Team Magic &
Home Runs &
Collective Health and League Perspectives
Many of you remember me when I was 285 pounds. It wasn't that long ago...and it wasn't a pretty sight. But what scared me the most during that unfortunate time period was how winded I became when I ran around the bases or played basketball. I simply could not catch my breath and it was, well, simply frightening. Due to my extraordinary impatience and unwillingness to live in such a terrible state, I took extreme measures to eradicate this problem from my life. I got myself qualified for a lap band and that helped me lose approximately 100 pounds. I invested in an extensive home gym and actually used it on a daily basis. I worked on my stamina both aerobically and anaerobically and it has enabled me to continue to pursue the sports and activities that I love. I may only have average abilities as an athlete, but at 51 years old, I have immense joy of being able to play competitive softball, football and basketball with all of the wonderful men from the Monsey athletic community. I wouldn't trade this for anything.
As I've gotten older, I've started to wonder, and in fact worry about the condition of my heart, cholesterol accumulation in my veins and arteries and my risk of having a heart attack or stroke. I play a lot of ball and regularly weight lifts so I am continuously putting my body under stress. I feel strong but I've been generally ignorant regarding the status of my risk factors to coronary heart or cardiovascular disease. I wanted to take some kind of concrete measures to reduce the probabilities of my contracting these debilitating illnesses but I lacked a viable strategy or insight.
And then, from out of the blue, comes Moshe Lehmann who hands me a book on the prevention and reversal of heart disease. I didn't get to read it until the third day of Passover but when I did, it was nothing less than earth shattering. The book is written by a surgeon, Dr. Esselstyn, from the famous Cleveland Heart Clinic, entitled Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. I have to admit that the book scared the hell out of me. I realized that based on the way that I was eating, it was only a matter of time before I succumbed to heart disease. Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but my life has been challenging enough without illness. I cannot imagine what life would be like if I had to meet life's myriad challenges head-on while inundated with the burden of angina, or the ramifications of either a heart attack or stroke (assuming that I survived).
Approximately a month ago (it seems longer), I adopted a strict Vegan diet based on the recommendations of Dr. Esselstyn's book. Any type of food that has a mother or a face cannot be consumed. Thus, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs and any food that contains oils are eliminated from consideration. A radical departure from my former life: absolutely? The benefits: my cholesterol has declined to 132 and my LDL is 60. At these levels, the risk of heart disease is virtually eliminated. This means that I can continue to run around the bases or play basketball without worrying if I'm going to have a heart attack. And yes, God may have other plans for me, but it least I know that I'm playing my part by not "inviting" heart disease into my life. Incidentally, for those of you that have not been doing such a great job in taking care of yourselves, you may want to be screened for 1) Carotid Artery Disease 2) Atrial Fibrillation 3) Abdominal Aortic screening and 4) Peripheral Arterial Disease. One outfit which provides these tests very inexpensively (Approximately $140) is Life Line Screening Radiology (800 897 9177). It's all about prevention, gentlemen. Don't wait until it is too late and if the shoe fits, wear it.
So, whatís going on in the league? LY Contractors (formerly Framing) and Merockdim are off to a very strong start with both teams winning their first three games. However, letís take a closer look at each team and again, make some predictions.
1st Place: LY Contractor and Camp Merockdim
Although both teams share first place, the Campers have, by and large, decimated every team that they have faced. Marv'les came first and that was not a pretty sight. Next came WC, who held a respectable lead until the 8th inning when reserve pitcher, Ushy Schwartz, having already pitched 17 innings, simply had nothing left and provided the Campers "batting practice". A legitimate win? Hey, a win is a win. Personally, I look forward to challenging the Campers with Shmuel Loebenberg at the helm. I anticipate a very different outcome. Sterling took a stab at the Campers but got no where fast. For the time being, Merockdim has Lady Luck on her side. From where I stand, this team should enjoy their 15 minutes of fame while they can...I don't think they can make it last.
Prediction: The Campers next game is against Bubba's on May 4th. In my opinion, Bubbas is due and their first win may indeed be against the much slower and older Campers team.
LY Contractors is also off to a great start. Defeating Jada 8-7 and WC 10-9 is certainly cutting it close. LY's win over Bubbas was more definitive, although Bubbas is known to require sufficient time to get their motor revved up and roaring. The league did a great job reinvigorating the Contractors with some new and decisive talent. New entrees onto the team include superstar Yaakov Jacobovitch and the venerable Simcha Kreisberg. Couple this with the capabilities of Mendy Halpert at short stop, Shmuel Ber Robinson in left, Chaim Leitman in short center and one of my favorite lefties, Elchanan Tenembaum and you have the foundation of a winning team. And it appears that Captain Avi may finally be managing his team to win, instead of trying to be Mr. Nice Guy. If Avi allows the best man for a position to play that position (instead of being influenced by team politics), LY may have a chance to go all the way. We will be watching.
