web analytics
October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘African American’

Anti-Israel, ‘Amsterdam News’ Favorite, Charles Barron Loses Vote

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

It looks like someone went up to Charles Barron and slapped him.

The former member of the City Council and the Black Panther party was handily defeated by Hakeem Jeffries for the newly redrawn 8th Congressional District. The new district is mainly African-American, with a significant percentage of Russian Jews and Hispanics. Jeffries won in a landslide with more than half the precincts reporting, taking 75 percent of the vote.

According to The Daily News, Barron is demanding a recount.

“When we launched this campaign we knew we were going up against … the entire New York Democratic political leadership,” Barron said. “You know you good when you made the governor do a robo call for a primary.”

While not the most intense election, the contest between the two candidates may have been the most interesting. Barron is better known for his derogatory comments about Jews and Israel. Among what he considers his best achievement in his three-term tenure in City Council was hosting Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe. He called Gaza a “concentration camp” and eulogized Muammar el-Qaddafi as a “freedom fighter.”

(As a parenthetical note, Barron called a proposal by a board member of the CUNY school system to have students take remedial classes in the high school “ethnic cleansing.” When I asked him about it a year later, he seemed puzzled. “I said so much stuff, I’m not sure,” he told me.

While some predicted that it wouldn’t be much of a contest, the election achieved notoriety by the sheer number of endorsements that Jeffries received. He was endorsed by The New York Times, The New York Post, The Daily News. The New York Observer didn’t actually endorse Jeffries, but instead shrilly begged for President Obama to step in and stop Barron.

Virtually the only paper of note to endorse Barron was the Amsterdam News. (Note: The link to the AN endorsement will take you to the Barron website, because the original endorsement on the newspaper’s site has been scrubbed. JP)

“The man is a hater and a bigot whose only redeeming quality is his candor,” the Observer wrote about Barron. “The man makes no attempt to hide his loathing of white people, Israel, his colleagues and anybody else who doesn’t share his demented views.”

In terms of fundraising, Jeffries managed to rack up over $350,000 compared to Barron’s measly $50,000.

Barron did manage to get the endorsement of the city’s largest public union and Congressman Ed Towns, the previous holder of the seat. Barron also unwittingly received a toxic endorsement from David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan. In the video, posted on Youtube, in between bouts of anti-Semitic paranoia Duke stuck out an olive branch in the style of the late Rodney King.

“Black leaders like Barron should work to lessen the enmity between blacks and whites and realize that the Jewish extremists in America keep the whites and blacks from mutually solving our interests and differences,” Duke says in the clip.

During the election itself, Barron supporters clad in yellow faced off against a virtual army of Jeffries supporters.

“The election results prove that the Jewish and African American communities are more united than most people would assume,” said Ezra Friedlander, CEO of the Friedlander group, a public and government relations group based in DC and New York. “The voters rejected a divisive demagogue and elected a bright, talented and forward thinking individual who has the potential to develop into a star.”

The question has also become what to make of former Congressman Ed Towns, long thought to be a strong supporter of Israel, who nonetheless endorsed Barron.

“I voted for Charles Barron,” Harold Mansfield, 77, told the Bayside Patch. “I vote every year, every chance I can get. I always voted for Ed Towns because he takes care of us seniors, and he said Barron was his man, so that’s my man.”

Jonathan Noble, a former District Legislative Director for Rep. Towns and an Orthodox Jew, said he was surprised by the Towns endorsement. But he added, “I hope this does not diminish Towns’ legacy as a bridge-builder. I’ve always admired him for that.”

He’s Black, He’s Jewish, He’s Gay, Get Used to It, and It, and It

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

“Most people have probably never heard of Y-Love,” writes Jerry Portwood in Out Magazine this week, explaining that “for a dedicated fan base, however, Y-Love, aka Yitz Jordan, is a popular Hassidic hip-hop artist who raps in a mix of English, Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic and Latin. That’s right: Jordan is an African-American rapping Jew. And now he wants the world to know he’s gay.”

