Thursday, December 09, 2004
8 Days of Jewish Football
Number 43; Relief Pitcher
Sorry this is so late, it's been a bit of a crazy day. Didn't get back from classes until 9:30. Urgh.
Anyways. Al Levine.
I was going to do Scott Schoeneweis of the White Sox today, but I read around and found that, even though his mother was Jewish, he 'doesn't identify himself as Jewish'. Thanks for nothing, Schoeneweis.
Levine, on the other hand, has said, "I get a lot of mail from Jewish fans, and am always more than happy to respond. I’m proud, actually. And when I’m watching sporting events, I always look to see which other athletes might be Jewish." That's more like it. He remembers his mother driving him right from Hebrew school to baseball practice when he was a kid.
He's bounced around a bit on teams in recent years. His 2003 season was split between the Royals and the Devil Rays, which must have just been depressing. And the * next to 'Detroit Tigers' under his name is because the Tigers recently declined to offer him arbitration, which means that it's extremely unlikely he'll be a Tiger again next year. There's no news yet as to where he'll end up.
He was, however, a member of the 2002 World Series Champs Anaheim Angels (better known as the Rally Monkey Year). I'm not sure if he was on the actual 25-man roster or not, but in any event he certainly helped them get there. There was a small fuss made in the (admittedly very clannish) Jewish journalistic community at the thought of two Jewish players on the Angel's roster, but then Schoeneweis had to go and get all pouty and religiously neutral.
I don't understand why players do this. I mean, you can say you're not really practicing but still identify yourself as Jewish if that was your upbringing (witness Gabe Kapler). The thing with Schoeneweis is, if you read through some of his comments, he seems to have gotten extremely defensive about being tagged as a Jewish baseball player. What about being Jewish bugs him so much? Oh no, I definitely don't want to be put in a category with Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg! Don't hang that label on me!
Which is why it's such a relief to see a guy like Al Levine, who makes no attempts to obscure or excuses for his religion. More of this sort of thing needs to happen.
And you thought that Bronson Arroyo got his leg up high in his pitching motion? Take a look at how Levine does it. The guy's practically touching his chin with his knee. This must be something to do with them both being tall (Arroyo's listed at 6'5, Levine at 6'3) and relatively skinny (both listed at 190). I guess it's how they generate pitching power. This is opposed to pitchers who are light but also shorter (like Pedro, who's 5'11, 180) and therefore don't have to reach for that 'oomph', or pitchers who are just big and powerful all over (like Schilling, who's 6'5, 235... that's the same height as Arroyo, and a good 45 pounds heavier. And that might be with Arroyo's numbers padded up and Curt's padded down).
Tomorrow's Jewish Baseball Player of the Day is number 21. Take a guess or wait and see.
Oh, and the fourth installment of Three Chicks Talk Football is up. Not as long as last time, I promise. Check it out.