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Week 4 Rumours

Written by: Aamir Husainy/Hashim Ghazi/Shahzad Ahmed/Taha Iqbal 
 
We head into week 4 of the season and after six games, we have our early favourites and our big disappointments. However, after this Sunday, we will have played half the games of the regular season so still plenty of time for teams to make an impression. 
 
This Sunday, the Nasrids will be raising money for their team charity, Nisa Homes. They will be selling Popeyes, two piece chicken and a pop for $8. Please come prepared. Let's breakdown the week 4 matchups: 
 
Seljuqs (vs. Ayyubids – 2:00PM BW1; @ Mamluks – 3:30PM BW2)
 
The 'juqs! The 'juqs! The 'juqs are on fire! The young, vocal and energetic bulls capped off last weekend with an impressive win over the Ottomans. The team displayed how bad they wanted it with their collective roar after the final out, and believe that win could give them the boost they need to turnaround their season. This team can compete with anyone when Hamza Waheed is finding the plate and guys are getting on base - both very apparent in the first few innings against the Turks. Saad G particularly has been very impressive. The cricketer-turned-softballer is finding his comfort zone at the plate, and picking out spots all over the field. Once he manages to consistently go opposite field, we may have the makings of a top-tier hitter in the L. Umair Jabbar is also hitting over 0.500 for the first time in two years. The kid is showing the extra responsibility has helped mature his game. His AGM Omer Dhaduk continues his ascension into BSL superstar status week after week. The Seljuqs can take joy in the fact that they've been doing all this without top pick Michael Arlitt. Arlitt looks to miss the next four games, and it'll be key for the reds to take this momentum and not fall too behind in playoff seeding. If they can stay in the hunt while Mikey Robinson is out, they'll be in great shape. The Seljuqs also have a difficult week, facing the league-leading Ayyubids followed by another young, energetic bunch - the Mamluks. The Seljuqs need to atleast earn a split this week again top teams to stay in 6th place heading into the final week before the break. 
 
Ayyubids (@ Seljuqs – 2:00PM BW1; vs. Mughals – 3:30PM BW1)

It’d be a major understatement to say that Ayyubids have punched above their weight class thus far - and they have done so both individually and cumulatively. Their performance was termed a fluke after the first week, and lucky after the second. However, people have started taking notice after the third week and the Blacks have earned their title as the team to beat. They have proved their detractors wrong by putting up a softball 101 clinic each week – their only defeat coming from a walk-off homerun. It is hard to find flaws in their gamesmanship as they’ve excelled in all three aspects of the game – defense, hitting and pitching. They have nine batters hitting over .500, they lead the league in hits, OBP, AVG, and XBHs, while serving up a defence that has the least number of errors and hits allowed. Seven hitters have hit home runs so far and the five that haven’t have gone yard in previous seasons – scary! While the Ayyubids are a true testament of softball being a team sport, one hitter’s performance has stood out - Ahmad Ammad has been, well, on a crazy tear this season, leading the league in homeruns.
 
While the Ayyubids are legitimate championship contenders, two wins have come against the beleaguered Abbasids and a win last week was against an extremely shorthanded Sultans. Their match-up against the Mughals this week may prove to be a true litmus test of their championship candidacy. They will also face the rejuvenated Seljuqs, who are riding high after beating the Ottomans last week.
 

Mamluks (vs. Mughals – 2:00PM BW2; vs. Seljuqs – 3:30 BW2)

Despite being last in converting Hits-to-Runs, The Fellows in Green and Yellow are experiencing their typical mid-season resurgence.  Coming off a weekend that saw them go 2-0 for the first time this season, an ecstatic GM Rizwan Merchant began looking at t-shirt ideas to sell for his team’s charity day. However, despite offering slogans like ‘None Of Your Rizness’, ‘Clean Like Merchant Detergent’ and ‘No Flukes When You’re A Mamluk’, he shockingly made zero dollars. 
 
Having beaten the Abbasids and Sultans this weekend, the latter in spite of Jibran ‘The Jackhammer’ Waqar going 0-4 (in an exclusive interview with The BSL Bugle, Waqar noted that seeing the opposing pitcher Shahzad Ahmed’s tid sway on the mound hypnotized him out of rhythm), the Mamluks seem to be riding high. Taher ‘Oppo Master’ Mirza has taken his game to yet another level.  His growth can’t seem to be stopped.  Along with these two, the rest of the top of the lineup, featuring talents like Atif ‘The Airbender’ Khan and Yousaf ‘The Champion’ Chaudhry, is formidable and rivals that of any team in the League.  Baseer ‘The Dream’ Yaseen had his coming out party last week by breaking out of his hitting slump.  Twinsies Salman Ahmed and Yasser Zia, who both have exactly eight hits, are within an RBI of each other and have experienced a K each, are hitting the cages daily looking for secrets they can use to their advantage. Aamir ‘Haseen’ Husainy may have found something new in his swing that led to him having his best batting performance of the season. 
 
The Mamluks face two teams who are better than their place in the standing show, the Mughals and Seljuqs. If the positive outcomes continue, look for the HaraPeelas, like Gremlins, to turn into monsters as the season roars on.

Mughals (@ Mamluks – 2:00PM BW2; @ Ayyubids – 3:30PM BW1)

It's been an up-and-down year for the baby blues, something the core of the team is not used to. Last week especially showed the chinks in the armour, as they had a week worth forgetting about. The badshahs can't look back though, as every week is too crucial and presents a new opportunity to right the ship. Hassan Chaudhry is getting married this Saturday, so GM Zahid Merchant has downgraded his status from 'available' to 'questionable'. The team has offered to contribute to his mahr in hopes that he will be available on Sunday.  There has been some bright spots for the team though, as Imran Qureshi and Riyad Ramjaun are taking the extra reps from BSL Nights and converting it into quality play on Sunday. Another positive for the reigning champions was Faraaz Alvi and Nadeem Hussain finally broke out of their funks and resembled their old selfs. They'll need Hussain, Alvi and everyone else to keep humming this week, with two big matchups on Sunday.
 
The Mughals committed a league worst 9 errors last Sunday and their defence has been shaky all over the field. They will need to clean up those mistakes as they face the Mamluks and Ayyubids who had a combined 4 errors last Sunday. Their infield will need to be sharp if they want want to compete on Sunday. The Mughals face the crossroads of their season in week 4. Two wins will almost assuredly put them near the top of the table, however a pair of losses could find drop all the way down to 7th. The boys need to come ready to play if they want positive results. 
 
Sultans (vs. Ottomans – 5:15PM BW1; @ Nasrids – 6:45PM BW2)
 
Does anyone remember Zach Lee? No? There’s a reason. Not since the Dodgers’ pitcher’s disastrous start has there been a WORSE pitching debut. AGM Shahzad Ahmed attempted to put his team on his back. Despite throwing 60+ strikes in both games, he could be seen doing his worst Happy Gilmore impersonation by yelling at the softball “Ball, why didn’t you just land on Home…that’s your HOME…ARE YOU TOO GOOD FOR YOUR HOME?!” Perhaps like Lee, Ahmed may never pitch again. Even though they were only away for a week, it seems that some Sultan Superstars are eagerly returning to play after being away on an island with Tom Hanks and WIlson. Omer ‘Over The Fence’ Chaudhry will most likely be sneaking out of a wedding with a yogurt container full of nihari to attend. Shaheen ‘The Left Field Lieutenant’ Limbada, who was found draft night smashing his collections of vuvuzelas, should be a boost to the Stallions chances of picking up some much needed Ws. They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but South Africans like it hot and spicy. Both players are in the top 15 of BSL career averages. However, injuries have also been racking up for the Thoroughbreds as Hassan ‘The Chosen One’ Chaudhary suffered a pulled hamstring, Zain ‘MasterChef’ Malik damaged his thumb and Khizer ‘The Chief’ Channa was seen wearing a wrap around his hand.  Their speedy recovery is important for the Sultans’ playoff hopes after suffering a disastrous 0-2 this past Sunday.  Kamil “Killer Kam’ Haider has worked so beautifully both offensively and defensively that he has worked his way to the top of the Sultans lineup.

The return of their ace pitcher has the team in high spirits. A ‘Throws All’ K’s absence was missed the most – he’s coming off a game in which he struck out three.  Taqi Ahmed’s speed and arm strength are such a blessing that behind his back, most call him Lucky Taqi.  His contribution will be invaluable.  Faisal ‘Strong Like A Castle’ Khan has been catching and eating his own food recently leading him to believe that he’s in a better position to defend and should have off the chart bat-ball coordination. Meanwhile, England’s hottest desi tabloid ‘The Masala Messenger’ has come up with exclusive footage of GM Shamil Khadaroo and Saoud Ramjaun relaxing in front of TVs while being on the phone with each other enjoying the latest Mauritian dramas. Both seem to be warming up to the idea of having to come play here…just like Kawhi (too soon?)

 
With their losses last week resulting in stat plummets worse than Fannie Mae stock (dropped five spots in Runs, three spots in Hits), the Sultans bravely look on to face the Ottomans and Nasrids.  Rehan ‘DJ Out Of The Park’ Ahmad and Nirvaan ‘No Nationality’ Latif have been seen rallying their squads into feverish frenzies ready to attack. You can bet Shaheen Limbada will be ready this Sunday to face his former squad that turned their backs on him. 
 
There are no Sultan names in the bottom quarter of the league for average. Will the Horsemen use that and put up two big wins that will go down in history as the Miracle in Mississauga?  Tune in…
 

Ottomans (@ Sultans – 5:15PM BW1; vs. Abbasids – 6:45PM BW1)

The Ottomans’ biggest enemy this season has been their complacency. They’ve beaten steaming hot teams but have also lost to teams battling for survival. You just can’t tell which Ottomans side will turn up on the day – one that’s sloppy and dreaming of Sunday night biryani, or one that steamrolls their opponents for fun. Tanseer Khawaja has been stellar on the mound, giving up only five walks thus far – in fact, the ace has more strikeouts than walks on the season. Rehan Ahmad has done what Rehan Ahmad does, unsurprisingly leading the league again in OBP and AVG. GM Hashim Ghazi rejoins his comrades after a two week hiatus but sees his trusted first baseman, Randy Panesar, miss the next month due to travel.
 
This season has been all about juicy matchups, but none will be as juicy as the much-anticipated battle between the Turks and Sultans. Rumour has it that perennial MVP Rehan Ahmad was introduced to the BSL by his childhood friends, Castle Faisal Khan and Shaheen Limbada. Not only did they convince Ahmad to join the league, they ensured that he end up on their team. But when Ahmad was given an opportunity to return the favour, he opted to pass on both – savage – to the dismay of his GM. With this in mind, we should note that first round pick Taha Iqbal has been exactly as advertised and grows in his presence on and off the field for the Blues with every passing week. To make matters worse, Ahmad & Ghazi, in an ‘SMH’ moment passed on a ‘Shahzad Ahmed for Shoaib Gaya’ trade offer from Mamluks in Shaz’s rookie season. We wouldn’t be surprised if Rehan feigns an injury this week to avoid gaping mouths, relentless questions and armed and dangerous Sultans. For more juicy gossips, tune in to the next episode of ‘Gossip Girl’.   
 
Also, second game of doubleheaders have been Ottomans’ Achilles heel this season. It is no surprise then that Abbasids are licking their chops at the prospect of getting their first ‘W’ of the season against the mighty Turks in the nightcap.
 
Nasrids (vs. Abbasids – 5:15PM BW2; vs. Sultans – 6:45PM BW2)
 
The Nasrids head into Week 4 after playing a weekend of undefeated softball a week ago. However, Week 3 did not yield two wins as they ended up tying in their rematch with the Mughals. Although a tie is not the most exciting result in any sport, especially any competitive sport, if it does not wet your appetite for solid softball against highly talented teams, I don't know what will! In both games the Nasrids played, they displayed a lengthy lineup full of hitters reaching base consistently. Jav Ahmed has been rising to the occasion and continuing his stellar offensive play while Usama Mahmood is rounding into form as he drilled his first home run of the season. Perhaps the feeling of leaving the yard will allow Mahmood, an already talented hitter, to more easily find the gaps in addition to taking them away from opponents. Asim Waheed also had a big week, hitting safely in half his plate appearances while also driving in some key runs. Not to mention Ibrahim Sardar hitting safely and reaching base in each and every one of his week 3 plate appearances. And the scary thing is...the line doesn't even end there!
 
It seems like the Nasrids are rounding into fine form and turning themselves into an offensive juggernaut. They went through a successful week 3, and likely feel like they can improve even further. The Nasrids will welcome back Asim Gauhar who is leading the team in batting average, along with Hasan Afzal and Salar Rasoul. Both players have not found their stroke yet, but it seems like a matter of time before they just lengthen the chain. Additionally, the Nasrids are playing well on both sides of the ball. Ali Wadee, although needing to pick up his hitting, has been displaying extremely strong defensive play on the diamond. This is ringing true for most of the team, as players are finding ways to contribute, whether with their bat, glove, or even a healthy smile and high five. The Nasrids are a team to definitely watch!
 
In week 4 the Nasrids look to continue to grow and rack up wins against the bottom two teams in the standings: the Abbasids and Sultans. Expect fiery and focused competition for the runners up from last year, as the Abbasids are still looking to salvage their season, and the Sultans are looking to keep afloat as they will still man less than their full roster. Should be another interesting week!

Abbasids (@ Nasrids – 5:15PM BW2; @ Ottomans – 6:45 BW1)
 
After a dismal showing in Week 2, the Abbasids followed up their paltry performance with another 0-2 weekend. Although the absence of a win looks poor, the Abbasids may had a bit of a breakthrough during week 3 of the BSL season. Both the Orangemen losses this past week came in tightly contested affairs against teams that are in the upper rankings of the BSL standings. Zia 'Doc' Beg came through as his pitching was on point, holding teams to 9, and 10 runs for a total of 19 – a far cry from the 47 given up the week prior. Additionally, the team underwent a defensive realignment, with star Sameer Rafique shifting to the outfield, Atif Akhtar to shortstop, and Ahmad Hussain to first base. The rejigging seemed to have worked in terms of their defensive efforts. This may help us close the book on their week 2 struggles and classify that as outlier. Upon further examination, the Abbasids seem to be a lightning rod of a team, as when they play to their potential, they are competitive in every game. The question that remains now, is if they can find that consistency with their newfound approach and lineup.
 
The overall woes that the Abbasids are facing at the moment are from the hitting perspective. The team has struggled to consistently string together hits, despite guys like Zuhair Fancy and Bilal Javed in the lineup and the performance of Neal Irfan thus far. Week 3 also had Ahmad Butt make solid contact, get on base, and even make a few catches. They also shifted Akif Waheed to try to stretch out their lineup; however, more must be asked from each of their hitters to get on base and just keep the line moving. If they can find a way to string some hits together, they may be able to go out and find that elusive first win of the season. And although their start could not be any slower, as seen through previous years, 3 weeks may not be the best indicator of where a team will end up. The Abbasids have definitely dug themselves a hole. A hole where they are forced to pull up their socks, and unfortunately rely on other teams potentially losing and falling. However, the season is only just beginning to launch itself into the swing of things, and a comeback story cannot be discounted if the men in orange can continue their defensive evolution and awaken their bats. 
 
Nothing gets easier for the Abbasids in week 4. They play two teams in the top half of the league in the Nasrids and the Ottomans. Both teams boast some MVP caliber hitters and are known to play complete, all around games. However, there is no better time for the Abbasids to rise to the occasion and show the league that they are only just beginning.

Let's get it started!

