Green’s New Home A Homerun For the Tribe

shawn greenJTA reports that it was the Jews who led Shawn Green to New York.

“It’s something that’s always intrigued me,” said the baseball player, who was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Mets. “New York is head and shoulders the largest Jewish population in the country, if not the world, and it will be an interesting and fun experience for me.”

It’ll certainly be a refreshing change for the menschy outfielder coming from Arizona, where there’s a Mormon church on every corner across from the Circle K.

You may recall Green became a true Jewish sports hero back in 2004 when he sat out a key game in the season to observe Yom Kippur.

Update: The graphic on Esther’s post over at Jewlicious is not to be missed.

Denis Leary Wants To Know: Jew’s On First?

You may have heard about this clip last week, but YouTube had to pull it before many got to experience its gleeful hilarity.

It began as a simple inquiry by comedian/ersatz sports announcer Denis Leary if Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis was “a Greek kid.” But things went viral after pro announcers Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo informed him Youkilis actually is Jewish. Leary, along with his “Rescue Me” costar Lenny Clarke, took it as an opportunity to rip into Mel Gibson like only a sharp-tongued Irish smartmouth can. Really, it’s simply gorgeous.

It only gets better when Leary finds out Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler is also Jewish and cackles “We got two Jews on this team, Mel! Where’s your father now, huh?”

Brought to you by ifilm.com. Should they be forced to remove it, JTA has rockin’ transcript.

Are you a soccer Jew?

Over at the New York Observer, Lizzy Ratner serves up a colorful exposé into the life of a few self-proclaimed soccer Jews “caught in the frenzy” of this year’s World Cup soccer tournament. Here’s her quick description:

Laydees (and gents), meet the Soccer Jew, that intellectual, kvetchy, Granta-reading guy who also happens to possess an encyclopedic knowledge of Ronaldinho’s every kick. With one foot planted firmly in the nerd camp and at least a few toes dangling in the jock sphere, he is the strange, hybrid Creature of the Moment.

While most fans would consider soccer a religion in of itself, I’ve only kinda / sorta dipped into worshiping the pentagon-covered, goalie-smashing, black & white ball from time to time. Since Colombia didn’t make it into the World Cup this year I’ve focused my energy on the Miami Heat’s quest for a championship instead. But living in South Florida it’s hard not to enjoy a soccer game or two. Lizzy’s article was a great read, especially if you’re not caught up on the soccer craze that has swept the planet for the last 100 years!

Photo credit: Ethan Zohn, “survivor” and world-famous Soccer Jew, from JewishJournal.com

A Lover AND A Fighter?

roryA reader who should get out more who follows the violent sport of competitive martial arts has tipped me off to Rory Singer, a participant on the bloody SpikeTV reality show “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Rory is a nice J-Boy from Jersey currently in nursing school at the University of Georgia. His future patients better pray that he’s gentler when changing the bedpans and taking pulses then he is in the ring: Last week he knocked out his opponent with a roundhouse kick and several blows to head, advancing his status in the competition. He’s also doing his part as Jewish ambassador, exposing martial arts fans to terms like “tushie.” (Check out photos of Rory’s knees and elbows in action.)

I’m not going to become a sudden fan of men beating the crap out of each other for sport, but since I was born in Jersey, am moving to Georgia and support Jewish athletes whether they win or not, he’s now the official Yenta candidate for favorite TUF guy.

I’m rootin’ for ya, Rory! I just won’t actually be watching.

Israeli B-Ball Fans Charm Prague

tel aviv fanEven though their team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, lost the Euroleague basketball final last night, the 15,000 or so fans in yellow impressed locals and rival fans alike with their good manners, sobriety and general cheerfulness.

“This is not what we are used to in sports fans,” observed Martina Kucerova, a Prague sportswriter who worked during the Final Four at Sazka Arena, the venue for the tournament. “They don’t get drunk, they don’t get aggressive, they are just happy and fun. It’s so refreshing.”

The rest of Dinah Spritzer’s JTA story paints such an adorable picture of hundreds showing up to the Chabad Shabbat that usually hosts 20 and hordes of dancing goofballs in yellow infusing depressed travellers recently arrived from the March of Living concentration camp tour with their enthusiasm.

Even Maccabi’s losing score of 69-73 against Russia’s CSKA team couldn’t break the spirit of these mensches. Perhaps they might teach the plotting hooligans among Polish soccer fans a thing or two …

Marshall “Biggie” Goldberg, 1917-2006

marshall goldbergFootball star Marshall Goldberg, a two-time University of Pittsburgh All-America and four-time National Football League All-Pro, died Monday, April 3 at a Chicago nursing home.

