Early Season Predictions
and League Predictions
of Winning Big
Team Magic &
Home Runs &
2017 RJSL: A Dream Season?
There is something going on this season which in my 14 years of playing with the RJSL Iíve never seen before: menschlichkeit baseball! For years we have been striving for a balance between competitive baseball while bringing honor to the playing field as menschs. At this juncture I have played four games as Westrock-Refuahís Captain as well as an equal number of games as a replacement player for other teams. I pray that I am not speaking too soon when I say that the 2017 RJSL season may be the first of many ďDream SeasonsĒ where competitive baseball is achieved within an honorable and amiable sports forum. However, this did not happen by accident and it took some tough decisions by the league commissioners and captains during the preseason in order to achieve this wonderful new direction.
For many years there has been a discernible edginess within the league which brought out the worst in some of us. Any competitive play taken too far will lead to confrontation, disquiet and a general resentment towards those individuals most responsible for this competitive malevolence. More often than not, the tone of any team comes from its captain and if a captain does not bring honor and competitive decency to the playing field then his team potentially will follow suit. This season, we have selected team captains who are simply Menshchs in their own right who have set a tone of fair play and comradery. In addition, during this yearís selection process, players with a history of dysfunctional or disruptive play were not invited back into the league. The net result has been a massive positive turnaround and a Dream Come True for the commissioners and captains who have worked so very hard to incorporate this new spirit. That it took almost 15 years to accomplish is unfortunate but that it was ultimately accomplished is a gift from God and a testament to what can be accomplished when putting honor and decency before competitive accomplishment.
I must admit that I was also personally tested during the preseason in regards to my future with the league. I always knew that the eventuality of material changes to the Westrock-Refuahs roster would result if we failed to reach the championship round. For eight years (2008 thru 2015) Westrock competed in the championship which resulted in roster stability. However, Commissioner Sam Wainhaus reminded me over the years that every team has a finite time horizon for their 15 minutes of fame (or eight years on our part). In addition, it is natural for some players to seek a new playing experience after supporting a team for eight or more years. So, the conditions were ripe for change and change is exactly what we got! I was faced with a decision whether to resist or support the changes that were being requested which entailed several of my core players teaming up with friends from their neighborhood to form a new MJ Dragonís team. My initial reaction was that Westrock was done and that my time with the league was over. I initially could not envision myself forging ahead without the unique team synergy which we accomplished over almost a decade of play. However, I knew in my heart that resisting this change was the wrong and selfish decision and that supporting the quality of life of my players was far more important, even if that meant playing elsewhere.
We all know the expression that when Hashem closes a window he then opens a door and that is exactly what he did for me. A wonderful blessing of talent from throughout the league decided to call Westrock-Refuahs their new home and this new team synergism has completely revived my spirit to play and to carry on within the league for years to come. Thank you Hashem and thank you to all of my wonderful teammates who have remained and for those who have joined us. We absolutely have the depth and the ability to go the distance.
So, letís take a look first at some of the new teams that grace our league and then discuss the core teams in regards to their early-season results:
One of the true benefits of this yearís changes is that Captain Eli Gelb is both captain and sponsor of EYG Group. Eli brings both significant passion and experience to the game and tremendous insight as a team captain. He also apparently brings many family members to the game who have real fundamental skills. As of todayís writing, EYG Group is unbeaten at 5-0 and I attribute this to a wonderful combination of experience (Gelb, Hoffman, Amsel, Rosenfeld, Robinson, Friedman) with an influx of wonderfully talented youth. So far this combination is resulting in one win after the other and if Eli can keep this up he will bring new meaning and respect to what seasoned talent and youth can accomplish within the playing field.
For three or four years, Ushy Schwartz, the co-Captain of the newly formulated MJ Dragons, has been telling me that at some point in the future, many of my core players, who are his best friends and neighbors, would eventually play together on a new expansion team. Well, this year Ushyís prediction came true and so far they are off to an undefeated start. I was initially concerned that the formation of this new team would create another undefeatable ďSuper TeamĒ which would cause a new level of resentment throughout the league. However, Commissioner Wainhaus assured me that the requisite talent cap was being met and for the time being, this is good enough for me. This team is certainly manned by a wonderful group of individuals who excel at the game of baseball. However, time will tell whether the creation of this team enhances or deflates the balance of competitiveness within the RJSL.
