Take me out to the matzoball game

Israel is getting its own baseball league this year "“ the IBL "“ and lots of jokes are going to be made, I'm sure, about the hotdogs being kosher and whether or not games will be played on the Sabbath. But what I'm really interested in is this: will third base be first base and vice-versa? Will leftfield be rightfield and vice versa? Will the whole game, in effect, be played backward?

You think I'm joking, but I once received a picture from an Israeli friend who ordered the caption from right to left. Seriously.

Anyway, you can read all about the nascent league on their official website. Of note is the contest they're running on the sidebar, which is designed to test your knowledge of both baseball and the Bible.

You are invited to come up with your own version of a baseball story, a baseball game, or another baseball-themed compilation, derived from various verses in the Tanach (That's the Five Books of Moses, the books of the Prophets, and the Writings). Each submission must contain at least ten verses and be from at least five separate books of the Tanach (each of the Five Books of Moses counts as a separate book). The submissions judged to be the best, based on originality and exhibited effort, will win prizes"¦

Go check it out for more information. Meanwhile, after the jump, some interesting, fun examples of "baseball" mentions in the Bible that they've put together.

  • Behold, Rebecca came forth with her pitcher"¦ -- Genesis 24:45
  • The children of Israel asked,"¦"Who shall go up for us first against the Canaanites? -- Judges 3:15
  • ...Seek out a man who is a skillful player"¦ -- Samuel I 16:16
  • ...and (it)"¦was foul"¦ -- Exodus 7:21
  • And Moses went out"¦ -- Numbers 11:24
  • And Miriam was shut out"¦ -- Numbers 12:15
  • ...and Aaron waved"¦ -- Leviticus 9:21
  • ...and he delivered up"¦ -- Numbers 21:3
  • ...for it was an error"¦ -- Numbers 15:25
  • ...second and third"¦ -- Genesis 6:16
  • Thou shalt fan them"¦ -- Isaiah 41:16
  • Then Joseph commanded to fill"¦the"¦sacks"¦ -- Genesis 42:25
  • ...and all the people saw this and they shouted"¦ -- Leviticus 9:24
  • Who can stand before the Giants? -- Deuteronomy 9:2
  • ...and pitched on the other side"¦ -- Numbers 21:13
  • Noah walked"¦ -- Genesis 6:9
  • Let us go and sacrifice"¦ -- Exodus 5:8
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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

Beyond Board Shorts: The Rich History of Hawaii's Surf Culture

From Australia to the Arctic Circle, adrenaline junkies around the world love catching waves—but the very first people to develop surf culture were Hawaiians. Their version of the pastime shares both similarities and differences with the one that’s commonly practiced today, according to TED-Ed’s video below.

Surfing wasn’t just a sport in Hawaii—there were social and religious elements to it, too. Hawaiians made offerings to the gods while choosing trees for boards and prayed for waves. And like a high school cafeteria, the ocean was divided by social status, with certain surf breaks reserved solely for elite Hawaiians.

The surfboards themselves used by early Hawaiians largely resembled the ones we use today, although they were fin-less and required manual turns. Learn more about surfing’s roots and evolution (and how surf culture was nearly destroyed by foreign colonizers) by watching the video below.


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