     *     *

 

   I still can’t believe Andy Pettitte retired with a 240-138 career record. I thought the 38-year-old Pettitte would come back in May or June and try to win 10 games to reach 250 victories, giving him a much better shot at the Hall of Fame. His career ERA over 16 seasons is a pretty fair 3.88.

 

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   Bengie Molina is the only player to be traded during the season and then face the team from whom he was traded in the World Series. Molina, who ended 2010 with the Texas Rangers, received two World Series rings. The veteran catcher has a silver ring for being on the losing team (Texas) and a gold one for being with San Francisco for the first few months of the season.

 

*     *     *

 

   When will Ichiro Suzuki reach 3,000 career hits? The steady 37-year-old Seattle outfielder, who’s had ten straight seasons of more than 200 hits, started this season with a career average of .331 and 2,244 hits.

 

   Ichiro got a late start in the majors as he starred in Japan’s big leagues before coming to this side of the ocean. Besides the bat, Ichiro can beat you with his speed, glove and arm. He’s a certain Hall of Famer.

 

 

   To order Irwin Cohen’s book on how an Orthodox Jew got into the baseball field, send a check for $19.95, payable to Irwin Cohen, 25921 Stratford Place, Oak Park, Mi 48237. Cohen, president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul, can be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

About the Author: The author of 10 books, Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years and interviewed the legendary Hank Greenberg. He went on to work for a major league team and became the first Orthodox Jew to earn a World Series ring. He can be reached in his Detroit area dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.


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