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All the Jewish MLB players to watch in 2023

(JTA) — The 2023 MLB season is almost upon us, and it has the potential to be a historic year for Jews in professional baseball.

Last year, 17 Jewish players appeared in a game — a likely record. This season, the number could be even higher.

The slate of Jewish players in the game this year features stars such as Max Fried and Alex Bregman, on-the-rise big league talent like Harrison Bader and Dean Kremer, and an impressive wave of minor league prospects on the cusp of the majors.

With the World Baseball Classic over and Spring Training winding down, there are plenty of storylines for Jewish fans to keep an eye on, including a number of Jewish teammate pairs — and even a possible trio.

Opening Day is next Thursday. Here is a complete guide to every Jewish player to watch in 2023.

The big leaguers

Max Fried pitches in Game 6 of the 2021 World Series, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Max Fried, Atlanta Braves, starting pitcher: Fried is arguably the best Jewish player in baseball — and one of the best pitchers, period. Fried was an All-Star for the first time last season, finished second for the National League Cy Young award and has won three Gold Gloves in a row for his defense. The Los Angeles native grew up idolizing fellow Jewish lefty ace Sandy Koufax.

Alex Bregman, Houston Astros, third baseman: Bregman returned to form in 2022, hitting 23 home runs with 93 runs batted in as the Astros won the World Series. The two-time All-Star has become one of the best postseason hitters of his generation, setting all-time records for most home runs and RBIs among third basemen. Bregman has been an active member of the Houston Jewish community.

Joc Pederson, San Francisco Giants, outfielder: Pederson is entering his second season playing for manager Gabe Kapler’s Giants. Last year was his best since 2019, as he notched 23 home runs, a .274 batting average and his second career All-Star selection. Pederson played for Team Israel in the 2023 WBC and even helped recruit fellow Jewish big leaguers to the team.

Harrison Bader, New York Yankees, outfielder: Bader will likely begin his first full season in New York on the injured list — injuries that kept him from playing for Team Israel, which he had committed to do. In parts of six seasons in the big leagues, spent almost entirely in St. Louis, Bader has become known for his elite defense in the outfield — he won a Gold Glove in 2021 — and last fall became a breakout star for the Yankees in the playoffs. Bader’s father, who is Jewish, told the Forward that his son is considering formally converting to Judaism.

Dean Kremer, Baltimore Orioles, starting pitcher: Born in California to Israeli parents, Kremer was the first Israeli drafted into the MLB. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency during the WBC that Israel is “like another home.” Kremer was very good for Baltimore in 2022, posting a 3.32 earned-run average (ERA) in 21 starts — highlighted by a complete game shutout against Bregman’s Astros in September.

Rowdy Tellez, Milwaukee Brewers, first baseman: Tellez has the most power of any Jewish player, crushing 35 home runs in 2022. In one game in May, Tellez hit two home runs on his way to a historic 8-RBI game for the Brewers. Tellez, who had a Jewish mother and a father with Mexican heritage, considered playing for Israel in the WBC but opted to represent Mexico.

Eli Morgan, Cleveland Guardians, relief pitcher: Last year was Morgan’s first season as a reliever, and it seemed to be the right move for the 26-year-old righty. Morgan appeared in 50 games for Cleveland, posting a 3.38 ERA — though his first half (2.83 ERA) was much stronger than his second half (4.26 ERA). Morgan originally planned to play for Israel in the WBC but ultimately did not join the team.

Garrett Stubbs, Philadelphia Phillies, catcher: Stubbs played in 46 games for the Phillies as the backup behind J.T. Realmuto, the best catcher in baseball. Stubbs delivered the game-winning hit in Israel’s lone WBC victory, while playing third base for the first time, and has already said he will play for Israel again in 2026. (His younger brother C.J. is a catcher in the Astros system and replaced Garrett on Team Israel following an injury earlier this month.)

Richard Bleier, Boston Red Sox, relief pitcher: After not making it to the big leagues until he was 29, Bleier has grown into a reliable reliever across seven MLB seasons, with a 3.06 career ERA. Bleier was traded to Chaim Bloom’s Red Sox this offseason after two years in Miami — where his most famous (and unfortunate) moment was a three-balk at bat last year. Bleier pitched for Israel in the 2023 WBC.

Jake Bird, Colorado Rockies, relief pitcher: Bird made his MLB debut last summer and would go on to pitch in 38 games for the Rockies out of the bullpen. Bird was originally on Israel’s WBC roster but dropped out at the last minute due to injury.

Zack Weiss, Los Angeles Angels, relief pitcher: Weiss debuted in 2018, but it did not go well: he allowed four runs, including two home runs, without recording an out. That meant his earned run average was — and this is real — infinite. Four years later, Weiss made it back to the big leagues with the Angels, appearing in 12 games with a more respectable 3.38 ERA. After a solid stint with Israel in the WBC, Weiss is expected to factor into the Angels bullpen this season, though he could start the season in the minor leagues. Weiss has talked about attending Rosh Hashanah services as a minor leaguer in Montana.

Dalton Guthrie, Philadelphia Phillies, utility player: Guthrie is the most recent Jewish ballplayer to debut, joining the Phillies in September. He played in 14 games for the National League champions, and even appeared in a postseason game. Guthrie is the son of former MLB pitcher Mark Guthrie, who played for eight teams across a 15-year career.

Scott Effross, New York Yankees, relief pitcher: Effross is likely to miss all of 2023 after undergoing ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (known as Tommy John surgery). Before his injury, Effross, who wears a Star of David necklace on the mound, was excellent for the Chicago Cubs and Yankees last year, with a 2.54 ERA in 60 games. Effross also would have played for Israel had he not gotten hurt.

(Also worth noting: Chicago White Sox ace Dylan Cease, the 2022 American League Cy Young runner-up, does not identify as Jewish but was on Israel’s preliminary roster of eligible players for the 2023 WBC.)

The prospects

Spencer Horwitz played for Team Israel in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. (Courtesy of Team Israel)

There are a number of Jewish players who are on the brink of breaking into the big leagues — including a few who could even make Opening Day rosters.

Jared Shuster, Atlanta Braves, starting pitcher: Shuster is the top prospect in the Atlanta organization, and in the midst of a stellar Spring Training, with a 1.45 ERA through 18.2 innings. He has a serious shot of securing the final spot in the Braves rotation to begin 2023. He was a first-round draft pick in 2020 and played in the MLB Futures Game last year.

Matt Mervis, Chicago Cubs, first baseman: Mervis played for Israel in the WBC and though he begins the season in the minors, he is almost certain to join the big-league team this season. The Washington, D.C., native belted 36 home runs in the minors last year, hitting .309 with 119 runs batted in while rising through the Cubs’ system at an impressive pace.

Zack Gelof, Oakland Athletics, second baseman: Another Israel player, Gelof will begin the season in the minors but is expected to make his debut this year. The 23-year-old is Oakland’s No. 3 ranked prospect and was a second-round pick in the 2021 draft. (His younger brother, Jake, currently plays at the University of Virginia and is seen as a possible first round pick this year.)

Spencer Horwitz, Toronto Blue Jays, outfielder: Horwitz played with Gelof and Mervis in the WBC, and will also start 2023 in the minors. But the 25-year-old Maryland native is a candidate to crack into the big leagues at some point this season as depth for the loaded Blue Jays.

Other minor leaguers with MLB experience

Kevin Pillar during Spring Training with the New York Mets, Feb. 27, 2021. (Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

Kevin Pillar, Atlanta Braves, outfielder: The MLB veteran signed a minor league deal with the Braves this offseason and has a chance at securing a spot on Atlanta’s bench entering the year. Pillar has embraced his status as a Jewish ballplayer.

Jake Fishman, Oakland Athletics, relief pitcher: The Team Israel pitcher made his MLB debut with (who else) the Marlins last season, and begins 2023 at the Triple A level with Gelof. He could be called up as bullpen depth.

Bubby Rossman, New York Mets, relief pitcher: Rossman made his debut last year with the Phillies, and it also did not go well. But after a strong stretch with Team Israel, Rossman begins the year in the New York Mets system. Despite his Yiddish-sounding name, Rossman is only 30.

Ryan Sherriff, Boston Red Sox, relief pitcher: Sherriff has four years of big-league experience under his belt with the Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Rays. He signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox this offseason.

Kenny Rosenberg, Los Angeles Angels, relief pitcher: Rosenberg made his debut for the Angels last April and appeared in three games over the course of the season. He begins the year in the minors but has a shot to be called back up as bullpen depth.

Robert Stock, Milwaukee Brewers, starting pitcher: Stock has pitched for four MLB teams across four seasons, plus a year in the Korean professional league last year. Stock pitched for Israel in 2023 and will begin the season in Triple A.

The post All the Jewish MLB players to watch in 2023 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Canada’s economic growth projected to be about 1% in the first half of 2024

Canada is a country with a thriving Jewish community and has traditionally offered the security of a strong economy for residents. The national economic outlook is naturally something that everyone in Canada’s Jewish community keeps track of – especially those involved in business in the various provinces.

With this in mind, the July 2023 Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of Canada made for interesting reading, projecting a moderate economic growth figure of around 1% for the first half of 2024. This is in line with growth figures that had been forecast for the second half of 2023, and sees the country’s economy remain on a stable footing.

Steady projected growth for first half of 2024

Although projected economic growth of around 1% in early 2024 is not as impressive as figures of around 3.4% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, it is certainly no cause for alarm. But what might be behind it?

Higher interest rates are one major factor to consider and have had a negative impact on household spending nationally. This has effectively seen people with less spending power and businesses in Canada generating less revenue as a result.

Interest rate rises have also hit business investments nationally, and less money is being channelled into this area to fuel Canada’s economic growth. When you also factor in how the weak foreign demand for Canadian goods and services has hit export growth lately, the projected GDP growth figure for early 2024 is understandable.

Growth in second half of 2024 expected

Although the above may make for interesting reading for early 2024, the Bank of Canada’s report does show that economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. This is projected to be due to the decreasing effect of high interest rates on the Canadian economy and a stronger foreign demand for the country’s exports.

Moving forward from this period, it is predicted that inflation will remain at around 3% as we head into 2025, and hit the Bank of Canada’s inflation target of 2% come the middle of 2025. All of this should help the country’s financial status remain stable and prove encouraging for business leaders in the Jewish community.

Canada’s economic growth mirrors iGaming’s rise

When you take a look at the previous growth figures Canada has seen and also consider the growth predicted for 2024 (especially in the second half of the year), it is clear that the country has a vibrant, thriving economy.

This economic growth is something that can be compared with iGaming’s recent rise as an industry around the country. In the same way as Canada has steadily built a strong economy over time, iGaming has transformed itself into a powerful, flourishing sector.

This becomes even clearer when you consider that Canadian iGaming has been a major contributor to the sustained growth seen in the country’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry, which rose by around 1.9% in Q2 of 2023. The healthy state of online casino play in Canada is also evidenced by how many customers the most popular casino platforms attract and how the user experience these operators offer has enabled iGaming in the country to take off.

This, of course, is also something that translates to the world stage, where global iGaming revenues in 2023 hit an estimated $95 billion. iGaming’s global market volume is also pegged to rise to around $130 billion by 2027. These kinds of figures represent a sharp jump for iGaming worldwide and show how the sector is on the ascent.

Future economic outlook for Canada in line with global expectations

When considering the Canadian economic outlook for 2024, it is often useful to look at how this compares with global financial predictions. In addition to the rude health of iGaming in Canada being reflected in global online casino gaming, the positive economic outlook for the country is also broadly in line with expectations for many global economies.

Global growth is also predicted to rise steadily in the second half of 2024 before becoming stronger in 2025. This should be driven by the weakening effects of high interest rates on worldwide economic prosperity. With rate cuts in Canada already expected after Feb 2024’s inflation report, this could happen in the near future.

