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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Why Winter Weather Is Good For You

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Many of us in North America, even in areas that are usually relatively toasty during the winter months – like Maryland and Washington, DC – are impatiently counting the days until spring and the promise of warmth and sunny days. Even rain is looking good these days.

After seemingly non-stop snow storms, back -breaking snow shoveling, slippery “ice-walking” and school closings – meaning bored children tearing the house apart, people want winter to be behind them. This despite the fact that winter’s end automatically means Pesach is imminent – and we all know what preparing for this holiday of freedom entails.

However, at this point there are a lot of fed-up, winter-weary adults who hands down (literally) prefer scraping kitchen counters than scraping icy windshields.

I however see many wonderful benefits to cold winter weather – it’s just a matter of opening your eyes even though your vision might be obscured by your ski mask. Below are a bar mitzvah number of reasons why winter weather is a bracha.

1: Good for the skin: Cold temperatures will keep you looking younger longer. After all, everyone knows that meat stays fresher looking in a refrigerator – but look what happens when meat is left out at room temperature (68-72 F).

2: Physical fitness via aerobics: All that jumping and hopping you do to get the circulation back in your frozen toes and fingers will burn calories and speed up your metabolism.

3) Physical fitness via weight lifting: Hours of bending down and lifting shovels full of snow over your shoulders as you clear and then re-clear your driveway and sidewalk, will build up your biceps and triceps and a whole bunch of muscles you never knew you had.

4) Enhanced privacy: You don’t have to worry about unwanted guests dropping in on you all hours of the day and night – not when there is 30 inches of snow on the sidewalk and road. Remember, sleet and snow falling through the day keeps the in-laws away!

5) Lower car expenses: Since you will not be going anywhere for a few days – or until whenever the blizzard lets up, you can save a substantial sum of money on gasoline and wear and tear on your car – unless of course you left it parked on the street/driveway.

6) Peace of mind: You don’t have to worry about getting sunburned or heat stroke if you spend too much time outside (while waiting for the bus that was due 40 minutes earlier).

7) More peace of mind: Bundled up in layers of clothing and sweaters, no one will notice the 10 pounds you recently gained while indulging in latkes and donuts on Chanukah – and snacking on that pile of shalach manos you need to get rid of before Pesach.

8) Power failure will not ruin your food: If the electricity goes off, there is no need to worry about food spoiling. Just take your perishables outside. And if you’re in the mood for an iced tea, or your soda is too warm, you can just reach out of your window and break off an icicle or two.

9) Mitzvah opportunity: Those who are in very good shape can roam around the neighborhood, helping friends and strangers alike to push their cars out of the snow banks they are stuck in.

10) No line-ups in restaurants: Because so many people are housebound, those who are adventurous have their choice of tables and quick service if they go out to eat.

11) Enhanced family togetherness: Husbands and wives, mothers and fathers and children will get re-acquainted as they spend quality – and quantity time together – since nobody will be going out until the snow drifts blocking the doors melt away.

12) Personal safety: If you feel like taking a late night stroll or need to pick something up from the grocery store, you can walk out with confidence knowing that no self-respecting mugger would be caught outdoors in this freezing weather.

13) Heat appreciation: On muggy, hot, summer days, as you feel like you are melting under the broiling sun, you can remind yourself of those frigid, chilly winter days you so recently endured and embrace the heat beating on your head.

As you can see, every cloud – even snow clouds – have a silver lining. You just have to not let the snowflakes get into your eyes!

Spring’s Almost Here

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

With spring training almost upon us, our attention turns to Arizona (Cactus League) and Florida (Grapefruit League).

 

This year Arizona can boast that 15 of the 30 major league teams will train within its borders. The latest Florida defector: the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds joined the Cleveland Indians in a beautiful large shared facility in Goodyear, one of the many suburbs of Phoenix that house big league teams during the spring training season.

 

The Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres also share an impressive complex as do the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. The Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers also partner. The San Francisco Giants are based in Scottsdale and the Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers have their own facilities in different neighborhoods within the city of Phoenix.

 

Tucson has the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks (the latter play their regular season games in a domed stadium in downtown Phoenix). It’s easy to see the Phoenix-area teams as you can drive the wide surface streets and go from one to another in a relatively short time. And food is no problem – just check out The Jewish Press Dining Guide and look at the restaurant listings under Phoenix.

