Steve Romer
Steve Romer is both a sponsor and captain of the Westrock-Chai softball team and the recipient of last year's Captain of the Year award. He was also instrumental in driving his team onward to win the 2008 RJSL championship title. 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 50 years of age, he is certainly one of the "wiser" 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 23 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 26 years, Steve has three children, two who are married.

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Staying On Top Of Your Game and League Perspectives
Friday, June 5 2009

One of the benefits of the RJSL is that adult frum men of all ages can participate. The youngest league member is age 15 and the oldest is approximately age 60. There are many of us constituting the upper tier of this age group who have been active in baseball for literally decades. And unfortunately, many of us are starting to feel our age. Poor diets, lack of sustainable exercise, limited pre-game and post-game stretching and stress (work, family, etc.) are taking its toll on many members of the league. I should know because I was one of the worst culprits. At 280 pounds, I was a very big boy and I was putting myself at risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a slew of other malevolent illnesses. Other non-life threatening, but extremely annoying conditions which I frequently suffered included pulled  hamstrings, groin and calf muscles, lower back and shoulder pain, etc. To say that I was a mess would be an understatement.

So, with the recognition that I wanted to spend several more decades with my children and future grand-children (G-d willing), I turned my life and my health around and today, I make the daily investment of staying on top of my game. But, it was not easy! Many material modifications had to be made such as diet, daily exercise, the breaking of addictive habits and the keen awareness that I was involved in life and death decisions regarding my future. But, the return on investment was well worth the effort. Today, virtually 100 pounds lighter and with a daily exercise program supporting me, I’m playing ball without muscle pain, stealing third without reservation and I’m getting around the bases without becoming asthmatic. It simply feels great to be alive and active!

But, I’m not happy about so many of my “athletic” friends who are 1) lugging around destructive excess weight, 2) not eating property, 3) prone to muscle pulls and tears, 4) experiencing loss of breath while exerting themselves and 5) putting enormous stress on their heart and endocrine systems by not properly fine tuning their metabolic intake and exercising their major muscle groups.

And, I know partially what the problem is. It’s not rocket science. Most of us spend all of our time taking care of everybody and everything else and we simply do not take the time to take care of ourselves. Unfortunately, food becomes one of the few rewards that we give ourselves for all of our Herculean daily efforts. We eat so much garbage in the form of sweets, excessive carbohydrates, cakes and cookies being substituted for nutritious meals. And, when we finally do sit down for a meal, we consume double or triple the number of calories that we really require. So for this article, I will limit my discussion to both diet and exercise.

It’s an enigma that we are such a logical people and yet we allow the basic nutritional math to escape us. If you consume 2000 calories per day and burn 2000 calories per day in exercise, you will maintain your weight. Tip the caloric scale in either direction and you will gain or loss weight, accordingly. It’s a mathematical certainty. Now, there are nutritionists that will tell you to consume five to six small non-carbohydrate meals a day to keep your metabolism working and then prescribe a moderate exercise program, with the aim of burning more calories than are being consumed. I personally don’t subscribe to eating that many meals since food tends to make me tired and I can’t stand feeling lethargic. However, whatever floats your boat and works is what you should run with.

Now, of course, if the shoe fits, wear it. There are many of you out there that are playing basketball once or twice a week, as well as baseball, and contribute to your good heath with supplemental sit-ups and push-ups. This article is not directed towards those of you that are already active in your pursuit to remain or get healthy. This article is directed towards those individuals that sacrifice their very existence for the benefit of their family without looking out for their own personal well being. This must stop, and I mean now. Working your heart out for the benefit of your family is indeed a good thing, but you must additionally work your “heart out” for yourself! Yes, become somewhat selfish regarding taking time for you to get healthy. Get satisfaction, not from eating a bag of potato chips or any other garbage, but from doing a 100 daily sit-ups, dips, push ups. Spend 30 to 60 minutes either every day or every other day on a stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical, or take a brisk walk with your wife and/or children.

I have also learned that if you are exercising but you are foolhardy regarding your diet, your efforts will be worthless! I have friends that attack a treadmill everyday with a vengeance, but their diets are terrible and they become frustrated that they are not losing weight. Well, you require both a sustainable exercising program as well as a sound diet to whip yourself back into shape. Is it easy? Heck no! But if you want to continue to play baseball without the aches and pains, the shortness of breath, and the other ailments which reduce your quality of life on the playing field, then become proactive right now and get to work. If you want some free advice on how to schedule your time for exercise or how to incorporate a sensible diet, please come and speak to me. Although I am not a professional, I can certainly share with you what has worked for me.