From the story, titled “Y-Love is Ready for Love,” it appears that Jordan was born to a Puerto Rican mother and an Ethiopian father in East Baltimore, and was attracted to Judaism since he was a child, After seeing a commercial when he was 7 years old that said “Happy Passover from Channel Two.”

That’s when he told his mom: “I want to be Jewish.”

Talk about the media influencing everything.

According to Out Magazine, Jordan converted to “Hasidic Judaism” (no Misnagdish Judaism for him!) in 2000 and studied at Jerusalem’s Ohr Somayach yeshiva.  It was there that he started freestyling to aid in the learning of complicated texts. While studying the holy gemorah, he also developed his hip-hop skills.

Just like the Ba’al Shem Tov.

Soviet Union Financed African American ‘Freedomways’ Magazine: FBI Archive

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Accuracy in Media reported that newly declassified documents from Operation SOLO, an FBI program to infiltrate the Communist Party of the United States, reveal that a journal titled “Freedomways,” which was influential in the African American community for decades, was subsidized by the Soviet and Chinese Communist Parties.

“Freedomways” has been called “one of the most influential African-American literary and political journals of the 1960s and 1970s.” It began in 1961 and ceased publication in 1986.

During the 25 years it served as a propaganda organ for the CPUSA and Soviet front organizations such as the World Peace Council, “Freedomways” published articles by such figures as Derrick Bell, Martin Luther King, Jr., Congressman John Lewis, and Jesse Jackson.

Readers Respond To Secular Jewish College Student

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

In my March 4 column, “What’s Happening in the World? – I’m Afraid,” I featured letters from two women who wrote of their fear at what is going on in the world. The second letter, from a Holocaust survivor, was particularly descriptive, as the woman decried the escalation of anti-Semitism, the savage terror attacks in every country, and the barbaric, murderous attacks on our people in Eretz Yisrael.

That second letter evoked much comment. In last week’s column a self-described secular Jewish student at UCLA wrote that he felt Jews are suffering from “paranoia” and tend to see anti-Semitism lurking behind every door. He also stated that Jews have remained oblivious to our new democratic worldthat is intolerant of bias and prejudice.

That letter prompted an avalanche of e-mails of which I will share just two – one from a gentile, the other from a son of Holocaust survivors.

Letter 1: A Non-Jew Speaks Up

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,

I wrote to you last week in response to the woman who feared for this world (I agreed). I want to send a quick follow-up message regarding the very thoughtful letter from the Jewish student at UCLA. I read and understand what he says, but in your answer, please emphasize that anti-Semitism is huge. It is still with us (along with all other prejudices) and has grown exponentially, to the point where it is now acceptable in even the most revered circles – not only in Hollywood and the entertainment and fashion industries but all areas of society throughout the world.

As I said in my earlier letter to you, I am a non-Jew but I hear and am sensitive to such comments.

They are not always as in-your-face ugly as those made by the designer Galliano (incidentally, does he have any clue as to the history of the fashion industry or to the identities of a vast number of its clientele?). Most forms of bias start subtly, but are consequential, leading up to pogroms and Holocausts.

The UCLA student may be forgiven for his youth – I too was once young – and I am still a basically tolerant and in many areas a liberal person, but not when it comes to dealing with individuals and systems whose sole intent is the annihilation of another group or groups of people. Look where that got us in the 1930s. Is history so hard to learn? It is happening again, and you and a few others called it.

I certainly don’t want to be a Chicken Little over every little perceived incident of insult or wrongdoing, but the blatant anti-Semitism evidenced in today’s media venues is real and will kill us all if left unchecked. A young, idealistic student has a lot to learn, and he will, but the majority of people – Jewish and non-Jewish, young and not so young – turn their heads away or dismiss these incidents as non-lethal expressions of freedom of speech.

