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.
Punctuality & League Perspectives
Monday, July 6, 2009
So, moving on...to some controversy. Everybody loves a good controversy! 🙂 So, here is the situation. Everyone knows that the seven inning rule was put into effect to motivate players to be punctual. If we start on time, we get to play nine innings and if we start late, we can only play seven innings. And...if we can't field a team by 15 minutes subsequent to the official start of the game, the team forfeits. The fact is, players are still coming late because some members of our league don't seem to care if they play seven innings or nine innings. Pretty selfish if you ask me. Of course, there are always extenuating circumstances but the fact remains, if you are running to catch a plane and you don't check in at least 30 to 45 minutes prior to departure, you are losing your seat to a standby passenger. Up until now, captains were at the mercy of players who came late because the players knew that they would get into the game regardless of the time of their arrival. Well, as Bob Dylan used to sing: "For the times they are a-changin".
I make it a habit to show up for league games, that I have not been requested to play in, just to ascertain if there is a last minute replacement opportunity. On many occasions, last minute player cancelations have afforded me many opportunities to play. There is a rule in this league that once you request a reserve player to be placed on the roster, he must play for the entire game (subject to the normal benching rotation). Well, a couple of weeks ago a particular team was severely short several players by game time and I happened to be at the game looking for replacement opportunities. The captain and I agreed on the spot that I would play for his team, so I grabbed my equipment from the car and got set up. By the bottom of the first inning, the remaining five late players had arrived and being the 13th man on the roster, I was cut. Big Mistake! I went home fuming and wrote the following e-mail...(Please note that I have intentionally avoided using the name of the team and the team captain and I have edited the email accordingly to maintain privacy):
Commissioners and Captains:
I want to be very clear regarding my commitment as a reserve player to any team and team captain who exercises honor and consistency in their commitments to me. However, I absolutely and unequivocally reserve the right to not play for any team for the remainder of the season that violates their commitments in regards to requesting my time as a reserve player and then cutting me loose because the remainder of their team shows up "late".
Here are the facts of this evening which have offended, embarrassed and infuriated me to the point where I will no longer, going forward, entertain any invitation from this team to play on their behalf:
Fact: Two RJSL teams were scheduled to play tonight at 8:00 p.m.
Fact: By 7:55 p.m., I made myself available to both team captains just in case they did not have a full roster.
Fact: By 8:00 p.m. One team had a full squad but the other team only had eight players, including me.
Fact: Since the umpire was calling the game to start and the the team in question did not have an eligible number of players, the team Captain and I agreed that I would retrieve my equipment from my car and play for his team. Please note that I made it crystal clear that if the captain requested that I play, I would play for the entire game. The captain agreed to this condition.
Fact: After retrieving and setting up all of my equipment, bats, game board, etc., I was cut from the roster at the bottom of the 1st inning since the remainder of the team had arrived late.
Fact: Due to my outrage in being treated in such a manipulative manner, I advised Marv, Sam and the team Captain that I would no longer play as a reserve player for his team. Both Marv and Sam agree and support my decision.
Fact: While advising the team Captain of my decision to no longer play for this team in the future, he asked me what is he supposed to do with the 12 players who had showed up to play? I originally answered that it was not my problem but what I should have answered is that he should send home the players that came late so that they could be taught a lesson that if they want to play, they should show up on time.
I am not accustomed to this type of treatment, particularly from people that I happen to like and respect. I live my life by the motto: If you hurt me once, shame, shame on you. But if you hurt me twice, shame, shame on me.
Now, the team captain who was caught between a rock and a hard place regarding this situation and I are quite good friends. In fact, he is a very good man and I frequently seek his council on a number of league issues. However, we found ourselves in a quandary which I hoped would be resolved in a favorable manner. And, true to form it was by this captain writing the following email to his team which was copied to me:
Please read the below email from Steve Romer to the league commissioners and captains that he sent last night. He actually makes a very valid point and that is why I always write in the Roster email that you guys HAVE to be there on-time. I need to deal with the below issue now because guys came late to last nights game. If you tell me you are playing then you really need to make it your responsibility to be there by the time the game is scheduled, THE LATEST!!!!! The games are supposed to start by that time, not that we start trying to get the team together at that time. Last night was unacceptable; at 8 pm we had only 7 out of 12 guys there. We all have stuff going on but your commitment to come to the game is for the TEAM, not just for yourself and if we would have had less then 9 at 8:15 the whole team would have had a forfeit, not just the guys that came late. And definitely if you come late and I already have asked a replacement player to play for you, as Steve write below, the proper thing for me to do, and I will do, will be for me to ask you to go home. I did not do that last night and after reading his email he makes a very valid point that can not be ignored. He was willing to help out the team so that we do not get a forfeit and could actually field a full squad and we (I actually) slapped him in the face.
So PLEASE, from now on if you are on the roster you MUST be there before the start time of the game.
