Jewish Journal

Braun and Youkilis—pride of the Tribe, but MVPs?

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 27, 2008 | 12:37 pm


The magazine is called Heeb, not Cracker or Bean or any other ethnic slur, so I don’t consider this an unbiased prediction, but could 2008 be MLB’s year of the Jew?

If the major league baseball season ended today, Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youklis and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun would be candidates for the American and National League Most Valuable Player Awards, respectively. Youklis might have a better shot at the award because of the likely standing of his team by the end of the season, but Braun is quietly establishing himself as a circumcised version of Albert Pujols.

Assumptions about circumcision aside, it’s worth evaluating whether the stars have finally aligned for Jewish athleticism in Youkilis and Braun.

Braun, who shares with Hank Greenberg (June 29 is his day at the Baseball Hall of Fame) the nickname “Hebrew Hammer” and was 2007’s National League Rookie of the Year, has had a more modest 2008—hitting 13 home runs in 50 games, compared to 34 in 113, and batting only .281.

He also has to deal with Lance Berkman, who is leading the NL in home runs (16) and RBIs (46) and second in batting average (.385). (Though often thought to be Jewish, Berkman, like Bears QB Rex Grossman, is not Jewish.)

As for Youkilis, well, the guy can hit. And he can field. But he’s not an MVP candidate. The American League lacks a guy with Lance Berkman numbers, but Youk isn’t even on the leader board. He did, however, really fire up Denis Leary a few years ago, and, with that goatee, he is probably the toughest-looking Jew since Moshe Dayan.

Heeb got a little overly excited here. It happens every few years. And who can blame Jewish baseball fans? It’s been a long four decades since Sandy Koufax hung up his cleats.

But what about that swat Jordan Farmar had in the Lakers game 2 against the Spurs? Maybe he should have been the NBA’s MVP ...

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