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.
Off-Season Insights & 2016 Post-Season Predictions
I did not want the 2016 season to escape without at least one blog. This year was definitely more challenging in terms of blog productivity since I started the season with two torn meniscus muscles (one in each knee) which was the direct result of my overdoing my preseason preparations of sprints and long-distance running. The insight that I typically achieve by being the league’s exclusive replacement player was nonexistent since I was out of commission for virtually the entire season. Now that I’m finally playing again, it’s heartbreaking how much time I lost.
I’d like to begin this blog with a comment on what transpired during the off-season immediately following the 2015 championship round. Within just a few weeks of the season’s end, the commissioners were calling frequent Captains meetings in order to hash out a new league dynamic which would significantly lower the probability of the same two teams dominating the championships. The idea was to move significant talent from the top two teams in order to shore up some of the weaker teams. That certainly happened in regards to Chefman, who inherited players from both Shatkin’s and Romer’s team. Chefman started the season in a blaze of glory, although they unfortunately ran out of gas somewhere during the middle of the season. And yet they still ended in fourth place! They are tied in my mind with Rockland Window as the two teams with the most phenomenal turnarounds from one season to the next. Personally, I don’t know exactly what Capt. Nussen did to propel his team to an extremely competitive year but I applaud his accomplishments and I look forward to his moving up in the rankings next season.
I must say that I was a little confused by the transfer of Westrock’s starting pitcher to Ticket Professor, one of the strongest teams in terms of performance last year. I assumed that this was a calculated move by the league to propel Ticket Professor into the championship round and establish a new top team. I must say that Ticket Professor achieved wonderful results this season, losing only three games, with two of those to Romer’s team and one to Shatkin. In fact, had Westrock-Refuahs.org taken care of business last week and defeated PSONJ (none of our starting pitchers were available) Ticket Professor would have come in first place. This would have resulted in a strong probability of a second round elimination between PSONJ and Westrock-Refuahs.org… a dream come true to both commissioners and virtually every captain in the league (and my aspiration as well). But, that did not happen. Greenbaum pitched a phenomenal game for PSONJ and we pitched them batting practice… thus the 5-1 game conclusion.
Another controversial story that spotlighted during the off-season was my attempt to combine 10 players from Westrock with 10 players from Bubbas in order to break-up the old Westrock Dynesty with a solid Bubbas roster. I have a strong friendship with Capt. Shalom Mintz and Bubba’s was looking for some new life. I thought that it might be good for the league to provide a different Westrock talent mix, considering that our team has gone to the championship the last seven years, while also plugging some holes in Bubbas. Although I had the approval of the commissioners, the league captains were very upset by the concept and so I happily stayed with what I had…and then some. Based on Bubba’s standings this season (7th place), they still have some holes to plug and God willing, Capt. Mintz will get this accomplished sooner rather than later.
Merockdim continues to plug away and has remained consistent in regards to their standings over the past few years. Realty Team seemed to underperform this season and I’m curious what the makeup of this team will be next season. Bagel D’Lox was plagued by injuries, the worst involving Capt. Mann himself which resulted in their elimination from the playoffs. The last-place team, Aer 8, appears to have some nice talent, a good captain and played very competitive games. I’m sure that the season was a very strong learning experience and that next year’s team will achieve much stronger results.
Generally speaking, although not perfect, this was a much more competitive season than in previous years. Jason was still able to achieve first-place, but did so with a palpably diminished roster in terms of overall talent. Ticket Professor undoubtedly benefited from what Loebenberg brought to the table in terms of control and experience while Westrock-Refuahs.org probably remained stable by picking up pitcher Sammy Eisner, Gruenebaum and family, and Ritterman relocating back to Monsey. I would think that Rockland Window is very happy with their standing results, although at some point I’m going to have to find out why the shooting star Chefman lost their gusto. I already lightly touched on the remaining teams, and there is obviously more work to be done in order to help these teams advance in the standings.
And now to my 2016 predictions for the first round. Last season it felt like I just couldn’t get anything right for the postseason. Ticket Professor was eliminated during the first round and Reality Team made it to the second round where they put up one hell of a fight. I felt certain that Westrock would reclaim its championship status and although we came extremely close and played what I believe was the most competitive championship series ever in the history of the RJSL, we lost and my predictions had no merit. And so now I will stick my neck out again and attempt to do so without callousness or insensitivity but with objectiveness and insight.
Rockland Window vs. Chefman
If Chefman had all of their assets available with all pistons firing, it would be a no-brainer…Chefman would win. However, I attended the last two innings of the first game of this matchup and Chefman appeared to have many fielders playing out of position. Chefman was able to claim the first game by the skin of their teeth but if Chefman continues to play out a position, they are jeopardizing their chances of advancing. I’m going to go with my gut and predict that Chefman will advance to the second round but I don’t see them going any further unless they can somehow reclaim the talent that afforded them first-place for the first several weeks of the season.
Bubba’s vs Ticket Professor
Bubbas has not made it happen all season and I do not believe they are going to start now. The holes that make up Bubbas defense will not be plugged in time to defeat Ticket Professor, despite their having the best pitcher in the league. Bubbas will be swept in two games and that will be that.
Merockdim vs. Westrock-Refuahs.org
After 12 years of managing Westrock-Refuahs.org, I truly believe that this is the most talented and deepest team in terms of talent that I’ve ever managed. Consequently, if we live up to our potential, we should sweep the campers and look forward to a second round match against Ticket Professor.
Realty Team vs. PSONJ
Reality Team made it into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth and they are about to face off with the first-place team who only lost two games and tied two games. Realty Team does have real talent, but I just don’t see any other result but PSONJ sweeping this round.
Since I’m going to be in Israel for the second and third rounds and I may not have the opportunity for further detailed predictions, I unfortunately predict that Westrock-Refuahs.org and PSONJ well yet again face off in the championship. As I view the talent level of both Jason’s team and mine, there is no clear winner in my mind. If Westrock plays a couple of good games with few defensive errors then we could certainly take it but Jason has an equally solid team. If both teams can make their best pitchers available and both teams hit with impunity, it should be one hell of a competitive series. All I can say is may the best team win.
I wish everyone good luck in their postseason pursuits and in the meantime…LETS PAY BALL!