Week 3 Recap

On a blazing hot summer day, many teams suffered from regulars choosing the beach over softball. Nonetheless, all teams had enough to get their games in. Here is what transpired in week 3:
 
Recaps have been written by members of the rumours committee
 
Mamluks v AbbasidsWeek 3 kicked off with the Abbasids hosting the Mamluks on Birchwood 1. After a wonky defensive effort in week 2, the Mamluks picked up right where they left off with additional mental errors in the first inning. The Abbasids capitalized in the very first inning, putting up a 7 spot. The Abbasids came out super charged, looking to finally enter the win column, and took advantage of every mistake possible by placing hits wherever possible. Nearly the entire team was in on the attack in the first inning, which had them feeling good, setting the tone for the rest of the game. The Abbasids also featured a new looked defense which shifted Ahmad Hussain to first base, Atif Akhtar to shortstop, and Sameer Rafique to the outfield with his cannon of an arm. This seemed to have work as the Mamluks struggled to gain any momentum, as the Abbasid defense, including catches from Ahmad Butt held the Mamluks clawing and scraping for all they could get. However, as the game progressed, Rizvan Merchant began to settle in, including a strikeout which helped keep the struggling Mamluk bats in the game. The green machine was having trouble stringing together hits until Yasser Zia belted a homer, trying to rejuvenate the team by doing his best "Let's go Mamluks - this is why we're here" song and dance. It certainly got them on the board, but the team continued to sputter, only able to add a run or two per inning until Baseer Yasseen came up in the top of the 7th with the tying and go ahead run on base, which he promptly brought home to secure a narrow victory for the Mamluks.
Final Score: Mamluks - 9, Abbasids - 8;     Star of the Game - Baseer Yasseen, 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBIs
 
Ayyubids v Sultans: The Sultans came into this Sunday missing 3 of their top players and requesting a league exception to field the minimum. Kudos to the boys for toughing it out on a hot sweltering Sunday when they could easily sat back on their patios. The Ayyubids however had no mercy on the stallions as they started off the game with 3 consecutive mercy innings (not sure that has ever happened). The Sultan outfielders looked helpless as the 3 of them tried to run all over the place. By the third inning, the Ayyubids were up 21-3 and well on their way to a mercy game. Homeruns by Jibran Khan and Ali Jabbar were the dagger at the end. Shahzad Ahmed's BSL pitching debut couldn't have started any worse. He did hit a HR to release his frustration. Mohamed Kala impressed with a perfect 4-4 with 4 RBIs. 
Final Score: Ayyubids - 22, Sultans - 5;      Star of the Game - Mohamed Kala, 4-4, 4 RBIs
 
Abbasids v Ayyubids: The Abbasids came into this game having blown a 1 run game while the Ayyubids mercied the Sultans earlier in the day. The Abbasids once again jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first before the Ayyubids struck back in the 2nd on a Hassan Zubair double and a Faheem Kotwal 2 RBI double. Over the next 3 innings, the Abbasids would only get 1 hit and in the 5th the Ayyubids blew it open with back to back homeruns from Ahmad Ammad and Imran Merchant. The Abbasids would finally wake up and score 3 runs of their own to make it 10-7. In the top of the 7th, Zia Beg and Zayd Ramjaun would get on-base to lead off the inning but the top of the Abbasids order went 1-2-3 after that to end the game. The Ayyubids pull off another tight victory while the Abbasids once again fail to come through in the clutch. The Ayyubids go to a league leading 5-1 while the Abbasids falter to 0-6 with their playoff hopes on the line next week. 
Final Score: Abbasids - 8, Ayyubids - 10;      Star of the Game - Imran Merchant, 3-3, HR
 
Mamluks v Sultans: This matchup had the Sultans and Mamluks square off for the second time this season in a rematch from week 1. The Sultans however, looked very different on this scorching hot day missing the likes of half of their team. This moved superstar Shahzad Ahmad to pitcher for the matchup. Shazzy was welcoming every batter with a warm smile, wave and "Please try to not hit this". For a while it even seemed to work to a certain extent as the Sultans jumped out to an early lead thanks to the bat of Hassan Chaudhary and Khizer Channa. However, the Sultans and their lovable teddy bear on the mound were unable to keep it up, resulting in a string of hits, left, right and center, including back to back triples off the bats of Yoo-Choo and Salman Ahmad. Many of the other Mamluk hitters got on base multiple times, including Taher Mirza who had 4 hits in the game, as they eventually put it out of reach. At the end of the game, their was speculation that surfaced suggesting the Sultans shortened their bench in order to prevent the Mamluks, a potential playoff opponent, from getting too many looks at the team at full strength. Thus many players were away, including Shamil Khadaroo who is away abroad, apparently learning different batting styles from the best English cricketers.        
Final Score: Mamluks - 14, Sultans -  5;      Star of the Game - Yousaf Chaudhry, 2-3, 3B, 3 RBIs
 
Seljuqs v Nasrids: The Seljuqs and the Nasrids battled it out on a warm sunny day in the crisp fields known as Birchwood Park. The Seljuqs have been coming off a lacklustre start to the 2018 season and showed up early to hit the practice field for over an hour in the heat. However, it was the Nasrids that came out to play, racking up 6 runs in the first two innings. There was no looking back, as even though the Seljuqs managed to make it close at 6-5 during the 3rd, the game was blown wide open with homeruns from Osman Buttar and Mr. Latif. The Seljuqs woes piled up with consistent errors in the field and a weak batting performance overall. The game ended in an 11-6 win by the Nasrids who seemed ready to take on anyone in their path.
Final Score: Seljuqs - 8, Nasrids - 15;      Star of the Game - Asim Waheed, 3-4, 2 RBIs
 
Ottomans v Mughals: The Mughals and Ottomans renewed their rivalry in week 3 on BW2. The Mughals were without a few top players while the Ottomans had a late addition to get them to almost a full roster. The Ottomans started with a bang with Hammad Afif hitting a 3 run shot to give the Ottomans a 4-0 lead. The Mughals would cut the lead down to 2 on a 3 run homerun but the next inning would break their back. The Mughals had a ton of uncharacteristic errors which caught up to them. The Ottomans took advantage by putting up a 7 run inning capped off by an Owais Ansari 2 run Homerun. The Mughals responded with an Ismail Akhter HR but the Mughals were no match for the Ottomans on this day. They put up crooked numbers in every inning but one and coasted to victory. The Mughals looked deflated from the start while the Ottomans zen session before the games seemed to have rejuvenated the squad. 
Final Score: Ottomans - 22, Mughals - 11;     Star of the Game - Hammad Afif, 3-4, HR, 6 RBIs
 
Seljuqs v Ottomans: The Ottomans and Seljuqs squared off in the final game of the evening on Birchwood 1, and gave another example of how strong the parody is in BSL 2018.  The Ottomans, sitting at 4-1 on the year came into the game riding a high from their game 1 victory against the Mughals earlier in the day, while the Seljuqs were coming off another subpar effort at the hands of the Nasrids to drop their record to 1-4.  So the momentum was with the Ottomans right? UMMMMMM…NO! 
The Seljuqs came out of the gate playing small ball perfectly, and scored 3 runs before making a single out.  They would finish the top of the first with 4 runs in total, on zero extra base hits.  Being behind early however is kind of the Ottomans thing this year, and once again it didn’t seem to phase them as they struck for 2 runs of their own off a 2-Run HR by Rehan Ahmad.
The top of the second inning saw the Seljuqs score another 5 runs on a comedy of errors by the Ottomans.  Giving the Seljuqs three extra outs that inning would prove to be costly in the end. 
With the score 9-2 heading into the bottom of the 3rd, Owais Ansari hit his second 3-run HR on the day, and the Ottomans scored 4 to get themselves back in the game at 9-6.  Not to be out done, the Seljuqs answered with another 2 runs in the top of the 4th. In the bottom of the 5th inning the Ottomans responded with another 4 run inning, bringing the score to 11-10 Seljuqs heading into the final inning.
Hamza Waheed who showed a lot of maturity on the mound, started to bend but unlike past games did not break.  The Ottomans would put the go ahead run on first base with the heart of their lineup at the plate, but were unable to cash them in, with Hamza recording the final out himself.
The Seljuqs put the league on notice, showing that they will not roll over this season.  They relied on their energy and finally acted like the youngest team in the league, outlasting the Ottomans.  The Seljuqs seem to be on the right track, and have shown great chemistry communicating and picking each other up even after making errors.  Shoaib Gaya finished with 3 RBI, and Umair Jabbar added 3 hits in the victory.
The Ottomans on the other hand, have only been consistent being inconsistent, and will have to figure out a way to finish strong as both their losses this season have come on the tail end of double headers. Their hitting has seemed to vanish in game twos.  If you subtracted the 4 hits Mohsin Zubair got, the Ottomans only hit .276 in the game.  However, even with this performance the Ottomans finished the weekend in 2nd place.
Final Score: Seljuqs - 11, Ottomans - 10;      Star of the Game -  Shoaib Gaya 2-4, 3 RBIs
 
Mughals v Nasrids: The Nasrids came into their second game looking for the season sweep of the Mughals. The Mughals took an early 2-0 lead but their offense went silent for the next 3 innings. The Nasrids found their rhythm and put up 13 unanswered runs capped off by an Usama Mahmood hit a 3 run shot to give the Nasrids a comfortable lead. The Nasrids were in full control of this game and were ready to head home with the sweep. That was when an emotion peptalk before the 5th inning woke up the Mughals from their slumber. Mughals would scrape together 5 runs in the 5th, 1 run in the 6th and with two outs in the 7th down by 3, Atif Pervaiz hit a 2 run double to put them within 1. GM Zahid Merchant came up with the tying run on 3rd and hit a flyball right at the Nasrids RFer but GM Nirvaan Latif called him off only to drop the ball allowing the tying run to score. The Nasrids were shellshocked but had one last chance to seal the deal. With two outs, runner on 3rd, Osman Buttar up. Usually that would be a lock to end the game but Osman flyed out to the SS to end the game. The Mughals pulled off a remarkable comeback after being down 13-2. The Mughals steal a point where they had no business and the Nasrids drop a point when they should be 2-0. That point could be crucial come end of the season. 
Final Score: Mughals - 13, Nasrids - 13;     Star of the Game - Ibrahim Sardar, 3-3, 2 RBIs; Riyad Ramjaun 3-4, 4 RBIs

Week 3 Rumours

Written by: Aamir Husainy/Shahzad Ahmed/Zain Khilji
 
Week 2 saw 6 teams come away with a split, one team that swept and another that got swept. The middle of the standings are jammed packed and this week might bring some separation. With the vacation season in full swing, lots of team are expecting to be short players which might give other players the opportunity to shine. Let's break down what to expect in week 3. 
 
This Sunday, the Mamluks raising money for their team charity, Muslim Chaplaincy U of Toronto. They will be challenging players to a HR derby, come prepared to prove to the league you should be in this year's derby.
 
**Power ranking are posted weekly on our social media page**
 

Mamluks  (@ Abbasids - 2:00PM BW1; @ Sultans - 3:30PM BW2)

The Mamluks returned from a 1-1 opener to another 1-1 re-opener after the Canada day weekend break. The team traditionally known as the green machine felt optimistic after their second straight double header split. Jibran Waqar continued to dazzle making every play a routine play at short stop, though sources indicate that the team has implemented two-a-day training sessions to sharpen their defensive reads. Reports suggest that for every defensive miscue for the remainder of the season made by a player, will cost them a kabob from the team's weekly snack pool.

Defensive miscues aside, the team's trustee Rizwan Merchant states that the team is in optimal position, and that the Mamluks will continue to iron out the kinks in preparation for the playoffs. Taher Mirza echoed the same sentiments along with champion Yu-Choo stating that the BSL season is nothing but one big practice for the big stage. It is also rumoured that W K has provided specific input on a new fitness regimen to have the green machine not only well oiled, but more efficient than ever. Additionally, Yasser Zia has offered the team free Hijama appointments to keep them fresh for the weeks ahead.

Speaking of the weeks ahead, the Mamluks face off against the Abbasids at Birchwood 1 to kick off the week. They will be tasked with trying to tame the 0-4 Lion men that are expected to not lack any motivation, or hunger. In their second match up, the Mamluks square off against the Sultans in a season opener rematch, where the Luks came out on top. Expect a highly competitive bout on both occasions as the Mamluks will take on extremely driven opponents.

 

Abbasids (Vs. Mamluks - 2:00PM BW1; @ Ayyubids - 3:30PM BW1)

The Abbasids are coming off another disappointing week and start to their season. The 0-4 record sings a similar tune to past years, despite an entirely new roster. They had a rough go this past week making errors upon errors which led to giving up an astounding 47 runs while only being able to muster a 15 spot. Sameer Rafique has been doing his part, living up to the #1 overall selection for a second straight year. However, GM Ahmad Hussain has gone on record suggesting he is upset with his own poor play stating that he has to do better. He will go into week 3 playing with a chip on his shoulder.

Despite the slow start, reports indicate that the Abbasids are still positive and firmly believe that a playoff spot is theirs to lose. The team boasts a remarkable 9 players partaking in both BSL, as well as BSL Nights. Sources indicate that on top of the double dosage of real game play action for the Abbasids, an increase in practice time will also be in store. They hope to shake off last week, while welcoming back Atif Akhtar for week 3. They are also looking for the bats to come alive, with Zuhair Fancy bringing his average up, game by game, along with Akif Waheed. Watch for Fuzail Thakur to potentially break out as well as he has been hitting the ball well...just into fielders.

This week, the men in Orange will square off against the Mamluks and Ayyubids. Expect a motivated and hungry Abbasids squad as they take on perennial MVP candidate Jibran Waqar and a strong Mamluk team. That may be just what the doctor ordered for the Abbasids to rise to the occasion. They then face the Ayyubids in a rematch from week 1, where the latter just eked out a victory. As mentioned, expect a pack of lions to be on the prowl in week 3.

 

Sultans (Vs. Ayyubids - 2:00PM BW2; Vs. Mamluks - 3:30PM BW2)

1 1 2. Those numbers do not represent the classic aughts R&B group, but the Sultans rankings in team hits (1st), runs (1st) and average (2nd). Seeing that would lead you to believe the Sultans were relaxed… just chillin, milkin’ ‘em, Top Billin…and have the best record, but sitting at .500, the squad hopes to come out of this weekend building on top of those W’s.

The Sultans are coming off a week in which they were short and had to borrow a catcher from the opposing team in order to compete. You would think that they would come into Week 3 with their full roster ready to play and look at a Sunday Sweep but nooOOOOOoooooo…GM Shamil Khadaroo is avoiding flying bottles and car fires in England after their elimination from the World Cup while Saoud Ramjaun still hasn’t figured out how to magically glue his broken toe back together. Also missing from the squad are stars Shaheen Limbada and Faisal Khan, who will be in Muskoka living that Robin Leach ‘Lifestyles Of The Brown and Famous’ life, Omer Chaudhry, who will be attempting to rescue his visiting family at the Buffalo border and AK, the assumption being that he is looking to start his own survival TV show to rival his nemesis, Bear Grilles.  With only six players available, the league GMs were kind enough to grant a special exemption to the Sultans in order for them to obtain two substitute players so they will be able to play.  Joining the team are BSL Nights player Hamid Malik and former Sultans stud Ali Nazir.

The are several keys to victory for the Wonderful Dudes in Whites and Blues. The drastic turnaround experienced by the Brother of all Brothers, Zain Malik, could be integral.  Having a week one to forget, Malik put his headphones in, stared in the mirror and played 8 mile but with his own motivating lyrics (‘…Tid is sweaty, last week’s over and Zain is ready, there’s vomit on his jersey already, stupid samosas with only veggies…’) which led to a perfect 5 for 5 start in week 2. Khizer ‘The Human Scissor’ Channa, so called because of the way he cuts the bat, keeps impressing everyone in the league with his continuing improvement. The return of Hassan Chaudry 2.0 will be a boost to the offense as he will bring the momentum from going 3 for 4 in his last game. ‘Killer’ Kamil Haider has performed like one of the best SS’ in the league and will look to be tested early and often. He also nearly doubled his average from Week 1 to 2 so he will be looking to feed that momentum. Taqi ‘The Versatile One’ Ahmed has shown the ability to play well at multiple positions and has increased his stock league wide. His contribution will be crucial to any Sultan success.

Will they get ahead early and become the Supreme Sultans or will they fall behind and have to play the role of Rallyin’ Stallions.  Sunday will tell…

 

Ayyubids (@ Sultans - 2:00PM BW2; Vs. Abbasids - 3:30PM BW1)

The Ayyubids have done nothing but surprised so far but critics aren’t taking back what they expected just yet. They want to wait one more week to see if they are for real. One thing is for sure; they are here to compete. Viewing the playoffs as spectators last year, the Jabbars vowed #NeverAgain. There are a number of contributing factors for The Ayyu’s early success. The combination of consistent pitching in Ali Jabbar paired with former faces Ahmed Ammad and Imran ‘The Maniac’ Merchant have propelled them to the upper echelon in this young season.  Exclusive footage from TMZ of Umair ‘Shriek’ Sheikh leaving a psychologist’s office have led this reporter to believe that the new calm demeanor he is displaying might be here to stay.  Mohamed ‘Klaus Fuchs’ Kala has turned out to be a reliable, dependable batter who loves his team very much. Moh can always be found on the bleachers at Birchwood eating the Sultan’s samosas and discussing the Ayyubids chances at the championship this year…

…The Ayyubids are to be taken seriously though…let’s remember this team is one opponent walk off away from being undefeated and leading the league standings. They come up against a fully firing Sultans who will put their defenses and ‘legit-ness’ to the test followed by a hungry Abbasids team that won’t be as easy as the last game. A 2-0 run this week should be good enough to take the top spot in the standings and silence all that doubted.

