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January 25, 2013

Skewed Left

Ruben Amaro and the Rabbis

by Zachary Levine

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(A small conference room in the executive wing of Citizens Bank Park, January 21, 2013. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has gathered Rabbi David Gross of Philadelphia, Rabbi Michael Rothman of Cherry Hill, and Rabbi Morty Gittelman of Elkins Park.)

Amaro: Shalom chaverim. Thank you for joining me, and Michael, we finally got everything processed from the Rabbinical Discretionary Fund. You’ll be in Section 214 this year.

Rabbi Rothman: Much obliged.

Amaro: Now gentlemen, as I told you when I invited you all here, we are considering signing Delmon Young to play the outfield for us. I’ve been speaking with his agents and they assured me he’ll sign for a base of $750,000 as long as we include incentives for…

Rabbi Gittelman: Come on Ruby, we’re not accountants, although our shul president, Sid Stern, happens to be one if you want me to get you in touch with him.

Amaro: That’s quite all right. That’s not why you’re here. But as you may have heard, Mr. Young ran into a little trouble with our people last year. He was playing for the Tigers and they were in New York and this beggar wearing a yarmulke and a star of David necklace came up to these tourists and started asking for money. So Delmon started shouting all these slurs and it became this whole mishegoss. So now we’re looking at a hate crime on the resume of the guy I think is our new right fielder.

Rabbi Gittelman: I see. It is the old question of forgiveness. When is too soon? Are we as human beings capable of forgiveness, or is that something that happens between man and God? That’s a difficult issue and one that many of my congregants have dealt with in the past.

Rabbi Rothman: Rabbi, if you’ll allow me. Now Reuven, you’ve been to services on Yom Kippur, correct?

Amaro: Yes. This year was the first time in a while it didn’t run into our playoff run.

Rabbi Gross: (under his breath) Believe me, we’re aware.

Rabbi Rothman: (stands up) Reuven, every year at the afternoon service on Yom Kippur, we read from the book of Jonah, where Jonah is thrown overboard by his mates in the midst of a powerful storm.

Amaro: (puts head in palm, shakes head)

Rabbi Rothman: All seems to be lost, but he is swallowed up by a great fish—a dag gadol. And while he is in the belly of the great fish, he prays to God for… Wait… (sits down with a stunned expression) Did you say right fielder? As in our starting right fielder?

Amaro: Yes, Rabbi. That’s our plan.

Rabbi Gross: What happened to the kid Brown? Did we trade him to the Astros?

Amaro: No, that was Jarred Cosart. He’s a pitcher.

Rabbi Gross: No, the other kid.

Amaro: Oh, that was Jonathan Singleton. He got suspended 50 games for marijuana.

Rabbi Gross: Oy. So what happened to the kid Brown?

Amaro: He’s still here, we just have a chance to get Delmon and I feel he’s got what it takes to be our starting right fielder.

Rabbi Gittelman: But Ruby, isn’t he a designated hitter? If I remember correctly, the Tigers wouldn’t even play him in the field and you know how little they care about defense.

Rabbi Rothman: You know Ruben, my friend Cantor Kaplan in Detroit told me they were the worst defensive team he’d ever seen. Just goes to show you.

Amaro: Friends, respectfully, this isn’t my point. I’m asking you what you think the community reaction will be. I asked over at the ADL and they thought everyone would flip out for a day or two and then be cool about it. Maybe Michael Schwimer would get a few questions about it and that would be it. It wouldn’t be an issue. Do you think your congregants will feel the same way? Will we lose face in the community over this?

Rabbi Gittelman: Oy, Schwimer is still here? Listen, Ruby. You know I love you and I love your looking out for one of our ballplayers, but the guy has an ERA nearly 5.00 and lefties eat the guy up like a sandwich.

Amaro: I know. We’ve tried to address our bullpen. But I feel like we’re getting off topic here. David, your congregation brings groups out to the ballpark five times a year. Our marketing people on the next floor wanted me to ask you if we’d be in danger of losing that business.

Rabbi Gross: I’m still not following what happened to that Brown kid. I thought he was our top prospect. What do we need Delmon Young for?

Amaro: We still have plenty of respect for Domonic. We just wanted to go with more of a sure thing. We’re not sure Domonic’s ever going to get it.

Rabbi Rothman: Reuven, if I may. (stands up, clears throat) The Torah tells us a lot about perseverance. Think about Yaakov having to work seven years to marry Rachel only to find out it was her sister Leah and then having to work seven more years on top of that. Think about the lessons of Job, all the hard times and all the suffering and all the worldly and spiritual rewards in the end. You can’t expect to get what you want overnight. Be patient with the kid.

Amaro: Rabbi, this is no business for patience. We’re in Chase’s last year. Howard is declining faster than we anticipated. Jimmy won’t be here forever. Our baseball decision is to sign Delmon for one year. You’re all here because we don’t want a revolt from the Jewish community. I just need to know what you think the pulse is out there.

Rabbi Gittelman: What about Kubel from Arizona. Aren’t they looking to get rid of him? He’d hit 35 home runs here, I guarantee you. You want to bet on that, Ruby?

Rabbi Rothman: Hey, Kubel… Isn’t he one of our people?

Rabbi Gittelman: I don’t know, maybe.

Rabbi Gross: What about the Hairston kid from New York? Boy could he play.

Rabbi Gittelman: Good one. He killed us last year, just killed us.

Rabbi Rothman: Couldn’t we go out and get the Bourn kid back? Fastest ballplayer I’ve ever seen.

Rabbi Gittelman: Then Revere could play right field again.

Rabbi Gross: I don’t know, Michael. Awfully expensive.

Rabbi Rothman: Look, are we trying to build a ballclub here or not?

Rabbi Gross: I’m still saying Hairston.

Amaro: Christ.

Zachary Levine is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Zachary's other articles. You can contact Zachary by clicking here

Related Content:  Delmon Young,  Phillies,  Phiadelphia Phillies

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