Like Koufax before us, we take the High Holidays off, and—especially since one could not be sure which teams made it until well into Rosh Hashanah due to, quite simply, one of the most sublime nights in sports history—we were unable to anoint an official team before the Major League Baseball playoffs commenced Thursday. Now we can look at the eight contenders and decide which is most worthy of Tablet’s affections.
Arizona Diamondbacks. They have pitcher Jason Marquis, a trade-deadline acquisition from the Washington Nationals who helped them secure the NL West. Sadly, however, Marquis is on the Disabled List and not on the D-Backs’ 25-man playoff roster; and, even more sadly, J.J. Putz is not Jewish.
Boston Red Sox.
Detroit Tigers. Hank Greenberg’s old club!
Milwaukee Brewers. Two words: Ryan Braun. Don’t expect him to sit out Yom Kippur (he played on Erev Rosh Hashanah, going 0-4 and narrowly missing the batting title): he has said he is an unobservant but proud Jew. (There is even a reference to him as “The Hebrew Hammer”—Al Rosen’s old nickname—in Chad Harbach’s stupendous new novel The Art of Fielding.) If his career continues on its current trajectory, he will be one of the great players of his era. Final numbers this year: 33 homers, 111 RBI, .332 average, and league-leading .597 slugging percentage and .994 OPS. In the Brewers’ series against Arizona, he’s gone 6-for-8, with a home run and 3 RBI.
New York Yankees. Have from time to time drawn the occasional Jewish fan.
Philadelphia Phillies. Star Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr., is a CuJew (Cuban, that is). Plus you know they have lots of Jewish fans.
St. Louis Cardinals. Did you know Harold Ramis is from St. Louis? Well, he’s not, he’s from Chicago, but he went to Wash. U., so, um, that’s something.
Tampa Bay Rays. Owner is Stuart Sternberg. Top front-office guys are Matt Silverman and Andrew Friedman. Together, they exemplify the trend of Jews bringing non-sports expertise into the sports world, enabling, for example, the franchise with the league’s second-lowest payroll and competing in its toughest division to win the wild card. What a bargain! Plus, and with the caveat that he hasn’t really done much since April, Super Sam Fuld made the playoff roster.
Texas Rangers. Ian Kinsler! The Rangers’ Jewish second baseman this year became only the third Jew to join the 30-30 Club, for those who hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season (other two: Shawn Green and Ryan Braun, also this year). He’s gone 2-for-8 with 2 RBI in the Rangers’ series against the Rays.
In order to forestall disagreement as long as possible, Tablet will root for one team in each league, and these will be: the Rays and the Brewers. The Rays split their first two games with the Rangers, both in Arlington, Texas; they head home for the next two. The Brewers are the only team with a 2-0 series lead, over the Diamondbacks. Stay tuned!
Earlier: Golden Boy of a Golden Age