DXMachina (dxmachina) wrote,

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Shawn Green

The Dodgers' Shawn Green won't be playing against the Giants tomorrow because of Yom Kippur. Kevin Youkilis and Gabe Kapler of the Sox, among nine other Jewish major leaguers, are also mulling over what to do, but Green is the one everyone is focusing on because of the importance of the series, and Green's importance to the team (number two run producer after Beltre). The Dodgers are only a game and a half up on the Giants, and they need every bat they can get to make up for the deficiencies of their starting pitchers.

A lot of fans, and even some talk radio and TV commentators, have been killing Green over the decision, saying he's violating his contract, even going so far as to imply that he's a traitor to his team (that last by Rob Dibble of ESPN). They argue that he's going to play tonight, even though Yom Kippur starts at sunset, so why not play tomorrow as well? (I think Green probably did plan to take tonight off, but then Fox moved tomorrow's game from the evening to the afternoon, and that screwed up his plans.)

I don't see what the big deal is. It's just a game. Players miss games for all sorts of reasons. Orlando Cabrera missed two games last week so he could fly down to Columbia to be with his wife in the hospital. Nobody made a big deal about that, despite his importance to the Sox. Green didn't play on Yom Kippur three years ago, and nobody said a word because the Dodgers weren't in the race. Apparently principles are fine until they get in the way of the pennant.

The thing is, this isn't the first time the Dodgers have had a star player sit out an important game on Yom Kippur. In 1965, the first game of the World Series fell on Yom Kippur, and Sandy Koufax, the best pitcher in the league, didn't pitch. Games don't get much more important than that, nor are players more important to their teams. He was killed by the media for his decision then, too, especially after Drysdale got clobbered in his place. (The brouhaha did eventually blow over. Koufax got beat in the second game, but came back to win game 5, and then threw a three-hit shutout in game 7 to win the series. Funny how winning helps, isn't it?) There is a discussion of this in Jane Leavy's Sandy Koufax, A Lefty's Legacy. A large part of the book describes what Koufax meant to the Jewish community. The interesting part is that Koufax was not an observant Jew. He didn't play because he felt he had to be a role model.

Green is being a role model. I don't have a problem with that.
Tags: baseball

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