His wife, Rita, said that he spent the last several years “battling the effects of brain injuries caused by numerous concussions during his playing days.”

And that is why my son will play violin.

Photo from International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Kobe Bryant: “I Wouldn’t Mind Being Jewish”

kobe bryantWell, isn’t that nice, but maybe I mind.

As reported by the JPost, after the Lakers’ victory over the Kings last Thursday, a television reporter tried to engage Kobe in an offhand locker room discussion about the “dearth of Jewish athletes in professional sports,” a claim to which Bryant responded with skepticism.

“Not too many Jews in professional sports? Hmmm,” Bryant said. “That sounds kind of weird to me. Who did your research?”

After several other reporters chimed in with Jewish names in sports (though none in the NBA, of course), Kobe said “I don’t know if I’m converting, but if I do, you can definitely add another athlete to the pool.”

Me, if we’re having a fantasy draft here, I’d rather have Yao Ming, because there just aren’t enough Chinese Jews who kick ass on the court.

Joe Eskenazi at j. votes for Warriors’ center Adonal Foyle, ’cause “he’s the smartest and most humantarian player in the league.” (Foyle’s official site includes a poetry corner and political action links.)

If you could have any pro athlete convert to the Tribe, who’d be your first pick?

Olympic Kabbalah

sasha cohenIs that a red kabblah string on Sasha Cohen‘s wrist or is it just some fringe from the bottom of her gypsy costume?

If it was supposed to protect her from the Evil Eye, it sure worked: The petite Russian-born skater rocked the ladies’ short program last night and won a gold for the U.S. — watch the video at nbcolympics.com.

Thanks to the hawk-eyed Carol for the tip!

An Olympic Shabbat To All

Because of DSL issues (the current theory being that a hungry possum raccoon has chewed through the outside cable – a real possibility here in the quasi-wilderness of NoCal) and the rush to get Shabbat prepared before the Torino opening ceremonies, the Yenta’s have a stressball of a day.

Not that I’m so much a huge sports fan, but I just love watching the moment when the torch lights up after travelling all that way — it’s a moment when the world seems like a bunch of teams in the same league.

chait and sakhnovkiAfter that, though, I pretty much lose interest. According to the guys at work, all I care about is the figure skating competition, since I’m a girl.

“Nuh-uh!” I protest. “There’s that hot redneck ski guy who was on the cover of Newsweek last week!” But he’s not Jewish, so fuhgeddaboudit.

So right, fine, all I care about is figure skating. Who to root for: Israeli duos (ha ha, due duos — and I thought my remedial italiano was useless) Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovsky and brother/sister team Igor and Lena Zaretski.

Other Jewishy Olympic tidbits:

The dome-and-spire symbol of Torino (or Turin, the same spot where that famous shroud lives) was originally conceived to be a synagogue.

And should not enough powder fall from the sky to accomodate the sports, it’s an Israeli snow-making company that will save the day.

So Shabbat Shalom and happy armchair athletics to all — it doesn’t violate Shabbos if you watch TV at someone else’s house … right?

*Photo of Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovsky c/o Spotlight on Skating.

Update: A more complete “Yids to Root For” list from Bangitout Blog.

football fanJewish football fans know that Christmas Day is the best time to catch big NFL games uninterrupted. Like, what else is there to do while non-Jewish fans try to convince their families that they’re not more interested in the game than little Billy’s new train set?

This year, however, you might get caught under the radar (or, rather, in your underpants on your Barcalounger) as Game Day is also the first day of Chanukah; it will be you pretending to love listening to your neighbor’s latke recipe while you keep one eye on the tube.

While this yenta is notsomuch a fan of the football (to mimic the voice of fabulous shoe blogger The Manolo,) the smart sportswriter Harvey Rosen published a synopsis of the NFL’s Jewish Year, reprinted here from The Jewish News of Greater Phoenix:

As the 2005-06 NFL season gets in gear, it’s time to take stock of noteworthy developments involving Jews in pro football – from ownership to quarterbacks to the warriors on the line.

On Aug. 7, the late Benny Friedman was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Friedman, who passed away at age 77 on Nov. 23, 1982, was a quarterback star in the 1920s and ’30s and was credited with popularizing the forward pass. The two-time All-American, as a collegian at the University of Michigan, played pro ball for the now-defunct Cleveland Bulldogs, Detroit Wolverines and Brooklyn Dodgers, as well as the New York Giants. In 1928, he led the National Football League in both rushing and passing touchdowns. Continue reading