The Cost Of Being A Winner & League Perspectives
Home Runs &
The RJSL is a true religious and professional melting pot. Within the confines of our league, modern orthodox, yeshivish and hasidim, consisting of doctors and lawyers, Rabbis and Professors, plumbers, electricians, bankers and entrepreneurs all synergistically interact to form the basis of this marvelous endeavor. However, when confronted with the breath of intellectual and competitive talent which constitutes this league, strong leadership is required to synthesize the myriad differences in personalities and outlooks and to institute promulgated league rules. Having been a captain and a sponsor within the RJSL for six years, I can assure you that this is easier said then done.
Most of the captains in this league are not super-stars. We are, with few exceptions, average players who love to play baseball and who are committed to enhancing both the spirit and the thrill of this exceptional game. We attempt to lead by example, but more importantly, we endeavor to impart sound judgment, consistency, reliability, respect and fair play. We offer both support and advice to improve individual player technique and we push for team proficiency in terms of hitting and fielding. We attempt to represent the general sentiments of a team while staying within the confines of the spirit of league rules and regulations.
But, what we absolutely and unequivocally do not support is anarchy or mob rule. There is simply no place in this league for any player to take matters into his own hands and aggressively argue with either an umpire or an opponent player regarding a controversial call. The Team Captain is the exclusive voice of a team and if a captain is absent, then a designated player must tactfully represent the interests of the team. And guess what, very frequently we captains have to grin and bear it as we swallow unfair or missed calls and still keep the peace on our teams. Do you think that we captains like it any more or less than the most vociferous player on the team that is shouting at the top of his lungs that an umpire is nuts, wrong, demented, absurd, and that he "works for us"? Let me tell you, any bad call sucks, particularly when it is called against your team. However, not only do we captains have to enforce league rules, we also have to conduct ourselves as observant Jews. That's right, we have to exhibit a code of behavior and conduct on and off the field that is consistent with Jewish law. It's not an easy thing to accomplish, but we captains must set the tone because if we don't, things can go down hill fast!
For example, I remember a game where the captain was away and the team lacked leadership. At a certain point, one of the players took issue with one of the umpire's calls and initiated an aggressive verbal altercation with the umpire. Within short order, the player was ejected from the game which not only spoiled this player's evening, but, to add insult to injury, materially hurt the prospects of the team. The fact is, this player was a substantial talent, who due to his uncontrolled and undisciplined demeanor, ended up not only hurting his team, but demoralizing them. So, I ask you, what is the benefit of having a player with unusual talent if he lacks self control and respect for his team and the umpires. The answer is there is no benefit to have such a player and there should be no room in this league for individuals that are both self centered and arrogant to the point that they "lose it". I say, let them "lose it" somewhere else. Life is too short to be "continuously" around this type of situation and quite frankly, the reason that I play with the frum leagues is because I believe that we, as a people, demand more of ourselves in terms of behavior and conduct.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am fully aware that players "periodically" and infrequently loose their cool. It's happened to me! and I ended up throwing myself out of the next game since I was both ashamed and disappointed in my personal conduct. However, when an individual lacks the recognition that he has erred and there is no attempt to correct the errors of his ways then league ostracism or removal is the only viable alternative. Righteous indignation must be subordinated to respect for both the individuals officiating our league and to our fellow cohorts. And there will be times when I am forced to say to an umpire in a dispute that we are just going to have to agree to disagree. But, the umpire's decision, even if questionable or flat wrong, is final. That's why we hire them: to maintain order and objectivity (even on occasion when he is dead wrong!)
So, whatís going on in the league? Jada and WC are still holding fast to 1st and 2nd place (although Jada has played three fewer games than WC so they could potentially shoot way ahead in points once they achieve game played equality). Marv'les has taken the place of Samet as the new runaway train this month. However, letís take a closer look at each team and again, make some predictions.
