Sorry, Mets fans, the Royals won the World Series.
Actually, just kidding, I’m not sorry. Because I, an Israeli who grew up not watching any baseball at all, am a Royals fan. Yes, that’s what happens when you marry into a Jewish Kansas City family.
My Kansas City family was elated last night. As a relative wrote on Facebook: “my kids are great but I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my entire life.”
Yes, die-hard Royals fans finally got their moment in the sun.
But no Jewish Royals fan had a better time last night than this guy. Yes, Paul Rudd.
The Kansas City Royals’ most famous Jewish fan was right there, basking in the glory of this incredible win with the entire team. He even got his own personal beer shower from Mike Mostakas (MOOOOSE!):
#Royals drench Paul Rudd during #WorldSeries celebration. #TakeTheCrown pic.twitter.com/BzVFofmvsw— Mike Oz (@mikeoz) November 2, 2015
Which then led to Paul showering this young reporter with champagne:
Paul Rudd and I got together to share a drink last night. Thank you, Kansas City Royals, for one hell of a season!Posted by WIBW Jonathan Deutsch on Monday, November 2, 2015
Basically, Paul Rudd had the best night ever. (Better even, than that time he DJ’d this bat-mitzvah.)
Rudd’s family moved to Kansas city when he was 10 years old, and the Kansas University graduate has been a die-hard fan ever since, as this video from last year’s World Series proves:
Now, all we want to know is, when is the party at his mom’s house, and where are our invitations?
Is God a Chicago Cubs fan?
For long-suffering mortal supporters of the Chicago franchise, which has not won a World Series since 1908 (and has not even played in one since 1945), the answer may appear to be no.
But Chabad Rabbi David Kotlarsky has faith. He’s been wrapping Cubs fans in tefillin in a booth outside Wrigley Field all season — and the club is now just four wins away from a World Series berth.
Asked the God question by a local journalist, Kotlarsky said: “God is a fan of doing things that will make more people happy,” according to Chabad.org. “I think there’s a lot of good people in Chicago who should be happy; that’s what we’re thinking about right now.”
Kotlarsky, co-director of Chabad of East Lakeview on Chicago’s North Side, has been offering fans spiritual support and help wrapping teffilin ever since the Cubs’ first home game in April. His local status has grown of late, helped by a tweet sent last week by Yahoo sports writer Jeff Passan to his 131,000 followers.
More importantly, the Cubs are in the MLB National League Championship Series, one step away from the World Series, for the first time since 2003. On Tuesday night, they will return home to Wrigley after losing the first two games of the best-of-seven series to the New York Mets.
“We’re seeing a lot more people coming by now during the playoffs,” Kotlarsky told Chabad.org. “People are telling us we’re part of their pre-game ritual.”
After decades of disappointment, the Cubs fanbase is famously superstitious. The legendary “Curse of the Billy Goat” dates back to 1945. After Billy Sianis, owner of Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern, was kicked out of a Cubs World Series game against the Detroit Tigers because his pet goat was annoying fans in the stadium, he allegedly cursed the team by saying, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.”
The team has not made it back to the World Series since.
Thanks to an influx of young talent assembled by their new Jewish general manager, Theo Epstein, who helped the Boston Red Sox end a similarly long championship drought in 2004, many Cubs fans think this season might finally break the curse.
“Thousands of fans go by, and there’s a feeling of excitement about it,” Cubs fan Jay Sandler told Chabad.org about the tefillin booth. “Since Cubs fans are so ritualistic, I think if they [wrapped tefillin] before and the Cubs won, they’ll certainly do it again.”
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 are simply unassimilable.
Who still says Jews can’t be good at sports?
With baseball season kicking off (or rather, batting off), we’ve rounded up the top five Jewish things you should know about the who’s who of America’s pastime.
These guys are all more kosher than the hot dogs at Citi Field.
1. Kevin Youkilis
No, he’s not Greek. Well, not really. Known as “Youks,” this former Red Sox player, who signed with the New York Yankees in December , is undeniably Jewish. His great-great-great grandfather was originally from Romania, but moved to Greece at the age of 16 to avoid conscription into the Cossacks. When he returned to Romania years later, he changed his name from Weiner to Youkilis. The first baseman was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Carolyn and Mike Youkilis, a wholesale jeweler. His mother converted to Judaism after her wedding.
Youkilis will be facing his old team Monday afternoon as the two rivals open the season in the Bronx.
The Texas Rangers’ Jewish general manager, Jon Daniels, idolized the Mets while growing up in Queens, but he always assumed his future wouldn’t include being a star ballplayer for the team. It became that much more apparent when he tried out for the freshman baseball team at Hunter College High School in Manhattan. As he said in an interview with Fast Company magazine, “I could throw, and I wasn’t afraid to take a beating, but I couldn’t hit for shit.”
But he has conquered the Major Leagues as a front-office wiz kid. In 2005, at age 28, he took over the wheeling-and-dealing of the Rangers to become the youngest general manager in history. Five years later, the Rangers are appearing in the American League Championship Series for the first time, playing the New York Yankees starting tonight for the right to advance to the World Series.
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