Responses to the blog: The Pitfalls
of Winning Big
June 23, 2010
Although, in fact, I
wrote my blog "The Pitfalls of Winning Big" in defense of my conduct
while playing Team Samet last Sunday, I did finally realize, after
reading the myriad of email responses from our league members, that in
actually, "I did not get it". Based on the unspoken rules of
baseball provided by Avi Katz, there is a line out there that none of us
should cross when we are "crushing" another team. There is a lesson to
be learned here so read on and form your own conclusions. If I have
inadvertently printed an email someone did not want posted, please
contact me and I will immediately eliminate it from publication.
From Jason Shatkin:
Steve (feel free to post under blog section allowing free
To sum your blog up, you are torn between the primary job of trying to
win a game, and playing at your maximum strength Vs. being accused of
not showing true sportsmanship. Your blog did fail to mention a couple
of things. First of which was that team Samet, was down a man for the
first inning when you ran up a 7-0 lead. That of course there is nothing
wrong with, as it is the first inning and you are trying to win the game
at that point at all costs. The fact that Samet has been one of the
premiere organizations in our league over the last few years, makes one
realize that no lead is safe. In addition, get up to bat one time, not
keeping a consistent level and hard swing and it can lead to bad habits
and a slump that will make you wish you never swung at all. We have all
had them. So.... In answer to your question...you never "dog it".. And
never " not try your best". But...there is a certain way of going about
things that defines sportsmanship, and if you specifically want to know
where you crossed the line in that game, I am free to tell you now, as
well as suggestions on what will help you avoid this situation in the
future should you desire to know.
Well....first of all... The stealing of bases when a team is up 10 runs
is a "rubbing salt into the wound" type of thing. Where did I get 10?
Could it have bee 20? Sure... And of course it is not unheard of to
lose games after being up 10 runs. That is why you play hard all the
time. it is in taking extra bases...not after a hit, but in tagging up,
and stealing that is really the most egregious offense. Now the fact
that you asked every player that was on second base "I want you over at
third". After you were up 16 runs.....You did so because our catcher at
the time, is known for not being able to throw the ball well (remember
we were shorthanded), and you were publicly exploiting his weakness.
How is that catcher supposed to feel? It was his first game there and
was there because he had to. What if his kids were watching? Other
consequences of running up the score are the possibilities of "breaking"
a team morally for the rest of the season (although that would be a weak
character team indeed).
The lines that separate competitive winning vs being unsportsmanlike are
thin indeed. In the majors, however they have a code of enforcement
where a potential offender would get one thrown at his chin when up at
bat.....or a spike in the leg when being slid into. Clearly we are
above that here, and one should not expect such retribution here. You
do however give inspiration to the team getting beat, looking for
redemption in future games, and no lack of ammunition in doing so.
However, I will ask you to consider one thing. when Sam and Marve pick
the captains of a team, they do so not just who owns or sponsors a team,
or who has a good following. I know all the captains to one extent or
another, and I will tell you that regardless of their baseball acumen,
they all, yourself included have very high moral character, and so the
lines drawn where unsportsmanlike conduct is being exhibited are best
known by them. I believe Sam and Marve expect their team Captains to be
concerned about their team and being competitive sure.... But for the
moral character of the league as a whole, even more. Creating I'll will
between teams and friends is clearly not in any ones best interest. We
accepted your apology last night with the understanding that even good
guys (and you are a good guy) do not always act "good". If they did,
they wouldn't need Yom Kippur.
I will conclude with an example that is the antithesis of
unsportsmanlike conduct, and one you were involved with last night
subsequently after our game on Sunday. It was after 9:50 last evening
when Marve was getting up for last licks. It was clearly Samets option
to accept the rule that no new inning should be started after 9:50 and
could have accepted a much needed win. There was no one screaming
louder (as much as he screams at all) to finish the inning and win the
right way, than our Captain Dave. While team Samet had nothing to gain
and everything to lose by continuing that inning, he realized the
greater good of the league and that will subsequently be better for his
team and others.
Jason Shatkin MD
Medical Director, Sleep Disorders Lab
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
New Jersey Associates in Medicine
Response From Steve
For the purpose of clarification...I always push my
runners from 2nd base to third base regardless of who is catching.
This can be confirmed by every member of my team. I cannot remember
once thinking that I'm going to take advantage of your catcher (I
can't even remember who caught on your team).
