web analytics
December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Indians’

Only the ADL Could Turn the ‘Redskins’ Name into a Jewish Issue

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

President Barack Obama finally has given Americans a fun issue to debate so they can take their minds off Iranian nukes, Syrian chemical weapons and the zillion dollar debt, but the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is playing party pooper by turning it into a Jewish issue.

If the Washington Redskins’ football club owner Dan Snyder were not Jewish, would the name “Redskins” make such a difference to the ADL?

Other teams have also come under fire, including the Cleveland Indians, whose hook-nosed, red-faced mascot Chief Wahoo has been called racist and offensive, the JTA reported. The Atlanta Braves baseball team also is in the same club of offending an ethnic group.

“Tradition matters, but tradition should not justify the perpetuation of such names and mascots,” said ADL national director Abraham Foxman. “A name change will not impact how a team fares on the field, or in the standings.”

Snyder is sticking to his guns, or bow and arrow, and the Washington Post reported that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, “It would be a real mistake – a real mistake – to think that Dan, who is Jewish, has a lack of sensitivity regarding somebody’s feelings. I promise you that.”

President Obama has turned the issue into a national debate, not the most burning issue for the great American empire but at least one that is a bit lighter than all of the burdens Americans carry because of an increasingly deaf and dumb government.

“I’ve got to say that if I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team, even if it had a storied history, that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it,” President Barack Obama said.

Not to many years ago, any ethnic group would have been proud to have a baseball or football team named after them. The “Baltimore Jews” or the “Brooklyn Blacks” would not have been offensive. It would have been badge of honor.

Even today, Walt “Red Hawk” Brown, the chief of Virginia’s Cheroenhaka Nottoway Tribe that was recognized by the Virginia General Assembly in 2010 but is not federally recognized , told a Richmond, Virginia television station that it’s “a great honor” when Native American words are used in popular culture.

“Why would my president says [Redskins is] is offensive to him?” Brown asked. “What’s offensive to me is this: we have 11 state recognized tribes, and he hasn’t done one thing to get those tribes federally recognized.”

But his voice is drowned out by the Melting Pot culture that not too many decades ago decided that Negro was too close to “nigger” and had to be replaced with “black,” which was not ethnic enough and had to be replaced with “Afro-Americans.”

But a Jew still is a Jew.

Or as Tom Lehrer once sang, “During National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week, “It’s fun to eulogize/The people you despise… Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics/And the Catholics hate the Protestants/And the Hindus hate the Muslims/And everybody hates the Jews.”

Consider the recent poll that shows more and more Jews, especially those who might not be Jews according to Jewish law but like to consider themselves as Jewish, regard their religion as a culture. That way, maybe the Jews won’t be hated, except by God for rejecting the concept of The Chosen People, which is obvious racism to the politically correct.

A “stomach Jew” used to be one who did not observe much of the Torah but ate gefilte fish. Today a  “stomach Jew” is one who can eat shrimp while wearing an “I Love Israel” shirt.

If  the “Redskins” is so suggestive of racism, Obama and Foxman have the wrong reasons for being so sensitive. And where is  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry when we need him to remind everyone of American history?

Doesn’t anyone remember that the  tiny U.S. government occupied the West Bank of the United States and put the Indians in refugee camps, called “reserves?”

There was no need for an Apartheid back then because the good Christian whites simply gunned down the Indians by the hundreds and by the thousands as part of the peace process.

Does pressing Snyder to bury the name “Redskins” cleanse the past and sterilize the present?

A Mighty Fine Feller

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Bob Feller was stubborn and opinionated – and, I must admit, I didn’t care for him too much at our first meeting over 30 years ago.

 

But the more our paths crossed and the more conversations we had, the more I liked him. I even came to admire him.

 

Feller, who died last month at age 92, was of course a great pitcher but he was also a savvy businessman. He played a major role in the formation of the players’ union and was the first player to incorporate. He headed off-season baseball barnstorming tours playing with and against Negro League players before the major leagues were finally integrated in 1947.

 

Feller chartered and even flew his own plane, hired the traveling secretary of the Cleveland Indians to handle bookings, and he paid all players, including the Negro Leaguers, well. Buck O’Neill, one of the Negro League stars born to soon to play in the majors, claimed he made more money with Feller’s tours than he did playing in the established Negro Leagues.

 

Feller’s story is an interesting one.

