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Predictions of the 2010 RJSL Playoffs
As of this writing, Merockdim defeated Jada and Sterling defeated Samet in the first game of round one of the playoffs. I would like to say that all of the six teams that qualified for the playoffs could go the distance but that would not be honest. Some of these teams portray sparks of greatness while others display material cracks in their foundation which should inhibit their "going the distance". Typically when discussing each team I start at the top and work my way down. But this time, I'm going to start with Jada and work my way up.
During the 2009 season, Jada captured first place and received a first round bye, only to be defeated during the 2nd round of the playoffs by Merockdim. Well, Merockdim is at Jada's jugular again and in my opinion the Campers are going to sweep the first round of the series in two games. Why? because despite Jada's enormous experience and acumen as ball players, they cannot compete with the younger, more agile Merockdim team. Jada has aged and requires "refurbishment" in order to competently compete next season. For this season, Jada is just going to have to grin and bear a quick loss to the Campers and then recoup next season with new blood, younger legs and a more cohesive team.
Despite Sterling's venerable talent, they have always been their own worst enemy. When things are going well this team simply flourishes. But, when strongly challenged, Sterling has a reputation for having a meltdown. So, the key to Sterling's success is to maintain their composure throughout the series, especially when the going gets tough. This is not an easy feat for a coterie of super competitive athletes to accomplish. However, if Sterling can calmly and collectively navigate the turbulent waters which they will surely face, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Otherwise, they will "swim with the fishes". For the first round of the playoffs, I predict that Sterling will defeat Samet and face LY during the 2nd round whereupon LY will defeat Sterling two games to one.
Team Samet has come a long way since last season but injuries, team politics and a lack of sustained explosiveness has interfered with this team's progress. This talented group of men must reconcile their differences and embrace a leadership which will finally take them to the top. Unfortunately, this will not be resolved this season and consequently, Samet's chances of capturing the gold are remote at best. Should my dismal forecast inflame them and incite them to riot against Sterling, well Cola Cavod...may the force be with them. They are due!
My biggest problem with the Campers is that they show tremendous inconsistency! First they are winning...and then they are losing...and then they are winning again and before you know it, they just lost three or four in a row. It's like a form of athletic schizophrenia! Maybe there is a pill for this? Merockdim made the final round of the playoffs last year and they could conceivably do it again this year. But in order to get this done, Captain Effy must rally and measure his assets and place them where they will have the greatest benefit to the team, both in terms of field positions and batting order. In addition, this team's leadership must have a true meeting of the minds with the pillars of this team in order to create the synergism that will be required to go the distance. This team must "believe" that they can take it all and that can only be accomplished if they believe in their captain and each other. Anything less will result in a second rate showing against more secure and sophisticated teams. My prediction is that the Campers will face WC during the 2nd round of the playoffs. If the Campers "get the spirit" they will give WC a run for their money. If not, WC will take them to the cleaners and hang them out to dry.
Over the past three seasons, WC has captured 1st place once and 2nd place twice during the regular season. This reflects a winning recipe in terms of talent, cohesiveness and leadership. WC has a great balance of tremendous young athletic ability (Ritterman, Reichmann, Mark, Singer) and seasoned experience (Dahan, Weinstein, Loebenberg, Romer, et. al.) For many reasons, this team simply "clicks" and finding them in the final round of the playoffs would not be surprising. I predict that WC will face LY in the championship series (although I would not count out Sterling as a contender). WC did not defeat LY during the regular season but changes in strategy will be employed to minimize LY's explosiveness at bat. This, coupled with WC's ability to strongly rally and initiate spectacular defense could be just what the doctor ordered for a defining win against the 1st place LY team.
All in all, LY kicked our butts this season. I will not take anything away from this beautifully reorganized entity who has demonstrated time and again that they are the "team to beat". Exceptional talent the likes of Mendy Halpert, Shmuel Ber Robinson and Elchanan Tenembaum was materially augmented by Yaakov Jacobovitch (who I believe is the best hitter in the league). Strong supporting roles by Eli Gelb, Avi Katz, Simcha Kreisberg, Chaim Leitman and Ali Steinmetz, et. al. has brought LY to 1st place. LY's chances of winning the gold this season is of course very strong...but they will have to work for it! In a head to head against either WC or Sterling with all teams being at the top of their game...it would be too close for me to call. I guess that we are just going to have to wait and find out.
So, in the meantime, lets