 

Ottomans (@ Mughals - 5:15PM BW2; Vs. Seljuqs - 6:45PM BW1)

After scoring a massive 35 runs in the opening week, the Ottomans followed it up with just 12 in the next. We still don’t believe they put up just 3 runs in a game... They did however, manage to stretch out a 9-8 win against the Ayyubids on a Zia Ali walk-off homer. Some say he is still celebrating. The Ottomans still hit 6 homeruns on the day which should carry more weight than 12-runs and management knows it. They lead the league with 13 in the category. Having seen Owais Ansari perform in his debut week, GMs couldn’t accept that he was available until the middle of the second round. We suspect someone gave him some serious nazar as the rookie star struggled at the plate last time out. Taha Iqbal on the other hand seems to only excel (Masha Allah) batting a league best .833 and digging deep at third to silence those of you who questioned the 6th overall selection. Who doesn’t want him on their team? Taha is like a pumpkin pie with ‘hari mirch’; he’s the sweetest and most classy guy to be around but when its game time, his bat gets super hot when he yells YEAAAA COME ONR!!!  Anyways, it ain’t an Ottomans rumours post if we don’t talk about Rehan Ahmad. Yea he’s already killing it again, 5 homers, 11 Rbis, slugging 2.0, but his best stats are # of diamonds set-up, # of games scored, a reason why the league is the way it is. Priceless.

The Ottomans take on The Mughals in a fight for first place and both teams will be ready for the intense occasion given its significance in the long-run. We expect to see the week 1 Ottomans show up especially if they want any wins this week. The second-game Seljuqs will be that much stronger this time around. A pivotal week for the Royal Blues, that’s for sure.        

 

Seljuqs (@ Nasrids - 5:15PM BW1; @ Ottomans - 6:45PM BW1)

The Seljuqs are already late for the show losing 3 of their last 4 games and will have to step on it right away in order to get good seats at the BSL playoffs. They will be without workhorse Michael Arlitt for a couple more weeks but possess enough fire power in the ranks to hammer in those wins. The GMs are leading by example and working those hammers with Umair Jabbar and Omer Dharuk pounding the long ball and collecting 10 and 11 RBIs respectively. The pounding was literal, as an Umair homerun found the foot of a granny who was taken as collateral for dem RBIs (she was ok Alhamdulilah). Scoring runs however, hasn’t been problematic for the red bulls who have put up 50 in 4 games (2 short from league best); the concern comes from the number of runs given up (55). The squad knows they must be better collectively and have taken the matter to extra practice with determination. Experts took notice of the team’s sluggish performance in the first games of both double headers and management will take action to pump the team tires before taking the field this weekend. Saad G has been pumped since his debut leading the team in batting average and getting the nod at third in Mike’s absence. The GMs got the Saad signing absolutely right and the league is starting the see how well Umair has drafted. It comes down to how well he can get them all to gel and make them believe they are worthy of the title.  

The Seljuqs square up against the hard-hitting Sultans and Ottomans this week which will surely burden their defenses that have been lackluster thus far. Limiting runs will be the key to victory against both opponents as they look to bounce back with a big 2-0 and increase their parity in the league.      

 

Mughals (Vs. Ottomans - 5:15PM BW2; @ Nasrids - 6:45PM BW2)

The Mughals sit near the top of the standings with an impressive 2-0 week, driven by their pitching and defense. It was also a bit of a coming out party for their bats as Aqib Khokhar placed a few solid line drives, along with some missiles which were snatched away from him. Keep an eye on him, as he is acclimating himself to the league nicely. Believe it or not, the reigning champs had their first extra base hit of the year, letting the league know, as Ismail Akhtar rounded the bases on his first homerun of the year.

However, as the page turns to week 3, some controversy has arisen as reports indicate that brain trust Zahid Merchant had a brain fart, while chanting a Mamluk themed battle cry. This may suggest that he may be contemplating joining his brother's team alongside good friend and MVP Jibran Waqar. To further complicate the situation, Zahid's bromance partner, Nadeem Hussain was reportedly found having a single milkshake, with two straws; one for himself, and another for Rehan Ahmad. Is drama brewing in the land of the Mughals? Or is all of this just ‘rumours’? Regardless, the Mughals are 3-1.

Week 3 brings on the aforementioned MVP candidate Rehan Ahmad and the Ottomans. The two teams are ranked #1 and #2 and separated by only 1 run in the differential column.  This will be a matchup to keep an eye on, for both competitive and dramatic purposes. They then square off against the Nasrids, in another finals rematch.

 

Nasrids (Vs. Seljuqs - 5:15PM BW1; Vs. Mughals - 6:45PM BW2)

The Nasrids come off an interesting week where they squeaked past the Mamluks through a few gifts, and then got edged out in a close match with the Ayyubids. The team remains optimistic still and looks to build off their 2-2 start. Their heavy hitters are doing their thing and the pitching has been keeping them afloat; however, the steady and calming influence of Asim Gauhar is starting to settle in and permeate through the team. Reports indicate they are in zen mode as Jav Ahmed has decided to take the team to the spa to add to the calmness of the squad.

The additional TLC they seem to be receiving is what seems to be a driving force behind Salar Rasoul's return to BSL. He has been diving all over the place, in his conscientious defensive efforts. His bat has been a bit of a lightning rod as he has hit well, but not placed his hits as well. Time will give Salar the ability to control his thunderous bat. Aftab Sheikh has also been a remarkable presence. The GM of Team Lahore in BSL Nights is bringing his stellar defense and a consistent approach to the plate. This Nasrids team is a team to watch out for as everyone seems to be contributing in some way or another. Their task now is to get it going at the same time and be more consistent.

Week 3 brings the Nasrids a hungry Seljuks team. Having picked up their first win last week, the Seljuks have now experienced a win in the 2018 season. Expect them to give the Nasrids everything they can handle to get another. Oh and the second game is a rematch against the reigning champs...the one's that took the throne from them last year...the Mughals. No biggie.

 
Let's Play ball!

Week 2 Recap

After a hot and steamy Canada day break, the teams came ready this Sunday to kickoff a stretch of 4 consecutive weeks. Here is what transpired in week 2:
 
Recaps have been written by members of the rumours committee
 
Mamluks v NasridsAfter a two week layover due to the birth of Canada, the brothers of BSL took to the field to recommence after a highly successful opener that seems to have happened ages ago. The rust could clearly be seen on the Mamluks as they built and maintained an early lead, only to squander it as the game began to wrap itself up. The Mamluk bats seemed to be alive and well in the early going as Adeel Alam continued his introduction to the league, along with the rest of the Mamluk players who consistently found their way on base. Unfortunately for the Mamluks, it was after they reached the base paths that their demise slowly began. A number of base running gaffes proved costly as the game became closer, and closer. In addition to the myriad of errors, the Mamluks put on their best circus act as they made uncharacteristic errors to gift the Nasrids with juice to seize the overall outcome of the game. Nirvaan Latif thanked the Mamluks with a big hug after having what should have been a deep fly out off his bat, turn into a generous 'home run' to tip the scales. Additionally, Osman Buttar continued his lack of remorse and determination to destroy the ball by launching two home runs off his bat while Ibrahim 'Sardi' Sardar kept the Mamluks at bay in the latter stages of the game. Add it all up, and you have a 12-10 final for the Nasrids.
Final Score: Mamluks - 10, Nasrids - 12;     Star of the Game - Osman Buttar 3-3, 2 HR, 4 RBIs
 
Ayyubids v Ottomans: 
BW1 had a matchup that featured the only two undefeated teams in the league. The Ottomans showed up bright and early for this heavyweight bout and were already dripping sweat before the game.  The Ayyubids started off with strong base running followed by an error free second inning which ended in a double play thanks to Ahmed and Humza.  Imran Merchant also contributed with a play of the year candidate with an acrobatic diving catch in Center field.  Ali continued his strong pitching with a strike out of former teammate Taha Iqbal. The Ayyubids would add to the lead with two homers by Ahmad Ammad and Mo Kala.  The Ottomans escaped the 4th inning thanks to a double play by Owais Ansari to trail 6-0.  The Ayyubids held the Ottomans scoreless until the 4th inning when Rehan Ahmad and Hammad Afif went back to back to get their team on the board. Rehan homered twice in the game and let the Ayyubids dugout know the game wasn’t over and the Ottomans were coming.
The Ayyubids would add a few more runs as the teams went back and forth in the latter half of the game.  This all set up Zia Ali’s shining moment.  Leading off in the bottom of the 7th, score tied, Zia 'Big Z' Ali, would send the first pitch in deep center and far beyond the fence to walk off with victory.  Game Over.  Ottomans win.
Final Score: Ayyubids - 8, Ottomans - 9;      Star of the Game - Zia Ali Game-winning walkoff HR
 
Nasrids v Ayyubids: The Nasrids looked to capitalize on their come from behind victory against the upstart Mamluks over an Ayyubids squad who had a meltdown of their own in a walk-off loss against the Ottomans. Imran Merchant and Ali Jabbar didn't show their former teammate Ibrahim Sardar any mercy with two huge first inning homers to cap a 4 run inning. The Black Sox looked like a confident bunch throughout the game, however, a string of defensive misplays allowed the Nasrids to recover and take a seemingly commanding 9-5 lead in the 4th. The Nasrids vaunted defense, led by Usama Mahmood and Asad Syed, ensured the Ayyubids were kept at bay for most of the game. However, the Ayyubids used their vocal chords, literally, as well as strategic use of the home run rule to keep themselves in the game. GM Umer Jabbar preached patience at the plate as Nasrids pitcher Ibrahim Sardar started to falter on the mound in the burning heat as the game wore on. Player of the game, Ahmad "Crazy" Ammad demonstrated why he is one of the most dangerous sluggers in the league by crushing his 2nd home run into the rail tracks to help the Ayyubids come from behind for an emotional 10-9 win. The Nasrids know they let an opportunity slip away with inconsistent batting and not being able to take greater advantage of multiple bases loaded opportunities. Both teams ended the day with a 1-1 record and have a lot more work to do moving forward.
Final Score: Nasrids - 9, Ayyubids - 10;     Star of the Game - Ahmad Ammad 3-3, 2 HR, 3 RBIs
 
Ottomans v Mamluks: This game was dubbed as the ‘Battle of MVPs’ but it couldn’t quite live up to its billing. Earlier, Rehan Ahmad and crew had won the game they really came out to play and looked sluggish in this game from the get go. While Taha was warned by the league for being excessively loud in the first game, he was warned by his teammates for being overly quiet in the second. On the other hand, Mamluks were coming off a demoralizing defeat against Nasrids. They hit the ground running and looked purposeful against their already spent opponents. Jibran Waqar started the game off with a customary Homerun and a nonchalant highlight reel double play. Ottomans were made to play catch up every step of the way after that. They were never able to get to a striking distance though as Mamluks’ pitching and defence kept Ottomans at bay. There was little to write home about the Turks in this game but Hammad Afif's second dinger of the day brought some respectability to the final score. While Ottomans were handed their first defeat of the season, Mamluks improved their record to 2-2 after this victory.
Final Score: Ottomans - 3, Mamluks - 9;      Star of the Game - Jibran Waqar 3-3, HR, 4 RBIs
 
Mughals v Seljuqs: The Seljuqs were looking for their first win this season and found themselves chasing as early as the first inning on a 3-run homer from Ismail Akhter. The reds responded with a run on their own but fell into a hole after a 7-run Mughal rally which included another longshot, this time from Faraaz Alvi. The climb was imminent as the Seljuqs continued to put up runs but at a rate that kept them below ground level. The Mughals capitalized on their opponents’ errors without giving too much of their own and played the long ball to cash out on runs. The play of the game was rookie sensation Aqib Khokhar going in the hole and throwing out Zaid Ghansar at first from the grass. The blues took a comfortable 6-run win over the what looked like a sluggish Seljuqs performance.       
Final Score: Mughals - 14, Seljuqs -  8;      Star of the Game - Aqib Khokhar 2-4, 2 RBIs
 
Sultans v Abbasids: With GM Shamil Khadaroo enjoying England’s World Cup run live, Saoud Ramjaun still nursing a broken toe back to health and the audacity of someone close to Hassan Chaudhary 2.0 choosing to have a walima, the Sultans took the field short defensively, forced to borrow a catcher from their opponent.  The glint in the catcher’s eye knowing he could possibly mess up a play at home did not go unnoticed.  The ‘MAGA’ campaign meanwhile was looking to take hold in their third game of the season and get in the win column. 
GM Ahmad Hussain has drafted an excellent team on paper, but the performance has been lacking thus far….and it continued in this game.  The Sultans started their at bat with three straight singles to load the bases.  The clean-up spot was occupied by none other than former Abbasid Khizer Channa who chose to let his old squad know what they were missing out on by going Denny’s Breakfast on his first pitch.  The Abbasids weren’t able to match the four put up by the Sultans but did get a solo homerun by Sameer Rafique who looked as though he had just struck out. In an exclusive interview with the BSL Bugle, Rafique admitted he was not trying to hit the solo shot but just trying to hit the ball hard.  When you’re that good looking, it’s tough not to bang ‘em out this reporter estimates.  The next few innings went as the first did, highlighted by Sultans offense.  Omer Chaudhry hit two homeruns, Zain Malik was consistently touching the opposite field line like he was a highway traffic worker painting in between lanes and both he and Kamil Haider went perfect at the plate.  With a 13-2 lead going into the bottom of the fifth (the second Abbasids run coming off another of what will now be known as a Sexy Sameer Solo), the Sultans turned to their bullpen and brought out middle reliever Taqi Ahmed to give their Ace AK a break after a beautiful performance, throwing 33 strikes on 50 pitches and only giving up 8 hits. The Abbasids, taking this move as a great insult, had their best offensive output of the game, scoring four runs. After a little talk from Coach K, the ‘K’ standing for ‘Khan’, Taqi settled into a groove that would result in two more shut out innings including a strikeout.  Player of the Game went to Khizer King T’Channa for going 4-6 including a grand slam and an amazing defensive dive catch in left field. With a final score of 24-6, the teams advanced to their second games of the day.
Final Score: Sultans - 24, Abbasids - 6;      Star of the Game - Khizer Channa 4-6, HR, 6 RBIs
 
Mughals v Sultans: In the final game played on Birchwood 1 for the day, the Mughals and Sultans both had an opportunity to sweep and take their records to 3-1 on the season. The game started off with acting GM Shahzad Ahmed taunting the Mughals with his chili chicken samosas which immediately mesmerized Hassan Chaudhry and had him staring in the Sultans dugout all game. The Sultans took a 2-1 lead into the top of the 5th when a Noor Sheikh double drove him Aazar from first to tie up the game. The top of the Mughals order would tag on 3 more to take a 5-2 lead. Shahzad Ahmed brought Mustafa with him to the plate and hit a screamer over the LF fence that clocked 250 MPH on the radar gun. The Mughals bottom order would blow the game wide open in the 6th on a two-run Nauman Abbasi single followed by a Nadeem Hussain hit to mercy the Sultans. The following inning Khizer Channa blasted his second HR of the day to give the Sultans a pair of runs but it wouldn't be enough as the Mughals outplayed their opponents. The Mughals came away with the sweep while the Sultans settled for the split like every other team. 
Final Score: Mughals - 12, Sultans - 5;     Star of the Game - Noor Sheikh, 2-3, 2 2B, 1 RBI
 
Seljuqs v Abbasids: The Abbasids and Seljuks entered their second game hoping to rebound as both teams dropped their opening game of the day and both were still looking for their first win of the season.  The Seljuks opened the game with a pair of runs but Abbasids replied with a five-run outburst to take a lead and were up 9-8 after the end of two innings – and then the wheels came off.  Seljuks put together back to back 7-run innings while the Abbasid offense dried up putting them up 22-9 after four innings.  The game was marred by an unfortunate incident where Umair Jabbar crushed a homerun to cap off the top of the fourth with him as the 7th run, however his long-ball hit a passerby in the foot causing a delay in the game as players made sure the injury was not serious – thankfully it did not appear to be a major injury and the game was able to eventually continue.  The Abbasids were not able to get their offense to bring them back into this game and are now the only BSL team without a win this season.  The Seljuks on the other hand get their first win and seemed to have found a nice groove that they will look to take into action next week as they look to continue their climb up the standings table.
Final Score: Seljuqs - 23, Abbasids - 9;      Star of the Game -  Umair Jabbar 2-3, 2 HR, 6 RBIs

Week 2 Rumours

Written by: Rehan Ahmad/ Mohamed Kala/ Hassan Chaudhary
 
Week 1 is in the books with two undefeated teams and two winless teams. The opening week saw 29 homeruns and plenty of dazzling defensive plays. Shockingly, only one game was decided by less than four runs. Everyone had two weeks to fine-tune their line-ups with the Canada day break but we now enter a stretch of four consecutive weeks before the Mid-season tournament.
 