I do, however, want to navigate my team within
boundaries which are fair and consistent. Striving for anything less
than the best that we have to offer completely goes against my
nature. And frankly, I believe that it goes against yours also. I
have personally witnessed your team decimating another team and
"never letting up". How do I know? I was playing for your team.
There was nothing wrong with it and the level of excitement you
felt, the adrenaline, the camaraderie, felt great...like a high.
That was the experience WC had Sunday night and I invite that
situation into my team's life as frequently as we can get it.It
would be great if every game was a close match like the one you won
last night. But sometimes there will be blow-outs and as painful as
they may be, I don't think that the winning team or captain should
be accused of poor sportsmanship for playing or managing to the best
of his ability. I do believe that there is some murkiness in the
competitive waters of winning and acting like a winner. Neither WC
nor its captain showed any disrespect in how we conducted ourselves
on the field and I do believe that we are being held to an
unreasonable standard simply due to the frustration that was felt by
your losing the game "big".
It's possible that I simply don't get it or that I
cannot fight my nature to be the best that I can be. Or maybe we are
simply dealing with an unfortunate case of sour grapes. I guess that
it really depends on your perspective as either the winner or loser.
When I lose...it sucks but I don't get down on the winning team or
its captain for beating the hell out of us. I simply lick my wounds,
try to improve on my mistakes and "Man Up". That's my way and that's
what I've been taught.
All the best,
From Jason Shatkin:
Steve.... Apology or not... I do not think you get
it. You apologized and then wrote a long blog justifying your
actions. Which is it?
What Perkei Avos says is not that one should make apologies when
they are empty, but that they should consider the feelings of the
other person and consider that your (my, his) actions could have
cause undue discord and perhaps one should consider that they are
You are a friend...a confidant and I look to many RJSL. gossip
discussions over the next several months. That is how I want to
leave this discussion and only concentrate on the good.
I don't believe for a second that Steve was pushing us to steal bases
because of your catcher being a weaker player- that cannot be true, and
I believe it never even crossed Steve's mind He enjoys every facet of
the game, including stolen bases, and always encourages our team to
steal em if you can.
I grew up with little League where we were pretty much the only Shomer
Shabbos team, and there were numerous games where the baseball scores
seemed more like football scores, but I was always taught to give it my
100% best and always consider the game to be 0-0 at the best and worst
times, so that I could remain focused and balanced.
So in my captains defense, I would like to say that you are making some
incorrect assumptions about him and his thought process during Sunday
night's game; we played competitively in good nature and that was it,
From an Anonymous
Finally!!! Now you sound like a man! Forget those whimps and kick
butt as often as u can! I was getting so fed up with your
damn apologies, I was so happy to read your reply to jason. Now your
talking like a real man I would be proud of! Btw good morning
From Avi Katz:
I think you guys will have to agree to disagree on this
one. I don't see this getting anywhere.
From Jason Shatkin:
So why did you apologize????
He took the high road, which is encouraged, under Ethics
of our Fathers, even when one feels he hasn't wronged anyone, but felt
that others did feel that they were wronged.
From an Anonymous
I've read your initial letter, your blog and all of
the replies (so far).
It is my opinion, that you've done nothing wrong and
by extension, the rest of the team has done nothing wrong, either.
The two main complaints were (1) "stealing" 3rd and (2) your
questioning the call at 1st.
(1) There's nothing wrong with "advancing" to 3rd when the ball is
pitched OVER the catcher's head. It might even be considered
an affront to the other team if the runner DIDN'T go to 3rd in that
situation. As it has been pointed out to me during other games
(when I was coaching 3rd, we didn't bring the runner, and also when
I've been playing 3rd, I'd tell the other team coach that we're not
throwing to 3rd), the other player/coach has made the comment,
"don't patronize us".
Therefore, making an obvious play ("advancing" to 3rd) is expected.
"Stealing" 3rd, which is running as the pitcher releases the ball
and requiring a throw from the catcher, WOULD be in bad form.
(2) When an umpire makes a bad (or questionable) call, it should
always be questioned. Not argued, but questioned. Even-though,
I've never met an umpire to reverse himself. Remember, there have
been a number of times, in past games, where you didn't question a
call and your team was upset with you.
