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Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Baseball Talmud: Brad Ausmus: Modern-Day Moe Berg

One Spy Too Many?

No, he’s not a spy (that I know of- though if I did, he’d be an awfully poor spy!)- but in the fact that Brad Ausmus continues to get work- a $1 million, one-year deal with the Dodgers after also being courted by the Padres.

And no, he’s not getting paid for his offense- his line of .218/.303/.296 is unimpressive- but more so when you realize he put it up in Houston’s Minute Maid Park, which had a park factor of 103 last year- hitter-friendly.

...Of particular note to Jewish fans- with 10 games played in 2009, Ausmus passes Buddy Myer for the all-time record in games played among Jewish players. Let’s hope he has a Rickey Henderson moment where he holds up a torah at second base and recites the Sh’ma.

Repoz Posted: January 22, 2009 at 05:42 PM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, dodgers

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Charlie O Posted: January 22, 2009 at 05:59 PM (#3058059)
Why will he ever be on second base?
   2. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 22, 2009 at 06:00 PM (#3058064)
Why will he ever be on second base?
Routine grounder to short, guys lobs it over the first baseman's head, into the stands. Ausmus awarded second. Easy.
   3. Steve Treder Posted: January 22, 2009 at 06:10 PM (#3058077)
Ausmus passes Buddy Myer for the all-time record in games played among Jewish players

Is it settled that Myer was Jewish? I recall this being up in the air.
   4. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: January 22, 2009 at 06:19 PM (#3058086)
Is it settled that Myer was Jewish? I recall this being up in the air.

In the New Historical Abstract, James seems pretty confident that he's not Jewish. I have no idea, myself.
   5. Obama Bomaye Posted: January 22, 2009 at 06:29 PM (#3058098)
One would hope Howard has his facts straight, what with a book being published and all.
   6. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 22, 2009 at 06:31 PM (#3058100)
his line of .218/.303/.296 is unimpressive
Master of the understatement.
   7. aleskel Posted: January 22, 2009 at 06:38 PM (#3058110)
Is it settled that Myer was Jewish? I recall this being up in the air.

well, accord to B-Ref his middle name was Solomon ... so ...
   8. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: January 22, 2009 at 06:38 PM (#3058111)
Rod Carew isn't Jewish enough?

Edit: According to Wikipedia, he isn't. I'm not sure if Wikipedia is more reliable than Adam Sandler though.
   9. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: January 22, 2009 at 06:38 PM (#3058112)
One would hope Howard has his facts straight, what with a book being published and all.

Or this book.
   10. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: January 22, 2009 at 06:41 PM (#3058116)
Was anyone else creeped out by some of the things towards the end of "The Catcher Was a Spy" about Moe Berg's sexuality? It was random speculation in every direction.
   11. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 22, 2009 at 06:48 PM (#3058121)
Was anyone else creeped out by some of the things towards the end of "The Catcher Was a Spy" about Moe Berg's sexuality? It was random speculation in every direction.
Not for me, because I thought that the author was looking for an explanation of the life and this was his best guess. I certainly can see if your mileage varies.

What a sad, sad ending to a life.
   12. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 22, 2009 at 06:49 PM (#3058123)
about Moe Berg's sexuality? It was random speculation in every direction.

I don't quite know how to put this, but, vis-a-vis one's sexuality, how many directions ARE there?
   13. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: January 22, 2009 at 07:14 PM (#3058146)
I'm not a MOT, but even I know "Torah" should be capitalized.

And if he doesn't have payot in his Rickey! moment, an opportunity will be wasted. Picture him pointing at the sky wearing 'em.
   14. JimMusComp likes Billy Eppler.... Posted: January 22, 2009 at 07:16 PM (#3058148)
Charlie - you beat me to it....
   15. Ephus Posted: January 22, 2009 at 07:16 PM (#3058149)
Went to Dartmouth Hillel Friday night dinners with Brad. It is amazing that he managed to avoid college baseball, get his degree and still have a career noted for its longevity.
   16. HowardMegdal Posted: January 22, 2009 at 07:27 PM (#3058167)
In the New Historical Abstract, James seems pretty confident that he's not Jewish. I have no idea, myself.

So I'm away from my office presently, and I can't thumb through my Abstract to properly respond to this. Still, here's my argument from memory-

Myer self-identified as Jewish for basically his whole life, only to recant at the very end. He said, if I recall correctly, that he did this because it was easier.

I don't buy it. I'll take the decades of Jewish identification over the deathbed recanting-and who self-identifies as Jewish because it is EASIER?
   17. HowardMegdal Posted: January 22, 2009 at 07:28 PM (#3058170)
I'm not a MOT, but even I know "Torah" should be capitalized.

Ugh- fixing now. Thank you.
   18. "Catching Dianetics" by Dr. L. Ron Karkovice Posted: January 22, 2009 at 07:37 PM (#3058183)
I'm not a MOT, but even I know "Torah" should be capitalized.


I'm not a Litvishe Rov, but even I know that it should be spelled and pronounced Toy-rah as in the phrase "Der Alte Yankee Stadium Voz Mamish a freilidike makom, ober it voz a Makom tipshus und nisht kein a Makum Toyrah und Toyrah izt der besser Shkoyre."
   19. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: January 22, 2009 at 07:39 PM (#3058188)
I don't quite know how to put this, but, vis-a-vis one's sexuality, how many directions ARE there?

