Steve Romer is both a sponsor and captain of the Westrock-Refuahs.org softball team and the recipient of the 2008 and 2010 Captain of the Year award. He was also instrumental in driving his team onward to win the 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013 RJSL championship titles. A team captain since 2003, Romer has consistently led his team to the playoffs and continues to be a force to be reckoned with. At 58 years of age, he is certainly one of the "senior" league members and his love for both the game and the RJSL makes his blog one worth reading.
Romer is a real estate entrepreneur as both an investor and for 30 years, the president of Westrock Appraisal Services, Corp., a commercial real estate appraisal provider. He has earned both an MBA and the prestigious MAI designation. Married for 34 years, Steve has three children, all who are married and grand-children running into the double digits.
Free Agency For Championship Teams and 2015 Post-Season Predictions
It appears that a smoldering restlessness within the RJSL is provoking a push for change in order to accomplish a balanced playing field across the entire league spectrum. The extremes which now exist between the talent levels of NJAIM and Chefman and the general perception that mid-level teams have no shot at winning a championship trophy are influencing the league commissioners to put the brakes on the entire concept of free agency. Yet, I question this hiccup within the league’s evolution which has brought us to this point after years of experimenting, testing and learning from our mistakes. Generally speaking, the trend over the past few years of allowing players to find a competitive haven within a team where they share strong team friendships and the respect of the team captain has worked. Teams like Chefman have actually achieved a material improvement in overall talent and their current record reflects a total lack of competent pitching. Had Rabbi Rudman, for example, joined Chefman rather than Merockdim, their stats would be significantly improved, and I would venture to guess they would’ve made the playoffs.
At the other extreme is NJAIM, which in my opinion is the creative result of a manipulative act which violated a cardinal RJSL rule: that no championship team is permitted to import players from within the league. NJAIM is the combination of the best talent from the former championship team Medicine Men and the former third-place team Major Energy. The Genesis of this team derives from Medicine Men’s loss to Westrock during the 2012 and 2013 championships after winning the 2011 championship. Medicine men’s level of stress and frustration was so intense due to their championship losses that they somehow convinced the commissioners to permit Medicine Men to disband in order to get around the ban on championship teams importing players from within the league. Once commissioner approval was obtained, the best of Medicine Men combined with the best of Major Energy, forming NJAIM. Why the commissioners initially supported this complete mockery and evasion of the league rule totally escapes me but the result is both the creation of a team that is currently 17-0-1 and a league which is experiencing a high level of discontent. I know for a fact that the commissioners now recognize that a grave mistake was made and that corrective measures are required. But the focus of those corrective measures should be the abomination that was created in the form of NJAIM. There should not be an interruption in the wonderful synergism that has been created within the RJSL of players finding both quality of life and safe haven within a team of their choosing or competitive ability.
There are many league players, including Commissioner Marv Lesin, who blame Westrock, or more specifically me, for creating the disharmony in the league by building a team as talented as Westrock. I am guilty as charged. I’ve spent 12 years building and leading this team to seven championship rounds and four championship trophies. Over the years, I’ve gone through the ups and downs and resultant frustrations in cutting or trading dozens of players who did not make the cut. And those who did survive gave Westrock its heart and soul and have performed magically over the years. Like any organization, Westrock has experienced plenty of ups and downs as players mature; limiting the time they have for Westrock and the RJSL due to ever expanding family and business commitments. In this respect, the rule which bans league players from joining championship teams has come close to choking the life out of Westrock due to our limited ability to find nonleague players to join our ranks. If not for the intervention by commissioners Sam and Marv to permit some new life onto our roster (most recently Mike Chasen, Vic Fein, Ushy Schwartz, Dovi Schrieber & Doni Katz), Westrock would have collapsed.
I would like to now take a closer look at the rule which bans league players from joining championship teams and explore the league ramifications of eliminating this rule. Obviously, if this rule were rescinded or never existed, I would have no justification for criticizing the creation of NJAIM which would have been the natural result of two good teams forming to create a super team to challenge Westrock’s dominance. However, Westrock’s talent base would have also increased by drawing on the league’s talent pool, specifically exceptional players frustrated with their team’s inability to compete at a championship level. This level of talent obviously exists in a big way which was demonstrated by this year’s All-Star team defeating NJAIM. So the elimination of the ban would, at a minimum, create two very talented teams.