With this email, everything was forgiven and forgotten and I have already played for this team and this captain a number of times and I look forward to this team's future reserve player requirements. But most importantly, a new league precedent was established that team players who arrive late to a game are subject to being sent home if a reserve player has been enlisted to replace them. And let me be perfectly clear that once I am set up to play, I will not accommodate the late player by leaving when he arrives. He is going to have to catch another plane because this one has already left the gate! If you want to guarantee a seat on the plane, then get to the game on time!
I'm sure that there will be individuals who feel that I'm being too hard or insensitive towards players who get to a game late due to very viable reasons. However, allow me to be perfectly be clear that I am also paying a big price to be at the game by sacrificing time from my family, my business (which I do literally around the clock), my friends and other social obligations. So, if I take the time and make the sacrifices to get to a game on time and I am selected to play due to someone else coming late, I can assure you that I will play. So, do yourself and me a favor to avoid any future discomfort and bad feelings, DON'T COME LATE!
So, what’s going on in the league? Jada and WC are still holding fast to 1st and 2nd place (although Jada has played three fewer games than WC so they could potentially shoot way ahead in points once they achieve game played equality). Marv'les has taken the place of Samet as the new runaway train this month. However, let’s take a closer look at each team and again, make some predictions.
1st Place: Jada
When I think of Jada I envision a young child who is holding on to an oversized umbrella and a gust of wind blows the child into the air and the rest of us are trying to hold on to the child's shoes so that he is not blown away. Jada could well be on their way in their flight to secure first place, unless the rest of us can grab onto their cleats and defeat them back to earth. A 75% win ratio is uncanny and I cannot say that they don't deserve their very respectable league placement. They have fought hard to secure their winning steak and they consistently show up for games ON TIME!. You will not see Jada have a forfeit. No way, no how.
As I've stated in previous blogs, I like the players on team Jada. However, regardless of my personal sentiments, Jada has now become the team to beat. It's a simple fact: everyone likes to beat the first place team. And with 9 wins and only 3 loses, it's time that Jada is humbled. Now, I am the first to admit that my team is running a distant 2nd place and I would be tickled pink to see Jada start losing so that we can close the gap. So, I am admittedly not without bias in my opinion. But a 75% win percentage? That's ridiculous!
Tonight, Jada plays the Framers and I have been invited to play for the Framers. I cannot project the game outcome, but I can tell you that I will be playing my heart out to defeat Jada (hopefully effectively with hits and RBI's). The Framers have the ability to make it happen tonight but they have to really want it and then take it. I hope that the Framers succeed, but if Jada prevails, it will not be a gift, but another hard earned win.
2nd Place: Westrock/Chai
I'm not quite certain how we remained in 2nd place based on the loses that we have sustained? I guess that teams that were initially successful like Framing, Merockdim and later Samet, were replaced by teams such as Marv'les (and sometimes Bubbas)and it took time for them to catch up to us. Although Bubbas remains inconsistent, Marv'les is now nipping at our heels and if WC does not start hitting effectively and consistently, the Signmakers could well pass us by.
It's so odd how a team like WC, armed with tremendous talent and a history of killing the ball, can suddenly and without explanation, go into a hitting slump. In an email that I sent to my team last week, I stated:
And, one last thing... many of us (including me) are hitting the ball like $%@& for the past couple of games and it has to stop. We cannot win if we can't score runs and we cannot score runs if we continue to hit ridiculous pop-ups. If you are one of those individuals that has become unproductive at bat, please get to the batting cages. If you don't have time to hit the bating cages, then swing the bat in a manner which will produce a hard hit ground ball. At least with a grounder, we stand a chance of getting on base. These high fly balls are simply killing our chances of winning. If I'm screwing up at the plate then I demand to know what the hell I am doing wrong from one of you that is watching. Expect the same constructive criticism from me because you are going to receive it whether you like it or not.
Going forward, the men on our team that are hitting are going to help those players that are dying at the plate. If we tell you that you are dropping your elbow and swinging into the air then we expect you to make the appropriate adjustment. If we tell you that you are taking your eyes off of the ball just before you make contact with the bat then we expect you to keep your eyes on the ball until you hit the ball dead center. This is a team of great athletes and we must demand more of ourselves. Anything less is simply a waste of talent and a source of enormous frustration to me.
Well, we did win our last game against the Framers, although we died after the 2nd inning. This has me very concerned and I hope that we find our groove again quickly. I see that we face Sterling next week and it would be very comforting if we could defeat the last place team.
3rd Place: Marv'les
What can I say, other than that Marv'les has turned the tables on all of us. This team is starting to perform and they have the 2nd highest Win % in the league. On Monday, June 29th, WC played Marv'les and we were defeated 4-2. I must say that while most of my core players, including my pitcher, had other commitments that evening, my assessment of the Marv'les roster that evening was that here was a team that could complete with the best of the best. Amsel, Gottesman, Kirshner, Katz, Rothman, Rabbi Rudman and his son Aryeh, both Wainhaus's and Nussen were all present and accounted for and they meant business.
