Still, no matter what his stats, Green's religion—thanks to the limited number of Jewish ballplayers—is usually topic No. 1 in the stories written about him. Recently, after the Blue Jays won 11 straight to get within five games of the Red Sox, Green had to confront the Koufax question: Would he, as the Hall of Fame lefthander did in the '65 World Series, skip a game to observe Yom Kippur, the holiest of Jewish holidays? "I'd probably go with religion first," says Green, who is regularly invited to seders and bar mitzvahs of Toronto fans.
The questions will only intensify if Toronto—at week's end an American League-best 27-12 since July 31—continues its charge. Yom Kippur will be celebrated beginning at sundown on Sept. 29, the first day of the Division Series. Johnson's club, 12½ games behind Boston as recently as Aug. 26, has flourished behind the 2-3-4 punch of Green, outfielder-designated hitter Jose Canseco (42 homers, 100 RBIs) and first baseman Carlos Delgado (31 home runs, 104 RBIs), one of the best back-to-back-to-back power combos in the league. The Jays' starting rotation, meanwhile, has become consistently efficient, with surprise contributions from converted reliever Kelvim Escobar (4-0,1.47 ERA in his last four starts through Sunday) and 23-year-old righthander Chris Carpenter (11-7), who are helping to compensate for Pat Hentgen's rocky year (12-11,5.17).
"Boston has to be nervous," says Johnson. "If you wear that uniform, you always hear about the Curse of the Bambino. It's hard to get it out of your head."
Green is well aware of the line of topflight Jewish ballplayers—from Greenberg to Al Rosen to Koufax to Elliott Maddox—that has pretty much dried up since the Orioles' Steve Stone won the 1980 Cy Young Award. Green tells a story about a game two years ago, when the Blue Jays were in Milwaukee soon after Rosh Hashanah. "Jesse Levis was the catcher," Green says, "and Al Clark was umping home. It's probably the first time three Jews stood at the plate at the same time. We were wishing each other a happy New Year."
This season nobody need wish Green a happy anything. "This is all I've worked for," he says. "A regular job playing baseball with an emerging team. It's already been a great year."
Not One of Smiley's People
Marlins general manager Dave Dombrowski was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles on Sept. 9, at which time, it was widely believed, the Dodgers would offer him their general manager's job. But the day before his trip Dombrowski instead re-upped with baseball's worst team for another five years, at $1 million per season.
That the news came on the day Marlins president Don Smiley dropped his ill-fated bid to buy the team from Wayne Huizenga was no coincidence. After 14 months of trying to scrape together $165 million to meet Huizenga's original asking price, Smiley finally resigned himself to the fact that he could not attract enough investors. That left Boca Raton, Fla., commodities trader John Henry—who had made a $150 million cash offer last month—to take the team off Huizenga's hands, probably by the end of October.
Smiley had planned to keep the team's payroll at $14 million for the next three years, slightly above its current level, but Dombrowski had no desire to stick around such circumstances. But Henry has said he will open his wallet to make the 1997 world champions competitive again.
After getting assurances from Huizenga and Henry that a deal was imminent, the decision was easy. "My wife and I love South Florida," Dombrowski says. "We never wanted to leave. Now John is committed to keeping the fans we have, to building a new stadium. For me, there is hope again."