 

Of course, baseball’s best teams – the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies – are based in Florida. Curtis Granderson will face the most cameras and tape recorders while wearing his new Yankee pinstripes in Tampa. The Red Sox revamped themselves with new additions led by pitcher John Lackey as did the Phillies with baseball’s best hurler, Roy Halliday.

 

 The three best teams enter spring training better than they were last October and far better than any other team.

 

The St. Louis Cardinals, as you probably know, signed outfielder Matt Holliday to a seven-year $120-million deal. That’s a bit over $17 million a year. Holliday hit .313 with 24 homers and 109 RBI last season.

 

His teammate Albert Pujols bettered him in all departments (.327, 47, 135) and is eligible for free agency after the 2011 season. Pujols will then sign the biggest dollar contract ever seen in baseball.

 

*     *     *

 

They don’t make ‘em like Al Kaline anymore. Kaline, who spent his entire 22-year career with the Tigers (1953-1974) and had to deal with yearly contract offers from Tigers management in the days of take-it-or-leave-it dealings, once turned down a $100,000 contract for a season because he just didn’t feel he was worth that much and told management he’d settle for less. The modest Kaline ended his career with 3,007 hits and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame along with Duke Snider in 1980.

 

Kaline recently turned 75. I followed him intently 55 years ago in 1955. He was only 20 then, and led the American League in batting with a .340 average and showed power with 27 home runs.

 

I, along with my fellow yeshiva eighth graders, saw several of Kaline’s homers that year. We were there on a Sunday after Pesach when the Tigers routed the Kansas City Athletics (later to become the Oakland Athletics) 16-to-nothing. Kaline hit three homers that day, two in one inning.

 

Kaline played in the pre-steroid era and hit 399 career home runs. But to me it was 400. I was there on a Sunday afternoon in 1959 when Kaline homered against the Chicago White Sox in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately, the rain came soon after Kaline touched home plate. After a long delay, the game was called and since the game didn’t go the official five innings, Kaline’s homer was washed away.

 

Now if I were baseball commissioner, I would allow every at-bat to be in the record books. After all, the pitchers pitched and the batters completed their time at bat and it should be counted in their career records. Here’s an assignment for you SABR (Society of Baseball Research) members out there. See if there are any players who batted or pitched in a major league game but don’t appear in the big baseball encyclopedia that contains the official records of all players because rain didn’t allow the necessary innings to be played.

 

As mentioned before, Kaline is 75 and several other former stars are well into their 80s and some like Bob Feller are into their 90s. The oldest living player was not a star or even a good player, but he was good enough to make the big leagues.

 

One-hundred-year-old Tony Malinosky had 79 at-bats for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937 and batted .228. The former infielder who resides in California was a friend of former president Richard M. Nixon while the pair attended Whittier College more than 75 years ago.

 

 

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. 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.

Spring’s Almost Here

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

With spring training almost upon us, our attention turns to Arizona (Cactus League) and Florida (Grapefruit League).

 

This year Arizona can boast that 15 of the 30 major league teams will train within its borders. The latest Florida defector: the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds joined the Cleveland Indians in a beautiful large shared facility in Goodyear, one of the many suburbs of Phoenix that house big league teams during the spring training season.

 

The Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres also share an impressive complex as do the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. The Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers also partner. The San Francisco Giants are based in Scottsdale and the Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers have their own facilities in different neighborhoods within the city of Phoenix.

 

Tucson has the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks (the latter play their regular season games in a domed stadium in downtown Phoenix). It’s easy to see the Phoenix-area teams as you can drive the wide surface streets and go from one to another in a relatively short time. And food is no problem – just check out The Jewish Press Dining Guide and look at the restaurant listings under Phoenix.

 

Of course, baseball’s best teams – the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies – are based in Florida. Curtis Granderson will face the most cameras and tape recorders while wearing his new Yankee pinstripes in Tampa. The Red Sox revamped themselves with new additions led by pitcher John Lackey as did the Phillies with baseball’s best hurler, Roy Halliday.

 

 The three best teams enter spring training better than they were last October and far better than any other team.

 

The St. Louis Cardinals, as you probably know, signed outfielder Matt Holliday to a seven-year $120-million deal. That’s a bit over $17 million a year. Holliday hit .313 with 24 homers and 109 RBI last season.

 

His teammate Albert Pujols bettered him in all departments (.327, 47, 135) and is eligible for free agency after the 2011 season. Pujols will then sign the biggest dollar contract ever seen in baseball.

 

*     *     *

 

They don’t make ‘em like Al Kaline anymore. Kaline, who spent his entire 22-year career with the Tigers (1953-1974) and had to deal with yearly contract offers from Tigers management in the days of take-it-or-leave-it dealings, once turned down a $100,000 contract for a season because he just didn’t feel he was worth that much and told management he’d settle for less. The modest Kaline ended his career with 3,007 hits and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame along with Duke Snider in 1980.

 

Kaline recently turned 75. I followed him intently 55 years ago in 1955. He was only 20 then, and led the American League in batting with a .340 average and showed power with 27 home runs.

 

I, along with my fellow yeshiva eighth graders, saw several of Kaline’s homers that year. We were there on a Sunday after Pesach when the Tigers routed the Kansas City Athletics (later to become the Oakland Athletics) 16-to-nothing. Kaline hit three homers that day, two in one inning.

 

Kaline played in the pre-steroid era and hit 399 career home runs. But to me it was 400. I was there on a Sunday afternoon in 1959 when Kaline homered against the Chicago White Sox in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately, the rain came soon after Kaline touched home plate. After a long delay, the game was called and since the game didn’t go the official five innings, Kaline’s homer was washed away.

 

Now if I were baseball commissioner, I would allow every at-bat to be in the record books. After all, the pitchers pitched and the batters completed their time at bat and it should be counted in their career records. Here’s an assignment for you SABR (Society of Baseball Research) members out there. See if there are any players who batted or pitched in a major league game but don’t appear in the big baseball encyclopedia that contains the official records of all players because rain didn’t allow the necessary innings to be played.

 

As mentioned before, Kaline is 75 and several other former stars are well into their 80s and some like Bob Feller are into their 90s. The oldest living player was not a star or even a good player, but he was good enough to make the big leagues.

 

One-hundred-year-old Tony Malinosky had 79 at-bats for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937 and batted .228. The former infielder who resides in California was a friend of former president Richard M. Nixon while the pair attended Whittier College more than 75 years ago.


 


 


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. 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.

Fantasy Come True

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

            Seventy-eight degrees and sunny.

 

That’s what it was that Thursday afternoon in November when I arrived in Tampa, site of the Yankees Fantasy Camp.

 

After checking into the Sheraton Suites where the campers were staying for the Monday through Saturday camp, I shuttled to George M. Steinbrenner Field (where the Yanks play during spring training and also the home of the Tampa Yankees, three levels below the major leagues), to join the camp in progress.

 

I met with Julie Kremer, who juggles many balls in her roles as assistant general manager of the Tampa Yankees and director of the fantasy camp. I also met with Ira Jaskoll. He was a first-time camper last year and brought his own food.

 

Based on his experience, Jaskoll approached Julie K. with the idea of providing kosher food, designating a room in the hotel for Shabbat services and dining, and moving the big dream game from Saturday to Friday to accommodate future Orthodox campers.

 

Julie agreed and under her direction “the Rabbi,” as former Yankees players who coached and instructed Jaskoll last year affectionately call him, made all the necessary arrangements for the 2009 camp.

 

After catching up with Julie and Ira, it was time to partake in the on-field banquet and join the kosher campers. We took the table near second base and Jesse Barfield asked if he could join us. Barfield, an outfielder who played 12 big league seasons and spent 1989 through 1992 with the Yankees, led the American League in home runs with 40 in 1986 while playing for Toronto.

 

“Do you still do a lot of woodworking?” I asked Barfield. “How did you know that?” he responded. “Because,” I said, “while I was interviewing you about 25 years ago in the visiting clubhouse at Tiger Stadium, I asked you what you like to do when you have free time.”

 

“Wow,” Barfield exclaimed, “you’ve got a good memory.”

 

Former Yankees PR man Marty Appel was the guest speaker and spoke about Thurman Munson, the subject of his latest book. The next day was a bit more humid but still beautiful.

 

I watched the campers play Friday morning and lunched with the kosher guys and others in a picturesque outdoor pavilion between the stadium and practice fields.

 

A couple of the spouses of the six kosher campers flew in to be on hand for the big Friday game. Also on hand were Sharon and Jerry Volk, friends of the Jaskolls, there to root the rabbi on and enjoy the sun. Wives and children of other campers also came to enjoy the weekend.

 

It was a regular stadium atmosphere complete with the national anthem and the great voice of Yankee Stadium, Paul Olden. The campers, who got to dress in the same clubhouse the Yankees use during spring training and play on the same field, now heard themselves being introduced by the same voice on the public address system.

 

Some of the former Yankees who participated in the game were Barfield, Ron Blomberg, Homer Bush, Chris Chambliss, Al Downing, Tommy John, Phil Linz, Fritz Peterson, Mickey Rivers and Roy White.

 

Shabbat exceeded my expectations as the food was plentiful, the portions large, the company excellent and the speakers (Marty Appel, Ron Blomberg and yours truly) interesting. The camp ended on a real high with the closing Saturday night banquet. Awards named after former Yankee greats were given out to campers who excelled in several categories.

 

All the campers I talked with – kosher and otherwise – said they wanted to come back again. Several already were repeaters and one nice fellow from New York actually has been there for 22 consecutive camps. And listen to this – he’s been to both the November and January camps. That’s actually 44 in a row! And after experiencing a bit of it I can understand why.

 

Kosher camper Menachem (Jason) Lieber, 35, who came with the blessings and approval of his wife, pretty much summed it up.

 

“I would do this every year if I could. The former Yankees and my teammates were great. And I really appreciate that the Yankees arranged for the kosher campers to play against the fantasy Yankees on Friday.”

 

I hope to see many readers of this column there in January (11-17). For further information call the rabbi at 201-836-3195 or the Yankees at 800-360-CAMP.


 


 


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. 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.


 


 


 


Fantasy camper Menachem (Jason) Lieber, of Cedarhurst, New York, in front of his locker and the Yankees uniforms he gets to keep.

Shavuot/Spring Wines

Monday, May 25th, 2009

   The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer – spring is in the air and Shavuot is almost here! The warm weather and dairy Shavuot meals provide the perfect excuse to pop the corks on the newest vintage of white and ros? wines.

 

   Aside from some oak-aged white wines, most white and ros? wines should be consumed young, while they are fresh and crisp. Which means that when selecting a white or ros? this Shavuot, try to buy wine from a recent vintage (such as 2007). Also remember to serve these wines chilled, but not too cold – this can mask some of their aromas. Try removing them from the fridge about 10 minutes prior to drinking.

 

   With its refreshing citrus flavors and lip smacking acidity, Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect pairing for a festive, dairy meal. And some of the best examples of Sauvignon Blanc are coming out of New Zealand, where the Goose Bay winery is producing terrific wines. The 2007 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc has a bright acidity that is sure to make your mouth water. Tart berry and green grass aromas, together with the aforementioned acidity make this versatile food wine an ideal pairing for a salad, sushi or spicy Asian cuisine.

 

   Chardonnay has for years been the go-to white wine for many people. But like Merlot, whose mass produced and dull (but easily palatable) California style ultimately led to a Merlot backlash, oaky Chardonnay is losing its fanfare. This highly aromatic grape is too often being aged in new oak barrels and undergoing a secondary fermentation process (known as malolactic fermentation) that leads to a wine whose fruity aromas become masked by aromas of toast (from the barrels) and butter (from the secondary fermentation). Recognizing this trend, we are seeing wineries producing Chardonnays that are made in a lighter style that allows the grape’s fruity characteristics to shine through.

 

   The 2007 Efrat “Israeli” Chardonnay does have a hint of oak, but not from barrels. Rather, this stainless steel made wine is aged together in the tanks with oak staves. These staves impart a pleasant hint of spice while allowing the tropical and stone fruit aromas and flavors to shine through. This wine would complete a light lunch of lemon sole and olive couscous.

 

   Though light, crisp and refreshing works best in warmer weather, a white wine with more body (think heavy cream vs. skim milk) pairs favorably with Shavuot classics such as creamy pastas, blintzes or quiche. Viognier is an up and coming white varietal that is often aged in oak and generally made from very ripe grapes – something intentionally done to enable the wines to showcase their pretty floral and tropical aromas.

 

   The 2007 Dalton “Wild Yeast Fermentation” Viognier is an elegant and natural wine (fermented without the addition of foreign yeast strains) with sweet floral aromas and rich creamy flavors. White flowers and hints of honeydew make this wine a terrific pairing for sweet potato souffl?, fettuccini alfredo or parmesan crusted flounder.