Marv'les has won their last four games and my prediction for their game against Merockdim this Tuesday is that they will extend their winning streak to five. Marv'les game against the Framers the following Sunday should be a good one and I suggest that Gelb show up for that game if the Framers want a shot at slowing the Signmakers down.
4th Place: Samet
Samet is again in a rut. Since being defeated by WC on June 7th, they lost to Framing on June 16th, and lost again last night to Marv'les (although Samet played with "less" than a skeleton crew). There is a palpable tension which is plaguing this team due to a radical dichotomy of team sentiment. One element, which consists of Samet's super talented, highly competitive players, want Captain Samet to manage the team so that the better players be utilized more frequently and the weaker players less frequently. This would certainly increase the team's win percentage and encourage morale. However, since there is quite a large contingent of "weaker" players on Samet who equally want to play, there is both friction and resentment. Captain David is going to have to rally his team and find some compromise so that the City of David can achieve greatness once again.
I do want to point out that Team Samet was on an express train to first place before being derailed. Why the sudden change in success is a mystery to this writer. It may be that new tensions which have emerged are causing the team to be distracted and to loose focus. Again, Captain David must navigate and negotiate the strong sentiments of his team so that the primary focus of winning games can be achieved.
Samet plays Bubbas this Sunday at 6:00 p.m. Although Bubbas is not going to just lie down and take a lose, a win for Team Samet this Sunday could be just what the doctor ordered.
5th Place: Framing
Framing appears to have lost some of its bearing of late. This team was the hottest item at the beginning of the season but loses on June 7th and 23rd, a tie on June 28th and an additional loss on July 5th have created tremors of confusion and a loss of direction. Although many teams have had to go back to the drawing board this season (including my team), it's now Framing's turn to achieve a fresh start by getting back to the fundamentals.
And what are the fundamentals (in my humble opinion)? Well, to start with, Pitcher Eli Gelb must make more game appearances. To take Shmuel Ber Robinson out of the outfield to pitch is simply nuts. Shmuel Ber is a rocket in the outfield and Framing is simply a weaker team when he is not defending left or center field. The Framers were also missing a strong short stop, third base combination. Although Mendy Halpert can take care of his part of the equation, the absence of Dovid Hoffman (due to back problems) hurt the Framer's infield. The re-introduction of Simca Kreisberg back into the RJSL, as a temporary replacement for Hoffman, will help Framing materially.
Other than the foregoing, the Framers have to simply "Hit" more aggressively. Every team should strive to be like the Samet team of the 2008 season who were famous for hitting strong, hard, line drives to every field. I believe that Framing and WC are in similar positions in that both teams require serious batting practice. Framing is certainly cable of putting a man on base every inning, but if you can't bring him home due to a lack of consistent hitting, games cannot be won.
Tonight's game against Jada will hopefully be the turning point for the Framers. Although Gelb is not available to pitch tonight, relief pitcher Ushy Schwartz has achieved some success in leading the Framers to victory in earlier games. I will be catching for Ushy tonight and and hope that our chemistry is enough to help push the Framers over the top for the W.
6th Place: Merockdim
So, what's going on with Merockdim? Well, they are certainly consistent in that they remain in 6th place. A quick look at their game activities reveals success against Bubbas on July 5th, a tie against Framing on June 28th, a loss against Bubbas on June 8th and a tie against Sterling on June 7th. Well, this does suggest some forward movement over Merockdim's dismal game performance during the month of May.
I must admit that I have not witnessed any of Merockdim's games over the past few weeks. What I do know is that Yonnie Greenstein is off the disabled list and this is a strong shot in the arm for the campers. I have also heard that star player Aaron Warum is no longer taking Merockdim loses lying down. In a recent game summary, we stated: We note that Aaron Warum's very "animated" motivational speech towards the end of the game mandated Camper performance (rumor has it their lives depended on it) which got Merockdim over the top for the "W". Well, maybe Warum should continue his "motivational speeches" because hey, "whatever works"!
Merockdim is playing against Marv'les tomorrow and neither of the Wainhaus's can attend. So, will this afford the Campers a unique opportunity to achieve a two game winning streak since the Marv'les captain and star short stop will be away? Well, I will be able to tell you first hand since I will be playing for Marv'les tomorrow night. Let the chips fall where they may.
As I stated in my last blog, these teams have simply failed to materialize during the first half of this season. We get some periodic signs of life regarding Bubbas but Sterling appears out for the count. The Sterling tale is one from Riches to Rags. It's a shame since Sterling has so much talent but they have completely lost all direction. I wonder what would happen if the Sterling/Bubbas teams were blended together and two new teams were formed. The transformation may be RJSL dynamite!