GLENDALE, Ariz. — During my last day visiting the Cactus League and, having missed my first opportunity, I wanted to make sure and ask Sandy Koufax about him being mentioned in the movie "The Big Lebowski." Obviously.
Koufax unassumingly had announced his presence at Camelback Ranch a week ago in a new role, as an instructor in Los Angeles Dodgers camp. When I had a chance then to ask him about "Lebowski," I froze, later rationalizing that it was a topic best handled one on one. If at all. My line of questioning wasn't exactly like, "Where have you been for the past 47 years?" or "How are you going to help ensure that Zack Greinke is worth $159 million?"
To remind those who have forgotten or don't know the Koufax-Lebowski connection: One of the movie's characters, Walter Sobchak (played by John Goodman), wanted to emphasize to The Dude (Jeff Bridges) why being Jewish was important to him. Their relevant dialogue:
Dude: You're living in the [f------] past.
Walter: Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax, YOU'RE [G--D----] RIGHT I'M LIVING IN THE PAST!
Koufax is probably the best and most famous Jewish ballplayer in major league history. "Lebowski" is one of my favorite movies. And Walter had a socially relevant point about Koufax being cultural bookends with the prophet Moses. So what was the ballplayer's take? Koufax working for the Dodgers was a surprise already, but he really doesn't do many interviews. Regardless, I approached him as he came off a practice field following a tutoring session with left-hander Jarret Martin: