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November 12, 2010

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 12, 2010 By Andy Altman-Ohr j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California A lot of names connote the wonder andjoythatwas the San Francisco Giants' 2010 season: Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, Co@ Ross, Edgar Renteria, Matt Cain, Yeshayah Goldfarb, Madison Bumgarner. Yeshayah Goldfarb?! No, the 32-year-old Berke- ley, Calif., native didn't drive in any runs or pitch any shutouts during the World Series, but he was a vital component of the Giants' success this year. Goldfarb's title is long and clunky: He's the Giants' direc- tor of minor league operations/ quantitative analysis. What that means is that Goldfarb had a role in just about every player personnel decision the Giants' baseball operations department made to shape this year's team-- from past amateur drafts to in-season trades to off-season free-agent signings. "He's one ofour'Moneyball' guys, if you will," Giants presi- dent Larry Baer said, alluding to the process of finding valu- able players that other teams might overlook. "He does a lot of our really important analy- sis on player acquisitions." "It's really a team effort," said Goldfarb, one of four key men on general manager Brian Sabean's staff. "But on any giv- en day, it's extremely gratifying Unknown hero helps makd; Giants World Series champions to look around the [office] and see so many individuals who you know dedicated their lives to making the Giants awinner and bringing a championship to San Francisco." Goldfarb is the son of Ye- hudit and Reuven Goldfarb, two early leaders of the Jewish Renewal m6vement's Aquar- ian Minyan in Berkeley (in the 1970s) who now live in the Israeli holy city of Safed. His mother, Yehudit, comes from prominent San Francisco Jewish lineage, the Lowenthal family, while his father, Re- uven, was raised in Brooklyn on a steady diet of the Dodgers and Ebbets Field. Reuven's love of baseball was always evident. Two of his'poems, "Cheering Gino Cimoli" and "Ozzie Smith Retires" appeared in Spitball: The Literary Baseball Maga- zine, and his lengthy essay "Baseball Kabbalah" which originally ran in the Aquarian Minyan newsletter in 1990- has become an oft-cited piece by baseball-loving Jews. Yeshayah remembers grow- ing up in such an environ- ment--an eclectic mix of base- ball and Jewish observance. .For example, he was allowed to watch a televised game on a Saturday, but only if the TV was turned on before Shabbat and covered with a blanket (for viewing, the blanket was removed and the volume turned Up). His parents also let him play in a Little League game just hours after his bar mitzvah-- and he delivered a bases-loaded double over the center fielder's head. Goldfarb went on to become a star ballplayer at Berkeley High School in the mid-1990s (a few years later, his brother, Elishama, was the football team's starting quarterback) and then a pitcher at University Of California-San Diego. After graduating with a degree in history, traveling for 10 weeks in Europe and working for a few months at a Peet's coffee shop in Berkeley, he landed an internship with the Giants in 2001. He impressed the right people with his dedication and ability to analyze statistics, so the team hired him full time. "I always liked numbers, just like a lot of other kids that are into baseball," he recalled. Not many "other kids," however, get a chance to help turn a run-of-the-mill team into World Series champions. The 2010 Giants often were "characterized as a collection of castoffs and misfits, as some of their top perforrners--Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, Juan Uribe, Ross and others--were players that other teams didn't want. As an article on MLB.com put it, "Outsiders don't see the diligence that such acquisi- tions require." That's where Goldfarb comes in. He's part of a team that col- lects scouting reports, statis- tics, video and other data about many players, some that the Giants might want to acquire. He then performs intense analytics, but as second-year owner Bill Neukom told an MLB.com reporter, "These are not just crunchers who give you some funny num- bers. They know the game, love the game and have an opinion, and they stand up to Brian and the scouts." Take Huff as an example. From 2006 to 2009, he played for four different teams, then found himself without a con- tract only two months before 2010 spring training. If no teams wanted to sign him, why would the Giants? "There were a few things in his statistical background, the scouting reports and in- tangibles we knew about him that made us think he cou|d bounce back from a relatively, for him, poor 2009 season," Goldfarb said. In January, the Giants signed Huff for what proved to be a bargain, $3 million for one season (he had made $8 million in 2009). All the 33-year-old first baseman did was go on to lead the team with 26 home runsand 86 RBI, while also adding leadership and clubhouse chemistry. Goldfarb and his cohorts in analytics alsowere instrumen- tal in re-signing Uribe before the season, trading for two relief pitchers in midseason (including lefty specialist Javier Lopez) and going after midseason discards Burreil and Ross. He also helped con- vince officials to draft college stars Lincecum (2006) and Posey (2008). When Neukom was holding the World Series trophy and giving a victory speech on TV in Arlington, Texas, on Nov. 1, he immediately praised "Brian Sabean and his core of people." That core consists of VP of player personnel Dick Tidrow, VP of baseball operations Bobby Evans, and analysts Jeremy Shelley and Goldfarb. "They deserve a lot of credit for burning the midnight oil all the way through the midseason," Neukom told MLB.com. "They looked at hundreds of possibilities of ways to reinforce this team. And they obviously found some good ones." Goldfarb said he and his cohorts focus on taking a mountain of statistics and data and 'putting it into a simple, understandable for- mat for people that need the information." Goldfarb said he usually works more than 60 hours a week, and he travels a lot, too, and that he's "always on call." Though he usually doesn't travel to Giants' road games, he did get to attend all of the playoff and World Series PAGE 15A games, home and away, includ- ing the clincher Nov. I in Texas. In August 2003, Goldfarb married Miranda Thorman; the two met at Camp Tawonga at age 14 and have been a couple since age 17. Thorman is now a history teacher at Berkeley In- ternational High School, and the couple live in Berkeley (in the house that Goidfarb grew up in) with their two children, Eliana, 5, and Ezra, 2. They don't belong to a synagogue, but are starting to look. Goldfarb said that his father and mother watched all of the Giants' postseason games live on the Web--most started at about 2 a.m.