1st Place: Jada
When I think of Jada I envision a young child who is holding on to an oversized umbrella and a gust of wind blows the child into the air and the rest of us are trying to hold on to the child's shoes so that he is not blown away. Jada could well be on their way in their flight to secure first place, unless the rest of us can grab onto their cleats and defeat them back to earth. A 75% win ratio is uncanny and I cannot say that they don't deserve their very respectable league placement. They have fought hard to secure their winning steak and they consistently show up for games ON TIME!. You will not see Jada have a forfeit. No way, no how.
As I've stated in previous blogs, I like the players on team Jada. However, regardless of my personal sentiments, Jada has now become the team to beat. It's a simple fact: everyone likes to beat the first place team. And with 9 wins and only 3 loses, it's time that Jada is humbled. Now, I am the first to admit that my team is running a distant 2nd place and I would be tickled pink to see Jada start losing so that we can close the gap. So, I am admittedly not without bias in my opinion. But a 75% win percentage? That's ridiculous!
Tonight, Jada plays the Framers and I have been invited to play for the Framers. I cannot project the game outcome, but I can tell you that I will be playing my heart out to defeat Jada (hopefully effectively with hits and RBI's). The Framers have the ability to make it happen tonight but they have to really want it and then take it. I hope that the Framers succeed, but if Jada prevails, it will not be a gift, but another hard earned win.
2nd Place: Westrock/Chai
I'm not quite certain how we remained in 2nd place based on the loses that we have sustained? I guess that teams that were initially successful like Framing, Merockdim and later Samet, were replaced by teams such as Marv'les (and sometimes Bubbas)and it took time for them to catch up to us. Although Bubbas remains inconsistent, Marv'les is now nipping at our heels and if WC does not start hitting effectively and consistently, the Signmakers could well pass us by.
It's so odd how a team like WC, armed with tremendous talent and a history of killing the ball, can suddenly and without explanation, go into a hitting slump. In an email that I sent to my team last week, I stated:
And, one last
thing... many of us (including me) are hitting the ball like $%@& for
the past couple of games and it has to stop. We cannot win if we can't
score runs and we cannot score runs if we continue to hit ridiculous
pop-ups. If you are one of those individuals that has become
unproductive at bat, please get to the batting cages. If you don't have
time to hit the bating cages, then swing the bat in a manner which will
produce a hard hit ground ball. At least with a grounder, we stand a
chance of getting on base. These high fly balls are simply killing our
chances of winning. If I'm screwing up at the plate then I demand to
know what the hell I am doing wrong from one of you that is watching.
Expect the same constructive criticism from me because you are going to
receive it whether you like it or not.
Well, we did win our last game against the Framers, although we died after the 2nd inning. This has me very concerned and I hope that we find our groove again quickly. I see that we face Sterling next week and it would be very comforting if we could defeat the last place team.
3rd Place: Marv'les
What can I say, other than that Marv'les has turned the tables on all of us. This team is starting to perform and they have the 2nd highest Win % in the league. On Monday, June 29th, WC played Marv'les and we were defeated 4-2. I must say that while most of my core players, including my pitcher, had other commitments that evening, my assessment of the Marv'les roster was that here was a team that could complete with the best of the best. Amsel, Gottesman, Kirshner, Katz, Rothman, Rabbi Rudman and his son Aryeh, both Wainhaus's and Nussen were all present and accounted for and they meant business.
Marv'les has won their last four games and my prediction for their game against Merockdim this Tuesday is that they will extend their winning streak to five. Marv'les's game against the Framers the following Sunday should be a good one and I suggest that Gelb show up for that game if the Framers want a shot at slowing the Signmakers down.
4th Place: Samet
Samet is again in a rut. Since being defeated by WC on June 7th, they lost to Framing on June 16th, and lost again last night to Marv'les (although Samet played with "less" than a skeleton crew). There is a palpable tension which is plaguing this team due to a radical dichotomy of team sentiment. One element, which consists of Samet's super talented, highly competitive players, want Captain Samet to manage the team so that the better players be utilized more frequently and the weaker players less frequently. This would certainly increase the team's win percentage and encourage morale. However, since there is quite a large contingent of "weaker" players on Samet who equally want to play, there is both friction and resentment. Captain David is going to have to rally his team and find some compromise so that the City of David can achieve greatness once again.