This Sunday, the Mughals will be raising money for their team charity, Naseeha. They will be selling Popeye's sandwiches, fries and water for $8. Please come prepared. Let's breakdown the week 2 matchups: 
 
Nasrids (vs. Mamluks – 2:00PM BW1; @ Ayyubids – 3:30PM BW1)
 
The tale of the Dr. Jekyll and  Mr. Hyde team that is the Nasrids.  Which team will the 2018 Nasrids be?  The horrible first half Nasrids that started last season 1-6? Or the second half Nasrids that made it all the way to the Championship game?  Week one didn’t provide any clear answers, as we saw the best and worst of this team.  Let’s start with the positives, Osman Buttar looks to have found his homerun swing from 2015.  Buttar had been fairly inconsistent with the long ball in 2016 & 2017, hitting only 6 hrs in each of those seasons.  He looks to have fixed his mechanics and has now hit 6 hrs in the past 4 games dating back to last season, including a 3 hr performance vs the Mughals to open the 2018 season.  Pitching had looked to be a question mark heading into this year, with the Nasrids choosing to not draft a proven ace.  However, Ibrahim Sardar looks to be the real deal on the mound, allowing only 3 walks over the first two games.  Rookie Asad Syed looks to have had a strong opening weekend, going 6 for 7, but the quality of those hits are still in question as most look to have been infield singles. 

Onto the negatives; this team was supposedly drafted with a defense first mentality, something both GM Nirvaan Latif and Co-GM Osman Buttar constantly preach.  After week one, this is already in question with the Nasrids commiting 8 errors over the 2 games.  The pressure is already on for first round selection Usama Mahmood.  Even after having a decent opening weekend hitting .500, management is not happy with the amount of time Mahmood is spending on the golf course working on his golf game and in turn messing up his softball swing.  The proof is in the numbers, 2017 regular season batting average while playing golf .343 vs the 2017 playoffs where Mahmood put the clubs away and batted .917! The call has already been made to Mahmoods wife to eliminate his golfing budget.  Uniforms, let’s be honest, in years past the Nasrids uniform colour was nothing to be desired.  The colour had even been described as “Diarrhea Paani”.  This year however, the Nasrids received what they thought were stylish new threads.  One problem, after trying to wash the stink of their game two performance from their jerseys, there was a massive wardrobe malfunction with some of the jersey appearing to turn pink.  Great for Mothers Day weekend, not so great for the rest of the season. 

Week 2 has the Nasrids facing off against the Mamluks and the Ayyubids.  It will be interesting to see if the team will be sluggish after Asim Waheeds Shaadi.  In years past the team would be able to turn to Kashif Waheed as a calming force to keep the team focused.  Many phone calls have been made to the Ottomans trying to get the Senior Waheed back, but it seems there is no package of players the Ottomans are interested in trading for.
 
Mamluks (@ Nasrids – 2:00PM BW1; vs. Ottomans – 3:30PM BW2)

The Mamluks began their season against the Sultans and they looked like worldbeaters. The team’s shortstop quickly let us know, this season was going to be the Jibran Waqar show. But then there was also Adeel Alam. Sources inside the team’s camp begun doubting the rookie, prior to his debut, citing his absences from team practices. Well well well, after 1 game the man hit a homerun at his first at bat and smoked another, leading the league in batting average. While true to form, he did not show to his second game, the rumor mill suggests that before leaving, he left a note to team management saying something similar to what Shaq said to Kobe in the club. This may or may not be the cause of some dissension in the team clubhouse.
 
Rizwan Merchant’s pitching was on point in the team’s first game. However, in the second game, Riz got distracted by the hamburgers between the diamonds resulting in poor hitting and pitching. But it was not only young Rizwan, the entire Mamluks team were distracted by the food and it was apparent in their matchup against Mughals. The team will look to recapture their form in their upcoming games and should have confidence in doing so, particularly with strong hitting performances from Atif Khan and Waseem “the tank” Kala and the depth of their outfield led by Taher Mirza.
 
The Mamluks open the week against the Nasrids which should be a great defensive matchup. The Mamluks will remember it was the Nasrids that bumped them from the #2 seed last year. In their second game, they will play the surging Ottomans which should be slugfest on diamond 2. Jibran Waqar will be looking to finally get the upperhand on his MVP nemisis Rehan Ahmad. 
 
Ottomans (vs. Ayyubids – 2:00PM BW2; @ Mamluks – 3:30 BW2)

The pre-season projections highlighted the Ottomans as a more balanced, small-ball lineup however it appears the Ottomans did not get the memo as the team combined for 7 homeruns over 2 games. As a result of the team’s power surge, the Ottomans enter week 2 as one of only 2 undefeated teams. Rehan Ahmad started off the season perfectly but his sidekicks were just as impressive. Rehan, Owais Ansari and Taha Iqbal combined for 21 runs, 19 hits, 7 HRs and 25 RBIs in 2 games. That is more runs than 5 other teams after two games. That is absolutely absurd. Kashif Waheed is also off to a hot start in a supporting roll batting more than double his career average. The season couldn’t have started better for the Turks. While the big 3 carried them, their bottom order will need to hit better than the 0.350 average they put up. 

The Ottomans will look to continue their perfect season with games against a surprisingly undefeated Ayyubids team and the underachieving Mamluks. Taha will get to play his old pals on the Ayyubids which should have plenty of fan fare. In the second matchup, Rehan will face off against Jibran in a matchup of the leagues two best hitters. The Otts will be without their GM Hashim Ghazi for the next couple weeks as he vacations in his wife’s hometown in Lebanon. Rehan will marshall the troops along with Tanseer Khawaja who has been flawless in his pitching. The wily veteran will have to be at his best if the Ottomans are to remain undefeated after week 2.
 
Ayyubids (@ Ottomans – 2:00PM BW2; vs. Nasrids – 3:30PM BW1)
 
The Ayyubids entered week 1 as significant underdogs, but by the end of week 1 left the diamond undefeated. After two big wins in week 1, the team’s chemistry and morale has drastically improved. As expected, the team received key contributions from Ali Jabbar and Imran Merchant, while Umair Sheikh, Hassan Zubair and Mohamed Kala all delivered clutch hits to preserve the wins. The team must have stapled their preview in the dugout as almost everyone is hitting is well above their career average. The men in black only committed a total of 3 errors in 2 games which is phenomenal. If Ali Jabbar gets that type of support, start engraving the pitcher of the year award already. 

They will need to keep that up as they face two huge games this week against the Ottomans and the Nasrids. In their first matchup, they will face the only other unbeaten team in the Ottomans. Imran Merchant and A R will face their old pal Taha Iqbal for the first time, you can expect they will be riled up for that one. They will face their former GM Ibrahim Sardar in their second matchup against the Nasrids. 

For the Ayyubids to remain undefeated, the team will need to carbon copy what they did in the opening week. The team has the quality to win games, however, the team’s ability to remain consistent is a huge question mark.
 
Seljuqs (vs. Mughals – 5:15PM BW1; @ Abbasids – 6:45PM BW2)

The Seljuqs began the season with 2 losses last week, but played very tough in their second game against the Ottomans.  If not for a 9 run outburst over the final two innings by the Ottomans the Seljuqs would be trending upwards.  However, that’s not what happened and the Seljuqs come into week 2 looking for at least a split against the Mughals and Abbasids.  That may prove to be difficult with Michael Arlitt once again choosing family over softball (get your priorities straight Mike!).  With Arlitt missing the next month, even more stress will be put on the “C” rated outfield.  Management is still annoyed by their pre-season rankings and feel that they are the real deal.  Here’s the thing, the league won’t start believing in this team until the team starts believing in themselves and starts putting up consistent performances and wins.

There are many positives; Omer Dhaduk has really benefited from his new steroid program and is tearing the cover off the ball.  Dhaduk seems to have settled into his role with the team and now understands how the league works.  Saad G and his cricket swing look to be the real deal, as he collected 4 hits in the opening weekend.  His brother Shoaib is also looking slimmer and stronger this year, coming off painful knee surgery.  Umair Jabbar looks to finally be bringing his Bordertown stats to BSL which could prove to be scary for other teams.  Jabbar has always shown potential to be a true 5 tool player and MVP candidate, but consistency has always been his achilles heel.  Hamza Waheed looks to have figured out how to throw strikes more consistently, and may be the most improved pitcher this year.

As mentioned earlier, anything less than a split this weekend will be damaging for the Seljuqs already fragile ego.
 
Mughals (@ Seljuqs – 5:15PM BW1; @ Sultans – 6:45PM BW1)

What if I told you your team would have ZERO extra base hits over two games, and you would still go 1 and 1? Most teams would count their blessings.  That’s exactly what the Mughals are doing after a mediocre opening weekend.  Even more amazing, is that not for Osman Buttar hitting 3 HRs against them, they could be 2-0.  This statistic actually speaks to the potential of the Mughals, as it’s pretty clear that if they can get even average hitting from their core players, they will win.  

The team is blaming the lack of quality food on the bench for the malnourished performance.  Hassan Chaudhry was even heard pointing the finger at tainted Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  On the positive side, Rookie Shortstop Aqib Khokhar impressed with his defense, especially his cannon for an arm.  The extra week off can only help, as many of the players will have an opportunity to hit the batting cages. Word is the trio of Mughals who play in the Thursday night league (Riyad Ramjaun, Imran Qureshi and Hassan Chaudhry), were a combined 12-12 in their next game, and look to have figured out their swings.  

The Mughals will go into this week one man short, as Atif Parvaiz suffered a training injury and will be put on the 15 day disabled list. The Mughals are known for spending a lot of time game-planning for their opponents, and it will be interesting to see their defensive alignment and pitching strategy against 2 very strong hitting opponents this week, the Sultans and Seljuqs. This will be crucial week for the men in blue if they want to climb up the standings with tough matchups the following week against the currently undefeated teams. 
 
Abbasids (vs. Sultans – 5:15PM BW2; vs. Seljuqs – 6:45PM BW2)

MAGA “Make Abbasids Great Again”: Catchy new slogan, same old results.  The Abbasids came out of Week 1 with similar results from past years.  While not registering a win in the opening weekend, the Abbasids showed they have the tools needed to make a push for the playoffs.  Zia ‘Doc’ Beg, was his consistent self, walking only 4 batters over the 2 games.  What surprised many was his improved hitting.  Doc put in a lot of work during the off season improving  his offense, and the work has paid off with Doc already with half as many hits he had all of last year.  Sameer Rafique put any talk of a 1st overall jinx to rest as he went 4 for 5 with a HR opening weekend. 

So what went wrong?  Well to start, more is expected from Zuhair Fancy.  Collecting 1 hit over two games as a lead-off hitter will not cut it if the Abbasids are to make a serious push for the playoffs.  However, Zuhair is not alone, the bottom 6 batters hit a combined .241 opening weekend and will need a much better showing.  Add to that, the extra outs given to their opposition due to routine fly balls being dropped by the outfield.  If the Abbasids can continue to make strides in these areas, there is no doubt they will achieve success.  Week 2 will see the Abbasids square off against 2 very strong hitting teams in the Sultans and the Seluqs.  Will the Abbasids be able to keep up and go toe to toe? As they say, “Trust the Process”.
 
Sultans (@ Abbasids – 5:15PM BW2; vs. Mughals – 6:45 BW1)

The Sultans found themselves out of sorts in their first game against the Mamluks, but after the 4th inning their potential became clear and they carried that momentum on to the following game by outclassing the Nasrids. The team does have an arsenal of power-hitters and it starts with their own Shahzad Ahmed, who is oftentimes likened to the Hulk when standing at the plate, scowling at the opposing pitcher - the distance he gets on his shots would provide confirmation to such a statement. Faisal Khan sought to match his cousin’s display through a variety of hits, which included a moonshot of a homerun; reports suggest that the ball is still in its ascendancy phase. Not to be outdone, the prettiest of the Chaudhry brothers, Omer Chaudhry, has shown that last year was an anomaly and this year pitcher’s will feel his sorcery – based on the first week, the bat was his wand and the ball went where he commanded.
 
Taqi Ahmed delivered a clear statement to the other BSL teams – he was a steal in the draft and will steal their chance of lifting the ship. But this team not only hits, they showed they can field. This could not have been any more apparent than through the acrobatic display of Shaheen Limbada, all in his younger son’s presence. Sources indicate that Shaheen’s working on a trademark to the effect of “daddy’s got game”. The boys will look to get a series of W’s this upcoming week, but will be without their GM, Shamil Khadaroo, who is currently on vacation with the Queen of England…after just one week of BSL.
 
The Sultans will open this week against the hungry lions who are still searching for a W and the shaky Mughals who had a mediocre week. This is perfect opportunity for the Sultans to put up a pair of W's. 
 
Let's Play ball!


Week 1 Recap

Season 5 kicked off on Sunday. For a while it looked sketchy but the rain passed right before gametime and didn't impact any games. We held our season 5 carnival in partnership with Naseeha where we raised over $750 for Mental Health awareness.
 
If you owe money from the carnival, please EMT [email protected] with password 'brotherhood'.  
 