 

He made his big-league debut at the age of 17 in August 1936. The young fireballer pitched 62 innings and struck out 76 that season. And he just kept getting better. He already had won 107 games for the Cleveland Indians when he turned 21 in November 1941. But the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor a couple of weeks later and Feller opted to turn in his baseball uniform for a military one.

 

He didn’t have to give up the big-league life and big-league money. He could have claimed a deferral as a farmer whose father was too sick to operate the family farm in Iowa. But the patriotic pitcher joined the Navy and pushed aside the cushy assignments most big league players were able to get.

 

Feller wanted to serve as an ordinary American rather than a big-league star and found plenty of action in combat – including at Iwo Jima. He didn’t return from military service until late in the 1945 season, which meant he missed almost four full seasons in his prime. Even without those years, Feller still managed to rack up 266 victories.

 

As baseball commissioner Bud Selig noted at Feller’s passing, “Bob Feller was a great baseball player, but he was an even greater American.”

 

Baseball recently lost some other greats.

 

Cubs broadcaster and former third baseman Ron Santo compiled 342 home runs and a .277 batting average over a 15-year playing career and won the Gold Glove Award for defensive abilities five times. Santo was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at 18 but didn’t reveal it to teammates until his fourth season in the majors and fans found out two years after that.

 

It wasn’t easy dealing with diabetes during his career (1960-1974). Santo, who was a fixture in the Cubs broadcast booth for the last 21 years, liked to tell this story about one of the times his condition was acting up:

 

“I was in the on-deck circle and Billy Williams was up in the bottom of the ninth inning. I was hoping Williams would hit a home run and end the game so I wouldn’t have to bat, as I was seeing three of everything. Williams walked and I had to go up and bat. Since I saw what looked like three pitchers, I decided I would swing at the ball I was seeing in the middle. I did and hit a home run and somehow made it around the bases and we won the game.”

 

Santo was 70 when he passed away.

 

Phil Cavaretta, another Chicago legend, died at 94. He played for the Cubs for 20 years (1934-1953) before going to the White Sox for two seasons.

 

A first baseman-outfielder, Cavaretta topped the league in 1945 with a .355 average and led the Cubs to the World Series (they haven’t made it since). He batted an amazing .423 in the seven-game series but Hank Greenberg’s two home runs helped Detroit down the Cubs.

 

The biggest player of his time (6-5, 220), Walt Dropo died a month shy of his 88th birthday. He hailed from Moosup, Connecticut, which gave him the nickname “Moose.” Dropo had a great rookie year in 1950 with the Red Sox, batting .322 and swatting 34 home runs with 144 RBI in 136 games. The popular big guy never topped the .300 or 30-homer mark again in his 13-year career with Boston, Detroit, the White Sox, Cincinnati and Baltimore.

 

Gil McDougald, who spent his entire ten-year career (1951-1960) with the Yankees as an infielder, died at 82. A .276 lifetime hitter, McDougald was a valuable member of the Yankees, helping the club to eight World Series during his 10 seasons with the team, all under manager Casey Stengel.

 

While this has been an off-season tinged with sadness, teams have been busy, with many faces heading to new places. Since we can expect more wheeling and dealing, especially from the Yankees and Mets, who seem to have fallen further behind some other clubs, I’ll wait a while to give my opinions.

 

As always, your opinions are welcome.


 


 


Next month Irwin Cohen will tell us about being an Orthodox Jew in the baseball field. Cohen, president of the Detroit community’s Agudah shul, may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.com 

Non-Perfect Perfect Game

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

It’s been all over the news. You had to be in solitary confinement not to hear about umpire Jim Joyce’s blown call at first base that should have ended the perfect game by Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga against the Cleveland Indians in Detroit.

 

Even Jason Donald, who happened to be the baserunner, was caught by surprise as he thought he ended the perfect game. I was at the game the night before and was watching this one on television and also listening to the radio as the game wound down. I watched in disbelief as Donald was called safe and a shocked Galarraga retired the next batter to end the game.

 

I ran to shul – the game ended just before Mincha – and you can guess what the topic of conversation was and still is around my town. But we all agree that Galarraga was robbed of baseball immortality – and that this is the first 28-out perfect game.

 

Galarraga? He’s such a sweet guy and has been my favorite player on the team. We knew that he was a real mensch and now the world knows it, too. General Motors presented him with a red Corvette and we don’t feel bad for him as he’s been discovered and showered with zillions of words about his great behavior, good sportsmanship and being a real role model to youngsters on how to act when you’re wronged even though you’re right.