Levi Brother Electric
Other than Captain Baruch Abramoff and Shmulie Sontag, I donít know any of these players from previous years. However, they are a wonderful group of men who are finding their way and having a great time doing it. This team does possess some real talent but there are certain positions where a more experienced player is required to step up. Captain Baruch is certainly the right man for the job taking into account his formidable tenacity but he will need to remain vigilant by constantly searching for new talent and upping his teamís talent cap.
The 2016 RJSL league champions, Rockland Window, has a new sponsor and thus a new name: Consumerís Lighting (which I believe is owned by Captain Moshe Nussen). This team came out of the depth of the 2016 league rankings to defeat Camp Merockdim, the team who is responsible for eliminating Westrock-Refuahs and the former league champions from contention. I can honestly say that this win was an act of God and absolutely no one saw this result coming. That this outcome was great for the league and gave all of us a sense that anything is possible is undeniable. However, it just seemed like a fluke until I played Consumerís Lighting earlier this season and they are a team transformed. Over the last three to four years, this team has developed a competitive cohesiveness and competence which is outstanding. Captain Moshe Nussen has done a great job interlacing this formidable team into a class act who should score high in the rankings over the course of the season. After four games they are batting 500 but I project a win percentage that is well above average. May the force be with you!
I must say that over the years I have been very hard on Captain Effy Weissmandl and for that I humbly apologize. The differences between us in how we run our teams is substantial. But, Effy brings a unique character and charisma to the game. Last year, Effy almost went the distance, defeating what I believe were the best two teams in the league, only to be defeated in the championship round by Consumerís lighting. Although, based on this morningís game results Merockdim is 2-4, but the season is young and things are still clicking into place. I wish Effy and his Campers enormous success this season and may the Rabbi help propel your team to uncharted victories throughout the season.
Captain Yakov Kahana appears to have a great team who have just not gone the distance yet. I have heard rumors that Captain Yakovís top 10 players are both formidable and destined for an eventual championship, but that the team lacks the requisite depth in talent when any of Ticket Professorís starting players are unavailable. This is apparently attributable to Yakovís strong friendships and loyalties to secondary team members who may simply not have the goods necessary to win a championship. I attempted to obtain a quote from Yakov in regards to this matter but he was unavailable for comment. Although I have a reputation for cutting talent from my roster if they do not have the goods (even if they are my friends) Captain Yakov is absolutely the greater Menshch. He should be applauded for achieving a winning track record while staying true to his friendships. Yasher Koach Yakov.
We have a new Captain in town, Mordy Kahana, and the man is a class act. He brings to the game substantial competitiveness, humility, a sense of fair play, honor and at this juncture, a streak of wins which places his team at the high-end of the league standings. It is my opinion that Captain Mordy will become one of the great captains within our league and God willing, a great and influential leader within both his professional and family life. Personally, Mordy is a pleasure to compete against and to deal with and I expect any player on his team will give him 150% of their commitment and ability to propel the team forward. Captain Mordy Kahana is exactly what the doctor ordered for Bagel DíLox and I look forward to this teamís development and success.
I have known Captain and Sponsor, Ralph Newhouse, for virtually 20 years when we were both members of Rabbi Dahanís shul. Although very young when I first met him, Ralph has become a leader and benefactor within our community and a Menshch on the playing field. Captain Ralph is a natural winner, who is well supported on the field by many members of his company. Best of all, Ralph enjoys to pursue his passion as a pitcher and to play the game for the fun and love of it. It is players and Captains like Ralph that bring enormous stability to the RJSL. I pray that Ralph stays within the game for years to come to help steer our league to further greatness. Thanks Ralph!
This is the one team that has operated beneath my radar this season and so my comments are predicated upon game results and preseason talent pickups. In terms of standings, the team is 1-2 and I hope to have greater insight after their matchup tonight with Bagel DíLox. The team achieved two extraordinary, although I presume, temporary talent pickups in the form of superstars Yaakov Bodner and Yitz Greenbaum. However, it takes a cohesive and competent team to win ball games and the jury is still out in regards to Captain Yehuda Lauferís ability to compete at a winning level. We hope that with each passing year Captain Laufer attracts the talent necessary to enhance their standings.
Westrock-Refuahs.orgSee my comments at the beginning paragraphs of this blog pertaining to Westrock-Refuahs.
I wish everyone good luck in their regular season pursuits and in the meantimeÖLETS PAY BALL!