I am all for freedom of speech and expression, even ugly speech and expression, but that does not mean I do not take these utterances seriously or that I dismiss them as “just words.” I pay attention and I take note. I also vote. I will never support any candidate who does not respond decisively against persons and organizations espousing any sort of anti-Semitism. Everybody has a stake in this. Our world is very small and it won’t take much to destroy it. That young Jewish UCLA student reminded me of a young African American girl I knew several years ago who told me there is no longer any racism – we are now a “post-racial” society.

Only the young can proclaim the death of prejudice. It is both a blessing and a curse to be so idealistic. You and other Holocaust survivors are the still-vibrant reminders of what can and will happen if we ignore the clarion call of evildoers. It’s a shame, because they tell us far in advance what they intend to do to us. What could be clearer?

Letter 2: A Child of Holocaust Survivors

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,

I was appalled by the letter from that secular Jewish UCLA student. I know there are many Jews who are disconnected from their people and their heritage, but in this letter I detected a sentiment that bordered on Jewish self-hate. It’s one thing to be non-observant but something else again to accuse your own brethren of paranoia at a time when blatant anti-Semitism saturates the world.

I am the child of survivors. Both my mother and father experienced barbaric torture and unremitting agony in the death camps of Hitler. They emerged from that nightmare as living skeletons – forever scarred by that unspeakable, satanic evil that was thrust upon them. If my parents, of blessed memory, were alive today and were to read the letter from that UCLA student, they would tremble in disbelief. They would cry out and ask, “Could it be that a Jewish student would deny the continued existence of anti-Semitism when survivors of the Holocaust are still alive? When concentration camps, gas chambers and crematoria are still standing in place testifying to the unremitting horror of what occurred there? Could it be?”

As the child of survivors, I believed that Jews, no matter their persuasion, share this collective pain of the Holocaust that is forever engraved upon every Jewish heart and soul.

To my great shock, I’ve slowly discovered this is not the case. Not only are there those among us who believe the Holocaust has been overplayed, that it’s time to forget it and move on; there are also those among us who believe Jews are guilty of bias against Arabs and are blind to the suffering of the Muslims – the new downtrodden, exploited people of our generation. Sadly, many Jews have become “self-haters” and have joined forces with those who scheme to annihilate us – and even more Jews have chosen to abandon ship and have disassociated themselves from their people and their heritage.

Not only is that UCLA student off the mark, not only does he have a self-hating attitude, but he has obviously joined with those who hate us and hide their anti-Semitism behind the cloak of anti-Zionism – and he refuses to understand that, in the end, it is all the same: anti-Zionism is the politically correct way of expressing anti-Semitism.

I hope you will publish my letter and I anxiously await your response to this misguided student.

One Size Does Not Fit All Differentiated Instruction: Teaching Every Child How He Learns Best

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

In a bustling fifth grade class Moshe is listening to a tape-recorded reading of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, while Shmuel is writing a poem about a fight between brothers. Next to Moshe and Shmuel, Yerucham is reading an account of a former African-American slave.

After several minutes, the teacher calls the class together and asks the students to answer the question: “What do we know about the problems in the United States during the Civil War?”

Moshe quickly responds, “President Lincoln talks about a great battle between the North and the South. He also mentions something about all men being created equal.”

After hearing Moshe’s answer, Shmuel is silent for a moment and then exclaims. “Well, that makes sense in terms of the poem I was writing. The brothers are in a big fight. But, in my poem, the brothers were fighting because one of them was very messy and one of them was always neat. What were the North and South fighting about?”

Yerucham, excited by how his slave account fits into the puzzle, reveals, “I was just reading about Harriet Jacobs and about how she was a slave. Before the Civil War, the South had slavery, but the North did not believe in slavery. Maybe that is the reason that the Civil War began.”

With those responses, the teacher then begins her lesson on the history of the Civil War, “Alright class, let’s look at this chart of proximate and immediate causes of the Civil War ”

Though Moshe, Shmuel, and Yerucham were all involved in different activities, the end result was a cohesive unit that involved listening, writing and reading about the Civil War. Utilizing different media is a technique often used in a teaching method called differentiated instruction.

What is differentiated instruction?

What Can Be Modified

In their book, Differentiated Instruction in the English Classroom, Barbara King-Shaver and Alyce Hunter explain that teachers can choose to differentiate their curriculum in three areas of modification: content, process and product. Content is what a student is to learn; process is how the student will learn the content; and product is how the student is to display what s/he learned.

Here is what content, process, and product look like in our fifth grade classroom in Brooklyn:

Content

If the curriculum is flexible, the teacher may modify what texts and concepts the students will study. In the case of our fifth grade class on the Civil War, the teacher chose to use Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and a former slave account.

Process

The teacher decided to have Moshe, Shmuel and Yerucham involved in listening, writing and reading activities. She then chose to have them discuss their separate activities with the whole class.

Product

Upon completion of the unit of study on the Civil War, the teacher must determine the parameters for the final product. The teacher may choose to have the students write an essay, create a diorama, write a poem or various other appropriate projects.

How Do You Decide To Modify?

Carol Ann Tomlinson, a pioneer of differentiated instruction and a professor at the University of Virginia, explains that teachers should look at student readiness, interest and learning styles when deciding how to formulate their classrooms and curriculum.

When this is done at the very start of the school year will enable teachers to set up the classroom in a manner appropriate for individual students. Pre-assessment or diagnostic testing is a wonderful tool for understanding what a student knows before the year begins. While some students might be very prepared for the material planned for the year, others might be deficient in precursor skills necessary to become proficient later in the year. A teacher who intends to support success for each learner needs a sense of each students starting point.

Simple back to school pre-assessments could include questions such as, “Do you need quiet when you study? What did you do over the summer? What is your favorite subject in school? Would you rather read a book or listen to a tape? Do you prefer Judaic subjects or secular subjects? How much time do you spend on homework each night?”

As Dr. Susan Demirsky Allan, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Michigan, explained, “Nothing is a magic bullet, but if you start from where the student is, looking at his or her potential, then the likelihood of meeting that student’s academic needs increases enormously.’

Why do we need differentiated instruction?

Speaking to teachers of young children, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) reminds us that it is the responsibility of schools to adjust to children’s developmental needs and levels rather than expecting children to adapt to an educational system. As I strongly advocate, “If he cannot learn the way we teach, we had better teach the way he can learn.”

In their book, Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design, Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe argue that, “Learning happens within students, not to them. Learning is a process of making meaning that happens one student at a time.” For this very reason, differentiated instruction is a successful tool in teaching individual students in their own individual ways.

Multiple Intelligences

In 1983, Howard Gardner, a psychology professor at Harvard University, proposed the theory of multiple intelligences to more accurately define the concept of intelligence. Gardner’s theory argues that traditionally defined intelligence does not sufficiently encompass the wide variety of abilities people display.

In his model, a child who excels at math is not necessarily more intelligent overall than a child who struggles with it. The second child may be stronger in another kind of intelligence, and therefore may best learn the given material through a different approach or may excel in a field outside of mathematics. In his book, Multiple Intelligences, Gardner explains that rather than relying on a uniform curriculum, schools should offer “individual-centered education,” with curriculum tailored to the needs of each child. This “individual-centered education” is another form of differentiated instruction.

How can we incorporate differentiated instruction into our classrooms?

There are several techniques that are easily incorporated into a regular classroom, even one with only two or three hours of English instruction a day.