So that begs the question how would the remaining teams compete? I contend that the talent make-up of Ticket Professor and Bagel D’Lox would remain the same due to the close friendships that pervade these teams. Both teams have performed very well and had Bagel D’Lox secured competent pitching, it would be a huge contender in this year’s postseason. Add Bubbas to the mix and you have three additional teams that, possibly with a little tweaking, have the existing talent to defeat either NJAIM or Westrock in a championship fight. Even Newday could be considered a real contender if it can stabilize its pitching platform and quell the disruptive behavior which pervades this team. I can add even a seventh team to the mix which is Merockdim… the only team who tied NJAIM in one of the best games of the season. Merockdim’s underrated performance this season is not due to a lack of talent, but unfortunately, to a lack of competent management and leadership.
That is seven teams, who in my opinion, are championship worthy based on either their existing talent or subject to some requisite tweaking. Obviously, if the ban on importing players were revoked, there would be some modification to team dynamics, most probably in regards to Bubba where I have a very close friendship with captain Shalom Mintz and some of his core players. Of course, any addition to Westrock’s roster would result in an equal number of players being released (those players with a history of absenteeism from regular-season games).
There is always going to be a place in this league for teams like Rockland Window who in my opinion serve as a platform for new or up-and-coming talent to be cherry picked by the better teams. Captain Moshe Nussen will not be happy with this comment but that’s the reality as I see it. Frankly, I personally believe that Captain Nussen should become the captain of Merockdim to satisfy his burning competitive spirit and that the league commissioners manage Rockland Window as a rotisserie of pending talent for the more established and competitive teams (if they asked me nicely I would even help them manage the team). I additionally contend that the best of Chefman should combine with the best of Rockland Window, add to that mix truly competent pitching and the management of Captain Ralph Newhouse and you have a winning combination with significantly better stats than which heretofore exist.
Taking the foregoing into account, my argument is that the league eliminate all of the artificial rules which interfere with free agency for “all” teams and let a natural balance between teams be achieved. The process has been working well, with the exception of the championship teams, and if what Commissioner Sam Wainhaus purports is true that teams go through a natural lifecycle, today’s perceived inequities will be tomorrow’s fleeting memory. Given a pure free agency referendum, I would argue that we let nature take its course in regards to NJAIM, Westrock, and any other team who for a short period of time becomes dominant, and is then supplanted by a Ticket Professor or the next generation of talent.
There is another issue that I propose which would help league economics and possibly create more competitive harmony in the league: the creation of an A League and a B League. Over the past many years, significant emphasis has been placed upon pruning our ranks to include only average or above average talent. To a large extent, we have accomplished this but at the same time we have alienated a large number of players who could make up a B League and prosper within this environment. We have, at a minimum, six or seven competent teams to play in an A League. I strongly suggest that Chefman and Rockland Window be designated as B League teams and that the doors be open to below average players who want the fun of league play within a frum environment. If properly priced, I believe an equal number of teams would compete in a B League as we have in the A League. As a starter, I play in a Wednesday league which is managed by Lazer Unger which is made up from approximately 35 to 40 players from Monsey and Monroe. A majority of these players would not qualify for the A League, but they are passionate players who show up consistently and have a great time simply playing the game. If we stop alienating the below average players and provide an environment for them to compete and play within the RJSL, both the community and the RJSL will prosper. This would also permit a much broader base of talent to be evaluated by the A League captains for future growth as they progress along their natural lifecycle.
I’ve been advised by the commissioners that immediately following the post-season there will be numerous captains’ meetings to work out “league frustrations”. Frankly, if the commissioners are willing to abolish the ban on league players joining championship teams, I will argue for leaving NJAIM intact, and allowing inter-team trading to address the perceived inequities at hand. I’m convinced that nature will take its course as players seek new horizons and opportunities. If the ban is not lifted, then the commissioners should rectify the inequity they helped create and put an end to the exiting league unrest.
With that said, let’s take a look at some regular and post-season projections.
Best record ever recorded in the RJSL… but they can be beaten! Look at some of the scores:
6-5 over Bubbas
2-0 over Ticket Professor
5-3 over Newday
5-4 over Newday
2-1 over Ticket Professor
4-4 tie with 7th place Merockdim
5-2 over Westrock
4-3 loss against the RJSL Allstars
Virtually one third of NJAIM’s games could have gone either way and as far as I am concerned, they are a very beatable team. I’ve been trying to get my team to step up all season but they don’t seem to be interested. Maybe this Tuesday when Westrock meets NJAIM for the last time during the regular-season my A-team will come together and kick their butt. I won’t be here for it but if Shumy Reichmann can rally the troops, I would sure love to see it happen.
Prediction: NJAIM will advance to the championship round of the playoffs where they will lose to Westrock
What a great season for this fine team. Exceptional management, passion and talent have placed this team in contention for second-place. This is a future championship team and they should have a great competitive run for years to come under the sound management of Yakov Kahana. It appears that Ticket Professor will face off with Westrock during the second round of the playoffs and they will be outgunned by a superior Westrock team. However, the competition will be stiff as these two honorable teams give it everything they got.
