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December 7, 2016 / 7 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘MLB’

Diplomatic Ties with US May Strike Out Baseball in Cuba

Monday, December 29th, 2014

To the dismay of baseball fan Kit Krieger, future travels to Cuba will no longer include get-togethers with ex-Washington Senators pitcher Connie Marrero.

Marrero, who played for Washington from 1950 to 1954, died in Havana last April at age 102, a few months after Krieger’s last visit and three years after Krieger helped arrange for Marrero a $10,000 annual pension from Major League Baseball.

Theirs was a special friendship, one of many forged by Krieger, a Vancouver resident who will return to Cuba in late February — his 30th visit there beginning with a 1997 trip related to his job with the British Columbia teachers federation. That trip spawned a love affair with the country and its baseball scene.

Krieger, 65, would go on to found Cuba Ball, a company bringing baseball-mad tourists to the island nation — a venture begun really to enable himself to visit affordably with groups.

With President Obama’s Dec. 17 announcement on renewing diplomatic relations broken off by the United States in 1961, Krieger sees a double-edged sword: Cuba will emerge from U.S.-imposed isolation, but the country’s professional baseball scene could ultimately disappear, like America’s Negro Leagues following the integration of Major League Baseball.

In the near term, he figures, Cuban baseball will remain unchanged, since the country can hardly be expected to allow foreign teams to poach its premier talent — at least not without hefty payments, as in Japan. Individual players, Krieger adds, are unlikely to risk defecting while knowing that renewed diplomacy could prompt Washington’s lifting of an economic blockade, enabling them to legally sign lucrative contracts abroad.

Following Obama’s announcement, MLB released a statement saying that it will monitor whether the policy shift affects “the manner in which [teams] conduct business on issues related to Cuba.”

Krieger says he sees Cuba as “the largest pool of untapped baseball talent in the world, and no one knows if [the news] will open this pool.” But he fears “the beginning of the end” of a Cuban baseball reality caught in a sweet time warp evoking America of the 1890s. Eventually, Krieger says, Cuban baseball “will become integrated into the international baseball community, which it isn’t now.”

His love for Cuban baseball led him more than a decade ago to join the Society for American Baseball Research, where he recruited like-minded fans for the trips. He’s similarly passionate about family history, frequently conducting research on Jewish genealogy websites. Thanks largely to meticulous records kept by his ancestors, Krieger (his given first name is Ernest) can trace several branches in Poland and Germany back to 1700.

“I can even tell you the name of my grandfather’s mohel,” he quips.

Krieger’s baseball and genealogy interests at times have coincided: His late mother, Ann Kohlberg, grew up in an apartment building at 320 Riverside Drive in Manhattan, across the hall from New York Giants star Mel Ott. Kohlberg’s cousin, Don Taussig, went on to play outfield with the franchise after its move to San Francisco.

While Krieger doesn’t usually seek out Jewish residents or sites while in Cuba, another Jewish traveler, retired professor Oscar Soule, does.

Soule, of Olympia, Wash., who will be traveling with Krieger to Cuba in February, has been to the Caribbean nation five times and makes a point of going to a Havana synagogue on each visit. The draws for him are the baseball games and meetings with government officials, as well as such diamond legends as Omar Linares and Victor Mesa that wouldn’t happen without Krieger.

Marrero, a 5-foot-5 right-hander who posted a 39-40 record in the majors and made the American League’s All-Star team in 1951 at age 40, benefited from Krieger’s attention in his final years as he lost his eyesight and hearing. Krieger solicited notes of appreciation from the aging pitcher’s American contemporaries, all of whom Marrero fondly remembered. More than 90 letters arrived, and scores more for Marrero’s 100th birthday, including from Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Tommy Lasorda, George Kell and Harmon Killebrew.

JTA

Detroit Tigers’ New Jewish Relief Pitcher Brings Team Closer to a Minyan

Monday, December 1st, 2014

The Detroit Tigers have acquired Jewish relief pitcher Josh Zeid , one season after bringing in a Jewish manager, Brad Ausmus, and second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Zeid was claimed recently off waivers from the Houston Astros.

In Motown, Zeid will be reunited with Ausmus, who managed the Tigers to the American League Central Division title in his first season at the helm. Zeid was a member of the Israeli team skippered by Ausmus that fell short in its bid for the 2012 World Baseball Classic.

Zeid is coming off a difficult sophomore season with the Astros – a 6.97 earned run average and six home runs allowed in 20 2/3 innings.

The righty reliever said he was pleased to receive calls welcoming him to the Tigers from Ausmus, general manager Dave Dombrowski and vice president Al Avila.

“It’s another opportunity to make another ball club and to have a successful career elsewhere,” said Zeid, who will be reunited in Detroit with former Vanderbilt University teammate David Price, a starting pitcher. “I couldn’t be more excited than to go to a team with a rich playoff history, recent and historically.”

Zeid isn’t the only Jewish major leaguer to change teams of late – even before the winter meetings in San Diego on Dec. 7.

Josh Satin, an infielder for the New York Mets and Zeid’s teammate on Team Israel, signed a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds. And the Pittsburgh Pirates dealt Ike Davis, who started last season with the Mets before being traded, to the Oakland Athletics.

Jews are making news in the front office, too.

Former outfielder Gabe Kapler, a coach for Israel’s WBC team, was named director of player development earlier in November for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kapler had been working as a baseball analyst on television as well as a consultant to the Tampa Bay Rays.

For Zeid, it’s shaping up to be a busy off-season in other ways, too. His wife Stephanie is about to deliver the couple’s first child, a son.

Meanwhile, could the Tigers be bringing in another Team Israel alumnus for 2015? Outfielder Ben Guez played last season with Detroit’s AAA team in Toledo and will be shooting for the big club this spring.

Said Zeid, “I’m sure Hank Greenberg would be proud.”

Hillel Kuttler wrote this article for JTA.

 

JTA

Israel Baseball Ranks 19th in World Ratings

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Play ball!

Israel may not be a favorite politically, but the Jewish State is moving up in the world of international baseball.

Israel has moved up to 19th place in the International Baseball Federation world rankings, and is now ahead of Great Britain, Nicaragua and South Africa.

After having won the European Championship C-Pool tourney in Slovenia this past July, Israel now finds itself in the B-Pool for 2015.

Israel also took second place in the PONY tournament in Prague, and won second and third places respectively in the Tuscany Series baseball tournaments in Italy.

In addition, Israel Baseball player Noam Calisar was selected to participate in an MLB camp during the summer.

Peter Kurz, president of the Israel Association of Baseball noted that Israel baseball has taken “major steps over the past year, increasing in size by 25 percent and expanding activities so that we improve the level of play throughout the leagues.”

Kurz is hoping to establish an MLB sanctioned Israel Baseball Academy to develop top players in the future.

Hana Levi Julian

Tigers Summon the Tribe

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Detroit is bringing in the Jews.

A couple of weeks after hiring Brad Ausmus as manager, the Tigers on Wednesday traded for Ian Kinsler, previously of the Texas Rangers, to play second base. The cost for the Jewish infielder, a three-time American League All-Star: mega-salaried first baseman Prince Fielder and a cool $30 million. Lucky the bankrupt city doesn’t have to ante up.

Kinsler, 31, brings a sound bat and glove to help Ausmus, who managed the Israeli squad that came up short in its bid for the World Baseball Classic, in his MLB debut. The eight-year veteran averages 24 home runs and 82 runs batted in a season and has a lifetime batting average of .273. Last season he batted .277 with 13 homers and 72 RBIs.

Ausmus and now Kinsler are part of an organization that had probably the greatest Jewish hitter in history (take that Ryan Braun): Hank Greenberg, a one-time MVP who famously skipped a Yom Kippur game in 1934 despite the pennant implications for the Tigers.

And you thought the Cleveland Indians were the Tribe.

JTA

Ryan Braun’s Suspension Erases His ‘Good-Guy’ Image

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Ryan Braun, whose father is from Israel, not only lost the chance to play out the reason of the season with the Milwaukee Brewers after he accepted his 65-day suspension for drug use, he also lost his image of the “good guy” who had convinced many that he was innocent of using performance drugs.

“As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions,” said Braun in a statement issued via MLB.com.

He previously had stated, “The simple truth is that I’m innocent. The truth is always relevant and the truth prevailed.”

Braun will lose about $3 million by not playing, and many baseball fans are demanding that MLB rescind his Most Valuable Player award.

Braun’s Jewish roots go back to the Holocaust, when most of his father’s family was exterminated by the Nazis. He moved to the United States at the age of seven with his father, who later married a Catholic.

Although he is not Jewish by orthodox Jewish tradition, he considers himself Jewish and has been called the ”Hebrew Hammer,” a slogan that many angry fans now want  to be banned because of his use of drugs to improve his baseball performance.

Jewish Press News Briefs

With JP Morgan Purchase, Conduit Becomes Israel’s First Billion Dollar Internet Company

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

JP Morgan acquired a $100 million stake in Conduit from investor Yozma fund at a $1.4 billion valuation. Three weeks ago, Yozma fund sold more than 2% of its Conduit holdings to US fund W. Capital Partners. This after having initially invested $1.5 million in Conduit.

Yozma fund thus completed the sale of its stake in Conduit through two transactions. In contrast with an earlier transaction, in which company employees could also sell their shares, this time only Yozma find was selling its holdings.

According to the company’s press release, Conduit’s cash cow is its toolbar, which the company says has been used by more than 200,000 sites, including MLB.com and Miniclip, to reach 250 million users. When those users run a search via the publisher’s toolbar, Conduit receives a volume and ad performance payout from either Microsoft’s Bing (in the US) or Google (outside the US).

But the secret is not necessarily in creative navigation, despite a reported $200 million in profit last year from those fancy toolbars. Conduit CEO Ronen Shilo announced in a recent interview that “the future is not in toolbars, we are broader than that. We’re an engagement company. We aim to help publishers and online brands engage with their users on any platform.”

Shilo recently posted on his blog an entry titled “In Praise of Control,” reviewing Mark Zuckerberg’s handling of Facebook’s IPO:

“What interests me most is the fact that Mark Zuckerberg is about to be worth $28 billion – and still maintain operational control of the company… As someone who has been concerned about maintaining control of my company from the beginning, I completely understand and empathize with what Zuckerberg and his financial gurus have structured. My partners and I control over 50% of Conduit; I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I don’t think we could have achieved what we did otherwise.”

Tibbi Singer

Baseball Shakes Off Its Winter Slumber

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Baseball is back. And for the first time, half the 30 major league clubs are holding spring training in the Phoenix area.

 

I recommend Phoenix over Florida for fans thinking to spend their vacation getting a first-hand view of spring training. Traveling between training sites is quicker and hotel-motel rates are much more reasonable in Arizona; most of the time you can get from one facility to the next in about 15 minutes just by using surface streets.

 

Kosher food is no problem as Phoenix has a kosher eatery and neighboring Scottsdale has one you should try (check out The Jewish Press Dining Guide) with a shul next door and another nearby. Only a couple of miles down the road is the spring home of the World Champion San Francisco Giants. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies also train in Scottsdale about six miles from the Giants and the kosher eatery and adjoining store is almost in the middle.

 

Other teams in the Phoenix area are the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.

 

Florida, though, is where most of us will focus. The Red Sox in Ft. Myers are expected to run away with the American League East this season now that speedy outfielder Carl Crawford and slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez have joined Red Sox Nation.

 

The Yankees in Tampa are older and lost pitcher Any Pettitte to retirement. The Tigers in Lakeland are in their 75th year of training in that mid-Florida town where Hank Greenberg spent his springs. While things looked great for a super season when training camp opened for Detroit fans, superstar first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who’s had problems with alcohol in the past, was arrested for being heavily intoxicated and spent a night in a Florida slammer. If he can stay away from the bottle and approach last year’s stats (.328 average, 38 homers), the Tigers have hopes of a post-season berth.

 

 


Media people keep a close eye on the Yankees at

George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida

 

 

The best first baseman – possibly the best player – on the planet is training in Jupiter. Florida, that is. Albert Pujols (.312, 42 homers last year) claims he’s playing out the last year of his contract and won’t negotiate until the end of the season when the Cardinals will have a small window of opportunity to overpay him before he opts for free agency and collects the biggest contract ever given in sports.

 

While megabucks players get the most publicity, spring training is a time for hope for those holding on to their dream of trying to make and stay in the big leagues.

 

A sad scene is always played out a few weeks into spring training at the players’ exits in the various ballparks, The happy chatter of the waiting wives is quickly interrupted by total silence when a player exits carrying all of his belongings over his shoulder in a large duffle bag.

 

That means, of course, the player was just told of his outright release or is being sent down to a minor league level. Only those who have lost a job or been informed they can only stay with a company if they relocate and receive a much lower rate of pay can understand what it means.

 

For the fan, however, it’s a great time as we have great expectations. I’m watching all the teams closely and monitoring and taping many games on the MLB channel.

 

   I’ll give you my predictions for the 2011 season next month. In the meantime, send me yours. And speaking of sending, thanks to those of you who sent for my new book telling how Hashem orchestrated events to get me into baseball press boxes and eventually work for a major league team. In the book I reveal what my salary was and other inside info.

 

 

   To order Irwin Cohen’s book, send a check for $19.95 payable to Irwin Cohen (includes postage & handling). Mail to: 25921 Stratford Place, Oak Park, Michigan, 48237. Cohen may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

Irwin Cohen

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/sports/baseball-shakes-off-its-winter-slumber-2/2011/03/09/

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