Jigsaw

The jigsaw activity sets students up in groups reading or listening to different materials. The jigsaw is a learning strategy that divides the material to be studied into sections and makes individuals or groups responsible for learning and then teaching their section to the other students. Just as in a jigsaw puzzle, each piece, each student’s part, is essential for the completion and full understanding of the final product. Here is a sample jigsaw activity from the Civil War:

Gettysburg Address(Blue Group) Poem: My Brothers in Arms(Red Group) Harriet Jacobs’s Slave Account(Green Group) Textbook pages 1-5(Purple Group)
A Moshe Shmuel Yerucham Ari
B Avi David Dani Yaakov
C Josh Michael Ephraim Chezky
D Binyamin Yitzchak Meir Noach
E Aryeh Aaron Naftali Shimon

 

Instructions for activity: Please ignore the letters for now and read down the grid to formulate groups by color. In your group, as you read, you should be asking the following questions:

Blue: What does Lincoln say was the reason for the Civil War?

Red: Why are the brothers fighting?

Green: Where does Jacobs escape to? Why?

Purple: What were the immediate and proximate causes of the Civil War?

Each person in the group should have the same information, possibly a bulleted list of major points. After 15 minutes, you will switch to your numbered groups and you will be teaching your classmates the information you have just learned.

Literature Circles

A literature circle is a classroom equivalent of an adult book club. The aim is to encourage student-choice and a love of reading. Students have a certain amount of time to read a book and they decide as a group how much they will read for each session. During literature circles, students have clearly defined roles: acting as facilitators, making connections, doing simple research and creating relevant illustrations. Many teachers choose to tape-record the student discussions in order to review and supervise the conversations.

A great resource for teachers on this subject is Harvey Daniels’s text Literature Circles. Daniels’s book details strategies, structures, tools and stories that show you how to launch and manage literature circles effectively. It also includes twenty examples from teachers who practice literature circles in their own classrooms.

Classroom Setup

Once teachers have recognized which are the stronger or weaker students, they may arrange the classroom in a way that is conducive to differentiated instruction. When working with partners, if the classroom is set up methodically, the students can work in same-ability and mixed-ability groups.

Tic-Tac-Toe

The tic-tac-toe format can be utilized when students create a final product at the end of the unit of study. It allows students to choose their final assignment in a way that teachers can control. In a tic-tac-toe chart, students need to simply choose “three in a row,” – vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Alternatively, teachers may mandate that students are required to complete their three only vertically or diagonally. Here is an example of a tic-tac-toe chart:

Written Visual Oral
Research report

 

Poster Lesson presentation
News article

 

Graphic organizer Oral presentation
Information brochure

 

PowerPoint Radio interview

 

How can parents ensure that we teach to our children’s multiple intelligences?

As the school year begins, if we know that our children are strong in certain areas and weak in others, we can advocate that schools seek out students’ strengths, coach for success and monitor individual growth against goals. Additionally, parents can encourage teachers to use multiple assessments to evaluate student progress throughout the year. It’s simply important to remind ourselves constantly that if students cannot learn the way we teach, we had better teach the way they can learn.

An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation,, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net.

Vouchers, Gay Marriage And Black-Jewish Relations: An Interview With New York Governor David Paterson

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

David Paterson is the fourth African American and only the second legally blind governor in U.S. history. The son of former New York Secretary of State Basil Paterson, he spent 20 years in New York’s state senate before being chosen as Eliot Spitzer’s running mate for the 2006 New York gubernatorial election. He became governor on March 17, 2008 after Spitzer resigned.

The Jewish Press recently spoke with Paterson about matters of interest to New York’s Jewish community.

The Jewish Press: Many Orthodox Jews, and Catholics for that matter, pay taxes for a public school system they don’t use. Is there any hope of a school voucher program being introduced and pushed through the legislature under your administration?

Paterson: This is an issue I have not fully embraced, but I certainly embrace more than when I first started. I actually went to the Alliance For School Choice conference in August of 2005, and I was sitting in one of the meetings, and I thought, “You know, I think I’m the only person in this room who voted for Kerry!”

But charter schools are probably the closest that we’re going to get to [school vouchers] right now, and I’ve been a pretty big charter school advocate to this point.

