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Friday, November 22, 2019

When discussing sports teams, the word “dynasty” is rarely used.  It is reserved for a team that, according to Dictionary.com,  “dominates their sport or league for multiple seasons or years.” The “A” division of the B’nai B’rith Softball League just wrapped up its 27th season and The Blue Team won an impressive fourth straight championship in dominating fashion, going 4-0 in the playoffs and sweeping the championship series by scores of 10-0 and 14-2. This team and its improbable run is even more remarkable when you discover the way in which they have won their four consecutive titles.  Though this year may have been a dominant season, it was actually the first time The Blue Team ever finished in first place, and the first time they did not win their championship series in the full 3 games.

The Blue Team’s first season was in 2008, when they won the “B” division championship before moving up to the more competitive “A” division the following year. In 2009, despite a low ranking seed, The Blue Team made a great run in the postseason only to lose in game 3 of the finals to The Mighty Menschen.  This was the one and only time a season of theirs ended in defeat, a loss that would haunt them until 2011. In 2010, they captured the first of their championships in this run, winning a tough 3 game series vs. The Raritan Bay Realty Burntees.

The next two seasons would prove to be magical. After a mediocre regular season in 2011, The Blue Team turned things around in the playoffs and found themselves back in the championship series vs. The Mighty Menschen, a matchup of the two previous champions. After winning game 1 in dramatic fashion, The Blue Team would have to wait a month to capture their next title because of Hurricane Irene’s devastating effects. On September 11th, The Blue Team won game 3 in dramatic fashion: the top of the 7th ended with Ari Schwartzbard making a perfect throw from the deepest part of left field to catcher and team captain Mo Oppenheim, nailing the would be go-ahead run at the plate. In the bottom of the 7th, first baseman Gish Logan ripped a 2 out, walk off, championship winning hit as The Blue Team won back-to-back championships and avenged their loss from two years earlier.

The following year followed a similar pattern with The Blue Team playing mediocre softball throughout the regular season, only to turn things around and reach the finals again, this time facing The Raritan Bay Realty Burntees, who had revenge on their minds. The Blue Team lost game 1 and was down by a significant margin in game 2, on the verge of being swept. “Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion” was the team mantra that day and it seemed to keep emotions in check, especially when things were looking bleak. After mounting a comeback, The Blue Team still found themselves down by 2 runs, with 2 men on base, and 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th inning.  Jacob Dickstein stepped to the plate, and quickly had two strikes against him, a mere strike away from defeat.  In one of those moments where time seems to slow to a crawl, the all-star shortstop hit a frozen rope single to tie the game and shift the momentum back to the defending champions. The Blue Team went on to win the game in the bottom of the 8th, and a week later pitcher Adam Schwartzbard threw a shutout in game 3 to lead The Blue Team to their 3rd straight championship.

So how does a softball team in the competitive B’nai B’rith league win all of these dramatic games and four straight championships? That is like asking why The Blue Team wears bright yellow uniforms. There is no one answer that can completely explain it.  The team has a lot of talent, for sure, but other teams have talent too.  Is the tea they drink every game really magical?  Perhaps.  Or does the team-wide chemistry, bond, and genuine joy in playing together somehow translate into winning championships? We may never know how they do it, but The Blue Team is a true dynasty, the likes of which is rarely seen in sports.

The current Blue Team roster is: David Amdur (OF), Jerry Christal (OF,2B), Jacob Dickstein (SS), Kevin Fillie (OF), Tzachi Haberman (2B), Lenny Himelfarb (DH), Gish Logan (1B), Etan Moskovic (3B), Mo Oppenheim (C), Adam Schwartzbard (P), Ari Schwartzbard (OF), and Eric Wein (OF).

For more information on the Bnai Brith Softball League, send us an email: Sports_jewishlinkbc.com