 

*     *     *

 

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Mets first baseman Ike Davis. The son of former major league pitcher Ron Davis (Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants from 1978-1988), and a Jewish mother, Davis has quickly become the favorite Met and even favorite big-league player of many Orthodox fans, including a New Yorker who recently moved a pop-up away from me.

 

Even if he weren’t Jewish according to our halachic umpires, Davis would still be a good one to root for. A hard-nosed player who doesn’t see walls as obstacles, the smooth-fielding Davis can win a game here and there even on days when he doesn’t get a hit. As far as hitting goes, Davis seems capable of reaching .300 with 25 home runs. That’s usually good enough to be an all-star but not in the National League with the likes of Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder competing for the first-base spot in the all-star voting for the foreseeable future.

 

We’ll see how much rubbed off on Davis from his Jewish side on Friday night, September 17, and the next afternoon. Besides being Shabbat, it’s Yom Kippur, and the Mets have a night game against Atlanta followed by an afternoon game Saturday.

 

             Speaking of Jewish players, if you want to see real Orthodox Jews play ball, why not participate in the Yankees fantasy camp in November? You get to play in George M. Steinbrenner Stadium, the Yankees’ spring training site in Tampa, Florida. Your name will be announced over the loudspeaker by Paul Olden, the voice of Yankee Stadium, and you’ll get to play against former Yankee stars.

 

Most important, though, the strictly kosher food is great and so are the Shabbat meals. Speaking from my experience at last November’s camp, when I was brought in as sort of a scholar-in-residence, even the mechitza (as some of the wives come for the weekend) was of the highest standards.

 

 For more info, contact Ira Jaskoll of Yeshiva University at  jaskoll@y.u.edu. The rabbi, as he’s known at the fantasy camp, is the go-between and makes sure all the needs of kosher campers are met.

 

*     *     *

 

Andre Dawson was on the Hall of Fame ballot for nine years and 77.9 percent of the electorate finally made him a Hall of Famer. He’ll be inducted next month in Cooperstown.

 

An outfielder for 21 big league years (1976-1996) with the Montreal Expos, Cubs, Red Sox and Marlins, Dawson compiled a .279 career batting average with 438 home runs. The career batting average doesn’t say much but Dawson was also a great fielder with an accurate arm. Dawson is only one of three players to rack up 400 homers, 300 stolen bases (314) and 1,500 RBI (1,591). The two players who bested those totals were Willie Mays and Barry Bonds.

 

The media – myself included – loved Dawson as he was always accommodating and a great interview. I still have a picture of us at the 1983 All-Star Game in Chicago’s old Comiskey Park.

 

Speaking of the Hall of Fame, if Mark McGwire had stayed off steroids, he would have been enshrined already. Whether or not you think McGwire, who slammed 583 career homers, or others from the so-called steroid era should be enshrined in Cooperstown, the Hall of Fame should have three wings. One for the super-duper stars like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson and the like, another for the Andre Dawson type and another for the best of the steroid era.

 

I always thought those in charge at the Hall of Fame blew it by not getting the inductees’ autograph, hand and foot impressions in cement – like the sidewalks at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles.

 

When I was with the Tigers, I suggested to the higher-ups that they turn part of the boring sidewalk surrounding the stadium into a baseball version of Hollywood Boulevard. At the time, great former Tigers such as Hank Greenberg and Hal Newhouser were still around and I also recommended that former stars who appeared in Detroit as visiting players – even those from the National League who played in the 1951 and 1971 All-Star Games that were held in Detroit – be included. What an attraction it would have made. Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and numerous other greats were still healthy at the time.

 

I’m currently writing a book that includes the aforementioned and some other ideas baseball should consider. It should be ready for Chanukah and will make a great gift, for me anyway.

 

*     *     *

 

I admire the on-the-field and front office teams of the Florida teams – the Marlins and Rays. However, the better they do the more they’re on national television. I hate to see games from their home parks and would love to see them get new stadiums. Oakland and the Florida teams play in baseball’s least attractive and worst stadiums.

 

The good news is the Marlins have a nice retractable-roof stadium under construction. The bad news is that it will be a much longer drive for most of the Miami area’s Jewish population.

 

 

Irwin Cohen, the author of seven books, headed a national baseball publication before earning a World Series ring working as a front office department head. Cohen, whose column appears the second week of each month, is president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul and may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/sports/non-perfect-perfect-game/2010/06/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: