The Mets-Dodgers series is so Jewish, congressmen are betting bagels on it


Baseball doesn’t get much more Jewish than this year’s MLB National League Division Series, which starts Friday between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Both teams feature notable Jews: Joc Pederson in the outfield for the Dodgers and Joe Wilpon in the owner’s box for the Mets. Plus, you’ve got the famously Jewy fanbases of New York and L.A.

But what really makes this series Jewish is the bet on the outcome between two Jewish Democratic congressmen.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is betting on the Dodgers, and Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y. is betting on the Mets. If the Mets win, Schiff pays up in popcorn from Pauline’s Premier Sweets in Burbank, California. If the Dodgers win, Israel is on the hook for bagels.

And not just any bagels: The word “fresh” appears twice in a press release about the bet:

“Schiff, who represents the areas surrounding Dodger Stadium, wagered gourmet popcorn from Pauline’s Premier Sweets in Burbank, befitting his Hollywood district. Israel, who is a Mets fan representing areas surrounding Citi Field, wagered New York bagels, flown in fresh.”

Then, quoting Schiff: “Please make sure the lox is fresh, Steve.”

That’s fresh. Not pulled out of the freezer. Not toasted. As these congressmen clearly understand, freshness is for bagels and lox what “no mayonnaise” is for a deli sandwich. Some traditions as simply unassimilable.

Satin’s big league dream


When New York Mets infielder Josh Satin hit his second Major League home run on Aug. 21, it was hard to know what was more noteworthy: the fact that the Jewish player from Hidden Hills was a relatively old 28 or that there was a fan with a “Hail Satin” sign in the stands. 

For Satin and his family, this answer is clear. This summer’s extended call up to the big leagues has been the exclamation point on a baseball career filled with twists and turns in the minors. 

“You’ve got to keep your dream until you fail, and he hasn’t failed,” said David Satin, Josh’s father. 

Satin’s promising career began at Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City. There he was a three-time all-league selection and played alongside future Major League outfielder Brennan Boesch. 

Growing up, Satin said he looked for inspiration to the likes of eight-time All-Star Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves and Shawn Green, a fellow Jew who played part of his career for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Mets. 

“I’d look up to them and try to emulate them,” Satin said during a phone interview.

Things got slightly sidetracked at the University of California, Berkeley, when he was forced to take an injury redshirt season. Still, he returned to play second base for the Golden Bears, batting .348 in a season that saw him named a 2005 PAC 10 Conference All-Star. In 2008, he did even better, batting .379 his senior year. He was named a conference All-Star again and NCAA first-team college All-American.

Then, at the ripe old age of 23, Satin was drafted by the New York Mets in the sixth round. (This same year, Ike Davis, who also is Jewish, was signed by the Mets in the first round.) 

Having his son drafted by a pro club was a proud moment for Satin’s father.

“How I felt about it is euphoric,” he said. “We’ve been hoping for this for a long time.”

Making it to the majors would take a little longer. Since signing his first contract, he’s spent time playing for the Kingsport Mets (Tennessee), Brooklyn Cyclones (New York), Savannah Sand Gnats (Georgia), St. Lucie Mets (Florida), Binghamton Mets (New York), Buffalo Bisons (New York) and Las Vegas 51s (Nevada).

It was in 2011 that Satin got his first taste of the big leagues, playing in 15 games. Last year, he was back — but only for one game. In fact, it was only for one at bat, and he struck out.

He also played for team Israel in a 2012 World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament.

This past June, Satin was called back again to play for the Mets, replacing Davis. And he’s made the most of it, hitting close to .300. Earlier this month, Satin tied a Mets rookie record by reaching base in 29 consecutive games that he started. 

No matter what happens next with regard to how he and Davis are used in the future, Satin said he just cares about the success of the team.

“We’re both here to help the team, and we’re going to do what we can to help,” he said. “He’s one of my best friends on the team.”

Being a Jewish player in the major leagues is a small brotherhood — one that got a little smaller this season with the suspension of the “Hebrew Hammer” Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers for using performance-enhancing drugs. 

“It’s a shame, obviously, but I have a lot of respect for him and what he’s done for the game, but they’ve got to clean it up” Satin said. 

The media in New York is already speculating about Satin’s future and how big a role he’ll play with the Mets going forward. No matter what happens, Satin insists it hasn’t changed him.

 “Everything I do is pretty regular,” he said. “I woke up this morning, went to the Laundromat, did my laundry and went to Starbucks for a cup of coffee.” n

Shawn Green to play for Israel in World Baseball Classic


Shawn Green enjoyed quite the professional baseball career: In 13 seasons, he clubbed 328 home runs, drove in 1,070 runs, batted .283, was a two-time All-Star and retired in 2007 holding or sharing seven Major League records. The former Dodger also twice refused to play on Yom Kippur.

He isn’t finished yet. Green now will come out of retirement to play for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) qualifiers in November, according to team manager Brad Ausmus. Green is eligible because Diaspora Jews can play for Israel.

“It would be an honor,” Green said in 2011, referring to playing for Israel. “If it fit into my life situation, I’d love to do it.”

Ausmus, a former All-Star catcher for the Dodgers, said Gabe Kapler has also committed to play. He’s hoping Ryan Braun, Kevin Youkilis and Ian Kinsler will join the lineup.

The WBC is a quadrennial international baseball tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation and created by Major League Baseball, its players union and other professional baseball leagues and players unions around the world. Japan won the first two, in 2005 and 2009.

Israel is in a qualifying group with France, South Africa and Spain, and will play its games in Jupiter, Fla. Sixteen countries will compete in the qualifying round, and the top four teams will advance to the WBC.

“I know that baseball is in its infancy in Israel,” Ausmus told Sports Illustrated. “To me that is a kind of way to bridge the gap between American Jews and Israelis.”

Green will turn 40 on Nov. 10, and it remains to be seen how well he will perform after five years away from the game. He certainly has the bona fides. He hit 40 or more home runs three times, including 49 in 2001. He collected at least 100 RBIs four times, scored at least 100 runs four times and led the league in doubles, extra-base hits and total bases.

Perhaps his most memorable game was May 23, 2002, at Milwaukee, when he hit four home runs, had 19 total bases (breaking a record that had stood since 1954), six hits, five runs scored and five extra-base hits.

His other memorable moments came in 2001, when, for the first time in 415 games, he wasn’t in the lineup because he observed Yom Kippur. Three years later, with the Dodgers in a pennant race with the rival Giants, Green again announced he would not play on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

Green’s actions place him with the likes of Hank Greenberg, Sandy Koufax and, to a lesser extent, Al Rosen. Greenberg attended Yom Kippur services in a Detroit synagogue in 1935. Koufax famously refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series. Rosen played for Cleveland in 1954 and had said he would observe Yom Kippur and not play during the World Series. However, Cleveland lost the series before the holy day.

Haredim fill N.Y. stadium to decry Internet’s dangers


The sellout crowd that filled the New York Mets’ Citi Field on Sunday night wore black and white, not the Mets’ blue and orange.

And instead of jeering the Philadelphia Phillies or Atlanta Braves, they faced a foe that was, to hear them talk about it, far more formidable: the World Wide Web.

“The internet even with a filter is a minefield of immorality,” said Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, a haredi lecturer. “This issue is the test of the generation. Your strength at this gathering will determine what Judaism will look like a few years from now.”

The rally to caution haredi Orthodox Jews about the dangers of the Internet drew an audience of more than 40,000 men to the stadium, most of them wearing black hats. The group organizing the rally, Ichud HaKehillos LeTohar HaMachane, or Union of Communities for Purity of the Camp, barred women from attending—consummate with the haredi practice of separating the sexes.

In Yiddish and English speeches, rabbis from haredi communities in the United States, Canada and Israel decried the access that the Internet gives haredim to the world outside the haredi community. Speakers called the Internet “impure,” a threat to modesty and compared it to chametz, or leavened bread, on Passover.

Almost no rabbi addressed pornography directly—which traditional Jewish law prohibits. Several speakers also lamented the Internet’s potential to distract men from learning Torah.

To a man, each of the rabbis who spoke said that Jewish law forbids Jews from browsing the Internet without a filter that blocks inappropriate sites. The speeches in Yiddish were broadcast with English subtitles on the stadium’s JumboTron.

Rabbi Yechiel Meir Katz, known as the Dzibo rav, compared the threat of the Internet to the dangers that Zionism and the European Enlightenment posed in the past to traditional Jewish life.

“A terrible test has been sent to us that has inflicted so much terrible damage” on haredim, Katz said. The Internet poses a greater threat to haredim than secularism did, he said, because “in previous challenges we knew who the enemy was. Today, however, the challenge is disguised and not discernible to the naked eye.”

The crowd ranged in age from small children to senior citizens. One participant, Yitzchak Weinberger, said that although the speakers focused on the problem of the Internet rather than on solutions to that problem, the event was “inspiring.”

“This is a beginning,” said Weinberger, 43. “They’re coming to raise awareness. Every situation is different, everyone requires some filter.”

While haredim must limit their internet access, “you can’t not use it,” he added.

About 50 people protested the event across the street from the stadium. Many of the protesters came from Footsteps, a local organization that helps people who leave haredi Orthodox life to integrate into non-haredi society. In particular, they complained that Ichud HaKehillos invested money in the rally rather than in preventing child molestation in the haredi community.

“Their priorities are messed up,” said Ari Mandel, a former haredi. “Not only do they ignore child molestation, but they intimidate victims. If your house is on fire, you don’t worry about leaking pipes.”

The rally came after a series of reports in the N.Y. Jewish Week, the Forward and The New York Times about haredi intimidation of victims of sexual abuse who have gone to the police to report their haredi tormentors.

Mets’ owners settle lawsuit in Madoff Ponzi scheme


The owners of the New York Mets will pay up to $162 million to settle a “clawback” lawsuit filed in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.

Fred Wilpon and his brother-in-law Saul Katz will not have to make payments for three years under the agreement.

The lawsuit was settled Monday morning in Manhattan Federal Court just hours before jury selection was set to begin in the civil trial.

Irving Picard, the trustee charged with recovering billions of dollars in assets stolen in Madoff’s scheme, filed the lawsuit seeking more than $300 million that Wilpon and Katz allegedly made through the scam. A ruling blocked Picard from trying to collect the full $1 billion he sought to recoup.

Picard said the team owners knew that Madoff’s investments were a sham but continued to invest because of the large returns. Lawyers for Wilpon and Katz said their clients had no idea the investments were fraudulent.

Picard has filed hundreds of similar lawsuits seeking to regain money from those who profited the most from the scheme. The money will go into a fund to help victims of Madoff’s scheme.

Madoff pleaded guilty to fraud charges three years ago in the more than $17 billion scheme. Picard reportedly has recovered about $11 billion of the invested principal lost in the scheme. 

The Mets’ owners had to sell part of the National League team and have had to cut its payroll because of the ramifications of the scheme and lawsuit.

Preseason victory for Mets-against a kosher vendor


The New York Mets can prevent a kosher food vendor from selling its wares on Shabbat, a federal judge ruled.

Judge Jack Weinstein of U.S. District Court in Brooklyn ruled Tuesday against Kosher Sports Inc. and ordered the Englewood, N.J., company to pay damages since it stopped paying its fees.

In his ruling, Weinstein said that Kosher Sports’ contract with the Mets did not give the company the right to sell concessions at all events, the New York Post reported. The judge did not deal with the issue of whether the stand was actually kosher if it sold products on Shabbat.

Kosher Sports, the owner of three stands at the Mets’ CitiField in Queens, signed a 10-year deal with the team in 2009, but it stopped making annual fee payments after the National League club refused to allow the stands to operate on the Sabbath.

The vendor launched its $1 million lawsuit two years ago, claiming that it had lost a half-million dollars in profits because its stands were not allowed to open on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons. Kosher Sports said it had received permission from kosher-certifying authorities to open the stands to sell food items on the Sabbath, but the rabbi who certifies the stands denied the claim.

The Post reported that a federal magistrate will iron out the details of how much the vendor owes the Mets and if the company will still have a contract with the team.

Kosher Sports’ stands at CitiField sell hot dogs, sausages, knishes, hamburgers, beer and other food.

Judge pulls himself out of kosher vendor suit against Mets


A federal judge reportedly has recused himself from a lawsuit brought by a kosher vendor against the New York Mets.

Brooklyn Magistrate Judge Andrew Carter stepped down from the case after the lawyer for Kosher Foods Inc., which is suing the Mets for preventing the company from selling kosher hot dogs at CitiField on Friday nights and Saturday, saw him wearing a Mets cap outside of the courthouse, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.

The newspaper had reported last weekend that the attorney for Kosher Foods had expressed concern to Carter over a possible bias in the case because the judge had been wearing the cap and a tie in the Mets’ colors, blue and orange.

Mets’ owners slapped with Madoff ‘clawback’ lawsuit


The trustee for the Bernard Madoff estate has sued the owners of the New York Mets, claiming they should have known the money made with Madoff was done so nefariously. 

Irving Picard, the trustee charged with recovering billions of dollars in assets stolen in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, has filed a so-called “clawback” lawsuit against Fred Wilpon and his brother-in-law Saul Katz seeking hundreds of millions of dollars, The New York Times reported.

The lawsuit, which targets more than 100 of the assets controlled by WIlpon and Katz, seeks the more than $300 million they allegedly made through Madoff’s scam.

The lawsuit will claim that they looked past red flags about the nature of Madoff’s investments, including concerns raised by officials at Merrill Lynch and one of their investing partners, the Times reported.

Wilpon reportedly said he will sell off up to 25 percent of the team because of the lawsuit.