 

   Another great (and more colorful) option for warm weather drinking is ros?. While red wines get their color from extended contact with the grape skins, ros? gets its color from minimal contact with the skins. Many ros? wines are actually made from familiar red varietals such as Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese and even Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

   From Israel, the Binyamina winery makes a ros? under its Yogev label. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, this reddish-pink wine has tart berry aromas and is a nice option on a warm summer day. Though not traditional Shavuot fare, this wine makes me crave a summer BBQ and a juicy burger with all the fixings.

 

   Another ros?, this one made in France, is the 2007 Rothschild Ros? de Clarke. This pinkish-orange tinged wine has fresh strawberry aromas and elegant mineral and fruit flavors. A pleasant and long finish makes this lovely ros? a worthy companion for those special salmon or tuna steaks.

 

   Wine compliments food and completes a meal. Save the grape juice for the kids and indulge in a refreshing glass of wine this yom tov. But remember that whether white, ros? or a robust red, the most important factor when choosing a wine is finding one that you enjoy.

 

   Gary Landsman, a.k.a. the “Wine Tasting Guy,” makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine. You can read more of his writings at www.winetastingguy.com or contact him with any wine related questions at gary@winetastingguy.com.

Shavuot/Spring Wines

Monday, May 25th, 2009

   The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer – spring is in the air and Shavuot is almost here! The warm weather and dairy Shavuot meals provide the perfect excuse to pop the corks on the newest vintage of white and rosé wines.

 

   Aside from some oak-aged white wines, most white and rosé wines should be consumed young, while they are fresh and crisp. Which means that when selecting a white or rosé this Shavuot, try to buy wine from a recent vintage (such as 2007). Also remember to serve these wines chilled, but not too cold – this can mask some of their aromas. Try removing them from the fridge about 10 minutes prior to drinking.

 

   With its refreshing citrus flavors and lip smacking acidity, Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect pairing for a festive, dairy meal. And some of the best examples of Sauvignon Blanc are coming out of New Zealand, where the Goose Bay winery is producing terrific wines. The 2007 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc has a bright acidity that is sure to make your mouth water. Tart berry and green grass aromas, together with the aforementioned acidity make this versatile food wine an ideal pairing for a salad, sushi or spicy Asian cuisine.

 

   Chardonnay has for years been the go-to white wine for many people. But like Merlot, whose mass produced and dull (but easily palatable) California style ultimately led to a Merlot backlash, oaky Chardonnay is losing its fanfare. This highly aromatic grape is too often being aged in new oak barrels and undergoing a secondary fermentation process (known as malolactic fermentation) that leads to a wine whose fruity aromas become masked by aromas of toast (from the barrels) and butter (from the secondary fermentation). Recognizing this trend, we are seeing wineries producing Chardonnays that are made in a lighter style that allows the grape’s fruity characteristics to shine through.

 

   The 2007 Efrat “IsraeliChardonnay does have a hint of oak, but not from barrels. Rather, this stainless steel made wine is aged together in the tanks with oak staves. These staves impart a pleasant hint of spice while allowing the tropical and stone fruit aromas and flavors to shine through. This wine would complete a light lunch of lemon sole and olive couscous.

 

   Though light, crisp and refreshing works best in warmer weather, a white wine with more body (think heavy cream vs. skim milk) pairs favorably with Shavuot classics such as creamy pastas, blintzes or quiche. Viognier is an up and coming white varietal that is often aged in oak and generally made from very ripe grapes – something intentionally done to enable the wines to showcase their pretty floral and tropical aromas.

 

   The 2007 Dalton “Wild Yeast Fermentation” Viognier is an elegant and natural wine (fermented without the addition of foreign yeast strains) with sweet floral aromas and rich creamy flavors. White flowers and hints of honeydew make this wine a terrific pairing for sweet potato soufflé, fettuccini alfredo or parmesan crusted flounder.

 

   Another great (and more colorful) option for warm weather drinking is rosé. While red wines get their color from extended contact with the grape skins, rosé gets its color from minimal contact with the skins. Many rosé wines are actually made from familiar red varietals such as Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese and even Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

   From Israel, the Binyamina winery makes a rosé under its Yogev label. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, this reddish-pink wine has tart berry aromas and is a nice option on a warm summer day. Though not traditional Shavuot fare, this wine makes me crave a summer BBQ and a juicy burger with all the fixings.