I do want to point out that Team Samet was on an express train to first place before being derailed. Why the sudden change in success is a mystery to this writer. It may be that new tensions which have emerged are causing the team to be distracted and to loose focus. Again, Captain David must navigate and negotiate the strong sentiments of his team so that the primary focus of winning games can be achieved.
Samet plays Bubbas this Sunday at 6:00 p.m. Although Bubbas is not going to just lie down and take a lose, a win for Team Samet this Sunday could be just what the doctor ordered.
5th Place: Framing
Framing appears to have lost some of its bearing of late. This team was the hottest item at the beginning of the season but loses on June 7th and 23rd, a tie on June 28th and an additional loss on July 5th have created tremors of confusion and a loss of direction. Although many teams have had to go back to the drawing board this season (including my team), it's now Framing's turn to achieve a fresh start by getting back to the fundamentals.
And what are the fundamentals (in my humble opinion)? Well, to start with, Pitcher Eli Gelb must make more game appearances. To take Shmuel Ber Robinson out of the outfield to pitch is simply nuts. Shmuel Ber is a rocket in the outfield and Framing is simply a weaker team when he is not defending left or center field. The Framers were also missing a strong short stop, third base combination. Although Mendy Halpert can take care of his part of the equation, the absence of Dovid Hoffman (due to back problems) hurt the Framer's infield. The re-introduction of Simca Kreisberg back into the RJSL, as a temporary replacement for Hoffman, will help Framing materially.
Other than the foregoing, the Framers have to simply "Hit" more aggressively. Every team should strive to be like the Samet team of the 2008 season who were famous for hitting strong, hard, line drives to every field. I believe that Framing and WC are in similar positions in that both teams require serious batting practice. Framing is certainly capable of putting a man on base every inning, but if you can't bring him home due to a lack of consistent hitting, games cannot be won.
Tonight's game against Jada will hopefully be the turning point for the Framers. Although Gelb is not available to pitch tonight, relief pitcher Ushy Schwartz has achieved some success in leading the Framers to victory in earlier games. I will be catching for Ushy tonight and I hope that our chemistry is enough to help push the Framers over the top for the W.
6th Place: Merockdim
So, what's going on with Merockdim? Well, they are certainly consistent in that they remain in 6th place. A quick look at their game activities reveals success against Bubbas on July 5th, a tie against Framing on June 28th, a loss against Bubbas on June 8th and a tie against Sterling on June 7th. Well, this does suggest some forward movement over Merockdim's dismal game performance during the month of May.
I must admit that I have not witnessed any of Merockdim's games over the past few weeks. What I do know is that Yonnie Greenstein is off the disabled list and this is a strong shot in the arm for the campers. I have also heard that star player Aaron Warum is no longer taking Merockdim loses lying down. In a recent game summary, we stated: We note that Aaron Warum's very "animated" motivational speech towards the end of the game mandated Camper performance (rumor has it their lives depended on it) which got Merockdim over the top for the "W". Well, maybe Warum should continue his "motivational speeches" because hey, "whatever works"!
Merockdim is playing against Marv'les tomorrow and neither of the Wainhaus's can attend. So, will this afford the Campers a unique opportunity to achieve a two game winning streak since the Marv'les captain and star short stop will be away? Well, I will be able to tell you first hand since I will be playing for Marv'les tomorrow night. Let the chips fall where they may.
As I stated in my last
teams have simply failed to materialize during the first half of this
season. We get some periodic signs of life regarding Bubbas but Sterling
appears out for the count. The Sterling tale is one from Riches to Rags.
It's a shame since Sterling has so much talent but they have completely
lost all direction. I wonder what would happen if the Sterling/Bubbas
teams were blended together and two new teams were formed. The
transformation may be RJSL dynamite!