By way of example, for the past many months I have been suffering from lower back pain which was aggravated whenever I played catcher. I started going to a physical therapist twice a week for several weeks, but my level of pain was not being significantly reduced. Although I regularly do conventional sit-ups, I was not working on my lower abs. On a hunch, I started strengthening my lower abs and supporting lower back muscles by doing 50 to 100 lower ab crunches nightly on my universal gym. The resulting benefit was both immediate and remarkable. My back pain is virtually gone and my last game as catcher was completely pain free. Hooray! I also will not miss the $25 co-payment I was giving over for every PT appointment.

The point is, if you want the benefit of good health and living life pain free (at least physically), then you must make the daily investment of simply taking care of yourself. Please do not wait for something to go terribly wrong which forces you to act. Be proactive and nip this in the bud before something goes wrong. I know that man plans and G-d laughs. But when it comes to our health by way of diet and exercise, we owe it to both ourselves and our families to make the right choices. If not for yourself and your families, then do it for me, because I want to be playing ball with you guys for many, many, many years to come.

So , what’s going on in the league? Jada and WC appear to be on a seesaw as to who will be in first place. Samet, however, like a shark, smells blood and hopes to move in for the kill. If Bubbas can defeat Jada and Samet defeats WC this Sunday, Samet will take possession of first place. Not that Jada and WC are going to allow this to happen (G-d forbid!) However, Samet’s five game winning streak is impressive and WC’s defensive unit will have to maintain a strong constitution in order to derail the runaway Samet train. Jada, on the other hand, has also built up strong momentum and will not give up first place without an acrimonious fight. However, let’s take a closer look at each team and make some predictions.

1st Place: Jada

The last two weeks have been very good to Jada. Defeating the Framers, Sterling and Merockdim have brought renewed confidence and defiance. This team does not stomach loses well and having grabbed first place, they will fight tooth and nail to keep their "king of the mountain" status. Strong and controlled pitching, a decent infield, particularly when the Stern clan is manning short stop and third base and a reliable outfield led by Aaron Cohen has propelled this team to the upper echelons of the league standings.

Jada’s game this week against Bubbas may be trying. Bubbas can be full of surprises and it would not surprise this writer if Bubbas pulled out a win this Sunday.

2nd Place: Westrock/Chai

WC has had some trouble of late with everything happening in pairs. Over the past month, WC has won twice, lost twice, and tied twice. Anyone on this team expecting children should plan on twins! WC faces Samet this Sunday without the benefit of lead-off pitcher Schmuel Loebenberg. Twice before, replacement pitcher Yonnie Serfaty has stepped in for Loebenberg, but without winning results. Shumy Reichmann has thrown down the gauntlet, expressing strong interest in taking on Team Samet as reserve pitcher. Let’s see what this talented young man can accomplish against a team that has won five games in a row and threatens to “kick in the door” for the league championship.

WC’s game vs. Samet this Sunday may turn out to be a very tough battle for both teams. Pitcher Samet throws a lot of garbage but WC has always found him to be very hittable. WC should be fielding a strong defensive unit this Sunday and if reserve pitcher Reichmann can “find the right stuff”, WC has a strong chance of walking away with the W.

3rd Place: Samet

I had my doubts about the sustainability of Team Samet’s winning streak and their perceived “string of luck”. But, after five straight wins, the proof is in the pudding. Captain Samet is a strong and smart competitor and team players Abramoff, Shatkin, the Hans and Nussbaum brothers, Steven Schwartz and Avi Scwebele provide this team with a very sharp winning edge. Should the pencil pushers demolish WC on Sunday, the Samet runaway train may indeed be unstoppable. However, a WC win will bring to a screeching halt the tremendous momentum that Samet has built up over the past month. If Jason Shatkin has his way, nothing will stand in the way of a 6th straight Samet win. Good luck, and may the force be with you.

4th Place: Framing

So, what’s going on with Framing? With the fewest games played (six) and the highest win percentage (75%), Framing indeed has a lot of catching up to do. But, once caught up, Framing may be leading the pack! Their next couple of games is against 5th place Marv’les and 1st place Jada. If they lose these games, Jada will still maintain a very respectable .5625 winning percentage.