Prediction: Ticket Professor will lose to Westrock during the 2nd round of the playoffs
As everyone knows, Westrock has a history of coming alive at the end of the regular-season and this season is no exception. Not only can Westrock draw on the exceptional talent that becomes available during the end of the regular-season and the postseason, but Westrock will also give honor to the tenacious Westrock players who have propelled this team forward for the past many months. Players like Reichmann, Loebenberg, Singer, Schrieber, Schwartz, Mark, Chasen, Fein and Brick will lead this team into the championship with the material and instrumental help of Ritterman, Nussbaum, Rosenberg, Weinstein and Katz. Westrock could end the regular-season in second-place if the remainder of the regular season comes together perfectly. That means defeating NJAIM this Tuesday July 28 and then beating Newday on Wednesday, July 29. Ticket Professor must defeat Merockdim for their last game of the season giving them 28 points. Westrock would tie this number if they remain undefeated for the remainder of the regular-season and would achieve 2nd place based on difficulty of schedule. Regardless if Westrock concludes the season in second-place or third place, they will defeat Ticket Professor during the second round of the playoffs and then defeat NJAIM during the championship round.
Prediction: Westrock will win their 5th Championship trophy by defeating NJAIM during the championship round
This team is the wildcard to upend all of my predictions. They have defeated second-place Ticket Professor three out of four times this season and their only loss to Ticket Professor was based on a ridiculously provocative and erroneous call by the umpire at first base which scored two Ticket Professor runs, giving them the game. With Salomon pitching and their A-team in attendance, what an upset it would be if Bubbas defeated NJAIM in the second round of the playoffs! Frankly, the RJSL would no longer have an issue with NJAIM since they would cease to exist in its present form should this happen. I want to applaud Captain Mintz in bringing his team this far and with a little luck and a lot of heart, may you go the distance and break all of our hearts! J
Prediction: Bubbas will lose to NJAIM during the second round of the playoffs
I personally think that Captain Ezzy Katz is a miracle worker. He has taken some of the most difficult personalities in the league and somehow created a synergism that has worked more times than it hasn’t. Newday has effectively lost its pitching due to injury and the team has been unable to remedy this untenable situation with one losing game after another. Newday will not prevail against Westrock during the first round of the playoffs and they will be eliminated. It is my sincere hope that Capt. Katz will find a solution to his team troubles during the off-season and come back to the 2016 RJSL season with all guns blasting!
Prediction: Newday will be eliminated during the first round of the playoffs
Nice job Captain Elli Mann! With one game remaining against Chefmen who they are projected to beat, Bagel D’Lox will end the regular-season with a 500 average…right where Capt. Mann predicted. And this is without the benefit of adequate pitching! Can you imagine if a Salomon or a Loebenberg pitched for a team like this? Their stats would be stratospheric. Elli has added a great deal to this league in terms of color, personality and passion and I look forward to competing against him for many years to come. Bagel D’Lox will meet Bubba’s during the first round of the playoffs without adequate pitching and they will lose. Regardless, I anticipate that Bagel D’Lox will be a force to be reckoned with in the future and I personally look forward to the challenge.
Prediction: Bagel D’Lox will be eliminated during the first round of the playoffs
I believe that this is the team I feel the most badly for since they really possess significant talent, although their stats indicate something to the contrary. I happen to like Captain Effy and his team of campers whom I have known for many years. I in fact played for Merockdim when we tied NJAIM and there is no question that the campers could kick butt and take no prisoners if their team dynamics are radically changed. I believe that my feelings for this team and the leadership of this team is well known and I do not feel compelled to reemphasize what I stated at the beginning of this blog. Major leadership and management changes are required for this team to reach its full potential. That’s it…case closed.
Prediction: Merockdim will lose to Ticket Professor during the first round of the playoffs
Rockland Window Covering
I understand Captain Nussen’s frustration in trying to build a team, only to lose his better players to the higher ranked teams year after year. This is not a recipe for success and I’m not sure that there is a real solution to this problem. As I noted above, I personally think that Captain Nussen should take the reins of Camp Merockdim…or maybe better yet, combine the best of his team with the best of Chefmen’s team and have Ralph Newhouse sponsor the team while Nussen manages the team. Either way, Rockland Window faces NJAIM during the first round of the playoffs, the result of which is a no-brainer.
Prediction: Rockland Window will lose to NJAIM during the first round of the playoffs
Since Chefmen did not qualify for the playoffs they will not be included in my predictions.
I wish everyone good luck in their postseason pursuits and in the meantime…LETS PAY BALL!