This is from reading it over ten years ago, but it seemed weird and it always stuck with me. The specific facts may be off.

The author noted that Berg never married and never seemed to date. He speculated that he may have been gay or very shy and withdrawn, and, in the part that creeped me out, hinted that he may have been a pedophile based on one time he spent too much time with a friend's child in her bedroom.
   20. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 22, 2009 at 07:46 PM (#3058193)
based on one time he spent too much time with a friend's child in her bedroom.
That "too much time with a friend's child in her bedroom" struck me as very creepy -- although I could also think Berg's intentions were innocent seeing how Berg was deteriorating already at that point.
   21. AndrewJ Posted: January 22, 2009 at 08:17 PM (#3058216)
Vis-a-vis Moe Berg's sexuality: A lot of the top British spies of the 1940s-50s were homosexual. And don't forget J. Edgar Hoover and his dresses...
   22. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: January 22, 2009 at 08:20 PM (#3058221)
A lot of the top British spies of the 1940s-50s were homosexual.

You know, I always thought James Bond was a bit too...elegant.
   23. phredbird Posted: January 22, 2009 at 08:37 PM (#3058250)
The author noted that Berg never married and never seemed to date.


it's been a while since i read the book, but wasn't there some passage where an ex-girlfriend said he was kind of strange and wanted to do it on the floor?

if i was brad ausmus i wouldn't like being compared to moe berg. he spent a long period of his life as a drifter and a schnorrer.
   24. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 22, 2009 at 08:40 PM (#3058254)
Went to Dartmouth Hillel Friday night dinners with Brad. It is amazing that he managed to avoid college baseball, get his degree and still have a career noted for its longevity.

He avoided college baseball?
   25. Obama Bomaye Posted: January 22, 2009 at 08:43 PM (#3058258)
Why didn't they just do it in the road?
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: January 22, 2009 at 08:44 PM (#3058261)
He avoided college baseball?


Damn, it's true. I knew Ausmus went to Dartmouth, but I had no idea he didn't play while he was there until I just looked it up. He was already in the Yankee system when he started school there.
   27. Charlie O Posted: January 22, 2009 at 09:03 PM (#3058282)
Anyway, I believe that Rickey Henderson moment took place at third base.
   28. The District Attorney Posted: January 22, 2009 at 09:10 PM (#3058289)
Did someone call Moe "schnorrer"??
Hooray, hooray, hooray
   29. HowardMegdal Posted: January 22, 2009 at 09:23 PM (#3058301)
Hooray for Catcher Moe Berg
His languages were many
He couldn't hit in any
Hooray hooray hooray
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2009 at 09:24 PM (#3058302)
A lot of the top British spies of the 1940s-50s were homosexual.

Most of the Cambridge 5 traitors were, IIRC. Of course that prediliction is not uncommon among your upper-class British "public-school" boys.
   31. Mike Green Posted: January 22, 2009 at 09:35 PM (#3058316)
"prediliction"

Ouch. That's a suggestive spelling faux pas.
   32. aleskel Posted: January 22, 2009 at 09:40 PM (#3058321)
# 28 and 29 are, as we say on the interwebs, full of win
   33. Curse of the Andino Posted: January 22, 2009 at 10:02 PM (#3058344)
Berg was always the outsider. Jewish father who forced him to live among the goyim, '30s-era baseball player who could breathe through his nose, even the OSS was quite WASP-y at its founding.

Bright boys with that kind of background tend to have roughly the same rapport with the ladies as Ted Kaczynski... but it doesn't necessarily follow that he was gay, let alone a child molester.
   34. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: January 22, 2009 at 11:38 PM (#3058414)
#33,
As I said, I read the book long ago. The issues that you have raised may be in the book, but I am talking about only what I remember.

Edmundo has a better recollection of the context of the issue.
   35. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2009 at 11:54 PM (#3058430)
even the OSS was quite WASP-y at its founding.

Which has always surprised me given that its founder was "Wild Bill" Donovan, commander of the "Fighting Irish" during WWI.
   36. Sandlapper Spike Posted: January 23, 2009 at 12:14 AM (#3058456)
Bill James in the Abstract:

"Actually, Myer may not have been Jewish. He told a home-town newspaperman shortly before his death in 1974 that he was not Jewish, he was German, but that the writers thought he was Jewish, and he just didn't think being German was anything to be proud of at the time, so he never set the record straight."
   37. HowardMegdal Posted: January 23, 2009 at 04:27 AM (#3058572)
"Actually, Myer may not have been Jewish. He told a home-town newspaperman shortly before his death in 1974 that he was not Jewish, he was German, but that the writers thought he was Jewish, and he just didn't think being German was anything to be proud of at the time, so he never set the record straight."

Thanks for posting this. Basically, to excise Myer from the book, I have this anecdote, against a whole life lived as a self-identifying Jew. I went with the preponderance of the evidence.

My feeling with the book was to be inclusive. This way, if a reader disagrees, he/she can just cross out a guy.

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