Lastly, consider how many times in past games we've let the other
team score 6,7 even 10 runs in one inning. In this league, no team
is completely out of a game unless THEY give up, which in my
opinion, Samet did. Which game was it that we were leading by a
lot, then the other team scored a ton of runs in the final inning
and our guys were trying to delay the game, so the inning wouldn't
From Sruly Dahan:
You all have way too much time on your hands!! Do any of you work
for a living!! The game is over (two days ago). Steve did the right
thing by feeling the need to apologize to the extent he might have
hurt anyone's feelings (and by the way, I do not think he need to
make any global apology). Move on!! If the Commissioners feel that
there is a point in a game when one team has enough runs that they
should change their approach to the game, I would suggest that they
make a rule change that once the team has that amount of runs the
game is over. Many leagues have mercy rules once a team is leading
by a certain amount of runs regardless of the inning.
From Gedalia Litke:
Distinction betw playing hard and focussed and not
letting up (all good) and screaming aloud for all the world to hear
that we will simply not let up, disputing in a loud voice close
calls, etc (not so good when winning 18-1).
Inner drive and focus, and reminders to the team about focus, given
over quietly betw innings (all good) and external displays of
chest-thumping (not so good).
I think Steve came close to or perhaps touched the line of
demarcation with some of his exclamations during the late inninngs
of the game. But he cares deeply about the dignity of every human
being and if he crossed that line he wants all to know he is being
introspective and listening, even as he will not apologize for
trying his hardest and pushing his team to do the same.
During the bottom of the third and behind by 12 runs (I think) my
friend Dave Samet voiced concerns to me about whether our pinch
runners really needed the pinch and whether our weaker fielders were
playing the full 3 innings in the field. W/o getting in to why those
claims are off-base (pun intended), it does show that Samet became
very focussed on WC/Romer behavior long before it is fair to expect
a winning team to let up.
No one on our team said this during the game, but
would it be unsportmanlike to push a team to achieve a 25 run margin
so as to end the game early? I don't think so, as long as the
external displays (see above) are not over the top.
I'm proud to be part of a league which takes these
issues seriously and has captains who push each other to do the
Have a good day all,
Im nt sure I understand I dont think we overdid
it besides maybe one or two plays. We have to stay competitive
so we stay in the right state of mind at all times (winning).
When a team gives up mentally as samets team did last night it
always feels like the other team is going overboard and pushing
the limits. If a team feels like its not worth playing
competitive then they should end the game, being that their not
enjoying it anyways. But if they want to play it out then man up
and play it like its supposed to be played. (Case in point the
game before us merockdim didnt put the nail in the coffin and
look what happened).
Steve I sent this to you being that Idont know whose on the
list. If you want to forward it to the team its fine just take
out whoever is not.
From David Samet:
Yes frustration did set in... and I mentioned it in
my Samet quiet manner... (upset yes..) I even mentioned it to Singer
when he hit a double and was about to call for a runner - and almost
did run himself...
anyhow - I must read the blog and am glad we can all chat about
it and learn from each other..
From Pesach Cohen:
This is pesach cohen, how you doing. i just read what
you wrote with comments from the others you quoted. I have been on
what you call the 'decimated' side often enough to talk from its
experience. Your dear teammate shumi's comments are hard to accept
being that every athlete in baseball and other sports understands
the concept of a sport being competitive as its purpose. If one
clearly decides the competition through a blowout, then all that's
left is the emotional aspect of things, including your teammates
collective discontent with your original apology. You should not
have to write about common sense. Its there for its simplicity when
not in position of bias. Religion of course not need get involved.
Most times that I have lost control emotionally in a game was in
this league when opponents after clearly winning the competition and
the purpose of m not going home or my teammates was to finish the
time allotted trying to just be smart and hit and play well, winning
not cause. When a team steals off me up by over ten runs i get
pissed, and threatened to work it out with the player afterward.
Common sense wins as is its name. Ones personal frustration
relieved in a well played successful game should not need be
expressed egotistically as it seems to be in this league. I don't
and neither should anyone that realizes the purpose; Competition of
skill and that's it. good day
From Avi Stern:
You know it’s funny, I just read the new book, “The
Code” which carefully dictates when a beaning is appropriate in
baseball in retribution for one of those “unwritten rules” that you
made note of. You’d find it to be a good read.
I have to side with you in this case for several
reasons, and you’re welcome to post them (maybe not in my name). I
agree that it can be very frustrating to have a team steal when up
“by 30.” However, in this league especially, I have been on the
receiving end of ten run innings as well as on the giving end. Not
all leads in this league are safe. Did anyone honestly think we’d
come back from multiple six run deficits on Sunday? In addition, I
GUARANTEE that had Samet been in the same predicament, they would
have done the same. This coming from the experience of playing
them. There was a heated debate this year regarding a college
football game that ended 77-0, and the end result was if you don’t
want the score run up, don’t let the other team score!