But of course as a government official I have to embrace the public school system.

So charter schools, but not necessarily school vouchers.

Not necessarily school vouchers because what happens is if you take enough money out of the public system, you’ve destroyed it.

But many people argue that if the government provided vouchers to all parents, schools would have to compete with one another, and all schools – both public and private – would improve educationally and thrive.

It’s an argument I’m still wrestling with because even with the charter schools around Albany, they opened up so many charter schools that they almost shut down the public school system.

Remember, what you’re doing now is what they eliminated in the desegregation era. Desegregation wasn’t just racial equality; part of desegregation was that the South couldn’t support two school systems. And my question is: Can we do it? Now, I know we can’t do it right now, but when we get past the recession, that’s a conversation we certainly should have.

The Bible clearly opposes homosexual behavior, calling it an “abomination.” Yet you are currently trying to push a bill through New York’s legislature, which would legalize gay marriage. Why?

First of all, I think we can agree that there is a dispute on what the Bible says about a lot of things.

But to some extent we’ve all, regardless of how we feel personally – and I was christened Catholic, by the way – become tolerant of the fact that we have a lot of gay and lesbian citizens who live in our society. So now we get to the legal question – it’s not a biblical question but a legal one: If these people live together, what rights do they have?

The bigger issue, to be perfectly honest, is what [opposition to gay marriage] does to our culture. In other words, suppose you work at an office where someone is gay and this person is getting married. They’re having a reception in the office for the person and you don’t go to the reception because the Bible says that it’s an abomination. What kind of ramifications does this have? When it’s time for this person to be promoted, maybe he doesn’t get promoted because everybody stopped liking him because their religion teaches them that that’s wrong.

Relations between the African American and Jewish communities have improved since 1985 when you first entered politics. How do you account for the tension and animosity of those days?

The Joys Of Spring Training

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008


         In 1870 the Chicago White Stockings headed south to New Orleans for preseason workouts. While they were the first team to choose a warm weather site to prepare for the upcoming season, in 1884 the Boston Braves became the first team to schedule actual exhibition games (also in New Orleans).

 

         Now, of course, big league teams are sprinkled around Florida and Arizona. Florida based teams make up the Grapefruit League while those in Arizona play under the banner of the Cactus League.

 

         An increasing number of teams are opting for Arizona, and the Phoenix area boasts more big league teams training within fewer miles than anywhere else.

 

         I recently journeyed to Phoenix to check out the seven beautiful little ballparks in the area housing nine teams. Two of those teams, the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres, share the Peoria complex and the Kansas City and Texas clubs share a site in a suburb called Surprise.

 

         The Cubs (Mesa), Angels (Tempe), Brewers (Phoenix’s west side), Athletics (Phoenix’s east side) and Giants (Scottsdale) have their own little ballparks and practice fields.

 

         Over a two-day span I was able to visit each of the aforementioned sites from my base near Phoenix’s kosher establishments (check out The Jewish Press Dining Guide). I took surface streets, not freeways, and managed to get from one site to another most of the time in less than 15 minutes.

 

         Some of the spring training complexes are absolutely stunning, and all the fields are beautiful. Though the ballparks are fairly similar in seating capacity (from about 8,000 to 12,000 seats), and the main portion of the seating area is just one deck that wraps around from first base to third base, they differ architecturally.

 

         If you want to see something really architecturally different, take in a game or a tour at Bank One Ballpark in downtown Phoenix. The 49,000-seat retractable roof home of the Arizona Diamondbacks is worth a trip in itself.

 

         There are many rookies who have been tagged for future stardom in Arizona and Florida. Let’s take a look at some of them.

 

         Reflecting a startling demographic change in professional baseball, 16 of the top 20 prospects are white and American born; only two are African American, one is from Venezuela and the other hails from the Dominican Republic. (The starting lineup of the Tigers this year has two African American players and seven Latin American players. The best players in the Tigers’ minor league chain, however, are mostly white and American born.)

 

         There will always be a heavy influx of Latin American players but the African American population in the major leagues is less than half what is was 30 years ago.

 

         The Tampa Bay Rays (the team has removed the “Devil” from its name) have the best collection of rookies – four are rated highly. Three are pitchers. Evan Longoria is a highly touted third baseman who can hit for average and power and could be this year’s Ryan Braun.

 

         The Cincinnati Reds also have a couple of future stars. Pitcher Homer Bailey has the potential to be a top starter while many feel Jay Bruce is baseball’s top prospect and Ken Griffey’s replacement in center field.

 

         So things are looking brighter for some small market clubs. Other prospects to watch are Cameron Maybin, outfield, Marlins; Clayton Kershaw, pitcher, Dodgers; Colby Rasmus, outfield, Cardinals; Andrew McCuthen, outfield, Pirates; Adam Miller, pitcher, Indians; Rick Porcello, pitcher, Tigers; Travis Snider, outfield, Blue Jays; Brandon Wood, shortstop, Angels; Mike Moustakas, shortstop, Royals; Matt Wieters, catcher, Orioles; and Fernando Martinez, outfield, Mets.

 

         None of the aforementioned are expected to have the immediate impact Joba Chamberlain (Yankees) or Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox) made when they debuted late last season. Chamberlain breezed through three minor-league levels before posting eye-opening numbers with the Yanks (0.38 ERA in 24 innings while striking out 34). Ellsbury hit .452 in 73 at-bats in double-A, .298 in 363 triple-A at-bats, and .353 with the Red Sox in ll6 at-bats.

 

         While you can see more teams in a concentrated area in and around Phoenix, and three more in Tucson (Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies), you have to go to Florida to see baseball’s best teams (Boston, Cleveland, Detroit and the Yankees).

 

         Of course, injuries to key players such as Boston’s Curt Schilling can make a big difference as to where a team ends up in the standings. Before it was revealed that Schilling may miss most or all of the season, the Red Sox pitching staff shaped up as the best in the game. Now it’s like a plate of good gefilte fish without the chrain. It just doesn’t look right. But Boston has some good pitching prospects and one may be ready to replace Schilling in the rotation by the end of spring training.

 

         That’s what spring training is all about – giving good young players a chance to make the most of an opportunity. I’ll be paying close attention to the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues and make my predictions for the 2008 season next month.

 

         I’ll also be paying close attention to the progress of baseball’s tallest and shortest players. They’re in the lowest rung of the minor leagues and, ironically, were on the same team last season – Elizabethton in the Appalachian League, in the Minnesota Twins chain.

 

         Ludovicus Jacobus Maria Van Mil has baseball’s longest name, so it’s only fitting that the 7-foot-1-inch pitcher from the Netherlands is pro baseball’s tallest player. He had his name shortened a bit to Loek Van Mil so it wouldn’t take up two lines on roster listings or baseball cards. In 24 innings of pro ball last year, he posted a 2-2 record with a 2.63 ERA.

 

         Chris Cates is a 5-foot-2-and half-inch shortstop who had a chance to show his stuff in the college playoffs last year before signing a pro contract. Cates had three hits in seven at-bats in the Appalachian League before being promoted to Beloit in the Class A Midwest League where he batted only .202 in 129 at-bats.

 

         It’s too early to tell if baseball’s tallest and shortest players have major league potential. Only four professional players out of a hundred ever make it to the majors, and some for only a short time. Some are released before double-A (two rungs below the majors) and others never advance to triple-A (the highest minor league level).

 

         It should be an interesting spring training these next few weeks as we follow our new and old favorites.

 

         Irwin Cohen, the author of seven books, headed a national baseball publication for five years before earning a World Series ring working as a department head in a major league front office. His “Baseball Insider” column appears the second week of each month in The Jewish Press. Cohen, president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul, may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/sports/the-joys-of-spring-training/2008/03/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: