Following a handful of pandemic-tampered years, the world of sports has resumed complete normality. Although certain restrictions weren’t lifted, 2021 still delivered some memorable moments – particularly for Jewish athletes and teams that achieved remarkable accomplishments in sports from around the world.
Jewish fans of America’s pastime will be eager to witness another Jew-filled Major League Baseball World Series in 2022 after last year’s events saw an entire play that displayed three Jewish players performing on the most significant baseball stage.
The Houston Astros were shutout by Max Fried of the Atlanta Braves, the Jewish fans would love a replication of his 2021 season in 2022, but the sportsbooks aren’t giving the Braves much hope of winning the World Series this season – with odds of +1200 to win it all, this translates into a 7.7% expected chance of success.
However, the bookies show support with sportsbook bonuses, and this could be romantic for supporters who believe the Braves can at least finish high in the NL East division. With only five months of 2022 surpassed, there are a plethora of Jewish athletes you may want to bet on, so let’s reflect on the cream of the crop and some of the highlight moments.
Four Jews in the 2021 World Series
As previously mentioned, the Atlanta Braves topped the Houston Astros during last season’s MLB World Series. Still, it was more than a championship game for Jewish fans, as four Jewish players fielded the game with both squads combined.
A second inning moment capsulated a historic moment in Jewish sports.
Alex Bregman hit Max Fried’s pitch, and Joc Pederson caught the ball. This play didn’t alter the scorecards, nor did it mean much, but it was a play that showcased three Jewish players displaying their talents in the most significant game in professional baseball.
Garrett Stubbs was another Jewish player to make the Astros team, taking the tally of Jewish players in the 2021 World Series to four.
Braves pitcher Max Fried was the standout Jewish performer on the day, fighting through the potential of a severe injury to go on and deliver a six-inning set of pitches. That same week, Fried collected the Silver Slugger award and the second Gold Glove of his career.
Sue Bird (WNBA)
Sue Bird requires little introduction; she is one of the most experienced professional basketball players in the women’s NBA – signed with the Seattle Storm - and a multiple-time Olympic gold medallist. The American-Israeli ballplayer, aged 40, is still playing at the top of her game. She’s a twelve-time WNBA All-Star and a four-time WNBA champion.
Last year, Bird picked up her fifth Olympic gold medal with Team USA, joining one of six Jewish athletes who collected a gold medal in Tokyo. Alongside Ashram, Jessica Fox, Artem Dolgopyat, and Alix Klineman, Bird put a stamp on the athletic feats of Jewish that won’t be forgotten.
Bird has recently hinted at retirement, but with 18 seasons in the WNBA, the sixth-highest scorer in the league’s history, a WNBA top 25 greatest of all time achievement, and six Olympic gold medals dating back to 2002, it would be hard to blame her wanting to live a quiet life.
Greg Joseph (NFL)
27-year-old Greg Joseph of the Minnesota Vikings is the sole Jewish kicker in the National Football League.
Joseph made his name known during the 2021/22 season after scoring two game-winning field goals against the Carolina Panthers and the Green Bay Packers, respectively. A 55-yard attempt versus the Packers with seconds remaining on the clock has undoubtedly assisted Joseph with a breakthrough season, and he’s now 50 for 58 attempts on field goals during his career, posting an 86.2% success rate.
Diego Schwartzman (ATP Champion)
Argentina Jewish tennis professional Diego Schwartzman has defeated and played among the top-10 greatest tennis stars of the modern era.
Schwartzman grew up practising at the Hacoaj Jewish community center in Tigre, but now you’ll find him going set for set with the likes of Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic.
In 2020, Diego reached his first Masters final, the French Open semi-final, and then surfaced within the top-10 rankings. 2021 however, was a special year, as the Jewish star won his hometown tournament – the Argentina Open – and he didn’t lose a single set throughout the entire competition.