From Pinchas Kahana:
the newest blog post, and wanted to put in my 2 cents…
I am not
sure where I stand in terms of your actions themselves, because
although I can agree it seems mean spirited of you, I know there is
no way in hell if my team was winning I would tell them to slow it
down. If I am on 2nd base
with an opportunity to steal, I don’t care if I am winning 20-0 or
losing 20-0, I am swiping 3rd. We are all grownups in
this league- even me J-
and at this age people can not be taking things like this
Additionally, every plate appearance is recorded in the stat book-
why should a player’s stats have to suffer because his team is
winning? This is not the MLB, where, in a blow out, the stars are
removed. An AB in a blowout counts the same as an AB in a tight game
for your stats.
regardless of whether your actions were inappropriate or not (and as
you can see, I don’t believe they were), I respect and admire the
fact that you took the time to apologize. It takes a big man to hit
a home run, it takes a bigger man to step up to the plate and
apologize, especially when he’s not wrong.
From Steve Romer to Jason Shatkin:
This email is also being sent just to you...I agree that up until
now I did not get it...the unspoken rules of baseball which Avi Katz
referenced in his email. I was not brought up with these rules so
they are alien to me. I will start to review them and make them part
of who I am.
Your a good man Jason...thanks for being a friend.
From Aaron Schwartz:
steve i read your most recent blog talking about the
unwritten rules etc...
i want to share with you my opinion if i may:
as captain of my high school basketball softball and hockey teams..
i know exactly what goes through your mind during games.. doing what
it takes to win.. in most of your blogs you talk about your
competitive nature your do or die mentality to win.. i can relate to
that as you have seen first hand what i do to my body just to get on
base or get an out...however one thing i will never do.. is steal a
base.. or celebrate a home run.. during a blowout..
high school....we were beating up on a rival team 12- 1 going into
the 7th inning my coach has always given me.. the right to steal
when i choose.. i stole 3rd.. he took me out of the game... he
explained to me... that yes you want to win and you always want to
perform.. but a 12 run lead sends the same message as a 20 run
lead... on paper no.. but in theory it does.. i contested that and
said so i shouldnt play defense then.. he said no out of respect..
you play tighter defense... however on offense you do your thing but
don't push the envelope when its not needed..
12 -1 why is it important to get to third.. you will score from 2nd
on a base hit etc.. steve it is hard to maintain competitive
nature.. and sportsmanship..but there has to be a balance
high school bball we were beating a team by 20 at half.. coach told
us don't take anymore 3 pointers.. a 20 point lead is the same as a
50..u beat the hell out of the team...
steve you know you wouldnt like it if say samet beat you 18 to
3..and you know they are very well capable of doing so the next time
they face you..david samet is classy . not taking anything away from
you as a team leader.. but we have played nasty games and i have
seen you at your worst....it is admirable the passion and intensity
you bring to your team as an emotional leader..as a former capt. i
understand that. but its important. to realize it is offending to
steal a base when up by so many.. you can keep your competitiveness
with out doing so..
it is as if you are saying hahhahaha we are kicking your rear...
and we are gonna do it all night long.....steve in a league where
everyone is friends.. why would you want to send that message to
would you like it if you were losing by 10 runs... and i hit a
home run// and went crazy no..you wouldn't....stealing a base is
in a blow out you never steal.. never celebrate dramatically a
homer...it just not classy.. they say you can learn alot about
someone from the way they drive.. steve you can learn a lot about
someone from the way they play ball...think about that for second..
this email in no way is ment to attack you at all im just sharing
Response from Steve Romer (I actually thought that I
was writing to Aaron's brother, Sholom, who is a member of Team Samet):
I want you to know that I could not agree with you more. I realize
that I did miss the point regarding the unspoken rules of baseball.
I unfortunately was not brought up with these rules and so my
sensitivities towards these issues are undeveloped...and for that I
apologize. I included these rules, submitted by Avi Katz, in my blog
and I will make it a point to review them carefully, get
clarification where needed, and make it part of who I am.
Now that I recognize where I erred, please extend my heartfelt
apology to your team for my unwitting insensitivity...I will really
make it a point to never conduct myself in this way again...nor will
my team (unless they want to deal with the likes of me).
So, in the meantime, lets