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.
Some Closure, Lucky-Chai and League Predictions
June 20, 2012
So, here’s my dilemma: it’s 1:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and I have “major” deadlines regarding my workload. However, the RJSL season is virtually half over and I have not taken the time “yet” to write one of my traditional blogs. I am tempted to try a little “free association” (one of the few terms I remember from studying Sigmund Freud) and take up where I left off from one my last blogs on August 14, 2011.
So, let’s see where we left off:
- Starting an A and B league?…not going to happen because quite frankly, we seem to be making the best of the situation that we have and I really don’t hear anyone complaining about it these days.
- Free Agency?...it was an interesting concept for the RJSL but at the end of the day, it would have really upset the apple cart and Sam and Marv simply were not interested in putting themselves through the inevitable league upheaval.
- The Major Energy vs. the Shoe Tova models?...had free agency been unleashed then the RJSL would have been transformed into a competitive free for all. What that would have looked like is anyone’s guess. My guess is that there would have been a handful of teams with all the best players and then everyone else. Personally, I’m happy with the way things turned out and grateful that Sam and Marv permitted the championship teams to enhance their rosters by admitting talent from outside the league.
- Depth of team rosters, use of reserve players and replacement players?...big changes here. Reserve players were disbanded as were replacement players (which left me out in the cold). As most of you remember, I got a significant amount of playing time last season. It appears that teams were requesting my participation on their team rather than inviting one of their weaker players. So, Sam and Marv decided to eliminate the reserve position to resolve this issue. This, of course, had an adverse domino effect regarding my personal contribution to the league. Most of you know that I was spending “many hours” of my personal time keeping the web site updated as a quid pro quo for the league allowing me to fulfill the role of replacement player. However, once that role was eliminated, I could no longer justify the time that I was investing in the RJSL web site. So, as of June 1, 2012, my daily involvement with the web site ceased (you may have noticed some “changes” in the web site since then).
My position on the depth of team rosters certainly influenced my actions during the off season. Although Westrock did very well last season (coming in 2nd place in the regular season and making it to the championship round), I was frustrated by the number of games we lost due to a lack of roster depth. I was simply too dependent on my best players showing up all the time in order to win. I had to accept that my players were periodically going to have competing obligations or priorities (either family or business) and that the only way to combat this problem was to add significant team depth. And depth is “exactly” what I added: Jeremy Nussbaum, Doron Fetman, Mendy Feldman, Levi Rosenberg, Akiva Horowtiz, Moshe Blackstein and Lazer Unger have help Westrock tremendously in this manner. So far, only our game against Merockdim did we experience a major talent drain. Other great teams such as Major Energy have experienced similar talent diminution which has led to unfortunate losses. This will periodically happen to every team…the question is how to manage this problem so that it happens infrequently? My solution…a roster of 20 players, 17 who are above average in talent and just give me 10 of them on any given night and we will do what has to be done…win.
- Team Captains?...in my last blog I basically took the position that being an effective team captain requires both work and dedication on and off the field on behalf of your team. If you take a look at the leading teams this season you will find that all of them have both experienced and seasoned team captains: Greenbaum from Major Energy, Chasen from Medicine Men, Romer from Westrock and Weissmandl from Merockdim have all developed their own unique style of leadership. Teams without this level of leadership seem to founder and never flourish.
- Issues surrounding the 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. games?...the reality is that it’s working. Marv has negotiated with the Parks Department a 10:15 p.m. closing time during the week which allows games to start at 7:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m., respectively. I’m not saying that 7:15 p.m. games during the week aren’t tough (because they are a major inconvenience), but as long as Marv continues to schedule these games fairly and equitably between all of the teams…no one seems to be complaining.
OK, so that gives me some closure from my last blog. Let move onto the 2012 season. Lets see…well for starters, most of you know that I’m sponsoring two teams this season. Westrock-Chai, which is my main priority and Lucky-Chai. And of course, there is a story behind my sponsoring Lucky-Chai. The concept of a Lucky-Chai team was actually discussed in my May 27, 2009 blog entitled Team Loyalty, Lucky-Chai and League Perspectives. An excerpt from this blog follows:
There are, of course, extenuating circumstances which prohibit your appearance at a game, or a simcha. For example, yesterday was the vort for Sam’s daughter and I really wanted to attend to show Sam my support and “loyalty” as a friend. However, as fate would have it, my family and I were saying our final goodbyes to our wonderful dog Lucky (who was put to sleep this morning) who was absolutely one of my most “loyal” and loving friends.
Lucky was also a RJSL fan. She attended many games over the years and always enjoyed the attention of the frum children who wanted to pet her beautiful, soft shiny fur. Lucky was always so delicate with the children, and at nearly 90 pounds, certainly outweighed most of them. After every inning, I would walk over to Lucky and enjoy the attention that the children were throwing at her and answer their myriad questions regarding if she bites and can they pet her.
I took Lucky to her last RJSL baseball game just a week or so ago to watch the Jada vs. Marv’les game. I knew that she was on her last leg (she was 11 years old which is a very advanced age for a large dog) and I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible before she left us. Although I made plans to sit with Lucky in the stands, chance would have it that Jada was down one player and requested my help. Although in jeans and sneakers, I played and Lucky complacently watched me assist Jada defeat Marv’les.
I’m convinced that goodness, no matter from a human or an animal, is embraced by all who wittingly or unwittingly come in contact. One of the gruffest and most aggressive players on the Jada roster suggested that I move Lucky away from the dugout entrance so that no one would inadvertently step on her. His unexpected kindness and concern had to be in reaction to Lucky’s incredible kindness and wonderful nature. I, in particular, will miss the radiance, love and loyalty of this most precious friend and as soon as this enormous hole in my heart heals, I will consider renaming my team “Lucky Chai”. Lucky 18! It may indeed have a nice ring to it. Menachem, what do you think?
Although it took three years for the opportunity to present itself, with the elimination of the replacement player rule, I was faced with the possibility of only playing a 20 game season (as opposed to my normal 50 game season). So, when Sam announced that a 9th and 10th sponsor was being sought for the league, I sent the following agreement to Sam and Marv which they accepted:
This agreement between the Rockland Jewish Softball League (RJSL) and Steve Romer, residing at 7 Ruth Court, Monsey, N.Y., confirms the mutual understanding that Steve Romer will sponsor a 2nd softball team within the RJSL, hereinafter named the Lucky-Chai Team, for the total sponsorship fee of $1,200 under the following conditions:
- That during the course of the regular 20 game season Steve Romer will play in a minimum of 15 games (which does not include games against Westrock-Chai). If for any reason Steve Romer cannot attend a minimum of 15 games due to personal scheduling conflicts, the RJSL will not be responsible for any financial loss.
- Steve Romer will be entitled to play each of the above referenced 15 games at the position of third base for the entire seven or nine innings of play (whichever is applicable).
- At no time will Steve Romer assume the role of captain of the Lucky-Chai team.
- When the Lucky-Chai team plays against Steve Romer’s Westrock-Chai team, Steve Romer will play exclusively for the Westrock-Chai team.
So, after a long three years, Lucky-Chai became a reality. Not only did I get to honor an old and loyal friend, but I also get to hone my skills at third base and play a minimum of 35 games to boot. An expensive proposition…certainly. But, it’s something that I love to do and it’s also one of the main reasons that I remain in Monsey (as opposed to moving to Woodmere where two of my married children and my five grandchildren [not including the one on the way] currently live).
So, what’s going on in the league?
With a 9-1-1 season record, Medicine Men will soon be sharing 1st place with Westrock-Chai who plays last place Lucky-Chai this Sunday and expects to end the day with a 9-1-1 season record. During their first game of the season, Medicine Men was completely dominated by Westrock by a score of 5-1 after six inning of play. However, Westrock failed to close and Medicine Men was able to rally four runs in the last inning to tie the game. Since then, Medicine Men has sustained a winning streak, only to be brutalized by Major Energy which they lost 7 - 3. Just a couple of years ago, this team appeared to be on their last leg. But, with the likes of superstars Moshe Hans, Jacob Fein, Meir Stimmol, and Aron Schwartz joining forces with this team, Medicine Men has been on a roll (which team sponsor Jason Shatkin never lets us forget).