Recaps have been written by members of the rumours committee
 
Ottomans v AbbasidsSeason Five for BSL saw Birchwood One feature the Ottomans facing the Abbasids.  Pundits expect the Ottomans to feature as one of the top teams this season which seems like a safe assessment as long as they feature Rehan Ahmed in the lineup but GM Hashim Ghazi did a solid job in the draft as he put together a well-balanced team that he hopes will finally get the Ottomans their first championship.  The other dugout features the new look Abbasids who are just trying to make it to the playoffs after a run of difficult regular seasons.  That said the Abbasids are said to have come into this season with a fresh outlook and catchy slogans to get their fan base excited.  Phrases like "Make Abbasids Great Again" or MAGA and "Trust the Process" have been thrown out.  The later one seems to be a reference to the Abbasids having had the top pick in the last two drafts and they are hoping their first pick in this draft in Sameer Rafique will be able to help lead them to the post season. With all that said the Abbasids struggled early in this one, finding themselves down 7-0 after three innings of play and struggling to get any baserunners to generate their own offense.  The Ottomans on the other hand seemed to be in mid-season form as they were finding the gaps to get runners on base and then smashing them home with timely home runs.  The Abbasids managed to string something together in the fourth inning to make it a 7-2 game but their offense went silent again as the Ottomans poured it on to build an 18-2 lead and coast to the win. The Ottomans had a great day at the plate as 11 of the 12 players in the lineup had at least one hit and their fielding was sharp as well.  For the Abbasids a rough start to the season where the team managed just six hits and seemed overly eager at the plate as they seemed to swing for the first pitch each time and hit a lot of pop fly outs.
Final Score: Ottomans - 18, Abbasids - 2;     Star of the Game - Rehan Ahmad 3-3, HR, 4 RBIs
 
Seljuqs v Ayyubids: The Ayyubids started with a resounding win on opening day of the 2018 BSL season. Heavy rain and puddles in each respective dugout did not prevent both teams from coming out to play. The teams however did start off slow and took some time to get going. It was obvious that the Seljuqs had not yet practiced as a unit as their lack of chemistry on the field was apparent. A few crucial errors with two outs allowed the Ayyubids to capitalize and increase their early lead and create enough of a cushion to eventually win by 9 runs. Great outfielding by Imran Merchant ensured that the few solid hits that the Seljuqs had amounted to nothing but disappointment on their end. The Ayyubids offence finally woke up midway through the game where they scored 11 runs in the 3rd and 4th to blow the game open. The Seljuqs offense didn't score until the 4th inning where they could one bring 6 men across the plate. 
Final Score: Seljuqs - 6, Ayyubids - 15;      Star of the Game - Ali Jabbar 3-3 ,HR , 3 RBIs
 
Ottomans v Seljuqs: Game Two on BW1 saw the youngest team in the League take on the oldest. The Ottomans were fresh off a dominating performance, while the Seljuqs played well in their first game but not enough to seal a win. Complacency was a concern for the Ottomans after having a 35 minute break in between games, and a lack of focus was on full display. After putting up a solid 5 runs in the top of the inning, they looked out of sync on defense. This was especially apparent when a comedy of errors on a hit by Rameez "RamRiddlz" Siddiqi stretched a triple into an inside-the-park homerun. Both clubs exchanged barbs inning over inning, and the game was shaping up to be a classic with lead changes, big home runs and impressive pitching displays. After a huge strikeout by O's pitcher Tanseer Khawaja against one of the Seljuqs top players, the Ottomans rallied for 4 runs in the top of the final inning, and were able to close out the game with a 17-13 win. Rookie shortstop Owais Ansari announced his entrance into the League with a huge performance, notching 2 HRs and 7 RBIs in the game while showcasing a steady glove at short for the Turks.
Final Score: Ottomans - 17, Seljuqs -  13;     Star of the Game - Owais Ansari 3-4, 2 HR, 7 RBIs
 
Ayyubids v Abbasids: The Abbasids looked to bounce back from a crushing loss to the Ottoman's earlier in day. The Ayyubids looked to remain perfect. The Ayyubids got off to a quick two run lead in the first. The Abbasids responded with three runs courtesy of a Sameer Rafique Homerun in the bottom of the first inning. The Abbasids padded to their lead in the bottom of the third with both Atif Akhtar and Akif Waheed driving in two runs each. The Ayyubids would respond with a 7 run inning in the forth highlighted by a Hassan Zubair three-run homerun. The Ayyubids would further add to their lead in the 5th capped off with a based clearing double by Mohamed Kala. The Abbasids would make it close in the bottom of fifth with a Kashif Irshad grand slam. However, that is as close as the Abbasids were able to come as the Ayyubids tacked on an insurance run in the final inning, and came away with the win after their defense preserved the win in the bottom of the inning.
Final Score: Ayyubids - 14, Abbasids -  12;      Star of the Game - Hassan Zubair 3-4, HR, 3 RBIs
 
Nasrids v Mughals: With season 5 underway, the late afternoon game pitted the Mughals vs. the Nasrids in a rematch of last year’s finals.  New Nasrids GM 'Sir' Nirvaan Latif took over the reigns and will looked to do what last year’s Nasrids could not and beat the Mughals.  The first 3 innings was a pitching duel with little scoring until Osman Buttar came up in the 4th. Having already hit a solo HR, Osman broke the game open with his 2nd HR.  The Mughals bat’s were nowhere to be found; coupled with a number of defensive miscues, it seemed as though the Mughals were still enjoying their victory from last year and did not bother to put up much of a fight.  If history has shown us anything, Zahid will definitely have his team better prepared for the remainder of the season.  The Nasrids looked good both offensively and defensively and it doesn’t hurt that Osman had his Wheaties in the morning, as he ended up with 3 HR’s in a big win to start the season.
Final Score: Nasrids - 10, Mughals -  4;      Star of the Game - Osman Buttar 3-4, 3 HRs, 7 RBIs
 
Sultans v Mamluks: Two hundred and eighty-eight days.  TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-EIGHT DAYS!  That’s the amount time that had elapsed since the Sultans and Mamluks took the field in an official BSL game.  The excitement and anticipation could be felt radiating off some of the players like the smell of fresh naan.  The long-awaited first game of the 2018 BSL season for the Sultans took place vs the Mamluks.  These squads know each other well having had multiple players suit up for both teams.  Unfortunately for the Sultans, the energy with which they approached their batting practices and practice game was nowhere to be found.  The Mamluks started off the game slowly as well only being able to muster up a run in each of the first two innings, highlighted by a solo homerun (much to the Mamluk bench’s dismay) by BSL newcomer Adeel Alam.  Not that their slow start mattered as the Sultan bats seemed to have been put under some jadoo by muttering BSLers on the sidelines.  The Mamluks really let loose in the third inning as they put up a five spot to take a 7-0 lead.  Their offense wasn’t the only thing moving as Jibran “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” Waqar was showing the crowd his audition for said movie by diving left and right at whatever seemed to come close and making some brilliant diving stops.  A demoralized Sultans squad was rejuvenated late by a talk from one of it’s veteran leaders.  Shaheen “THIS IS AFRICA” Limbada brought the team together to tell them who they were.  This seemed to help as the Sultans outscored the Mamluks 7-4 the rest of the way but the rally was a little too late with the final score being 11-7. 
Final Score: Sultans - 7, Mamluks - 11;      Star of the Game - Adeel Alam 2-2, HR, 1 RBI
 
Mamluks v Mughals: In the final game played on Birchwood 1 for the day, two long time rivals and powerhouses squared off against each other. What was supposed to be an intriguing, highly contested game proved to be anything but.After the Mamluks put up 1 run in the top half of the first inning, Zahid Merchant, who was batting second for the Mughals, quickly dived into his playbook and through out a common favourite yelling at his team after getting a single "COME ON, LET'S GO!! I'M TIRED OF THIS!!!" The war cry seemed to put the Mamluks bats to sleep more than it did to wake up the Mughals however. The bottom of the first inning ended with the aforementioned Merchant getting gunned at home by Jibran Waqar on a relay play from the outfield. After a quiet second inning for both teams, the Mamluks committed a costly error which opened the door for 2 Mughal runs. 
Looking to finally get the offense going in the fourth inning, Salman Ahmad lead off for the Mamluks and hit a hard line drive that looked to be dropping just inside the left field line. However, Ismail Akhter made an incredible catch to record the out and the Mamluks once again went out quietly. The bottom of the fourth finally had some drama as Hassan Chaudhry came up against his former team with the bases loaded and a chance to break the game open. His former co-gm Rizwan Merchant got the better of him however, inducing a weakly hit infield fly. Ismail Akhter picked up his teammate in the next at bat with a two run single. Nadeem Hussain followed with a bloop single scoring another and suddenly the Mughals were up 8-1. 
In the top of the 5th, Jibran Waqar came up with 2 runners on and 2 out, with hopes of making a dent into the Mughals lead. While his rbi single scored one, it wasn't the big blow the Mamluks were hoping for. Zahid Merchant, determined to not allow another run to cross that inning, came up with a huge, and somewhat controversial strikeout looking of his brother Rizwan Merchant. From this on lookers perspective, Rizwan had asked Frank the umpire for time while he was getting set in the batters box. Zahid quick pitched Rizwan and got the K. It's hard to feel to sorry for Riz however since he has used the same tactic on many batters himself earlier in the day.
More uncharacteristic errors cost the Mamluks another 2 runs in the bottom of the 5th. The Mamluks would only score one more run off a solo homerun by WK to make the final 10-3. Zahid Merchant had an incredible game pitching, limiting the Mamluks to only 3 runs.  
Final Score: Mamluks - 3, Mughals - 10;     Star of the Game - Zahid Merchant 3-4, 2 RBIs
 
Nasrids v Sultans: The Nasrids entered the final game of the evening on a high with the franchise's first ever 1-0 start , while the Sultans were eager to not let a bad day get worse. The men in white sprinted to an early 11-1 lead after two innings courtesy of 3 MASSIVE homeruns from Shahzad Ahmed, Faisal Khan, and Omer Chaudhry. The Nasrids kept their cool and understood that they would have to chip away at the lead for the remainder of the game, which they did through a balanced attack in the middle innings led by GM Nirvaan Latif. With the home run limit in effect, the big boys of the Sultans were seemingly frustrated and couldn't get any runs on the board despite solid lead off hitting from rookie Hassan Chaudhary. Just when the Nasrids felt like they were gaining momentum, Shaheen Limbada robbed Osman Buttar over the fence on a sure home run - a highlight reel play that may be an early season play of the year candidate. Despite having their lead trimmed down to 11-9, the Sultans were able to keep the Nasrids at bay through timely defensive plays, consistent pitching from A K, and efficient batting performances, including Taqi Ahmed's 4-4 outing. In the end, the Sultans managed to pull off a convincing 16-9 victory to send both teams homes with a split on opening day.
Final Score: Nasrids - 9, Sultans - 16;      Star of the Game - Shaheen Limbada 

Team Outlook: Abbasids & Ayyubids

Written by: Mohamed Kala/ Zahid Merchant
 
The first two picks in the draft went to the Abbasids and the Ayyubids. Both teams come off a disasterous season where they missed out on the playoffs and will hoping to turn the page on a new season. Both teams will play each other in a crucial opening week encounter. Before we get into the final two teams, let's recap all the stats and rankings of each of the teams. The season kicks off this Sunday with some huge matchups. 
 

Abbasids

Key Numbers: 
Average Age: 36 years (Second oldest team)
BSL Experience: 442 games (Slightly below league average: 450)
Batting Orientation: 1 Lefties, 11 Righties
Squad Career Batting Average: 0.417 (Second worst in the league)
Gold Glovers: 0
Championship Experience: 4 (2016: Bilal Javed; 2015: Fuzail Thakur; 2014: Atif Akhtar, Zuhair Fancy)
 

After five seasons of trying to get it right, it appears the Abbasids finally figured out how to draft. The team drafted their strongest team since the inception of the league and are looking forward to making some noise this season. The team’s GM Ahmad Hussain had one of his best season’s statistically last season despite numerous injuries. While Hussain will try to replicate his offensive success from last season, his team will look to rely heavily on his solid, but underrated defense in both the infield and outfield to win games. Kashif Irshad is a capable power hitter when he is on form and will look to rebound from an underwhelming second season as he joins Hussain as his assistant GM. Like Hussain, Irshad will be relied on heavily to produce with both his bat and his glove. He will look to replicate his all-star team worthy performance from his rookie season as the Abbasids aim to make a deep playoff run this season.

The Abbasids won the draft lottery and, as expected, drafted one of the best shortstops in the league in Sameer Rafique. Rafique had a career year last season with the bat and is one of the most consistent and talented infielders in the league with the uncanny ability to make highlight reel plays due to his athleticism and explosive arm. He is what scouts would call a ‘five tool player’, offering contact, power, speed, range and an arm. The biggest issue with Rafique consistency, as he showed flashes yet never was able to produce it week-in, week-out. That all changed last year. He took his offence to the next level last season crushing 11 homeruns and becoming the best defensive SS in the league not named Jibran Waqar. Rafique’s performance with both the bat and the glove will be key in ensuring a successful season for the Abbasids and a return to the playoffs. With the second pick, the Abbasids drafted Bilal Javed. Javed had a solid season last year winning the championship after breaking out as a power hitter in 2016. The Abbasids are hoping his big-hitting ability and his fiery nature will help them in their quest for a championship.

Zuhair Fancy brings his experience and clutch hitting abilities to the Lions. After being a kay member of the Mughals from 2014 to 2016, Fancy has become somewhat of a mercenary willing to take his talents to any team who will draft him. Fancy has a reputation for being a consistent hitter and a reliable outfielder (although his friends would disagree citing his weak arm). Zia “Doc” Beg will join the Abbasids this year after a solid rookie campaign pitching last season. The Abbasids will hope that Beg continues to develop his pitching prowess and is able to improve on his non-existent offense from last season. In the event Beg improves with the bat, the Lions batting line-up should benefit from added stability and depth. Atif “Snoop” Akhtar had a season to forget last year with the Ayyubids, as he was battling numerous nagging injuries. The Lions are looking forward to Akhtar having a bounce back year as his injuries have healed. If Akhtar has fully healed, he may well be the steal of the fifth round.

The Abbasids drafted Khizer Channa in the sixth round. Despite a solid baseball background, Channa’s rookie season was nothing to write home about. Although originally drafting him, the Abbasids had a change of heart and traded Channa along with their tenth-round pick Saoud Ramjaun to the Sultans for Ahmed Butt and Zayd Ramjaun. The Lions will hope the two players they received in the trade will solidify their batting lineup. Akif Waheed had a breakout season last season winning the Most Improved Player award and making the all-star team. The Abbasids will hope Waheed’s season was not a fluke and that he turns out to be a key contributor for the team.

The Abbasids drafted depth and versatility with the additions of Neal Irfan, Fuzail Thakur and the aforementioned Saoud Ramjaun in the final three rounds to round out the draft.

 
Strengths: 
  • Infield Experience: They have plenty of experience in the infield with Bilal, Sameer, Atif and Ahmad. They have the poise to keep things under control;
  • Doc: Zia Beg had a breakout season on the mound last season. He has a solid work ethic and we expect he will move into pitcher of the year contention if his team can provide him with defensive support;
  • Power: The Abbasids can smash the ball. They are one of only two teams with 4 players with 10 career homeruns; an
  • Reps: The Abbasids have 8 players playing taking their talents to BSL Nights, so they will not be short on practice and should be ready to play on Sunday
Weaknesses: 
  • Outfield: The Abbasids are the only team with zero gold glovers. Their two best outfielders have already pushed 40 and don’t have elite speed. They will need sophomore Neal Irfan to turn into a legit outfielder if they are to compete week-in, week-out;
  • Getting on Base: The Abbasids have the second lowest career batting average. Their top order might be able to do enough to keep them in every game, but their middle and lower order lacks the depth to change the game in their favour; and
  • Cursed?: The Abbasids remain the only team in BSL history to have never reached the semi-finals. How much will that bright orange jersey be a distraction? Is the bright orange jersey cursed?
Keys to success: 
 
The Lions came into the draft with a complete different game plan and specifically chose players playing in BSL Nights or other leagues. This strategy could pay dividends if those players find their rhythm and top form come playoff time. If the Abbasids are to succeed this season, the new look Orangemen will need to shake their reputation of yesteryear as chronic losers. To do that, they will need to get off to a good start. Neal Irfan and Ahmed Butt will need to become consistent outfielders in order to support the defensive prowess in the infield. 

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : B+
Infield : B
Outfield : B
Batting : C
 
Ayyubids
 
Key Numbers: 
Average age: 34 years (League average)
Total BSL Games: 450 games (League average)
Batting Orientation: 1 Lefties, 11 Righties
Career Team Batting Average: 0.429 (Third worst in the league)
Total players with Gold Gloves: 5 

Total players with Championships: 6 (2016: Mohamed Kala, Umair Sheikh; 2015: A R, Ali Jabbar, Imran Merchant, Umer Jabbar)
 
 
After a disappointing 2017 season which saw the Ayyubids miss the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, GM Umer Jabbar and Assistant GM Ali Jabbar received more disheartening news when through social media they found out baby brother Umair Jabbar decided to venture out on his own and take control of the Seljuqs. Fans of the team were stunned, felt betrayed and some were seen crying as news spread that “Team Jabbar” was no more. The team’s GM was quick to assure the fans the 2018 version of the Ayyubids would be better than last year’s version and were rewarded with the second overall pick in the draft. If the Ayyubids are going to compete for the championship, team Umer will have to produce like he did in the BSL’s inaugural season. The team will again rely heavily on Ali’s contributions at the plate and on the mound. Ali will look to build on his career year from last season as he attempts to transform into a consistent long bomb threat. If the Ayyubids want to make the playoffs and make a run, both Jabbars will have to be at the top of their game.
  
