Monday, March 26, 2012

Jewish Fantasy Baseball 2012: The Promised Land, Finally?

The Sluggin' Semites are back for 2012, new, improved, more Jewish than ever!

The year 2011 was a rough one for the chosen team, my annual squad of Jewish major leaguers. While Ryan Braun won the MVP award, Ian Kinsler reached career highs in home runs and steals, and Sam Fuld entered the national consciousness with a stunning (and running) start to the season, injuries and ineffectiveness took their toll. Bear Jew Kevin Youkilis went down with back and hip injuries and a sports hernia. We lost Ike Davis to an ankle injury. Rookie Jason Kipnis blazed through 18 games, but strained his hamstring and didn't come back strong. Danny Valencia didn't produce like he did the year before. Ryan Zimmerman was out for extended periods with a torn abdominal and a strained hamstring and... well, the list goes on.

Despite all that, the 2011 Jew Crew finished in 6th place out of 12 teams, and earned a playoff berth for the first time. The team was aided by honorary Jews Derek Jeter, Mat Latos, Michael Pineda, Matt Garza and Yovanni Gallardo (I had to fill out my pitching staff somehow).

This year, I joined a CBS Fantasy Baseball league, "Omens of the Apocalypse." A solid draft landed me nearly everyone I wanted. The one player that didn't make it, however, leaves a gaping hole in my lineup I'm unsure how to fill:

Montero, Jesus
Well, Jesus was a Jew. Maybe not Jesus Montero. He keeps the seat warm for real Jew Ryan Lavarnway, Boston's rising minor leaguer.

Berkman, Lance
Not a Jew, but a longtime Homerin' Hebrews member, for his Jewish last name.

Kinsler, Ian
(2B) TEX
Love this nugget from Kinsler's wikipedia page: "Youkilis will always say something to me on the bases. 'Happy Passover,' he'll throw something at me."

Youkilis, Kevin
(3B) BOS
The clear Rebbe of this squad, Youk has been a staple since the early days of Jewish Fantasy Baseball. Can he have a comeback year?

Lemmerman, Jake
I wanted Derek Jeter. I missed him by 3 picks. Now I have Jake Lemmerman. Jake cuts the challah, but its doubtful he'll make the Dodgers' major league roster out of camp. He's blocked by Dee Gordon, whom I may pick up, simply to have some stats here. I never thought I'd pine for the days David Eckstein was SS-eligible.

Braun, Ryan
I never believed for a second that Ryan was doping. Good Jewish boys don't do that sort of stuff. His high testosterone levels were clearly due to him being a mensch.

DeJesus, David
See Montero, Jesus. Keeping the seat warm for outfield possibilities Ryan Kalish or Nate Schierholtz. Where's Gabe Kapler when you need him?

Schafer, Jordan
Is Schafer Jewish? Well, an unverified source says he is. I'll take their word until Sam Fuld regains a starting spot.

Zimmerman, Ryan
(3B) WAS
A Jew in name only (JINO), but a longtime Jew crew member. If he stays healthy, can have a monster year.

Davis, Ike
(1B) NYM
Ike, the Matzo Ball Met, is Jewish and getting better every year. Could take over the first base or utility slot of the Sluggin' Semites early on if he proves to be all the way back from injury.

Kipnis, Jason
(2B) CLE
The Jewish Baseball News has disowned Kipnis, much like Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof tore his clothes when Chava married the Russian guy. But Jason's dad was Jewish, making him eligible to go on Birthright. So he's okay in my book.

Valencia, Danny
(3B) MIN
Please, Minnesota. Move Danny to shortstop. I've got too many third basemen. But Danny is a Star of David on the rise.

Fuld, Sam
Fuld nearly returned humanity to the blissful peace of the Garden of Eden last year, before a rough second half brought everyone back to the real world. If he breaks out again, there's a spot for him in the Major League Jews lineup.


Buchholz, Clay
Not a Jew. But Buchholz sounds vaguely Jewish. Call his inclusion "Zimmermania."

Scherzer, Max
Ditto. The strikeout JINO had looked spectacular in camp.

Shields, James
Shields is an all-star pitcher. He's not Jewish, but he deserves a spot because of the antisemitism he's had to deal with.

Strasburg, Stephen
Despite the name, probably not a Jew, as this site divines. But I'm going to keep believing as long as the strikeouts keep coming.

Zimmermann, Jordan
The first thing that comes up when you Google, "Jordan Zimmermann" Jewish, is this blog, and I am definitely not a reliable source. May be another case of Zimmermania, but I'll allow it.

Nathan, Joe
The guy's name is Joe Nathan. He's got to be Jewish.According to the Oxford University Press, "[The name Nathan is] from the Biblical Hebrew personal name Natan ‘given’ (i.e. by God). As a modern surname it is most frequently Jewish. Also, I need saves.

Putz, J.J.
Such a putz. Arizona's closer, and necessary comic relief for the Kaddish Kids.

Wolf, Randy
Wolf, a JINO, gets this spot by virtue of his guaranteed rotation spot for Milwaukee and decent strikeout rate. However, if Jason Marquis, real Jew, makes the Minnesota starting five, then I'll be forced to make a switch.
Can this team kick some "tuchis" this year and win a playoff game? Are they destined for more? We may need to juice these guys up with Jewish penicillin (and pray a Jewish shortstop drops from the sky), but I'm confident this biblical bunch can do our people proud.

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