Westrock continues to dominate the playing field and is expected to end this week tied for 1st place. Team greats such as Ritterman, Reichmann, Mark, Katz, Loebenberg, Weinstein and Singer have teamed up with Nussbaum, Rosenberg, Feldman, Horowitz and Fetman, among others to establish a lean, mean baseball machine. We expect great things from this team this season and Captain Romer contends that this is the best team that he has ever managed during his tenure with the RJSL.
Captain Yitz Greenbaum came out of the starting gate this season essentially scaring the hell out of the entire RJSL with one victory after another. After pummeling Medicine Men on June 3rd, Major Energy experienced a series of setbacks due to a major talent drain which caused them to lose against Westrock on June 10 and then again on June 17 against Wesley Eye. Part of the talent drain is due to player scheduling conflicts and part is attributable to player injuries. Menachem Landwirt, for instance, has re-injured his ACL and is out for the remainder of the season. What the future holds for this formerly formidable team is presently unknown due to a two game losing streak followed by a lucky win against Respond Power on Monday night. Time will tell if the best is behind this team…or if the best is yet to come.
Well, it took time, but Merockdim has “finally” turned the corner. This is now a team to be reckoned with. Having dispatched some of their less talented assets to frontiers unknown, and absorbing talent the likes of which include Shmuel Ber Robinson, the Campers are kicking butt on a regular basis (including a win against a depleted Westrock team). Gone is the frustration and growing impatience of a great team bursting to make its mark on the league. That mark is now being made on a daily basis and the smiles of Braunstein, Cherns, Greenstein, Friedman, Katz, Roseman, Sobel, Warum and Weissmandl after every game is all telling…their time has come and they are taking no prisoners.
On a personal note, I want to publically apologize to Doc Friedman for any bad feelings I may have caused him from my past blogs. In my opinion, Doc has always been a big part of the Merockdim roster and when he is not around due to his incredibly important medical practice, I have not always been very understanding of his professional commitments to the health and well-being of the children in his care. My bad doc…please forgive me.
I don’t know what’s going on…but it’s just not happening with this team. There appears to be a lot of finger pointing going on as to who is to blame for their current dismal disposition. But, at the end of the day…Subaba is simply not winning games. With a record of 4 and 7, Subaba is losing heart. There’s some great talent on this team…but some shoring up was required during the off season and for whatever the reason, the shoring up never materialized. Losing left field sensation Shmuel Ber Robinson did not help matters either. I wish this team well and may a resolution to their myriad problems come sooner rather than later.
Wesley Eye Care (aka the team that never shows up)
Listen to some of these names: Moshe Berg, Ben Cohen, Aaron Cohen, Tzviki Gottesman, Chaim Raice, Benzi Raice, Yonah Rothman, Mordechai Rudman, Aryeh Rudman, Yaakov Spaeth, Yossi Minz, to name just a few. Great players…all of them. Talent coming out of their respective ears. But if they don’t collectively show up for games on a regular basis…well, what a waste of talent and what’s the point? United you stand…divided you fall. With a team record of 4 and 7, you guys have obviously spent more time being divided then united. I thought that Captain David Samet may get a shot this year but if he can’t rally the troops, maybe he should head for greener pastures.
So, here is a team that seems to show up, but are receiving less than raving reviews. Again, there is some great talent on this team but for some reason the synergism is not resulting in wins. There are four Berens on this team, each an amazing athlete. Rafi Berger brings tremendous depth as does pitchers Naftoli Salomon and Zevy Simanowitz. In addition, these guys have a very decent short stop (whose name escapes me), but he is a real talent. So where is the problem…I don’t know? Well, I hope that they figure it out fast because, there’s no reason that this team should not excel.
So, here we go again. The youngest team in the league and they simply can’t make it happen…again. With a record of 3 and 8, I think that the time has come for these guys to plan on joining more seasoned teams next season that require young legs with great ambition. Funny, I always thought that Bubbas would one day rule the roost and go the distance. It actually started to came together for them towards the end of last season, only to fall apart in the semi-finals. I simply don’t believe anymore that it’s meant to be. Good luck with the remainder of your season…and for whatever it’s worth…I would love for you to prove me wrong.
9th and 10th place respectively. Both teams need to be shored up with the talent required to make them more competitive. The commissioners have their jobs cut out for them to make this happen this season.
So, in the meantime, lets PLAY BALL!