Steve Romer Blog Picture

Steve Romer
Steve Romer is both a sponsor and captain of the 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.

What The Future Holds For The RJSL and League Predictions
August 14, 2011

Rumor has it that immediately following the 2011 RJSL season and the subsequent Jewish holidays, the league commissioners and captains will face weeks, if not months of discussions regarding the future of the RJSL. Although, generally speaking, the season was a success, there are many issues that must be addressed such as:


  1. The vast dichotomy in league talent levels and how to satisfy both the strong competitive elements within the league with those more "laid-back" elements that simply love to play the game, although maybe not so well....


  1. The future of free agency and how to protect teams from unexpected player departures which undermine their competitiveness.


  1. The future of team make-ups comparing the Major Energy model as opposed to the Shoe Tova model.


  1. The issues surrounding the depth of team rosters, the use of Reserve Players and Replacement Players.


  1. Team captain issues.


  1. Issues surrounding the 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. week night games as opposed to the former nine inning 8:00 p.m. week night game.


The foregoing are some of the issues which require discussion and resolution and I will present my position on each of these issues for future discussion and debate:


  1. The vast dichotomy in league talent levels and how to satisfy both the strong competitive elements within the league with those more "laid-back" elements that simply love to play the game, although maybe not so well....

Sam and Marv did a wonderful thing bringing the RJSL to fruition and in the beginning, the league was founded on a "fun league which was competitive". The original intent was to provide a venue where hard-working family men and singles could step away from their myriad responsibilities for a few hours a week and enjoy the great game of softball. However, over the years the competitive complexion of the league started to change and eventually the RJSL became a "competitive league which was fun".


So, what is the difference between a fun league which is competitive compared to a competitive league which is fun: plenty and most of it has to do with competitive attitude and talent level! By and large, talented players who are very competitive want to play with similar type people. Players who sign up just for the fun of playing but possess below average playing ability will not jell well with the more competitive league element. So the question is: is there a way to combine the very "competitive element" who are above average players with below average players...or should these two elements be divided into separate divisions?


Romer's Position: Some level of separation is required. I certainly believe in the RJSL's original premise that anyone who wants to play softball should be allowed to play...however, that does not mean that we all need to play together. There should be a talent level threshold and anyone playing either at or above that level should be assigned to the "A" league and those operating below that threshold should be assigned to the "B" league. If the question is coming to mind: Why can't we all play together? Because it simply does not work and the dissolution of Team Samet from last season should be a clear example of how the very competitive element cannot co-exist with below average talent.


I think that I should also define what I mean by below average talent: players who cannot do the fundamentals...catch, hit, throw. If a player can hit but can't catch to save his life, or catches very inconsistently, that's a huge problem. If a player can't throw the ball accurately or doesn't know how to bat then that person should be assigned to a weaker league division. When below average players continuously drag a good team down then that's a big problem.


  1. The future of free agency and how to protect teams from unexpected player departures which undermine their competitiveness:


By and large, free agency provided a vehicle which allowed friends to play on the same team. This concept is certainly very reasonable to me and something which the league should promote. However, what happens when two, three or more "good" players decide to leave one team and join another team to be with their friends or join forces with a team captain that better reflects their competitive complexion? The entire competitive advantage of the respective teams change and how should the RJSL manage this change, if at all?


Romer's Position: I now support free agency with respect to friends playing together, even if that means a bunch of superstars being on the same team. However, I also believe that if a team is severely weakened from free agency, the commissioners must work with the applicable team captain to replace the lost talent measure for measure.


  1. The future of team make-ups comparing the Major Energy model as opposed to the Shoe Tova model:


By and large, with the exception of Major Energy and Shoe Tova, the remaining eight teams have remained relatively the same in regards to player composition (even Medicine Men who embraced several former members of Team Samet have the same core players). Getting to this point was an evolution of former drafts, negotiations, trades and the like. Teams Major Energy and Shoe Tova are unique in regards to team make-up which requires a discussion of their long term viability.


