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(JTA) — Good afternoon, sports fans!
I hope you’ve all been staying warm and dry during this week’s winter weather. If it’s any consolation, pitchers and catchers begin to report three weeks from today. Spring is just around the corner!
Who’s next to join Koufax and Greenberg in Cooperstown?
From left to right: Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, Hank Greenberg, Sandy Koufax, Max Fried and Alex Bregman (Getty Images; Design by Mollie Suss)
Only two Jewish players, Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg, have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. There are no Jews on this year’s ballot — the results of which will be announced on Tuesday — and it’s been 11 years since any Jewish player (Shawn Green) received any votes.
That could all change soon.
Ian Kinsler and Ryan Braun are set to appear on the ballot over the next two years. And active stars Alex Bregman and Max Fried are amassing records on the field that could vault them into the Hall conversation down the road.
So who’s got the best shot to be next? Are any of the aforementioned players worthy?
To find out, I reached out to a number of Jewish baseball writers and experts, including two Hall of Fame voters, to get their predictions. Ken Rosenthal, Jayson Stark, Jonathan Mayo and others weighed in.
Read our Hall of Fame deep-dive right here.
RE-ICED. The International Ice Hockey Federation has reversed its decision to bar Israel from next week’s youth world championships in Bulgaria, part of which Israel was originally supposed to host. The IIHF’s initial decision to remove Israel — a call the governing body said was made in the interest of safety — drew criticism from hockey leaders in Israel and “concern” from the NHL.
NOT A FAN. Maccabi Haifa will play a Belgian soccer club next month in front of an empty stadium. The team’s Feb. 21 match against KAA Gent, which will be played in Ghent, Belgium, will have no fans because of safety concerns.
COLD TURKEY. Israeli soccer player Sagiv Jehezkel was detained in Turkey this week, where he plays for the top-tier Antalyaspor club, after he made a public gesture to mark 100 days since Oct. 7. Jehezkel was suspended from his club, which has said it will terminate his contract, and is now back in Israel.
CRICKETS FOR TEEGER. An executive at the South Africa headquarters of the sportswear company Diadora said the company would not sponsor any events including David Teeger, the Jewish cricket player who was stripped of his position as captain of the country’s Under-19 national team last week over anti-Israel protests against him.
TO THE NINES. Each offseason, MLB Network ranks the top 10 players at each position, and so far, two Jewish players have made the cut: Zack Gelof and Max Fried were named the ninth-best second baseman and starting pitcher, respectively. The third baseman list will be announced Jan. 31 and is likely to feature Alex Bregman, who was ranked sixth last year.
“B.Y.-JEW.” Jewish quarterback Jake Retzlaff — who we featured on our list of 36 Jewish Student Athletes to Watch — has made waves at Brigham Young University, where he’s one of only seven Jewish students. Retzlaff spoke with Haaretz about his experience as a Jewish player at the Mormon university.
RAISING THE BAR. Former Olympian Aly Raisman is joining ESPN as an analyst on its NCAA gymnastics broadcasts, where she’s set to make her debut today. “I’m so excited,” Raisman told People Magazine. “If I’m being honest, I’m also very nervous because I want to do a good job.”
Jews in sports to watch this weekend
🏈 IN FOOTBALL…
A.J. Dillon is the lone Jewish player still standing in the NFL playoffs. His Green Bay Packers take on the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round tomorrow at 8:15 p.m. ET on Fox. Dillon, who did not play last week, is currently listed as questionable for the game due to injuries.
🏀 IN BASKETBALL…
Deni Avdija and the Washington Wizards host the San Antonio Spurs Saturday at 7 p.m. ET and the Denver Nuggets Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. Amari Bailey and his G League team, the Greensboro Swarm, face the South Bay Lakers Saturday at 8 p.m. E.T.
🏒 IN HOCKEY…
Goalkeeper Yaniv Perets, who made his NHL debut on Monday, and his Carolina Hurricanes host Jake Walman (who has missed time this week with an illness) and the Detroit Red Wings tonight at 7 p.m. ET, and the Minnesota Wild Sunday at 5 p.m. ET. Luke Hughes and the New Jersey Devils face the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight and host the Dallas Stars tomorrow, both at 7 p.m. ET. Star Jack Hughes remains sidelined with an upper-body injury. In the PWHL, Aerin Frankel and Kaleigh Fratkin and the Boston squad host Abbey Levy and the New York team tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET.
⛳️ IN GOLF…
Daniel Berger returns to action this weekend at The American Express PGA tournament. The 30-year-old hasn’t competed since he missed the cut at the 2022 U.S. Open because of a back injury. Ben Silverman, who finished tied for 18th at last week’s Sony Open, and David Lipsky are also at the tournament in La Quinta, California.
Wrestlemania in Israel
(Courtesy of the Ida Crown Jewish Academy)
Students from Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Skokie, Illinois, visited Israel earlier this month, participating in volunteer projects and competing alongside the Israeli national and Olympic wrestling team in Beersheva. (Courtesy of Ida Crown Jewish Academy)