Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday's Musings on Sports - Of Men, Motivation and Memories - Baseball Hall of Fame Edition

As regular readers of this blog are aware, the Monday post was usually devoted to sports with highlights and analysis of the Max Kellerman show which formerly aired on 1050 ESPN Radio. Although Max resigned from 1050 more than a year ago (he has recently resurfaced on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles), I have tried to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

While driving home from Camp M, I heard an interesting discussion on the Mike and Mike program on ESPN Radio. As this past weekend was induction weekend at the Baseball Hall of Fame, the guys were discussing the players who were inducted, including Bert Blyleven, who had waited many years before he received the 75% of the vote required for induction. The guys then began to speculate as to who might make it into the HOF next year, based on the percentage of votes they had received this year.

As any discussion of the Baseball HOF always includes players who are either banned or blackballed, the guys began to discuss whether accused/confirmed steroid users who will become HOF eligible in 2012 and 2013 will be voted into the HOF. As part of this discussion, the hosts interviewed former players and voting members of the media and inquired as to whether they thought that steroid tainted players would be voted into the HOF. Predictably, the answer to the question was no. But what was more intriguing to me was the discussion about whether players who were on the ballot over the last few years would be more likely to be voted into the HOF in 2012 and 2013 because so many players who will be on the ballot during those years will be steroid tainted players. The hosts speculated that players who might have languished through their period of eligibility before needing assistance from the Veterans' Committee might get voted into the HOF because voters would have no one else to vote for.

The speculation about whether players would get voted into the HOF based on the motivation to exclude others reminded me of a vort that I had heard from R' Mansour about the actions of the tribes of Gad and Reuven in Parshas Matos. The chumash explains that these tribes approached Moshe and asked him whether they could stay on the eastern bank of the Jordan River and not inherit portions in the Land Of Israel. The Torah spells out the conversation between the tribes and Moshe, wherein the tribes said that they wished to stay on the Eastern side so that they could build pens for their sheep and homes for their children. Moshe then responds to the tribes and corrects their priorities by emphasizing that they should worry about their children before their sheep.

R' Mansour asked the following question about the episode - if the tribes had experienced Moshe as a leader for forty years and knew that they would not be able to keep the laws which only apply in Israel, why would they voluntarily forfeit their place in the land? R' Mansour explained that the tribes knew the halacha that small animals should not be raised there as they tend to steal from others by eating their grass/hay without permission. As the tribes were concerned that their sheep might come to steal from others, they asked Moshe to stay on the other side of the Jordan so as to avoid the danger of theft. This explained why the tribes were willing to give up the mitzvos hateluyos b'aretz, because they were motivated to avoid causing damage/loss to their fellow Jews.

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