The performance of the US economy is always of interest in Canada, as this is the country’s biggest trading partner. Positive US Q2 performances in 2023, powered by a strong labor market, good consumer spending levels and robust business investments, were therefore a cause for optimism. As a US economy that continues to grow is something that Canadian businesses welcome, this can only be a healthy sign.

Canada set for further growth in 2024

Local news around Canada can cover many topics but the economy is arguably one of the most popular. A projected GDP growth figure of around 1% for Canada’s economy shows that the financial state of the country is heading in the right direction. An improved financial outlook heading into the latter half of 2024/2025 would make for even better reading, and the national economy should become even stronger.

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The Legal Landscape of Online Gambling in Canada

Online gambling has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years. While many jurisdictions have legalized land-based gambling, it hasn’t applied to online platforms. Nonetheless, Canada is one nation that has legalized online gambling with their provinces’ licensing and regulating sites.

Nonetheless, Canadians of legal age can enjoy playing their favourite online games where available. So many games like slots, blackjack, and roulette still maintain their popularity even in the digital sense.  Want to learn about what’s legal in Canada for online gambling? Let’s take a look.

What is legal for online gambling in Canada?

What is the best online casino in Canada? The list we provide you here should be a good start. It’s also important to note that most Canadian provinces do not have laws that prohibit offshore online casinos.

Many provinces provide licensing to online casinos. They even regulate them as well. For example, Alberta and British Columbia have sites regulated by their respective governing bodies. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) allows legal online gambling and oversees the services it offers to Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, there are some caveats to address. In Newfoundland and Labrador, online gambling that is not offered by the ALC is considered illegal. Therefore, it is the only Canadian province as of 2024 that prohibits offshore options.

In terms of the legal age, there are three provinces where the legal age is 18: Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. The remaining provinces establish 19 as the legal age for gambling including online.

Who are the regulatory bodies for gambling in Canada?

At the Federal level, the Canadian Gaming Association is the regulatory body for gambling in Canada. Thus, they cover both land-based and online gambling in the country. There are also provincial and regional regulatory bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) – which covers the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation covers Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. A handful of provinces also have their regulatory bodies covering lottery and gaming.

Canada requires online casinos that wish to accept players from the country to adhere to regulations and licensing. These licenses are provided by provincial regulatory bodies. When licensed, online casinos must follow the regulations and security standards.

However, there is the belief that many of the laws about gambling in Canada may be outdated. This could be because these laws were created long before the advent of the Internet. Therefore, such laws may need to be modernized. Nonetheless, online gambling for the most part is legal, just dependent on the province.

Are there any legal grey areas to discuss?

The grey area that is considered a concern pertains to the use of offshore sites. As mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador is believed to be the only province that prohibits it. Even online casinos with no licensing by Canadian or provincial authorities accept residents of the country.

On the players’ end, many Canadians are allowed to play at online casinos. However, they may be restricted from certain platforms. This is to ensure that the players themselves are protected from unknowingly playing on platforms that may be illegal. 

What are the other laws and regulations about online gambling in Canada?

Online casinos have implemented measures for responsible gambling. This includes providing support and resources to problem gamblers on their site. They are also restricted regarding the marketing and advertising aspects of promoting their platform. 

One restriction of note is that marketing that is targeted at minors is prohibited. Another prohibits professional athletes from appearing in online casino ads in Ontario.

Even offshore casinos must adhere to these laws and regulations. Especially if they have obtained a license from the provincial bodies that allow them to operate.

Canada’s online gambling is legal – but will things change

As it stands right now, the legality of online gambling in Canada seems to fall under the purview of provincial laws and regulations. Canadian citizens must perform their due diligence further to see which online casinos are allowed by their respective provinces. Just because it may be legal in one province, it may not be the same in others.

Nonetheless, the question is: will any laws relax certain restrictions? Will Newfoundland and Labrador change their tune regarding offshore casinos? It’s unclear what the future holds – but watch this space for any changes about online gambling in Canada.  

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Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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