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Who Is This Decade’s Best Jewish Athlete?

Sorry, New Yorkers, but it may be Youkilis

Marc Tracy
December 23, 2009

The Jewish Chronicle solicits nominations, but not before making a few of its own. Israelis Yossi Benayoun, a soccer star, and Arik Ze’evi, a gold-medal- winning judo fighter, are mentioned; so is Jason Lezak, the American gold-medal-winning swimmer.

But maybe the most compelling candidate, whom the JC does not mention, is for Kevin Youkilis. In the past decade, the Boston Red Sox first baseman won two World Series rings, including the first such piece of jewelry won by Boston in nearly 80 years; made himself into a fantastic power hitter (29 home runs, 115 RBIs in 2008); and played a major role in the rise of sophisticated statistical analysis of the game, serving as perhaps the prime example of a player whose superior ability to get walked made him severely underrated. In Michael Lewis’s Moneyball—the most important sports book of the decade—Youkilis’s nickname is “The Greek God of Walks.” But as those who have seen this clip know, Youkilis is not Greek.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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