--except when they fell on Shabbat. "They called me after every game, within five minutes of the game being over," Goldfarb said. With his dad's passion for baseball and Kabbalah (and its inherent numerology), is it any wonder that Goldfarb found his life's work analyzing numbers for a baseball team? "He did follow that stuff," Goldfarb said of his father. "He's always been into the mys- ticism and the spiritual side of Judaism--and the numbers part of that." And for Giants fans, could anything be more mystical or spiritual than the 2010 season? Andy Altman-Ohr is a staff writer for j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California from which this article was reprinted by permission, Shamsky of Miracle Me :s becomes baseball ambassador to Israel NEW YORK--Art Sham- sky, former major leaguer, member of the 1969 World Champion New York Mets and manager of the Israel Baseball League's first sea- son Modi'in Miracle has taken on the role of ambas- sador for Jewish National Fund's Project: Baseball. "Baseball is a wonderful sport that teaches team- work and responsibility," said Shamsky. "As it gives players the opportunity to deal with both the suc- cesses on the field as well as the disappointments, it is a tremendous basis for life's many ups and downs. And, it is not only a game for boys and girls, but men and women also enjoy it. This project will offer families in Israel many wonderful moments to share together. "I am honored that JNF asked me to be the ambas- sador for Project Baseball. I am hoping that with my experience as a professional baseball player for many years and a member of the 1969 World Champion New York Mets, I will be able to not only help raise money for the development of base- ball in Israel but also help in the construction and renovation of fields to play baseball and softball. I'm looking forward to helping in this endeavor." JNF's Project: Baseball is a far-reaching plan to foster the growth of baseball in Israel, where the number of fans and players is on the rise but adequate baseball Art Shamsky played for the New York Mets when they won the 1969 World Series. fields are scarce. The cam- paign involves building state-of-the-art baseball, softball, and professional- caliber fields throughout the country to provide recreational o(atlets and entertainment opportuni- ties for Israelis of all ages. Through Project: Base- ball, JNF has upgraded and enhanced three baseball fields: Sportek, a much- needed facility outside of Tel Aviv that caters to lo- cal amateur players; the field at the Yarkon Sports Complex in Petach Tikva, which hosted the 2009 Maccabi Games and is used by hundreds of people each day; and the field at Kibbutz Gezer. The field at Gezer--be- tween Jerusalem and Tel Aviv--is Israel's first, and is used by players throughout the region as well as the national softball league. JNF funded the field's expansion to MLB dimen- sions (30 percent larger), upgraded the drainage and landscaping, installed new fencing, and improved the field, which can now accom- modate a number of teams p.racticing simultaneously. "If Gezer's field could speak we would hear a warm story of new immigrants from North America and South America planting 10,000 pieces of sod and turning an old artichoke field into one of the premier ball fields in Israel," said Lee Siegel who has lived in Gezer since 1976. "Our adult softball teams and youth baseball teams have practiced and played games on our field for many years. We are easily into our second generation of players, who--along with playing the game--coach their younger siblings. Our teams are a combination of secular and religious, native born and new im- migrant Israelis, recre- ational and competitive. But everyone thrives and basks in the history that surrounds us from close and far. King Solomon's vaca- tion stopover looks down upon us from Tel Gezer and the sun sets over first base. What could be better? Only a more improved field." JNF is now working on the next phase of improve- ments, which includes a lighting system so the field can be used for night games, an improved batting cage and bullpen pitch- ing mounds, a press box and scoreboard and sound systems. I believe in JNF's ef- forts," said Shamsky. "Not just what they are doing for baseball but what they have done all over Israel and what they hope to do in the future. For generations, baseball has strengthened communities throughout the world and provided children with important leisure opportunities. It builds'sportsmanship, fos- ters camaraderie, and cre- ates positive attitudes. More than any other sport, it encourages teamwork. A runner on first base cannot advance without the help of a teammate. Project: Base- ball will give the children of Israel an opportunity to learn life lessons while building lasting friend- ships." A baseball "Field of Dreams" mission to Israel is planned for May 29-June 4, 2011. Join JNF on a week- long trip to play baseball against the lsraeli National Team and tour the land of Israel. Visit the many places you've heard about while playing the sport you love. For information go to www. jnf.org/travel/missions or contact mission chair Dr. Kenny Fried at kennyfss@ aol.com or 201-923-4180. To learn more about Proj- ect: Baseball visit www.jnf. org/projectbaseball or call 888-JNF-0099. JNF'S Project: Baseball plans to foster the growth of America's favote past time in Israel EXCELLENCE IN_ ELDER CARE PROGRAMS AND SERVICES River Garden Hebrew Home- Traditional Long-Term Care, Short Stay Rehabilitation, Alzheimer's and Dementia Care The Coges- Independent IAving Re'remem Community at Riter The Theral Cent,r- 7 days a week dlk RIVER GARDEN Excellence in Adult Care and Services