Of late, Shimon Senderowitz has been responsible for literally banging out “two” come from behind Framer’s wins by making clutch hits at the bottom of the last inning. He did this against WC and again most recently vs. Merockdim. I don’t know what Mrs. Senderowitz is feeding her man but whatever it is, please save me some of the leftovers!

My prediction for this Sunday’s game is that the Framers will defeat Marv’les. However, my sources tell me that Senderowitz will not be around this weekend and should the Framers fall behind in the count, no one will be around to dust them off and set them back on their feet.

5th Place: Marv’les

Naftali Amsel, Ben Cohen, Yonah Rothman, Yitzi Wainhaus and Rabbi Rudman are but a few of the great talent composing the Marv’les team. But there seems to be something lacking from this team; some kind of missing link which is keeping them from weekly success. Captain Sam and sponsor Marv believe that one additional young superstar will do the trick. I’m not so sure. I sense that Marv’les has talent, but lacks sufficient heart. When I look at my WC team, or Jada, Samet, Sterling or Bubbas, there is, for lack of a better phrase, a “killers” instinct present. These teams have great passion and they fight for every run they achieve. Marv’les is too laid back for my liking and I urge them to find the proverbial spark and take no prisoners.

In regards to Marv’les game against the Framers this Sunday, Captain Sam must rally his team and set them on the warpath. Prior to the game, I urge the Marv’les team to put on war paint, ignite a barn fire and initiate a war dance, asking the “spirits” for success on the playing field. It may not help, but it sure can’t hurt!

6th Place: Merockdim

My heart aches for this team. Despite a strong beginning season, the campers have lost all direction and momentum. As I stated in the Jada vs. Merockdim game summary: “Strong Merockdim pitching from David Sobel is simply not enough if the infield cannot catch a ground ball. Where is the infield????  Why have these men deserted their team? Yoni Greenstein attempted to assist the campers tonight, having been on the injured list for the past several weeks. And we cannot offensively expect Aaron Warum and Eli Cherns to carry the entire Merockdim bench on their broad, talented shoulders”.

Here is my take on the problem. Without their veteran infielders, Merockdim is presently not equipped to stop any ball hit between 2nd and 3rd base unless they start to experiment. So, if necessary, “BRING ELI CHERNS IN FROM THE OUTFIELD TO PLAY SHORT STOP . Anyone on the team capable of fielding a ground ball and throwing the 90’ to first base must be given the third base position. Stop playing positions in which you do not have competence! It’s embarrassing!!! And last but not least, do whatever it takes to get your core infielders on the field. On my team, I use my Gluck 9mm as a threat. As I stated earlier, whatever works, use it!

As it stands, unless Captain Effy gets the appropriate talent out on the field Sunday morning, Sterling is going to march right over the campers and never look back.

7th Place: Sterling

Well, here we are approaching the midway point of the season and Sterling remains stuck in 7th place. It would be just their style to languish a little while longer and then start their march to the holy land. However, the Sterling team has been poked and prodded over the past few years due to their former three year championship reign and I’m starting to wonder if Sterling has lost their competitive edge? Is it possible that they no longer have the “right stuff”? Could it be that the former Sterling Homo Erectus is now extinct? There certainly remains great talent on this team. The Beren and Raice brothers remain formidable competitors but the jell that lubricated this team’s engine may be hardening. The jury remains out on this question but time will tell if Sterling remains in the sewer or not.

8th Place: Bubbas

As I look back on their games this past month, their results are slightly worse than WC with two loses, two ties and one win. Their loses were understandably to Samet and WC, two of the betters teams in the league. Their ties were to the Framers and to WC, which shows Bubbas great promise. And their win was against Sterling, who has also had their share of performance problems this season.

In their last game against WC, Bubbas felt that they were robbed of a win by a controversial call at the plate which resulted in a tie game. Although this writer strongly contends that the call was in fact not controversial, but black and white in the sense that a Bubbas runner did not slide or avoid and knocked over the WC catcher Steve Romer, who had possession of the ball and was standing in the baseline to make the tag on the runner. Regardless, Bubbas appears even more motivated than usual to get some wins under their belt so that they have a shot of making the playoffs.

I believe that Bubbas can give Jada a very hard time this Sunday and if they play their cards right, maybe they can walk away with the W.

Steve Romer