Major Energy Model -


The composition of Team Major Energy is as follows:


  1. New unknown league players with unknown fielding abilities
  2. The weaker remains of Team Samet that did not join Medicine Men
  3. League players who no longer fit with their former teams.


The evidence speaks for itself - Major Energy started the season in dismal fashion and even with the addition of a phenomenal pitcher (Peikes) and a decent short stop (Yossi Newman), the team, as of this analysis, has a .235 win percentage. By and large, this team appears to have been "thrown" together and expected to play competitive ball. Well, the experiment did not work and I doubt it will work in the future. The selection process for forming a team requires significant time, analysis, and managerial acumen.


Romer's Position: If the RJSL intends to keep expanding (which it should) and attracting new talent (which it must), then it also must take the time to properly assess new players to the league in terms of try-outs and pre-season games. Only then can the "men" be separated from the "boys" so that a team is properly equipped with the talent required to cover "all of the bases". In addition, new teams of this nature must be equipped with capable captains that have the "time", talent and wherewithal to mold the team into a viable competitive entity. Anything less than this "will" result in a Major Energy disaster which is demoralizing, demeaning and plain not fun.


Shoe Tova Model -


This model reflects a team entity which is organized by a captain/sponsor who compiles his own team roster without RJSL interference or objection (subject to conventional league rules), pays all RJSL fees upfront and is responsible for his own team finances and management. Team Shoe Tova was built on this model and although the talent level of Shoe Tova was insufficient to compete which resulted in the team unraveling, the concept is a good one.


Romer's Position: I completely support this new team concept and next season I will negotiate to organize Westrock using the
Shoe Tova team approach whereby I will take complete financial responsibility for payment (and subsequently collect from my players), determine who is and who is "not" on my roster and manage my own team accordingly without RJSL interference or objection.


  1. The issues surrounding the depth of team rosters, the use of Reserve Players and Replacement Players:


This season was really a mess regarding the depth of team rosters. Even I miscalculated my roster requirements. Part of a letter I sent to my team on August 10th addressed this issue:


But, that's not it at all. I mismanaged the team this year and for this I'm terribly sorry.


Fact: I knew that Dahan has a very active law practice and that he cannot make a majority of the games


Fact: I knew that Ritterman would be getting engaged and married this year and that this would interfere with his availability.


Fact: I knew that Schiff and Katz had a lot going on this season and that they would miss many games.


Fact: I knew that Ric's learning and golf interests would interfere with his availability.


Fact: I knew that Binyamin would be leaving for Israel at the beginning of the playoffs


Fact: I knew that Westrock only had one catcher and consequently I could not help at 1st base, etc. if needed.


Resolve: Next season I will expand Westrock's talent depth to the level necessary to rectify any or all of the aforementioned issues (should they continue to exist next season).

It appears that many captains are concerned about expanding their rosters since key players would receive insufficient playing time. The problem is that between players getting hurt, engaged, married, simchas, family and work responsibilities, alternative interests and the like, you never really know who you can depend on and without an expanded roster, you will periodically...or frequently get caught with your proverbial "pants down".

This season teams were permitted to have Reserve Players. A pre-condition of Reserve Player participation is that captains had to declare their existence on the team roster before the start of the 2011 season and make payment every time that a Reserve Player was utilized. The concept of Reserve Players became abused with various teams using players who were not members of the league in order to field a team to avoid a forfeit. The commissioners eventually had to step in a put an end to the abuses (with the exception of Shoe Tova who lost more than half of their team and required a constant insertion of rag tag talent so that they could complete the season).

A second indication of insufficient team depth is the number of times I played this season as a replacement player. I was being used constantly, all season long and although I have an almost insatiable appetite to play (and a sincere appreciation to all of you who invited me to play), it was a little unusual regarding the frequency that I was asked to participate.


Romer's Position: A good captain knows his team, their strengths and limitations and must additionally consider any and all unknown eventualities such as player injuries, player slumps, vacations, family and work dynamics, etc. A team's roster must be constructed in preparedness for all of these issues so that a team is never caught light handed or without a competitive edge. Every attempt must be made to "not" play people out of position and to accomplish this there must be a certain redundancy in player fielding talent (e.g. having more than one pitcher, short stop, catcher, etc). In addition, a certain number of utility players must be developed that have the capability of playing many positions well. This all equates to an expanded roster which may result in certain players getting less playing time during the course of the season but empowers the "team" to always have the muscle required to field a full, competitive team.


  1. Team Captain Issues:


Let me start this segment by telling you a story. Many years ago Sam and Marv asked me to manage a second team in the league (the Marv'les team). I was doing a relatively good job with my own team after spending years with the same group of players and I assumed that I could just walk right in and do the same for the Marv'les team. What a mistake! Instead of taking the time to ingratiate myself with everyone on the Marv'les team, learn their culture, their attitudes and all of their personality subtleties, I simply started barking orders without having taken the time to gain their respect and trust. So, we learn from our mistakes and move on.


There are many mistakes being made by managers in this league and I question if they realize the impact poor management has on their team. Most of us learn to manage through trial and error. When I took over Westrock seven years ago I knew nothing about managing a team. I very quickly drew on the experiences of players that I could trust to help guide me like Israel Dahan and Ric Weinstein. I also very quickly realized that competitive players respond favorably to perceived fairness, open-mindedness, consistency and reliability. In addition, a captain must place the benefit of the team above his own personal aspirations and he must be prepared to make the hard choices, regardless if it is concerning a friend or a star player on the team.


Too many players have come to me this season and complained about the poor management practices of their team captain. This is really a shame because without proper management, most teams will never reach their full potential.


Romer's Position: One of my favorite quotes from the Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry movie series is that "A man needs to know his limitations". Well, I believe the same holds true for a team captain. I happen to be the captain of my team in the RJBL (Rockland Jewish Basketball League). Now, last season my team came in first place during the regular season, but that is only because I had the wherewithal to assign Dovid Katz (a great basketball player and tactician) as the co-captain, giving him complete control of what happens on the court. A similar dynamic occurred with Bubbas this season. Captains Katsof/Kahana recognized that they were off to a very slow start and decided to draw on the managerial strengths of Ushy Schwartz. The result: a plethora of wins, a significant climb in the standings and a virtual certainly of making the playoffs.


Team's deserve to have good captains who are willing to invest the time, objectivity and demanding nature of the job. If you lack the time or experience to handle the job, then its your responsibility to either resign, find the appropriate lieutenants to help you manage the team or you should assign the task to a general manager who can provide the leadership required to achieve the team's highest potential.


  1. Issues surrounding the 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. week night games as opposed to the former nine inning 8:00 p.m. week night game:


There was a whole lot of debate at the beginning of the season regarding the difficulty of fielding a team for a 7:00 p.m. game. In addition, many players resented giving up a nine inning weeknight game for a seven inning game which resulted in fewer at bats, etc.


Romer's Position:  Again, the proof is in the pudding. There was only one forfeit this season by Shoe Tova (who has had problems the entire season fielding a team regardless of the game time). Otherwise, all games were played as scheduled. AND...despite an inordinate number of rainouts, we are still getting in a 20 game season! Had the weather been somewhat more cooperative, we could have played 25 or more games this season! I also believe that a greater depth in team rosters will help eliminate any prejudice against the 7:00 p.m. weeknight slot.


As I introduced in my last blog, being a league captain and the primary league reserve player, I've either played against or for virtually every team in the league. So, what’s going on in the league?

Medicine Men
As of this writing, Medicine Men clinched first place and have outplayed virtually every team in the league. What is the key to their success this season...they show up for every game with the same core players and stick to the fundamentals. Medicine Men are neither invincible nor superstars...they are simply good, experienced ball players who make few mental errors and capitalize on every opportunity. Nice job this season to Captain Michael Chassen on a job well done in managing Medicine Men and achieving such great results in the regular season.


Playoff Predictions:  I believe that Medicine Men will make it to the championship round this season. Medicine Men's last two games of the season are against StubWorld and Westrock, who are both vying for a 2nd place bye. There are only three teams who have defeated Medicine Men this season: StubWorld, Westrock and Bubbas and each of these teams have in return been defeated by Medicine Men. What transpires during Medicine Men's last two games will set the stage for their future success or failure this season. I think that they may just have what it takes this season to go the distance...but StubWorld and/or Westrock may have a thing or two to say about that....


This team has literally been a freak of nature. They came out of the gate losing their first few games, made a couple of personnel adjustments, and the rest is history. StubWorld has simply gotten the hang of winning games and pitcher Yitz Greenbaum has been a critical element in this winning strategy. Greenbaum's pitching delivery is deceivably strong and he materially helps his team by catching most balls hit straight up the middle and by his tactical hitting ability (hitting the ball anywhere he wants to). Dovid Hoffman has also bounced back into the league as a viable short stop and clean-up hitter, who has helped StubWorld achieve their strong results.


StubWorld last game resulted in a loss against 8th place Team Merockdim and now face 1st place Medicine Men. Can StubWorld become the "Cinderella Man" and knock-out Medicine Men with a one-two punch and show them whose boss? Well, that's pretty much what it's going to take in order for StubWorld to achieve the momentum required to win the championship.


Playoff Predictions:  I don't believe in fairy tales and I don't believe that this is StubWorld's year. I predict that StubWorld will make it to the 2nd round of the playoffs and then be defeated three games to two.

More than any team in the league, WC has suffered from a plethora of rainouts which have interfered with their game performance. In addition, on too many occasions WC has simply not been able to draw on their "A" team due to a variety of circumstances. Captain Steve Romer believes that this is now all behind WC and that the appreciable talent which has historically propelled this team forward will manifest itself for the remainder of the regular and post-season. If WC ignites then they will be a force to be reckoned with. If not.... (see below)


Playoff Predictions:  WC must be able to draw on its enormously talented resources in order to win the championship for the 3rd time. If this can be accomplished, I predict that WC will make it to the Championship round and take home the gold. If not, they will be defeated during the 2nd round of the playoffs.


Cross River Bank
To all extents and purposes, Cross River has done relatively well this season. After 18 games they find themselves in 4th place and their last two games are against Major Energy and Bubbas. Cross River should be able to defeat Major Energy but will lose to Bubbas, giving them 22 points and 5th place (since Bubbas is predicted to take 4th place with 22 points but with the advantage over Cross River with two wins). Cross River will secure a playoff spot but that is all the doctor ordered.


Playoff Predictions: Cross River does not have the talent depth this season to make any major playoff waves. They will be defeated during the first round of the playoffs.


Bubbas has made the greatest standing strides during the latter part of the season than any other team. However, successful new management is not going to be enough if Bubbas A team does not consistently show up for games. Bubbas should end the season on an upswing, defeating both Shoe Tova and Cross River and capturing 4th place. However, can Bubbas keep it together long enough to reach the final round of the championship? Their past post-season history is not a great forecast for success. However, if they can keep cool, calm and collected, they should place well in the championship rounds.


Playoff Predictions: This is "not" Bubbas year...but I predict they will prevail during the first playoff round, only to be defeated during the 2nd round.


This has "not" been LY's year. With only two games left to the regular season, they are in 6th place with 17 points. LY will extend their points to 19 when they defeat Shoe Tova. However, a determined WC is prepared to fight LY tooth and nail for the win and LY will have to bring a monstrous roster equivalent in playoff strength to last season to make it happen.


Playoff Predictions: Regardless if LY wins one or both of their last two regular season games, they will "not" qualify for the playoff this season.


Subaba is a real disappointment because despite the major talent on this team, their best players simply do not consistently show up. But I expect a majority of their A team will show for their last three games of the regular season which they will win, achieving 22 points and ending in 6th place (after head to head considerations with Bubbas and Shoe Tova).


Playoff Predictions: Subaba will qualify for the playoffs and they will be defeated during the first playoff round.
Merockdim, Major Energy & Shoe Tova


Playoff Predictions: Neither of these teams materialized this season and will not qualify for the playoffs.
So, in the meantime, lets PLAY BALL!

Steve Romer