 

   Another rosé, this one made in France, is the 2007 Rothschild Rosé de Clarke. This pinkish-orange tinged wine has fresh strawberry aromas and elegant mineral and fruit flavors. A pleasant and long finish makes this lovely rosé a worthy companion for those special salmon or tuna steaks.

 

   Wine compliments food and completes a meal. Save the grape juice for the kids and indulge in a refreshing glass of wine this yom tov. But remember that whether white, rosé or a robust red, the most important factor when choosing a wine is finding one that you enjoy.


 


   Gary Landsman, a.k.a. the “Wine Tasting Guy,” makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine. You can read more of his writings at www.winetastingguy.com or contact him with any wine related questions at gary@winetastingguy.com.

A Taste Of Summer

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Spring training is underway in Arizona and Florida and we’re all looking forward to our favorite teams coming home to start the regular season in April.

 

I’ve just had a taste of baseball and warm weather out west. I enjoyed a stay in San Diego where, though the weather is not as warm as it is in Miami, a motel stay is far cheaper and out-of-town guests get a very warm welcome from the local community.

 

The motel was a pop-up away from the kosher eateries under the supervision of Rabbi Avrom Bogopulsky, the popular spiritual leader of Beth Jacob Congregation, where I davened twice daily.

 

            One of the attractions for me in San Diego is Petco Park, home of the Padres. On non-game days the public is allowed to use a plaza adjacent to the top row of the right field bleachers that connect to downtown streets. It’s a great area to enjoy the sunshine, contemplate the upcoming season and drink in the view of the diamond and green grass. The Chabad rabbi lives close by and the Chabad House, which is a bit closer to the heart of downtown, has a daily and Shabbos minyan.

 

            We (wife and I) enjoy going from San Diego to Los Angeles by train, which takes two hours and 50 minutes with a couple of stops. My favorite stop is Anaheim behind the outfield parking lot of the Angels stadium. From there it was on to downtown L.A. where we rented a car and drove the few minutes to Dodger Stadium.

 

After a couple of hakofos around the imposing 47-year-old (but still beautiful) stadium, we made our way to the Beverly-Fairfax area and one of the establishments listed in The Jewish Press Dining Guide. Besides ballparks and kosher eateries, I like to check out shuls. Even though it was quite a distance from the overnight motel we stayed at, I chose two different shuls in the Beverly Hills area in which to daven –one in the evening and one in the morning. We had meals in three different kosher restaurants, all good and all listed in The Jewish Press.

 

            You can shorten the flight east by stopping in Phoenix and visiting several spring training sites. Fourteen teams use Arizona as their spring training home (l2 in the Phoenix area and two in Tucson) while 16 teams hang their caps in Florida. Obviously, you can cover more spring training complexes in less time with a Phoenix stay. The motels are far cheaper there than in Florida this time of year and there is a kosher eatery in Phoenix and one in Scottsdale.

 

Besides scattered Chabad Houses in the area, Phoenix has three small daily minyanim. The biggest at this time of year is at Scottsdale’s Chabad headquarters, located in a shopping center next to a combination kosher eatery and Judaica store. A couple of miles back down Scottsdale Avenue is the spring home of the San Francisco Giants.

 

Unlike Florida, where it’s usually well over an hour from one baseball spring complex to another, it’s only about 20 minutes via the streets from one Phoenix area spring ballpark to the next.

 

             But the two best prospects in baseball (in my opinion) are not in Arizona but in Florida. Baltimore rookie catcher Matt Wieters is a terrific switch-hitter with good power and a great arm. He may start the season with the Orioles (who are now based in Ft. Lauderdale) and could be an all-star in 2010. Look for Tigers starting prospect Rick Porcello (now pitching in Lakeland with the big club) to start the season in the minors and be in the majors late in the season. The Tigers have a couple of other flamethrowers who starred in college ball and the low minors and should make an impact by 2010.

 

You don’t have to go to Arizona or Florida to cover spring training if you have the new baseball channel. MLB-TV made its debut in January and it’s all baseball all the time. Every team is televised equally during spring training. Thirty teams in thirty days, says the advertising slogan. During the season, the station will cut into ballgames at interesting times until the last out of the last West Coast game.

 

As with the Internet, we have to use our televisions wisely and according to our values. I’m not telling people they should have a TV, but for those who do and who like baseball, the baseball channel is the one to watch.

 

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, who is president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul, is available for speaking engagements and may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/sports//2009/03/11/

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