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Browsing Posts tagged Scott Schneider

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Middle East politics got you down? Strike out again at the company softball game?

Cheer up! Life is good for Jewish baseball fans these days. Here are 12 reasons to smile:

  1. So far this season, MLB Jews are out-hitting their peers .266 to .257, and out-slugging them .460 to .400.
  2. At least 59 Jews currently play major- or minor-league ball, with many more playing in independent leagues or overseas. And the list is growing.
  3. The topic of Judaism probably didn’t come up last week when sports radio celeb Jim Rome interviewed former outfielder Shawn Green about his new book, The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 mph. And while some listeners may have known Green is Jewish, few would have guessed that Rome is, too.
  4. For the first time, Israel is being given a chance to compete in the World Baseball Classic. At least half a dozen current or former American pros have publicly expressed interest in playing for or coaching Team Israel in the 2012 competition, including Jewish home-run king Shawn Green, Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler, Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun (whose father was born in Israel), and St. Louis Cardinals prospect Charlie Cutler.
  5. Speaking of Israel, last week the country hosted a qualifying tournament for the 2012 European Championship — and narrowly missed winning the tourney itself. Team Israel made it to the finals against Great Britain but lost the series 2 games to 1. Particularly impressive was 32-year-old Shlomo Lipetz, an Israeli native and New York resident who gave up just one earned run in 16.33 innings during the tournament while striking out 18 batters and walking three.
  6. Coming off an injury-laden season in which he missed a third of his team’s games, Boston Red Sox 3B Kevin Youkilis (.275/16 hr/76 rbi) is once again among A.L. leaders in multiple categories. Youk is ranked 5th in on-base percentage (.389), 7th in RBIs (76/tie), 8th in doubles (28/tie), and 10th in wins above replacement (4.1 wins/tie), a measure of a player’s total offensive and defensive contributions to his team. Youkilis has been typically fearless (or perhaps nuts) at the plate, where he ranks 2nd in times hit by pitch, with 12. And despite having to switch back from first base to third this season, he’s 2nd among A.L. third basemen in putouts (73) and 3rd in fielding percentage (.968).
  7. The St. Louis Jewish Light published an article last week about 3 of the 4 Jews who play on the Springfield Cardinals, the St. Louis Cardinals’ “AA” team: C Charlie Cutler (see above), P David Kopp, and P Scott Schneider. (The fourth Jewish player for Springfield, CF James Rapoport, arrived after the article was written.) Cutler, who told the Light he’d “love to play for Israel” in the World Baseball Classic, has made the most of an injury-shortened season. In just 143 at-bats he’s hitting .364 with 4 HRs, 27 RBIs, a .423 on-base percentage, and a .503 slugging percentage.
  8. Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun (.322/21 hr/73 rbi) is enjoying one of the best seasons of his 5-year career. He has yet to make an error in the field for the first-place Brewers; ranks 2nd among N.L. players in batting average (.322) and power-speed combination; 3rd in wins above replacement (5.1), slugging percentage (.585), total bases (213), and extra-base hits (50); 5th in RBIs (72); 6th in runs scored (68) and on-base percentage (.394); 7th in HRs (21); and 10th in doubles (26). Braun’s 19 stolen bases are one shy of a career best, and he’s one of few players this season with a legitimate shot at joining the “30-30” club — players with 30-plus HRs and stolen bases in a single year.
  9. Most minor-leaguers see their performance dip after being promoted to a higher league, but not C Ryan Lavarnway. The Boston Red Sox prospect and Yale philosophy alum has been on fire since moving up from “AA” Portland to “AAA” Pawtucket mid-season, where he is batting .343 (versus .284 in Portland) with 13 HRs, 16 doubles, and 42 RBIs in just 169 at-bats, along with a .425 on-base percentage and .669 slugging percentage.
  10. ESPN Boston recently published a terrific article on Lavarnway and fellow Red Sox prospect Matt Kramer, a former catcher and Ivy League rival (Harvard) who was released by the Atlanta Braves franchise last year and is trying to reinvent himself as a pitcher. Viewing the statistics on Kramer’s growing pains is a curious joy. In 6 games and 5 total innings with Boston’s rookie-league team, the St. Louis native has faced 28 batters without giving up a single hit. However, he has walked 11 opponents, hit 3 more, struck out none, and recorded a 5.40 ERA. Who wouldn’t want to go watch this kid pitch?
  11. Just to prove you never know who’s Jewish: the most recent Jewish player to be signed by a major-league club, Tampa Bay Rays recruit Dave Laufer, attended Jesuit-founded Boston College. And he did so after graduating from Christian Brothers Academy. (Thanks to Jewish Baseball News contributor Bill Ressler for the tip on Laufer’s hiring.)
  12. Can you imagine an MLB team composed entirely of Jewish players? A fiction writer named Ross Ufberg can. The Jewish Daily Forward is now publishing weekly installments of his story about the Lions of Zion, an N.L. team playing in 1933. Here are links to chapters one and two.

— Scott Barancik, Editor

Jewish Baseball News

August 3, 2011

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