The Commish Speaks: Playoffs, Playoffs,
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Its that time of the summer again, when there is a tangible tension at each game as teams try to either make the playoffs or secure a first round bye. The RJSL playoffs are a special event. The competition is more intense; players elevate their play and the play of those around them. We first saw this when Sterling/Samet captured the first RJSL championship and it has not let up as the happy smiles and sweat drenched uniforms of Westrock-Chai served as testimony to the passion and exuberance of an RJSL championship. This is an interesting time for the RJSL and perhaps a changing of the guard. Samet,Sterling and Framing, old playoff stalwarts, are playing for their playoff lives and only one will survive. Marvíles and Bubbaís have not sniffed a playoff berth in years and clinched on Sunday. Jada and defending champion WC are battling tooth and nail for first place while Merockdim tries to slip below the radar and win it all.
Now there are some things that are different about this year's playoffs. All games are seven innings long. If a game is not completed or if extra innings are required and time runs out, the game will be suspended and continued at the first possible date. This has never occurred and we hope to continue with that precedent. Pinch runners are allowed, however, the player must leave the game. The pinch runner must be the last batted out. The last batted out cannot say ďI canít runĒ. If he is truly unable to pinch run then he must also leave the game. There are two situations where a pinch runner is used. If a player is injured then he has to leave the game anyway. If the pinch runner is being used as a strategic move then it is unfair to have him leave the game. Therefore, a pinch runner used for strategic purposes may only be done beginning in the sixth inning. We also have a rule that all players must play the field for at least three innings. Both of these criteria MUST be met. To use the extreme case: A captain may not say ďChaim Yankel is my weakest fielder so I will play him in the field for the third inning and the fifth inning. If he gets on base in the sixth inning, I will remove him for a pinch runner, that way he wonít be able to play the field anymore.Ē WRONG! Both criteria must be met. If a player is truly hurt (and that is up to the player) then he can leave the game at any time and the three inning rule is void. However, if the pinch runner is a strategic move, the player being run for must have played the field for three innings and it must be in the sixth or seventh inning. There is also one small difference for game start times. A team must have nine players to start. There is NO switching of home and away status. The game will begin when BOTH teams have nine players. A team that does not have a ninth player within 15 min of the announced start time will forfeit. The umpires (we have two umpires at each game) will determine this. Reserve players are NOT allowed in the playoffs.
All right lets talk about the roster. The playoffs are about competition. It is a totally different environment then a June Sunday morning game. Captains are encouraged to do what it takes to win within the rules and that means balancing stronger and weaker players. On one of my championship teams I actually had a weaker player ask to sit even though it was his time to play. I told him that he should take the field and not be silly. He responded that he had his fun and now he does not want to possibly detract from the fun of another player on the team which is more competition based. I was blown away. We won the championship but more importantly we did it in the proper way. Players need to realize their limitations and when they are asked to sit or not invited to every playoff game, understand that there is another player out there who gets their enjoyment from winning. Itís not our place to judge either, only to respect their needs. Please allow the captains to do their jobs. I expect them to follow all the rules. If they do not then their team will forfeit that game or perhaps even the playoff series.
Every player has the right to participate in the playoffs so how does a captain select a roster? Letís start simply. The roster cannot be greater than 12 and no player can be turned away if there are less than 12. The roster will be submitted to the league office no later than two hours prior to game time and NO further changes are allowed. The one exception is if a player cannot attend then another player may play in his stead. A player cannot be disinvited after the roster has been submitted. Now for the tricky part. Each player must be given the opportunity to play in one game per round. Captains will be given the schedule for the playoff round and it will be posted. It is a playerís responsibility to inform the captain which games they are available for. It is the captainís responsibility to make sure the players get to play. However, if a player is scheduled to play in game three and the round lasts two games there is nothing that can be done. If a game is rained out and the player cannot play in the make up game or any other game that round then nothing can be done. Bottom line is you can expect to play in one game per round and the captain cannot manipulate the situation to squeeze out his weaker players. If a captain is found doing that then the team will be eliminated from the playoffs. A captain may formulate a variety of strategies. Letís say that all players are available for all games. He may pick his best 12 players for games 1 and 2 and play all his weaker players in game three (hoping that he will be able to win the first two). This is allowed. Alternatively, a captain may decide to distribute his weaker players and play 1-2 in game one, 1-2 in game two and 1-2 in game three. Alternatively, he may just throw out whoever is available without considering talent level. These are all acceptable. The important thing for all players to remember is that you are guaranteed the OPPORTUNITY to play in one game per round. That is all.
Commish Speaks: Pinch Runners
Commish Speaks: Game Length
Commish Speaks: Rainouts