Out of N.Y., optimistic Ike Davis hoping to right his ship with Pirates

Ike Davis, on overcoming his hitting woes, says, "You've just got to put your head down and grind." (Hillel Kuttler)

BALTIMORE (JTA) — Ike Davis was upbeat despite the rain pelting the Camden Yards turf and his struggles at the plate. The new Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman was playing catch with teammate Josh Harrison when music from the loudspeakers sent him into a dancing whir. Harrison couldn’t stop giggling.… Read more »

Maccabi Tel Aviv in the NBA? It may not be a hoop dream

Might the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team someday be lifting the nBA championship trophy, as its players and others did here after winning the 2012 Israeli Basketball Super League title? (Flash 90)

BALTIMORE (JTA) – Maccabi Tel Aviv reportedly is heading back to the United States this fall for its first exhibition games against NBA teams in five years – but greater developments appear to be in the works for the iconic franchise and Israeli basketball. For one, how about NBA… Read more »

At Wrigley Field, Orthodox vendors going the way of Cubs wins

(JTA) — Longtime fans of the Chicago Cubs know there are a few mainstays they can expect when they visit Wrigley Field: ivy on the outfield walls, a strict no-wave policy rigorously enforced by fans and, most days, disappointing play by the hometown team. But there’s one little-known quirk… Read more »

Braun’s back, Kinsler’s in Detroit and other Jewish Major Leaguers

BALTIMORE (JTA) – In the biblical tradition of lingering in the desert en route to the Promised Land, Major League Baseball teams are packing up and embarking on their exodus from Arizona (and Florida) spring training sites to begin the new season. Rosters won’t be finalized until this weekend,… Read more »

Contrite Bruce Pearl bringing his spirited style to Auburn basketball

New auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl engulfed by adoring fans upon arriving at the Auburn University Regional Airport on his 54th birthday, March 18, 2014. (Courtesy Auburn University/Zach Bland)

BALTIMORE (JTA) — Shortly after assembling the players trying out for the American squad he’d be coaching at the 2009 Maccabiah Games, Bruce Pearl brought them to Sabbath evening services at the Heska Amuna Synagogue in Knoxville, Tenn. The passionate and gregarious Pearl, a veteran of reading the haftarah… Read more »

Philly historian scores in bid to have NBA pioneer Eddie Gottlieb honored

Owner Eddie Gottlieb, left, celebrating the Philadelphia Warriors winning the 1955-56 NBA championship. (Courtesy NBA Photos)

PHILADELPHIA (JTA) — Celeste Morello isn’t Jewish or a sports fan, and has never attended a professional basketball game. But a passion for history — particularly Philadelphia history — prompted her to seek recognition for the hoops pioneer Eddie Gottlieb. Morello succeeded last week when the Pennsylvania Historical and… Read more »

For Stan Fischler, ‘The Hockey Maven,’ it’s all about the game — and Israel, too

Stan Fischler is flanked by producer Glenn Petraitis, left, and co-host Peter Ruttgaizer at the Nassau Coliseum set of their pregame and postgame shows. (Hillel Kuttler)

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (JTA) – As the Boston Bruins buzz the Islanders net throughout the opening period of a game at the Nassau Coliseum, Stan Fischler is standing 10 feet behind the Plexiglas to the left of New York goaltender Kevin Poulin. Fischler, a hockey broadcaster for four decades, can… Read more »

Head of the glass: Yeshiva U.’s Rebecca Yoshor excelling on and off court

In this Nov. 24, 2013 loss to the College of Elizabeth, Yeshiva University Maccabees forward Rebecca Yoshor, No. 34, grabbed 22 rebounds, a category in which she leads the nation. (Courtesy of Yeshiva University Sports Information Office)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Watching Rebecca Yoshor in action for the Yeshiva University women’s basketball team, the skills are evident: the shotmaking, quickness, leadership and court smarts. They are skills honed in what her father describes as “fierce games” with her brothers and the neighborhood kids in the driveway… Read more »

Sochi ready for Jewish arrivals

Short track speed skater Vladislav Bykanov of the Israel Olympic team carries his country's flag during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics on Feb. 7, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Soft sand and turquoise beaches make Sochi a lovely holiday destination, but this coastal Russian city is less than ideal for providing religious services to large numbers of Jewish visitors. With few native Jews and only one resident rabbi, the Black Sea resort of 400,000 residents would… Read more »

Sports Moment // Wrestling with the Ghosts of Olympics Past

With the Winter Olympics set to open in Sochi, Russia, in February, Moment’s Josh Tapper talks to David Wallechinsky, author of The Complete Book of the Olympics and president of the International Society of Olympic Historians. • Why aren’t American Jewish Olympians, such as swimmer Mark Spitz, as revered as other American Jewish athletes,… Read more »

WINTER OLYMPICS: For Israel’s skaters, Olympic training is a New Jersey state of mind

Israel's Sochi-bound figure skaters who train in New Jersey: from left, Alexei Bychenko, Andrea Davidovich and Evgeni Krasnapolsky. (Hillel Kuttler)

HACKENSACK, N.J. (JTA) — Evgeni Krasnapolsky and Andrea Davidovich glide around the ice, shadowing one another to the accompaniment of Nino Rota’s “Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet.” At a rink in this New York City suburb, the figure-skating pair are refining their long program a few weeks before… Read more »

Will God have a say in Super Sunday outcome?

Denver Academy of Torah teacher Benjamin Levy, center, is rooting for his hometown Seattle Seahawks, but is mindful of his students' passion for their native Denver Broncos. (Courtesy Benjamin Levy)

BALTIMORE (JTA) — Rabbi Daniel Alter expects some added fervency during daily prayer services at the Denver Academy of Torah in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. Alter, the academy’s head of school, recalls that when the Colorado Rockies faced the Boston Red Sox in the 2007… Read more »

Retiring London Fletcher lauds bridge to NFL success — a Jewish couple

An enthusiastic London Fletcher being introduced as a starter for the Washington Redskins. He holds the NFL record for consecutive starts by a linebacker with 216 while playing for three teams. (Courtesy Washington Redskins)

BALTIMORE (JTA) — The rain dripping from his uniform provided an unceremonious end to London Fletcher’s career as the Washington Redskins linebacker headed to the locker room following a recent road loss to the New York Giants. His team’s last-place finish was hardly the idealized final walk off the… Read more »

At 91, Harvey Pollack still NBA’s leading scorekeeper

Harvey Pollack

Fittingly, Harvey Pollack was the one who scribbled the number 100 on the most famous photograph in basketball history: Wilt Chamberlain holding the piece of paper signifying his astounding point total in a 1962 game for the then Philadelphia Warriors. After all, Pollack is basketball’s ultimate numbers and public… Read more »

Early Hanukkah: Freshman nets free tuition with halfcourt heave

Colorado State University freshman Andrew Schneeweis sinks a half-court shot at a pep rally to win a year’s free tuition. (John Eisele/CSU Photography)

BALTIMORE (JTA) — The basketball goal that Ellen Schneeweis bought for her four sons as a Hanukkah present in 2008 drew Andrew, the second oldest, to practice shot after shot. Some attempts came from a pretty fair distance — like the sidewalk in front of his neighbors’ house in… Read more »

Israel experience launches Brad Ausmus into job as Tigers manager

Manager Brad ausmus, right, and two of his coaches, Shawn Green, left, and Gabe Kapler, constituted the all-Jewish, Major Leagie-pedigree leadership of Israel's 2012 tean competing for a World Baseball Classic bid. (Israel Association of Baseball)

BALTIMORE (JTA) – Almost from the moment they met him, several officials and players with Israel’s national baseball team said they saw manager Brad Ausmus headed for the major leagues. They cited his communication skills, command of the game and preparation — not to mention his 18-year playing career… Read more »

Brainy Breslow clutch on the hill in Red Sox title bid

Craig Breslow is the Boston Red Sox nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award for his charitable works.

(JTA) — When Craig Breslow entered Saturday night’s playoff game against the Detroit Tigers, FOX broadcaster Tim McCarver hailed the Boston Red Sox reliever — a Yale University graduate with a double major in molecular biophysics and biochemistry — as the smartest player in Major League Baseball. But with… Read more »

Adam Grossman’s dream job: Packing Fenway Park

With Boston back in the World Series, Red Sox marketing guru Adam Grossman doesn't mind the longer work days or shorter preparation time for next season. (Billie Weiss for the Boston Red Sox)

(JTA) — You’d think Adam Grossman has a pretty easy job. After all, with the Boston Red Sox owning one of the most iconic brands in professional sports and gunning for their third World Series title in the past decade, how hard could it be to put fans in… Read more »