With the team’s first round pick, the Ayyubids turned to the captain of their 2015 championship winning team and selected Imran Merchant. Merchant had an underwhelming season last year with the bat, but he did not disappoint with the glove as his outfield defense remains on point. The Ayyubids are counting on Merchant to rip the softball like he did in years previous and lead the Ayyubids to the playoffs. With the second pick, the team surprised everyone (including the pick himself) by drafting Ahmad “Crazy” Ammad. Ammad played for the Ayyubids in his debut season in 2016 and has since become a genuine homerun threat. If you ask any of his teammates from last year, they would have told you that he could have led the league in homeruns if the Ottomans always exhaust the home run limit as a team – with Ahmad batting behind other big bats in the 5-spot, he often had to settle for shortening his swing to avoid solo bombs. In order for Ammad to take his game to the next level, he will need to address his “home run or bust” mentality and surprise other teams by hitting the odd single or two – and may even show some spray hitting with the ability to go oppo. With their third pick, the Ayyubids drafted career Mamluk, franchise first basemen and self-proclaimed “fastest man in the BSL” Mamluks Softball on Facebook Umair Sheikh. Umair underperformed last year with the bat, but if practices are to be taken seriously (they’re not), Sheikh could have a monster year offensively and will no doubt let his former Mamluk teammates hear about it. In another surprising move or perhaps out of desperation with no true shortstop available, the team selected A R in the fourth round. A R is familiar with both the Jabbars and Merchant having won a championship with them in 2015. If the team builds chemistry like it did in 2015 and A R delivers at the 6 spot, the pick could be a major coup. In the fifth round, the Jabbars drafted Hassan Zubair for added depth in the outfield. Like many rookies last season, he had an average season with the bat but has the ability and work ethic to become a serviceable fielder and hitter. 
 
Mohamed Kala was brought back by the team hoping for a bounce bank season since this is an even year. Since the league’s inception, Kala’s batting average for some unknown reason yo-yos between hitting over .500 in and even year or less than .400 in an odd year. If this trend is to continue, Kala should have a solid season with the bat and has the potential to be the steal of the sixth round. Faheem Kotwal had an abysmal season with the bat last year with no extra base hits, and returns to the team looking to redeem himself. The team drafted Shoaib Gaya with the eight pick, but promptly traded him to the Seljuqs for utility man and back-up pitcher Hamza Hussain. He will serve as a relief pitching option for the team, an outfield alternative and projected leadoff hitter. Hussain has been pitching well in exhibition games and there are some rumours the Ayyubids are faced with a pitching controversy. Unfortunately, no one from the team was willing to confirm or deny these rumours. Mad soft. Jibran Khan and Faiz Kalyani round out the 2018 Ayyubids squad. Both guys will be asked to play a supporting role as the Ayyubids attempt to return to the playoffs and cause a scene.

Strengths:
  • Chemistry: The Ayyubids bring together a team that has plenty of familiarity with each other. The team is a blend of the 2015 championship team and the 2017 team. Players should be accustomed to playing with each other which should help the team build chemistry and get off to a quick start.
  • “BrejrinZ”: Imran Merchant arguably covers the most surface of any outfielder in the league (legend has it the portion of the Earth not covered by water is covered by Imran Merchant) and reunites with his championship pitcher in Ali Jabbar. 
  • Pitching: Ali Jabbar is one of the league’s best pitchers but tends to vacation during the summer. Umer Jabbar made a sly move to trade for Hamza Hussain as a backup. 
Weaknesses:
  • Unfamiliarity on Defense: Gold Gloves are gold gloves and no one can argue they have 5 players with that honour. However, will those players be playing the positions where they earned that honour? It remains to be seen whether Umair Sheikh stays at first and Mohamed Kala at catcher. 
  • Shortstop?: Every team picked up a solid shortstop early in the draft except for the Ayyubids. There are some rumblings A R will be tasked with playing shortstop, but nothing has been confirmed. While A R is a solid utility guy, playing shortstop is no easy task. 
  • Getting on Base: The Ayyubids are the only team with one player batting over 0.500 for his career. All players will need to surpass their career average to help the offense in order to win games.
     
Keys to success: 
 
The Ayyubids chose friends and familiarity in the draft which is usually a double-edged sword. The team has players with plenty of potential but need almost everyone to have career years to match the offensive prowess of other teams. You cannot go far without a reliable shortstop in this league and they will need to find consistency from the 6 spot. Getting off to a hot start is important for any team but even more so when the rest of the league is doubting you and your chances of making the playoffs.

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : A
Infield : C
Outfield : B
Batting : B

Team Outlook: Nasrids & Mughals

Written by: Taha Iqbal 
 
The next two teams we analyze are the Nasrids and Mughals. Both teams played each other in the 2017 finals with the rematch coming this weekend. The Nasrids had a cinderella run last year from the bottom of the table to being one inning away from the title. The Mughals have been the model of consistency over the years and are hoping for more of the same with an experienced roster this year. Both teams approach the game differently hoping for the same outcome. As per tradition, a rematch of the finals will take place on opening week and we will find out if the Nasrids have gotten one step closer to that elusive trophy.

Batting averages for new players were assumed based on averages of players drafted in their round. Full statiscal analysis will be provided after all recaps have been posted. 
 
Nasrids
 
Key Numbers: 
Average Age: 34 years (Par with league average)
BSL Experience: 468 games (Slightly above league average: 450)
Batting Orientation: 12 Righties
Squad Career Batting Average: 0.410 (Worst in the league)
Gold Glovers: 4 (2017: Aftab Sheikh, Nirvaan Latif, Osman Buttar; 2015: Osman Buttar; 2014: Usama Mahmood)
Championship Experience: 3 (2017: Asim Gauhar; 2015: Ibrahim Sardar, Salar Rasoul)
 
Nasrids finally got it together last year as they made the playoffs for the first time since the team’s inception. Their run was even sweeter as they turned their season around from a terrible 2-6 start. The mighty Nasrids were finally able to translate their talents to performances and their fairytale run was disrupted only in the final game of the season. Ironically, Kashif Waheed was given a Dwayne Casey treatment and was shown the door after Franchise’s most successful year. Nasrids’ new GM, ‘Sir’ Nirvaan Latif has assumed no responsibility in Waheed’s out and reportedly, there’s no love lost between the two. Latif was sworn in as Nasrids’ new GM and his strategy going into the draft was to get a better leverage at the top and pick Waheed in the mid rounds. Nasrids were late in pulling the trigger as Ottomans won this round of Russian Roulette. 

Nirvaan Latif was one of the stand outs from the inaugural season, winning both the regular season MVP and the HR title that year. While Latif hasn’t been able to replicate that success since, he has remained one of the most consistent hitters in the league. Latif has also maintained a high level of utility defence over the years and it’ll be interesting to see which position he makes his own this year. Osman Buttar is one of the most decorated hitters in the league as he joins Latif as his assistant GM. Like Nirvaan, Buttar finished his rookie season with the HR title and is undoubtedly one of the most fearsome hitters. He was a key piece in Nasrids’ deep playoff run last year but if Nasrids aim to make a similar run, Buttar’s support cast will have to take more prominent roles in the team. Buttar is also a two-time gold glove winner and has made the all-star teams in all three years.

Nasrids kicked off their draft by bringing in a familiar Usama Mahmood. Buttar’s greenbird teammate has been one of the most electrifying infielders with an innate ability to turn double plays on demand. While his defence remains stellar, his offence has been nowhere as reliable, batting a mere .350 on the season. He showed what he can do last year in the playoffs mustering 11 hits on 12 ABs. Mahmood’s consistency with the bat will go a long way in ensuring a successful season for the Nasrids. Rookie, Asad Syed was picked up by Nasrids as their second pick. Syed has previously starred in BSL pick-up games, showcasing his big-hitting abilities but that’s all we can confirm about him.
Ibrahim Sardar sees a change in responsibilities this year after relinquishing control of the Seljuqs. This also results in a change in scenery as this will be his first year without Imran Merchant and Taha Iqbal. Sardar has built a reputation of a consistent lead-off hitter and lately a reliable pitcher. Whether he pitches this year or not, remains to be seen. Ali Wadee will join the Nasrids again this year after an underwhelming rookie season. Nasrids will hope that Wadee is able to turn his offensive struggles around which should bring greater stability to the overall dynamics. Aftab Sheikh had a heck of a season last year with the Mamluks and won the mid-season tournament MVP trophy to show for his efforts. He was awarded for his consistency last year as Nasrids picked him up in the fifth round. Whether Sheikh can repeat his performance from last year remains to be seen. Sheikh’s golden season wasn’t only limited to his offence but for his defense as well - acknowledged by a gold glove for his efforts at 2B.

Aftab Sheikh will welcome his Mamluks teammate from last year, Jav Ahmed as he was picked up in the sixth round by the Nasrids. Ahmed had a breakout season of sorts as well last year – his last season in 2015 saw him hit .065 which improved to .528 last year. Nasrids will hope that Ahmed is able to string together two consistent seasons. Salar Rasoul returns to BSL this year - his last and only appearance in 2015 resulted in a championship for the Ayyubids. Nasrids will hope that Rasoul turns out to be a lucky charm for them as they contend for the championship.

Nasrids picked up role players, Hasan Afzal, Asim Gauhar and Asim Waheed in the final three rounds to round up the draft.
 
Strengths: 
  • Osman Buttar: Buttar has the ability to carry his team on the back. He was one of the primary reasons Nasrids could make a push for the championship last year;
  • Infield: In presence of three gold gloves (presuming that Nirvaan, Usama and Aftab all play infield) Nasrids’ infield defense looks ominous.
Weaknesses: 
  • Pitching: One of the constants we’ve seen from all championship teams is great pitchers. Nasrids decided against drafting a regular pitcher and unless the incumbent finds his groove early, inexperienced pitching could cause them some stress;
  • Outfield: Apart from Osman (It seems Sardar can only pitch or play infield this season) there is dearth of quality outfielders in the lineup. Asad Syed will have to be a reliable CF to solidify their grass troops. 
  • Depth: Although Nasrids’ top looks good, their weak bottom half lowers their overall batting average. Hasan Afzal and Asim Waheed will need to have career years to give the top order more at-bats.  
Keys to success: 
 
The Nasrids’ success will start from Buttar’s bat but will need a balanced attack. Asad Syed will need to have a stellar rookie season to take pressure off the top order. Their infield is amongst the best in the league this year and they’ll have to lock it down to aid their pitching. Buttar and Syed will need to be a dynamic duo in the outfield for the Nasrids’ overall success. Bottom six in the lineup need to hit the ground running and start punching above their weight to bring Nasrids’ batting average up to parity with the league.

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : B-
Infield : A
Outfield : C
Batting : C
 
 
Mughals
 
Key Numbers: 
Average age: 34 years (Par with league average)
Total BSL Games: 475 games (2nd best)
Batting Orientation: 3 Lefty, 9 Righties
Career Team Batting Average: 0.475 (2nd highest)
Total players with Gold Gloves: 5 (2017: Zahid Merchant; 2016: Nadeem Hussain, Zahid Merchant; 2015: Hassan Chaudhry; 2014: Aazar Zafar, Nadeem Hussain)  

Total players with Championships: 8 (2017: Aazar Zafar, Ismail Akhter, Nadeem Hussain, Zahid Merchant; 2016: Hassan Chaudhry, Riyad Ramjaun; 2014: Faraaz Alvi, Nadeem Hussain, Nauman Abbasi, Zahid Merchant) 
 
Zahid Merchant and Nadeem Hussain are the only GM/AGM duo that has stood the test of time. What started off as a Billy Beane-Paul DePodesta (Moneyball) association, soon flourished into a full-fledged bromance but as the league zooms in on their relationship, chinks start to appear in their armours. It is rumoured that all hell broke loose in the Mughals camp when Hussain declared his admiration for Rehan Ahmad and his desire to one day play under Ahmed’s leadership. Recently, Merchant stormed out of a press conference when grilled on Hussain’s ‘state of mind’ and it’s obvious to see Zahid is dealing with a heartbreak. We are not sure how this will affect his performance and the team atmosphere. 
 
It is also understood that Merchant has entered a lawsuit against Tarzan for copyright infringement on his patented chest pound. In a Twitter tirade, Merchant implored The ‘George of the Jungle’ Softball League MVP to try something original for a change. Merchant has led this franchise to two championships and is the most successful BSL pitcher of all time with an astounding 45-12 record. With the bat, he has the most hits and runs scored in league’s four years history - A true Babe Ruth of BSL. His apprentice of four years, Hussain, is rumoured to be rocking the Mughals ship lately and is believed to be next in line to replace Zahid ‘Dwayne Casey’ Merchant for Mughals’ top job. Offensively, 3-time All-Star had an out of character season last year, attributed mostly to an injury mid-way through the season. He didn’t let his guard down defensively though as he kept it clean in the outfield. Despite the distracting rumours, Hussain has committed his unwavering allegiance and affection for Merchant and.......the Kansas City Royals.
 
Following his annual ritual, Merchant started the draft day by watching ‘The Draft Day’. As his first move, he sucked baby Merchant in to swapping his fourth with Mamluks’ seventh and was still able to draft his preferred pick, Ismail Akhter. Like Hussain, Akhter had an underwhelming season last year with the bat but given the talent on offer, you can count on Akhter to resume demolition this year and he already looks like a changed man. Hassan Chaudhry’s marriage and the resulting absence (or not) was the most discussed mid-taraweeh conversations this Ramadan. Rival GMs were seen protesting outside The local masjid Imam prayed for Chaudhry’s full 16-game regular season on the night of the 27th following a several requests from his GM Zahid. Regardless of duration of his absence during the regular season, he will most certainly be available for the playoffs and that’s exactly why Mughals drafted Chaudhry. Interestingly though, Chaudhry too had an off season and averaged in the 400s last year. It’s hard to see 2016 Batting Title winner to have two off-colour seasons. 
 
With their third pick, the Mughals unusually drafted a young’n, an 18 year old rookie Aqib Khokhar. If practices and exhibition games are to be taken as a barometer, this rookie is a solid shortstop and slated to lead off for Mughals this year. Surprisingly, Faraaz Alvi dropped to Mughals in the fourth round – compared to when he was drafted in the first round the year before. He celebrated his return to Mughals by treating everyone on his team to Popeyes - it is safe to say that he has won back his GMs trust with this clutch move. Alvi, like many of his comrades, had a forgettable season last year but over his four years career, his run production has been amongst the best in BSL. In the fifth round, Merchant drafted a close friend and neighbour, Imran Qureshi. Like many rookies, he had a slow start to his career last year but has the making of a consistent, mid-lower order hitter. Imran should also provide Zahid a BP buddy at their local park. Watch out for Qureshi’s long stretches and dependable glove at first base as he vies for his first gold glove in that position. 
 
Aazar Zafar will be thrilled to make a return to his championship team. Until last year, Zafar had one of the lowest attendance averages in the league, but came around to missing only three games during the regular season. Under Merchant’s leadership, expect Zafar to continue improving on the depleted attendance average and continue contributing in the outfield and with the bat. Noor Sheikh had a horrid run with the bat last year, averaging an abysmal .176, over 34 ABs. Interestingly, Noor averages .430 over two seasons with Sultans but the average drops to sub-.250 playing for other teams. Sheikh downplayed this analysis and termed BSL analysts amateurish - he promises to come out of the blocks with all guns blazing as he aims to reverse the trend. For the fifth year running, Riyad ‘The Gypsy’ Ramjaun will be suiting up for a new team. He will serve as a relief pitching option for Merchant and a decent infield alternative. Atif Parvaiz and Nauman Abbasi round up the Mughals squad for 2018. Both will take on important support roles as the Mughals strive to cement their dynasty in the league.

Strengths:
  • Pitching: Zahid Merchant is one of the best pitchers in the league and it seems that he might have added a few pitches to his armoury;
  • Outfield: With Nadeem, Hassan, Aazar and Ismail, Mughals have arguably the best outfield in the league this year;
  • Championship Experience: All but three returning player have won a championship with one team or another. Come playoff, this experience will come in handy.
Weaknesses:
  • Squad Parity/Balance: While Mughals top 6 look formidable, their bottom 6 look are either unproven or weaker than league average.
  • Attendance/injury: With Hassan Chaudhry missing 3-4 weeks and Zahid, Aazar and Noor recovering from injuries, Mughals depth will be put to the test
Keys to success: 
 
Mughals come into the season with a daunting roster on paper but have major question marks on health and availability.  GM Zahid Merchant is coming off two major finger surgeries on his non-pitching hand. Aazar Zafar just got cleared to resume running after a foot injury and Noor Sheikh is still recovering from a neck injury.  Add the marriage of Hassan Chaudhry along with an 18 year old SS and you have the enough to keep GM Zahid sleepless for the entire summer.

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : A
Infield : B-
Outfield : A
Batting : B+

BSL Preseason Update #3

With only 12 days left till 2018 Opening day, we are putting the final touches on preparations. The jerseys have arrived and everyone will receive their jerseys this Sunday at the exhibition games.
 
