I will be saying this to myself every year until the day I die: One shouldn’t go to work on Yom Kippur, because during one Yom Kippur Sandy Koufax refused to pitch in Game 1 of the World Series. The cool thing about this Jewish mothers’ tale is that it is actually true (Koufax’s Los Angeles Dodger teammate Don Drysdale started instead, lost the game, and told his manager afterward, “I bet right now you wish I was Jewish, too”).
The basement-dwelling 2010 Washington Nationals are no 1965 Dodgers, and Nats pitcher Jason Marquis, who is Jewish, is certainly no Koufax. But Marquis is slated to start Friday night—Kol Nidre—at the Philadelphia Phillies, and (via Kaplan’s Korner) he plans on doing so (in fact, he has in past years, too). “Your team expects you to do your job and not let your teammates down, and that’s the approach I take,” he said.
Now, look. That is not an invalid response. And for every Koufax, there is also slugger Hank Greenberg, who in 1934 played on Rosh Hashanah while his Detroit Tigers were in a tight pennant race, only to sit out Yom Kippur once a World Series spot was all but secured. Moreover, I don’t think the importance (or lack of importance) of a big game should make a difference: If you feel you shouldn’t play on Yom Kippur, then that should include the World Series; if you feel you should, that should include a meaningless September regular season outing. And Marquis didn’t ask to be made a role model (which, given his 6.60 ERA this season, is maybe a good thing!).
But: Dude. Ask your manager to move your start. C’mon. How are Jewish 8-year-old Nats fans—poor schmucks—going to learn to observe the Highest of the Holidays?
Meanwhile, check Kaplan’s Korner for updates on Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Braun, and the rest.
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.