Wednesday, September 22, 2004

LA Dodger Green to decide about Yom Kippur

Hi Kari:

Has the news about Shawn Green reached Kansas?

I don't have cable so I can't watch ESPN but is his story on the air?

Remember the film Chariots of Fire?

A thoughtful movie about life and faith and values. Eric Liddell refused to run on a Sunday which was the date set for one of the preliminary rounds for the 100M. As such, instead, he entered and won the 400M.

Christians play NFL football on Sunday these days without a second thought. The same is true for all the other major sports.

But what about other days of religious significance? I'm figuring there are many sporting events on Easter Sunday or Good Friday? And what about Christmas day?

Thus, Dodger Shawn Green faces a decision. Last night's recap detailed yet another Dodger loss and now every game may make the difference between making the post-season or not. At the very bottom of the report was this item: Dodgers 1B Shawn Green is expected to announce in the next few days whether he will play in two key games against the Giants on Yom Kippur, the holiest holiday on the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur starts at sunset Friday, and the three-game series at San Francisco begins that night. Tracy said he and Green have discussed the situation.

What will he do?

Whatever he decides he will be criticized. Looking on the bright side, perhaps a discussion about religious values will ensue.

In other years, Yom Kippur hasn't fallen on a game day or if it did, the Dodgers were no longer in contention so for him to miss the game was not problematic for the team. This year, the Dodgers are still in the race and this decision will be considered a big deal.

As a Christian, I wonder if I would play in a sports event "that counted" on Good Friday, Easter Sunday or Christmas day?

I'd like to believe I wouldn't because in the end it is only a game. Some would say, it is his job and he gets paid to do his job. And I'd agree if his job was a doctor or a fireman or some other job that really matter to the well-being of society. In the end, it is only a baseball game. Sure lots of $$$ are involved but in the end, it is still just a game.

What do you think?


P.S. If I were the Giants management, I'd consider changing the time of at least one of the games. Yom Kippur will be observed from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. As it is now, the games are set for the evening of Friday and afternoon of Saturday.

UPDATE: Here is an item from the LA Times. Excerpt: "I've been struggling hard with it and I need another day," the first baseman said. "The team is obviously really important to me and my religion is really important to me. It's just a tough, tough deal."

Green, who is Jewish, informed Dodger officials and teammates Tuesday he had decided not to play Saturday in observance of Yom Kippur — the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Although the games Friday and Saturday fall within the holiday, which starts at sundown Friday and ends at sundown Saturday, Green figured he would be letting down his teammates if he skipped both games against the Giants with the division race tight.

However, Green said he would either stick with his compromise solution of playing in only one game or sit out both.
Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax is the only Dodger to sit out a postseason game because of his religious beliefs. Koufax skipped a start in the 1965 World Series against the Minnesota Twins because of the holiday.

Koufax said Wednesday he had not counseled Green, a close friend.

"That kind of call is totally up to Shawn," Koufax said. "There's no way anyone can advise you on something like this.

"It's totally up to the individual. It's not the type of thing I would bring up to Shawn because I know how personal it is."

Koufax said the decision might be more difficult for a position player.

"It's a lot easier for a pitcher," he said. "As a pitcher, I always had the choice of moving up in the rotation if the holiday was on the day I pitched. The only time I didn't have a choice was in the World Series because there was no game the day before."
"I talked with some people in the organization and told them I was leaning toward playing in one and not the other," Green said. "I bounced back and forth. I'm trying to do the right thing and it's hard to know what that is.

"I'm committed to getting to the postseason and winning. At the same time, I'm committed to my religion and what I've stood for in the past. I wish there was an easy solution, but there's not.

"There are different ways I could go about it and still show commitment to my religion and to the holiday. I have to figure out what I feel is the right thing to do."

Green's teammates said they would support his decision.

"If he wants to play one game, that's going to be better for us because Greenie is a huge part of the lineup," Beltre said. "We appreciate the fact that he was even thinking about playing in at least one game, but we're always going to support him no matter what."

UPDATE: Green to sit out on Saturday. Excerpt: The Giants will get a partial break Saturday because Dodgers slugger Shawn Green has decided not to play. There was much speculation that Green, who is hitting .269 with 27 homers and 82 RBIs this year, would miss the first two games in observance of Yom Kippur.

However, Green announced Thursday that he would play the series opener, then sit out Saturday's contest in respect of the Jewish holy day.

Green said he agonized over his decision, but believes he did the right thing.

``I learned that you've got to do what you believe is right, and I feel real good about my decision,'' he said. ``It comes from within. You can't try to please people. This is what I feel I need to do.''


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