Here are a few more updates as we approach the season: 
 
1. Exhibition games have been confirmed for this Sunday June 17th at Birchwood Park. Here are the matchups: 
11am - Mamluks v Seljuqs on BW1
12:30pm - Mughals v Ottomans on BW1
12:30pm - Ayyubids v Nasrids on BW2
2:00pm - Abbasids v Sultans on BW1 
 
2. Opening day (June 24th) this year will be special. We will be celebrating our 5th year anniversary and plan to hold a carnival that day for the entire family. There will be a kids baseball game, BBQ, and more. Mark your calendars. 
 
3. Criteria for Brotherhood Award: 
The Brotherhood award is the most prestigious award in our league.  It is an award that recognizes a player who has upheld an exemplary code of conduct based on Islamic principles and has shown selfless dedication in working towards the betterment of Brotherhood Softball League. 
The winner of the award will have the following year’s league fees paid for them. The Board, GMs and Discipline committee will involved in the voting process. 
 
The following is the criteria used to determine the candidates:  
A.     This person has upheld Islamic etiquette during and after games as well as other league activities.  
B.     This person has demonstrated respect for teammates, opponents and league officials regardless of the game’s outcome.
C.     This person has been known to have always maintained a positive attitude even when mistakes or errors were committed on the field.  
D.     This person has been an active participant in the league by volunteering assistance throughout the season.
 
4. Scorekeeping ground rules: 
The competition committee has come up with a critieria to clarify the decision-making for errors and hits. This should create more consistency in scorekeeping and more clarity. 
 
If a ball is mishandled on a routine play as judged by the scorer, an error will be charged.   Another player may not influence the decision of the scorekeeper.  If the scorekeeper is unsure of a call between an error or hit, a hit will be awarded. 

An error WILL BE charged under following conditions:
1-  If a ground ball or a soft line drive is directly hit to the infielder and is misplayed by the fielder.  The fielder has planted both feet when the ball arrives or has taken fewer than 3 steps towards the ball.  
2-  If a ground ball or a soft line drive is handled properly but then thrown away from first base (or other bases) or dropped by the fielder receiving the throw. 
3- If an outfielder mishandles a ground ball and/or it passes under his glove allowing the runner to take another base - runner will only be awarded a single.  Similarly, if a runner takes an extra base on a bad throw, a double or triple will not be awarded.   
4- If a routine fly ball is mishandled or dropped by the fielder. The fielder must have had both feet planted at the time of catch, or takes fewer than 5 steps towards the ball.

An error will NOT be charged in the following circumstances:
5- If a fielder has to make a sudden movement towards the ball, even if ball hits a part of the glove or player.
6- If a ball is hit exceptionally hard directly towards an infielder and the ball is misplayed.  
7- If a throw is made but runner beats out the throw then an error will not be charged
8- If an outfielder drops a ball while making contact with the fence.  
9- As previously mentioned, if a fielder has to take more than 5 steps to catch a pop fly and both feet are not firmly planted. 
 
5. 2018 BSL Committees
The committees for this season were selected based on responses in the pre-season survey. If you still like to volunteer, please email us and we will find you a committee to join. We could use your skills. 
 
Write up: Hashim Ghazi (Chair), Aamir Husainy, Akif Waheed, Hassan Chaudhary, Jibran Khan, Mohamed Kala, Rehan Ahmad, Riyad Ramjaun, Saad G, Shahzad Ahmed, Taha Iqbal, Zain Khilji, Zuhair Fancy. 
 
Operations: Zahid Merchant (Chair), Imran Merchant, Jibran Waqar, Taha Iqbal, Zain Khilji 
 
Discipline and Competition: Ahmad Hussain (Chair), Hammad Afif, Ibrahim Sardar, Nadeem Hussain, Shaheen Limbada
 
Charity: Shamil Khadaroo (Chair), Ali Jabbar, Atif Qureshi, Imran Qureshi, Nirvaan Latif, Omer Chaudhry
 
Marketing: Umer Jabbar (Chair), Aftab Sheikh, Faraaz Alvi, Mohamed Kala, Osman Buttar, Yasser Zia 
 
Social Media: Umair Jabbar (Chair), Asim Gauhar, Furhan Azmat, Zain Malik
 
Gameday volunteers: Kashif Waheed (Chair), Rizvan Merchant (Co-chair), Aftab Sheikh, Ahmad Ammad, Ahmad Hussain, Ahmed Butt, Asim Waheed, Atif Khan, Faheem Kotwal, Faraaz Alvi, Fuzail Thakur, Hamza Waheed, Hashim Ghazi, Hassan Chaudhry, Ibrahim Sardar, Imran Qureshi, Jav Ahmed, Kashif Irshad, Khizer Channa, Mohamed Kala, Nadeem Hussain, Neal Irfan, Nirvaan Latif, Omer Dhaduk, Rameez Siddiqi, Randy Panesar, Rehan Ahmad, Salar Rasoul, Sameer Rafique, Shamil Khadaroo, Tanseer Khawaja, Umer Jabbar, Yousaf Chaudhry, Zahid Merchant, Zaid Ghansar, Zain Khilji, Zain Malik, Zayd Ramjaun 
 


Team Outook: Ottomans & Sultans

Written by: Taha Iqbal 
 
The next two teams we analyze are the Ottomans and Sultans. The Ottomans surprised everyone and broke everyone's mock draft by deviating from their AGM core. The Sultans capitalized and got a steal with Shaheen Limbada at #6. The Sults and Otts already had a rivalry dating back to the inaugural semi-final but that just got a dose of steroids with family drama. The steelcage match between Rehan and Shaheen is set for July 22nd. Both teams come into this season with high expectations after a disappointing end to their 2017 season. They will hope a new core and a different strategy will finally reap results. 

Batting averages for new players were assumed based on averages of players drafted in their round. Full statiscal analysis will be provided after all recaps have been posted. 
 
Ottomans
 
Key Numbers: 
Average Age: 37 years (Oldest in the league this year)
BSL Experience: 506 games (Most experienced squad in 2018)
Batting Orientation: 2 Lefty, 10 Righties
Squad Career Batting Average: 0.460 (3rd best in the league this year - .014 over league average)
Gold Glovers: 2 (2016: Hammad Afif (2nd); 2015: Taha Iqbal (3rd);)
Championship Experience: 3 (2017: Furhan Azmat; 2015: Taha Iqbal; 2014: Randy Panesar)
 
Are Ottomans the Seattle Mariners of BSL? Ergo, the best team ever to have not won a championship? With a Ken Griffey Jr. of their own, it makes for an uncanny comparison. Hashim Ghazi has led the Turks well in their conquests over the past four years but pressure is mounting on him to bring home the championship. Apart from a stellar 2016, Ghazi’s own performances have been modest (at best), with him seemingly disappearing when the games matter most. If the Ottomans want to cross that dreaded final hurdle, it’s imperative for their commander to have a strong year. Trust Ghazi to turn back the clock this year in hopes of finally lead Turks to glory.
 
If Ottomans are akin to Mariners, Rehan Ahmad is analogous to Lebron James (different sport, we know, but work with us here), tasked with carrying the team on his back every year. At the draft, however, he channeled his inner J.R. Smith, as he decided to draft Taha Iqbal over franchise icon Shaheen Limbada. Thereafter, Ahmad could be seen talking to Ghazi’s hand throughout the draft, as the decision clearly was spearheaded by one side of the GM duo. It is understood that Limbada has since defriended Ahmad on Facebook and based on Ahmad’s own admission, Limbada hasn’t returned any of his 283 missed calls. For all we care, this feud might have refueled the Ottomans vs Sultans rivalry from Year 1 of the League.  Ahmad leads the league in almost all the offensive categories - there is hardly any individual award that two-time reigning MVP hasn’t won and it is no secret that he has his eyes set on the silverware that matters the most.
 
However, we should point out that objectively, picking up Iqbal made a lot of sense – he plays a premium position, can bat anywhere in the lineup, and shows he really turns it up in the postseason, as demonstrated by his Playoff MVP performance in his championship 2015 season. You couldn’t help but notice an uproar when Ottomans selected Taha Iqbal as their first pick, but a lot of the noise was coming from the draft pick himself. Iqbal celebrated his selection by letting out a patented screech, did his staple Amitabh Bachchan dance, and then left for the cinema to watch ‘Jo Jeeta Wo Sikander’ with his family. Iqbal has had solid four years in the league, but has never played without his close associated, Imran Merchant and AR. As if Iqbal’s selection hadn’t created enough furor, the Ottomans set the cat amongst the pigeons by selecting rookie Owais Ansari as their second pick. Ansari joins the League with a reputation befit of a phenom after some very impressive offensive statistics in other Mississauga leagues. The 24-year old is tasked with manning short-stop for the Turks, and if he can hold it down like the Mighty O’s SS of the past, we may have a budding superstar on our hands.
 
After hectic first couple of rounds, the Turks restored order by selecting Tanseer Khawaja as their third pick. Given the dearth of pitchers in this league and Khawaja’s two-way abilities, it’s a surprise that he lasted as long as he did. While not quite Shohei Ohtani, Khawaja has the unique distinction of being the only player in the League to have won both a batting title (2014) and pitcher of the year (2015) – yup, not even Ziggy the Commish can match that. While other teams were looking to add youth to their teams in the earlier rounds, the Ottomans continued to add experience to their squad by drafting Hammad Afif in the fourth round. Unfortunately for Afif, his performances over past couple of years have failed to surpass his reputation of being a consistent clean-up hitter, but with a team featuring the big bats of Ahmad, and Iqbal, he will not be burdened of carrying as extensive of a load on offense. Afif’s leather at second base played a big role in why he was brought in by the Ottomans, and we expect him and Ansari to combine for routine double plays all year long.
 
With their fifth pick, Ottomans drafted Mohsin Zubair, a cricketer by day and a softball player by night (Ed’s Note: we recognize this can be said of about 40 percent of the League). Zubair has been consistent during his two years in the league, and the Ottomans will hope he’s able to continue the trend in 2018. The Nasrids seemed to have pulled a strategic masterclass when they were a pick away from bringing back their former leader, Kashif Waheed. However, the Ottomans were having none of that, as they drafted Waheed in the sixth round. Clearly, the Nasrids left Waheed on the board for a round too long and were left licking their wounds. Waheed was targeted by the Royal Blues, recognizing that his best performance in the League were in Season 1 where he was not managing a team and rather just focusing on being a beast at the plate. Plus, when you factor in his leadership skills that have been on display ever since inception, we anticipate a big year.
 
Although Arshad Chawdhry’s batting numbers have regressed since he first joined the league in 2015, his defensive performances have remained consistently good, capitalized by a Gold Glove nomination for his performance last year. Add that to his speed and eye at the plate, and you have the makings of a player playing way above the round he got picked. Furhan Azmat, coming fresh off a championship, will be suiting up for the Ottomans this year. This fashion icon has long questioned his fellow players’ fashion sense (with exception to his GM, he knows he dresses incredibly mash’Allah), and has finally given up on them, making the walks from the parking lot to the diamond a runway all to himself. Thom Browne short suits and $41,000 snakeskins bags? Amateur – wait till you see what WPG’s Finest has in store.
 
Randy Panesar’s lifelong desire to play for the Ottomans has finally come to fruition. His excitement was palpable when he heard the news of being drafted by his childhood hero, Rehan Ahmad (they are both the same age). While Panesar’s stock have gone down in recent years, you cannot question his commitment and ability at the plate when he is locked in. For the Ottomans to have poached a guy sporting a career average of over .440 this late in the draft seems like a broad daylight robbery. Joining Panesar will be his teammate from last year, Zia Ali, the only player drafted by the team that has adorn the Ottomans logo in the past. The Ottomans’ decision to bring back Ali was dictated by the two dingers he hit against them in one of the games last year. Expect Ali to finally silence his critics if he’s able to maintain the hitting surge he displayed closing out last season.
 
Strengths: 
  • Pitching: Statistically, Tanseer Khawaja is the best pitcher in the league when it comes to strikeout rate and average walks conceded. With an omni-present offence, this upgrade in pitching is sure to drive results for the Ottomans;
  • Leadership: the Ottomans feature five guys who have GMed in the League (Taha, Tanseer, Kashif, Rehan and Hashim), and others (Hammad and Zia) who have been captains of teams in other leagues/sports – this group knows how to lead and show up ready to play come gametime;
  • Reh/Rey/Ray – the guy’s won three straight MVPs, come on now. 
Weaknesses: 
  • Age: the O’s are the oldest in the league this year – six years older than the youngest team. Fatigue might play a role late in the season, as may injuries;
  • Lack of Power: the Ottomans of last year was stocked with superstars crushing the ball out of the park like it was nothing. Those days are long gone, as the team seems to have more of a balanced, small-ball lineup in 2018.
  • A lot will be asked of their outfield with Mohsin, Arshad, Kashif and Furhan playing along side Rehan. They are one of few teams without a gold glover in the grass. 
Keys to success: 
 
There seems to be greater balance in the Ottomans of 2018. While there is dearth of superstars, their batting lineup can get on base from one through twelve. Ottomans will hope that the support cast is able to shoulder some of the load from Rey Rey. In the presence of two gold gloves and a trusty platoon at first, the Ottomans’ infield looks strong as well. Expect the Ottomans to single and double their way to runs this year, and leave the home runs to the big bats in the lineup. When they can continually put together a few runs every inning, it will leave their ace Robocop Khawaja to do what he does best – shut down opposing hitters and keep the runs against at bay.

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : A
Infield : B+
Outfield : C
Batting : B+
 
 
Sultans
 
Key Numbers: 
Average age: 35 years (3rd oldest in the league this year)
Total BSL Games: 432 games (3rd least)
Batting Orientation: 1 Lefty, 11 Righties
Career Team Batting Average: 0.442 (4th highest - median)
Total players with Gold Gloves: 1 (2016: Shahzad Ahmed (3rd);) 

Total players with Championships: 3 (2016: Omer Chaudhry, Shahzad Ahmed; 2015: Zain Malik)
 
For a good part of last year, the Sultans seemed to have reclaimed their mojo that had gone missing after the inaugural season. Rookie GM Shamil Khadaroo’s leadership was instrumental in their run to the playoffs and with a squad made up of superstars, we hope he does not approach the game negatively and regressively like the manager of his second-class football club, Manchester United. Remarkably, 65% of his hits last year were XBH but his flashes of great hitting were marred by otherwise inconsistent plate appearances that saw him barely hit .400. Khadaroo’s up and down season can be attributed to his Canseco-like performances last year – he was Jose on Diamond 2, but Ozzie on Diamond 1. In Khadaroo’s absence, Shahzad Ahmed will have to shoulder the added responsibilities of a GM. This has hardly phased Ahmed though, as he was spotted at a local joint feasting on a Jucy Lucy with his close associate, Mustafa. While little is known about this close friend of his, Shahzad has attributed his past success to Mustafa’s constant presence in his life. Aside from his associations, Ahmed’s firepower with the bat is hardly disputable. It is rumored that the local transit company has been after him for wrecking number of their trains running on the Lakeshore line right behind the home run fence. His defensive skills at the hot corner serve as the icing on the cake – now the only thing missing from his game is a man-bun. 
 
Khadaroo and Ahmed could hardly believe their luck when the Ottomans passed on Shaheen Limbada in the draft. Limbada is a proven offensive juggernaut and his knack for run production has been outstanding. Limbada’s defensive abilities are well documented as well and we all know Shaheen is at his best when he has something to prove. He will be motivated after his performance in the playoffs last year and being overlooked in the draft by the team he made a contender year after year – it seems Sultans might have added the piece that can take them all the way. Shahzad drafted a familiar face in the second round, as he brought in Omer Chaudhry from their 2016 championship winning Mamluks. It is understood that Chaudhry wasn’t overly excited as he was looking forward to rejoining the Abbasids for another year at Shortstop. Going by his yoyo performance chart, Chaudhry is primed for a monster season again this year and if he gets remotely close to what he did in 2016, then the Sultans’ top four might be hard to contain. 
 
With a limited supply of pitchers disappearing thick and fast in the draft, the Sultans drafted AK with their third pick. AK was able to manage his camping commitments last year and pitched the Nasrids to the championship game. Nobody locks in quite like AK does, and if he’s able to maintain similar commitment level this year, the Sultans’ pitching concerns should be well taken care of. He will be joined by his Nasrids’ teammate from last year, Kamil Haider. Even though Kamil was a vital piece to the Nasrids’ overall success last year, personally, he personally knows he can perform better offensively. Haider is known to be electrifying at SS and he should complement Ahmed well on the left side of the infield. The Sultans’ drafted the ‘other’ Hassan Chaudhary with their fifth pick. 'Hary' as he is affectionately called, has been a superstar on the soccer pitch in BISL over last couple of years, it’ll be interesting to see how his Softball career pans out. He’s got the speed and length of a centre-fielder, and with some experienced outfielders flanking him, he in good hands to continually develop on the grass. 
 
