The Commish Speaks: Final Thoughts
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Playoffs are here again after another fantastic regular season. Thank you to all the captains and players who made this eighth RJSL season a very special one indeed. This year saw an expansion as we welcomed the Hi Low Travel team managed by Lazer Unger, a fall from grace as the 2009 champion Marv’Les SignMakers did not even qualify for the postseason and an ascension by RJSL veteran Avi Katz and his LY Contractor team (formerly Monsey Framing).
I enjoyed this season very much and hope the same is true on your end. Steve Romer has done a great job keeping the website up and running. Next time you see him give him a big hug and thank him for doing a wonderful job. Steve has written a nice piece looking forward to the playoffs. I have my own picks and will keep them to myself (and Marv).
I would like to look back on this past season and examine the good, the bad and the ugly. We are constantly looking to improve and enhance everyone’s experience and we appreciate everyone’s suggestions. I think the new pinch-running rules worked out great. The players requiring pinch-running were usually identified at the beginning of the game and there was little down time when they got on base. There were no arguments or high tensions as we have seen in the past so I am very pleased with the outcome of this new rule.
On the flip side, I did not like the automatic out rule for the missing eighth and ninth players. This demoralized the team and punished the players who showed up while the missing players remained unaffected. I found that my team would rather forfeit than take the automatic outs. It’s one thing to play shorthanded but quite another to deal with the automatic outs. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the automatic outs served as a springboard for arguments and high tension when deployed (even potentially) as a strategic maneuver by the opposing team (e.g. walking the seventh batter with runners on second and third with two outs). We incorporated the automatic outs to discourage teams from showing up with seven or eight of their top hitters while accepting the tradeoff of a weaker field. I question the validity of this rule and will make a strong motion for it to be removed or replaced.
Another rule we put in place was the 33% rule whereby a player must play in one third of the games in order to be eligible for the playoffs. This is a very difficult rule to both monitor and apply. Does it apply to someone who gets injured? What about someone in yeshiva? We have families that want to play together but only occupy a fraction of a spot. Additionally, if a team roster is fairly constructed what difference does it make how many games a given team member played? MLB certainly has no rule like that. Are we being stricter than the MLB? My opinion is that if a team player pays, he reserves the right to play his share of both regular and post-season games without restrictions.
OK, enough about rules. How about the season? The two teams that impressed me the most were Jada and Sterling. Sterling really had to regroup and do some serious soul searching after not qualifying for the playoffs last season. They received a few upgrades in personnel but Captain Chaim really seemed to find a groove midway through the season. Sterling is now a much more relaxed and professional team and they will be a handful for LY when they meet during the 2nd round of the playoffs.
Jada has been one of the most resourceful teams in the league. Captain Michael seems to do his best work with smoke and mirrors, somehow managing to find just enough tenacity for the win. I agree with Steve, though, that Jada’s “youth” deficit must be addressed next season to help this team remain competitive.
Let’s move on to the top team. The LY squad made some serious free agent moves during the off-season and they do not appear to have any holes. Captain Avi has run a tight ship as LY has cruised to a 15-5 record and this team seems to be operating at a level consistent with the mighty three-peat Sterling Empire. With Gelb, Robinson and Kreisberg, they have the deepest starting pitching rotation in the league and I would expect that anything but a win in their last game of the post-season would be a bitter disappointment.
Speaking of disappointment, the 2009 RJSL champion Marv’Les squad did not qualify for the playoffs and failed to show up for half of their regular season games (as evidenced by some of the most lopsided losses in the history of the league). This is a team in desparate need of some serious help during the off-season if they expect to compete for a 2011 playoff spot.
A new addition to the RJSL was Hi Low Travel, led by Captain Lazer, who competed well during the course of the season. Although Hi Lo achieved few wins (only two) they played hard, fundamentally sound baseball each and every game. Pending a few advantagous free agent signings during the off-season, the travel team will be flying high next season.
Bubbas. What can be said about Bubbas? I think the experiment is over. Youth alone is simply not sufficient to compete. Captain Yaakov has tried to extract every ounce of talent from his bagel boys but it simply has not materialized. We will have to go back to the drawing board with this team.
Camp Merockdim is a complete enigma to me. On the one hand they seem to have the talent to win every game. But, as Steve clearly spells out in his blog, they seem to suffer from some form of schizophrenia. They have benefited from several free agent signings resulting in a monstrous lineup, even when they are missing key players. However, they have not yet figured out how to put teams away consistently. Although the Campers defeated Jada during the 1st round of the playoffs, Captain Effy will have his hands full with Westrock.
The Samet CPA team has had another very competitive season. Captain David, assisted by Jason, has steered his team successfully through the spring and summer months as evidenced by their 4th place standing and qualification this year for the playoffs. The accountants have also benefited from free agent signings, picking up two strong pitchers to assist the venerable leader of this team. You will recall two seasons ago how David single-handedly willed his team to the Championship vs. Sterling. Team Samet missed David during their first round playoff action which did not bode well for them.
Finally, let us turn our attention to the Westrock Chai Pizza Appraisers. They have been the model of consistency over the last three years. Another second place finish this year with basically the same cast of characters left Captain Steve chomping at the bit to get back to the Championship. This is a team with almost no weaknesses and it would be very interesting to see them match up with LY for all the marbles. I think WC will be able to hold off the Campers next week but Sterling may cause them problems if LY is defeated during the 2nd round of the playoffs. That said, this team is the most focused, single minded group of players in the entire league. To them, winning and having fun go hand in hand. To defeat them you not only have to be athletically talented, but you have to come mentally prepared to win.
SO, once again, thanks to all for another great season. Good luck to all the teams in the playoffs and a ksiva v’chasima tova.
Commish Speaks: Final Thoughts
Commish Speaks: Pinch Runners
Commish Speaks: Game Length
Commish Speaks: Rainouts