Every day this week—Major League Baseball’s opening stretch—we will feature one story on The Scroll about baseball.
There are, of course, a number of famous Jewish baseball players, such as Hank Greenberg or Al Rosen or Sandy Koufax or Lip Pike, who will forever hold their place in (Jewish) baseball lore, and rightfully so. And there always seems to be a list relating to “current baseball players who are Jewish” floating around, which is well and good and all, but I generally don’t think this adds much to the conversation about a sport other than providing readers with the ability to feel a bit of pride while watching a ballgame based on fact that one can now a) single out Jews with bats and balls, and b) project onto a player a feeling of kinship, which, as far as hero-worshiping goes, is important.
But there’s another way to relate to these Jewish baseball players, particularly the batters: failure. Life, like a nasty slider, can punch you hard, crossing the plate with no regard for your home run plans, and smile at you as it snaps the catcher’s mitt and screws you over. Strike freakin’ three.
Batters strike out all the time; it’s a fact of life for them. It’s their tax. Every so often, however, a batter lines up a pitch and squares it far, far into the bleachers 400, 500 feet away, swatting life in the mouth with the swing of a bat. And that’s a lesson that transcends faith.
Still, if you’re looking to find yourself in this metaphor, here are videos of 8 Jewish baseball players fanning on some nasty stuff. So keep on swinging.
Kevin Youkilis (strikeout at 4:15)
Brad Ausmus (This is not a video of Ausmus, the current manager of the Detroit Tigers, striking out. It’s a video of Miguel Cabrera, the best natural hitter since Manny Ramirez, striking out, followed by Ausmus arguing the call. But still, isn’t it fun to see grown men argue balls and strikes?!)
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.