Jewish Journal

Brains and Braun: Hebrew Hammer instills pride in the Tribe

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 26, 2008 | 2:26 am

This was seriously some day in my sports life.

Granted, I skipped a jog at the beach this morning because I remembered I hate running, but shortly after lunch the Dodgers won the NL West without even playing. Then, an hour ago, I was freed from the bondage of my couch so I could finally finish a story I’ve had for a WHILE, when the Oregon State Beavers completed their most improbable upset of USC. And, to boot, my favorite Jewish baseball player belted a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th to keep the Brewers in the wild card hunt and keep Mets fans’ stomachs knotted.

To be sure, Ryan Braun, who went to high school with two of my college roommates, is one of the only notable Jewish players in the league right now. The other big name being Kevin Youkilis. But Braun really is something special, and I’d go so far as to call him the second coming of Hank Greenberg. Just look at his numbers from this year:

BA: .286
HR: 36
RBI: 104

Last year, his rookie season, Braun was even better. And not only is he out there giving hope to all us scrawny Jewish kids who didn’t really chose scholarship over sports, he’s also proven to be the real deal in real life. For a refresher from the all-star game, when, thanks to an off-the-cuff remark from Reggie Jackson and a blood-thirsty sports paparazzi, he “was asked to play Abe Foxman instead of left field.”

Daniel Treiman at the Bintel Blog offers the analysis:

There had been questions about how strongly Braun — who has been dubbed “the Hebrew Hammer” by some excited fans — identifies as Jewish. But regarding being asked by a reporter about Jackson’s remarks, Braun explained, “I think that it’s something that comes with the territory. There aren’t too many Jewish athletes at the highest level. It’s something that I certainly embrace. But there are times when people expect me to be aware of issues, like that specific example. I didn’t have any idea what he was talking about.”

Well put. Seriously, how could anyone not root for such a level-headed athlete?

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