Prediction: Contractors next game is against Sterling on May 2nd. The Sterling team remains incapacitated and requires triple bypass surgery. Contractors is predicted to defeat Sterling hands down.
2nd Place: Westrock/Chai and Marv'les
WC started the season with a strong win against Sterling, a team that still remains plagued with problems. Following a close lose to LY Contractors, WC defeated Marv'els in the first game of a double header but then lost to the Campers late in the game, during their second game that day. Due to the demoralizing manner in which WC was losing to the Campers, there was a suggestion that WC delay the game so that we could win by a technicality (since WC was leading at the conclusion of the previous inning, someone thought that we could still win the game by prolonging it until the umpire called the game due to a shortage of time. This would compel the umpire to revert back to the score of the previous inning, thus affording WC the win). My reaction to winning in this unsavory manner is revealed in a letter that I sent to my team immediately following the WC/Campers game:
Prediction: WC's next game is against Marv'les on May 2nd. Marv'les has been making a nice comeback but I believe WC has more depth at this point in the season than do the Signmakers. Call me prejudicial but I predict that WC will go home with the "W".
Sharing 2nd place with WC is Marv'les. Although these guys got knocked around a little at the beginning of the season, the Signmakers began their comeback with a strong defeat against Jada and tonight edged out Hi Low Travel. Like many teams in the league, Marv'les is still getting its bearings but with power houses like Moshe Berg, Ben Cohen, Tzviki Gottesman, Yonah Rothman and my young favorite, Yitzi Wainhaus, the Signmakers will make their mark this year if Captain Sam Wainhaus is prepared to lead his team with the vim and vigor which is required to be victorious.
Prediction: Marv'les will lose to WC on May 2nd, unless Sammy boy is really prepared to put on the war paint and demands that the Signmakers go to war against the more agile WC team.
3rd Place: Samet
Samet is just getting out of the starting gate, having only played two games, winning one and losing one. Like LY Contractors, the Samet team got an infusion of new blood including Roadrunner Mier Stimmel, powerhouse Shragi Lazarus, and the talented Yitz Greenbaum. Then, of course, you have the "guts" of the Samet team which include the sensational Steven Schwartz, the remarkable Han's Brothers, and the "heart" of Team Samet, Jason Shatkin and captain David Samet. Although I have high hopes for the Accountants, I'm taking a wait and see attitude pending their game Sunday morning against the Campers.
Prediction: The Campers are on a roll and I don't believe Samet is well oiled enough "yet" to steal Merockdim's thunder. I'd like to see Samet prove me wrong...but cool heads and strong, decisive hitting must prevail for Samet to accomplish this feat. Let the good times roll....
4th Place: Hi Low Travel
Truthfully, I have not had the opportunity to watch this team play and I know virtually nothing about them. They reportedly play decent defense and currently have a .375 win percentage after four games. If my schedule permits, I intend to watch their game against Jada this Sunday morning at 9:15 a.m. so that I can "scout them out".
Prediction: Although this is a complete shot in the dark, I predict that my good friends from Team Jada with kick Hi Low's butt this Sunday morning. For one thing, Jada is very comfortable with a 9:15 a.m. game...I wonder if the same will hold true for Hi Low whose players reside as far north as Monroe and as far south as Brooklyn.
5th Place: Jada
I seem to recall Jada having a very slow start last season and then picking up tremendous momentum throughout the remainder of the year. With a win percentage of .333, Jada has lost two out of their first three games. Some players throughout the league have said that Jada no longer has the competitive edge required to win ball games. Others have said that Jada, as a team, is simply too old and tired. Well, I don't believe it. These guys led the league last year coming in first place and although I don't know "how" they did it, the fact remains that they did it.
Prediction: Victor Fein is going to pitch one hell of a game this Sunday morning and with a well placed "A" team going to bat, Jada will defeat Hi Low with money to spare.
6th Place: Sterling
I hate to say it but the Sterling team is merely a ghost of who they were three years ago. This is a team that is completely demoralized and someone has got to do something fast to get this team back on track. Captain Chaim would be best served to trade those players who no longer have anything to offer their team in terms of spirit or enthusiasm. Like LY Contractors and Samet, Sterling needs some new talent to shake things up and get things rolling.
My prediction for Sterling is presently not favorable. I hope that somehow they can prove me wrong.
7th Place: Bubbas
Bringing up the rear is Bubbas. I find it fascinating that the youngest and most agile team in the league is currently 0-2. But in reality, this is meaningless since no viable conclusions can be rendered after only two games. As long as Bubbas has strong leadership and they maintain their cool during difficult games, I predict that they will eventually prevail. Lets hope that it is sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, lets