Monday, July 22, 2013

Sandy Koufax Didn't Pitch On Yom Kippur

MotherBlog used one sentence to express her disdain with whatever decision her younger son made that she didn't agree with.

"Sandy Koufax," she would say, "didn't pitch in the World Series on Yom Kippur."

It's true.

Back in 1965, Koufax was the best pitcher in baseball, and his Los Angeles Dodgers made it to the World Series against the Minnesota Twins. Game 1 fell on the holiest day of the Jewish year, and so Koufax didn't pitch.

The rest of the story is fairly legendary. LA, with Don Drysdale, lost Game 1, and then Koufax lost Game 2. Claude Osteen saved the Dodgers with a shutout in Game 3, and then Drydale and Koufax (a four-hit shutout) put the Dodgers up three games to two before the Twins evened it against Osteen.

That left Koufax to go on two days rest, and he responded with a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 victory.

MotherBlog took what happened in the 1965 World Series and used it to get her son to second-guess himself. It started, probably, when TigerBlog wanted to do something on either Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur and then expanded to become a catch-all to mean "your mother disapproves of what you're thinking or doing."

While it won't quite get the publicity of Koufax and the 1965 Series, the 2013 women's lacrosse World Cup had something similar come up.

Israel, with recent Princeton grad Sam Ellis on the team, lost to Canada in the quarterfinals, which put the team into the playoffs for 5-8 finishes. Israel lost to Scotland and then was supposed to play the Haudenosaunee nation (the women's equivalent of the Iroquois), except the game was supposed to be played Saturday, the Jewish sabbath.

Rather than compete on the sabbath, the Israelis forfeited.

“The Haudenosaunee Nation women’s lacrosse team respects Israel’s right to stand up for what they believe in and we wish them all the best with their program,” said Haudenosaunee Chair Kathy Smith. “We understand the importance of national identity and are respectful of the sacrifices the Israelis’ are willing to make to uphold what is important to them. We are optimistic we will have the opportunity to play against Israel in a friendly game in the near future.”

As for the championship of the event, it went to the United States. The Americans were never really challenged, as they went 7-0, had only one game be within 10 goals (18-9 over Australia) and outscored its opponents by a combined 128-36.

The final was more of the same, as the Americans defeated Canada, the host country, 19-5.

The U.S. team included Holly McGarvie Reilly, a 2009 Princeton grad who is married to former men's lacrosse player Brendan Reilly.

The world championship was the seventh for the U.S. in the nine times the event has been held, every four years since 1982. Sort of. It was held in 1982 and 1986 and then three years later in 1989 and then every four years since; TB has no idea why.

The only two times that the U.S. didn't win, the Australians did, in 1986 and 2005. When Canada defeated Australia in the semifinals, it ended a streak of four straight U.S.-Australia finals.

Much like the men's side, the big problem with international women's lacrosse is the precipitous drop-off from the top down. In men's international lacrosse, the U.S. has won nine of the 11 world championships, while Canada has won the other two.

Australia has reached the final three times; no other team has ever made it.

Because the U.S. almost always wins and the only other teams with a realistic chance to get to the finals are Canada and Australia, it keeps the sport from growing internationally. This is probably the biggest reason, for instance, that the sport hasn't gotten much Olympic traction.

There is, by the way, no reason to expect a different outcome in the 2014 men's world championships, which will be held in Denver.

In the meantime, the U.S. gets to celebrate another world women's champoinship.

And Israel gets to know it had a good week as well. A principled one as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These conflicts can and should be avoided. My daughter played Div III and I found that the NCAA's scheduling of the national playoffs to be completely insensitive to graduation schedules of member schools. This forced some families to choose between team and the culminating ceremony of undergraduate education. Yes, events have to be scheduled in advance, but by mid season, you can have a good idea of the likely final eight teams. It would not to much effort to schedule around their graduation---if education was really meaningful to the NCAA.