So 2020 hasn’t quite lived up to expectations – from a global pandemic to the killing of George Floyd, it’s only June and we all want this year to just end. Let’s be honest, it’s been rough. Real rough.
Part of the collateral damage stemming from the aforementioned pandemic was the suspension of the Major League Baseball season. And for a baseball nut like me, it has been a devastating loss. From fantasy baseball drafts in March to the World Series in October, I’m that baseball nerd who still reads box scores. Making it worse is reading about the strife between the MLB owners and players. The damage they are causing to the game I love is potentially disastrous. As of this writing, there is hope for SOMETHING though and I’ll cross my fingers and toes for any kind of season.
Another loss has been this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. Baseball was to return after a short hiatus and Team Israel was set to shock the world again. With no Olympics in 2020, Team Israel will set its sights on 2021.
Speaking of fantasy baseball…
I’ve been playing for over 20 years and I would be lying if I said I never drafted one player over another because he was Jewish. I’m pretty sure I’ve drafted Shawn Green, Scott Feldman, Alex Bregman, Ryan Braun, and Ian Kinsler over the years – probably in rounds earlier than necessary. I would never draft Kevin Youkalis though due to my personal ban on Red Sox players. And of course, any time a Jewish player makes the big leagues, we all have another favorite to root for.
Leave it to Rabbi Jeremy Fine – aka The Great Rabbino – to combine all of this into what might be the strangest, yet oddly fascinating fantasy draft of all time. On June 21, Father’s Day of course, The Great Rabbino presents the Live All-Time Jewish Fantasy Baseball Draft.
The All-Time Jewish Fantasy Baseball Draft is a fundraiser for Team Israel Baseball – who now have another year to train and prepare for Tokyo. The first part will be an auction of signed memorabilia and Team Israel gear taking place on eBay starting on June 14.
And then the main event a week later where current members of Team Israel Baseball such as former Minnesota Twin Danny Valencia will team up with Jewish members of the media to draft their all-time teams. The draft will be taking place via Zoom and will also include a panel of expert judges.
Five pairings will draft a player per position including starting and relief pitchers.
Team 1: Danny Valencia and Cory Provus, Voice of the Minnesota Twins
Team 2: Ty Kelly – former MLB player and Gabrielle Starr, Girl at the Game
Team 3: Jon Moscot – former Cincinnati Reds and current Team Israel pitcher and Justine Siegel, the first woman to coach in an MLB organization
Team 4: Ryan Lavarnway – Miami Marlins catcher and Jaxon Stone, Pro Wrestler and former Atlanta Braves minor leaguer
Team 5: Ian Kinsler – 4-time MLB All-Star will team up with a lucky fan
The panel of judges will include:
Jonathan Mayo – MLB.com draft expert
Alyson Footer – national correspondent for MLB.com and former Houston Astros beat writer
Sam Brief – the voice of the Chicago Dogs of the Independent American Association
Once the draft is over, the judges will debate the picks and the teams – as we all do during a fantasy draft. Who will be the No. 1 pick? Koufax? Greenberg? After the recent Houston Astros cheating scandal, will Alex Bregman fall to a later round? My mother hasn’t forgiven Ryan Braun, but will that matter in this draft? Will Ian Kinsler draft himself and in what round? We all know now that Rod Carew is not in fact Jewish, but will he be drafted anyway? Is the Philly Phanatic Jewish?
Oh, did I mention that there will be some surprise guests? The Great Rabbino will conduct live interviews with current and former players in-between draft picks.
Tickets are still available to be in the Zoom room with the players and experts when the action starts. Entry to the room will allow you to side chat and be on screen.
With Target Field still closed, I’ll be there for sure.