The exuberant Zain Malik had invited his close friends to the draft so they could watch him being picked in the first round, but grapes turned sour after the end of fifth round as the dejected Malik was seen taking his anger out on a chair while watching a Pakistan v India kabaddi match in the adjacent room. Malik, picked in the sixth round, will don the heralded white jersey for third year in a row as he brings with him championship experience and a good steady bat. Faisal Khan, picked in the seventh round, sees a return to Sultans as well and welcomes his old teammate Limbada into the mix. Khan had a resurgent 2017 after a dismal 2016 - he’d hope to replicate his performance from last year and help drive the Sultans’ resurgence of their own.
 
The Sultans traded their eighth and tenth pick in return for Abbasids’ same picks. This trade sees Ahmed Butt and Zayd Ramjaun make their way to Abbasids in return for Khizer Channa and Saoud Ramjaun. Khizer closed out his 2017 with a championship and will look to further develop as a young utility player in the League. Ramjaun is moving on to the Sultans where he should immediately make Shahzad and Mustafa giddy with Saoud's MVP bbq ribs. Ninth round pick, Taqi Ahmed will represent Sultans for the first time as he tries to get out of his torrid run and make a name for himself in the league.

Strengths:

  • Championship Experience: Sultans’ championship experience is amongst the best in the league this year. They’d hope that this turns out to be the differentiator between them and the rest;
  • Left side of Field: The Left side of the Sultans field (Shaz and Kamil in the infield, Sham and Slim in the OF) locks down the busiest area of the park, and the infield especially looks like one of the best in the League.
Weaknesses:
  • Weak Outfield: Apart from Limbada, the Sultans’ outfield looks feeble, especially with Khadaroo missing eight games or more. They will have to rely on Hassan, Khizer and one of Omer or Zain to really step up to keep them from floundering; They are another team without a gold glover in the OF, though Shaheen has been a finalist many times.
  • Pitching Alternates: Lack of pitching alternates might leave Sultans scrambling in AK’s absence, and may force one of King Khan, Shaz or Slim to throw some strikes and play out of their preferred position to keep the team competitive.
  • Balanced lineup: With plenty of power bats, opposing GMs are already planning on giving up solo dingers to this team.
Keys to success: 
 
One of the factors that’ll drive Sultans success this year is their pitcher’s attendance. While AK missed only a week last year, the frequent camper finds himself more indispensable than ever this year. Further, the Sultans batting lineup is top heavy and it is pivotal to their overall success that they perform to their perceived potential. Lastly, the outfielders will need to step up in Khadaroo’s prolonged absence to ensure they’re able to stay afloat. 

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : B
Infield : B
Outfield : C
Batting : B

Team Outlooks: Mamluks & Seljuqs

Written by: Taha Iqbal 
 
The final two picks in the draft went to the Mamluks and the newly managed Seljuqs. The Green Machine were hoping for a top four pick but had to resort to a trade in the first round to lock up a top talent. The Seljuqs happily settled for the back of the draft as they were able to scoop up two first round calibre players. 

Batting averages for new players were assumed based on averages of players drafted in their round. Full statiscal analysis will be provided after all recaps have been posted. 
 
Mamluks
 
Key Numbers: 
Average Age: 32 years (Second youngest in the league this year)
BSL Experience: 415 games (Second lowest; 2018 League Average: 450 games/squad)
Batting Orientation: 1 Lefty, 11 Righties
Squad Career Batting Average: 0.482 (First in the league this year - .036 over league average)
Gold Glovers: 3 (2017: Jibran Waqar (SS), Taher Mirza (OF), W K (C); 2015/2015: Jibran Waqar (SS), Taher Mirza (OF);)
Championship Experience: 8 (2017: W K, Yousaf Chaudhry; 2016: Baseer Yassen, Jibran Waqar, Rizvan Merchant, Taher Mirza; 2015: Atif Khan, Sheraz Mahmood; 2014: Sheraz Mahmood)
 
The Mamluks, a team synonymous with style, guile and success, will be led again by the mercurial, chappal-clad, Rizvan Merchant. It is rumored that Merchant is in talks with a major sportswear brand to release a custom chappal-looking baseball cleat, but there seems to be disagreements between whether to go with a thong, slider or Velcro strap design. Even with his awkward attire, Merchant is one of the best to ever to don the Logo – his career hitting stats are amongst the top-11 and stands as one of the three best pitchers in the League. Going in to the pre-season, he was one of the staunchest advocates of maintaining a one GM, two AGM team structure, but we all know how that episode ended. This meant deciding between a rock and a hard place – it is understood from a reliable source that Hassan Chaudhry was put on a spot to decide between the Mamluks and his wedding. Foolishly, he opted for the latter and was duly shown the door. Let’s be honest though, Chaudhry didn’t stand a chance against Jibran Waqar; to be fair though, nobody in the League would. Waqar is not only a top shortstop and reigning homerun champion, but arguably is the best player in the League. Don’t expect him to relent on his gargantuan career, as he has gotten better with each season – the best (and that elusive MVP trophy) may be yet to come. 
 
Going into the draft, the Mamluks’ strategy was to acquire at least two of their top three performers from the 2016 campaign. As if initial snub wasn’t hurtful enough, Riz rubbed further salt on Chaudhry’s wounds by selecting Taher Mirza with his first pick. Chaudhry could be seen sobbing on Zahid Merchant’s shoulder after this recent snub (more on this in the Mughals preview). After an underwhelming season last year, we should see Mirza restore normalcy, robbing base hits in the outfield, hitting doubles and triples in the gaps and making light work of the base pads. With their second pick, Mamluks acquired the Korean sensation, Yu Choo. Choo’s exploits in the outfield are well advertised and his speed on the bases is not far behind Mirza’s. Choo is coming fresh off a championship and he’ll add to the Mamluks’ already youthful team. 
 
The Gang Green took a gamble with Atif Khan in the third round, who has a question mark over his availability this season with a potential work relocation on the horizon. If available, Khan is one of the premier third basemen in the League, and (a running theme) can light the base paths on fire; he should complement Waqar well on the left side of the infield. Also, Khan’s hitting has blossomed over the years and is more than a worthy addition provided he’s available. WK is another addition to the Mamluks from the Mughals’ successful 2017 championship run – his impressive season last year, complete with playoff MVP trophy, was a huge factor in the Mughals’ success. The Mamluks will hope WK can keep his performance trending upward.
 
Little is known about rookie Adeel Alam, but going by Merchant’s scouting prowess, there is a good chance that Alam is another diamond in the rough. Alam was followed up by selecting Salman Ahmed, whose stock continues to grow after a strong rookie campaign. Going by the league trend, the Mamluks should expect improvement in his sophomore season, and if that is the case, picking up a guy who gets on base 65% of the time in the sixth round is one heck of a pickup. Baseer Yaseen returns to the Mamluks after a disappointing 2017, but we expect the boys in Green to reap the benefits of him falling so low to them here. Aamir Husainy joins the Mamluks after a rookie season to forget with Abbasids last year, and it appears that he was picked more on potential than performance. It will be interesting to see how that pans out. Veteran Sheraz Mahmood is brought in for his leadership amongst the youthful team and must fill the big shoes of clubhouse leader and Gold Glover Umair Sheikh. He is understood to be going through extensive hitting drills to expand his range, which should see him spray the ball a bit more in 2018. Yasser Zia rounds out the squad this year and looks to continue building upon his year-over-year improvements at the plate. 
 
Strengths: 
  • Speed – this youthful squad has speed for days – expect them to always take the next available bag and capitalize on defensive errors for extra base hits;
  • Pitching & Defence – Rizvan should continue his dominance and it helps when you have a Gold-Glover at the two most vital positions in the field at shortstop and centre;
  • Jibs – a blend of speed, power and defense makes Waqar one of, if not the best players in the League. You always know what you’re getting from #7 – a true five-tool player and perennial MVP candidate.
Weaknesses: 
  • Third Base – Atif Khan, if available, will hold down the hot corner, but if the record-holder for runs scored in a season finds himself moving for work, it leads to a huge hole on both sides of the ball
  • Consistency – though the Mamluks boast three of the best in the game, the rest of the roster is filled out with guys that have boom-or-bust tendencies. They will need these guys to show more good than bad if they really want to repeat their championship form of 2016.
Keys to success: 
 
Mamluks’ have always been a team of great chemistry but the subtraction of Hassan and Umair leave them with an entirely new group. Only three players have every played for green and Riz/Jibs will have to take over the role of coaching the new lads. The Mamluks only perceived weakness is the 3rd and 4th outfielders with Baseer Yasseen and Aamir Husainy penciled in those spots. They also have limited fielding flexibility with their final few picks which might be costly if anyone is missing extended weeks. Be afraid of their top order, be very afraid. 

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : A
Infield : A
Outfield : B+
Batting : A
 
 
Seljuqs
 
Key Numbers: 
Average age: 31 years (Youngest in the league this year)
Total BSL Games: 410 games (Lowest in the league this year)
Batting Orientation: 1 Lefty, 11 Righties
Career Team Batting Average: 0.454 (3rd best; 0.08 above league average)
Total players with Gold Gloves: 2 (2017: Michael Arlitt (OF), Umair Jabbar (OF); 2016: Umair Jabbar (OF);) 

Total players with Championships: 1 (2016: Sikandar Aftab)
 
The Seljuqs have long had a history of coups, betrayal and failures, but it was hardly a coup when Umair Jabbar announced his ascendancy to their throne through a cute Instagram post. With Ibrahim Sardar showing himself the door, Baby Jabbar (‘BJ’ as he is affectionately known amongst friends) was chosen as Seljuqs’ supreme commander. In BSL, BJ has been a shadow of the player who routinely lights up the Home Run Derby and other softball leagues in Mississauga. He has been hyped to unleash his fury on the League for the past number of years but apart from a few sporadic surges, BSL has generally been deprived of his talents. However, there is no doubt that he can win games on his own, be it with his bat, his glove, and apparently now his pitching too.  In true millennial fashion, he started off with firing Sardar’s experienced marshals and replaced them with an athletic and highly touted, albeit inexperienced, AGM in Omer Dhaduk.  Rumour has it that BJ sensed mutiny within the ranks and opted for a close and an unerring friend instead. After a slow start to his rookie year, Dhaduk (not to be confused with onomatopoeic heart sound in Urdu – although seeing his biceps in those Under Armour muscle tees may lead to sped up ones) blossomed into a trust-worthy cleanup hitter. His sophomore year should see him improve defensively at shortstop as well. 
 
With the youngest GM/AGM duo in the league, the Seljuqs opted for another young’n in the first round – the oft-injured Zain Khilji. After two years of exile, Khilji returns to the kingdom he once ruled. Seljuqs will hope to leverage his leadership, especially with the both a pair of first-time GMs. Keeping Khilji fit and managing his other commitments should be the Seljuqs’ immediate priority. The first pick of the second round had the Seljuqs bring back reigning Gold Glover Michael Arlitt. When it comes to flashing the leather, there aren’t many better outfielders in the game than Mike. Last year, he set the outfield on fire with some of the most spectacular catches ever seen in BSL, not least of those was one that sealed the Eagles’ playoff berth last year. Arlitt is an avid traveler, however, and may miss up to eight regular season games – all of this won’t matter though if the Seljuqs are able to stay afloat in his absence and stay deep in playoff position for his return. Jabbar made a couple of major gaffes during the draft, none more hilarious than attempting to draft Ahmad Ammad, who had already been drafted in the previous round by the Ayyubids. BJ was quick to attribute this howler to an unsuspecting janitor standing outside the room minding his own business. 
 
Rameez Siddiqi had a monster season last year with Abbasids and it was a surprise that he wasn’t picked up until the end of the third round. He may well prove to be a wild card if he’s able to replicate his performance from last year, or his rookie year for that matter. Seljuqs went on to draft rookies Saad G and Saqib Khokhar in the fourth and fifth rounds. While little is known about their softball abilities, both are young, athletic and fit in well with the young Seljuqs core. The Reds continued to show recency bias as they poached Zaid Ghansar in the sixth round. Like Siddiqi, Ghansar boxed above his weight last year and was instrumental in the Nasrids’ overall success. Apart from being solid offensively, Ghansar will serve as a steady option at first as well. 
 
The Seljuqs ended up trading their next pick to the Ayyubids - while neither team really benefitted from the trade in terms of skillset, the trade was to unite the Gaya brothers. Shoaib Gaya seems to have recovered well from his knee surgery which had hampered him last year and is heard to be leveraging Rameez’s cricketing prowess to improve his opposite field hitting. Sikandar Aftab will look to reinvigorate his career after an underwhelming season last year. Aftab’s championship experience will come in handy in an otherwise youthful squad with limited playoff experience. Hamza Waheed’s career on the other hand has been on a downward spiral since his rookie year success in 2014. Interestingly, teams that Waheed has represented in last three years have all failed to make the playoffs. While Waheed may not be solely responsible for his teams’ failures, it might give the Seljuqs’ superstitious fans some sleepless nights. On a positive note, Waheed is coming into the season in the best shape of his life and looking to make a statement. If Waheed is able to turn back the clock and replicate his 2014 success, he might prove to be the biggest steal of the draft. Atif Qureshi closes out the Seljuqs squad this year and remarkably this will be his first season not donning Abbasid orange. Qureshi bring experience to the team and Seljuqs’ will hope that the change in team colours will rejuvenate the base-hitter.
 
Strengths:
  • Youth – intangibles like agility, speed and endurance will help aid their overall success. This squad is six years younger than the oldest team this year;
  • Depth – the team stocked up on young talent in the first half of the draft and picked up veterans who have had some very impressive seasons in the past in Sikandar, Hamza and Atif – if those guys can show shades of their best, you’re looking at one really good team;
Weaknesses:
  • Pitching - who? While Waheed and Siddiqui have both pitched in the past, they don’t have much to show for their efforts. It is heard that Umair himself may take the mound this year but that seems very unlikely
  • Outfield Depth – With Michael’s absence at the beginning of the season and Jabbar’s desire to move to the mound, the Seljuqs’ will have to turn to others to shore up the grass;
Keys to success: 
The Seljuqs begin a new chapter in their history seeking that elusive title. The Seljuqs have never missed the playoffs so the pressure will be on new management to trend up. BJ and co will need to find their grove in the first week with Arlitt in attendance before he vacates for a month. Two losses in the first week would be disasterous. They will need to have their rotations set early and plenty of practice for their pitcher to be ready for week 1.

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : C
Infield : B+
Outfield : C
Batting : B+

BSL Preseason Update #2

Ramadan Mubarak everyone! 

A few updates as we prepare for the season: 

1. The schedules have been loaded. You can download them to your phone calendar by clicking the download button (next to 2018 Regular season) from your team schedule page. Just import into your calendar afterwards. 
2. On August 26th, as the last regular season week, we will be having BSL play-in weekend. The #2 seed will play #1, #3 and #6 will play #5, #7 that week to determine final playoff seedings.  Should make for a dramatic final week. The playoff schedule has also been posted. 
3. Each team has picked their team charity for the season. Every Sunday, one team will be raising money for their team charity by selling food or offering services. 


The team charities for 2018 are: 
Abbasids - Human Concern International 
Ayyubids - Islamic Relief Canada
Mamluks - Muslim Chaplaincy for U of T
Mughals - Naseeha 
Nasrids - Nisa Homes
Ottomans - Project Ramadan
Seljuqs - National Zakat Foundation
Sultans - Sick Kids Foundation 

4. Each team will be provided league helmets this year and it is the responsibility of the players to wear helmets. 
5. Each GM will be given $100 from the league to spend on their team in anyway they chose. 
6. BSL has booked the fields for June 17th for preseason games and it will be open for whichever teams chose to play. 

Stay tuned for our annual Zakat Campaign to raise money to help single mothers in the GTA. We wish you a safe and blessed Ramadan. 


2018 BSL Draft Results

The 2018 BSL draft was held last night at Meadowvale Community Centre. The draft took a surprising turn with the Ottomans selecting Taha Iqbal over their former AGM Shaheen Limbada. It got even more interesting when the Mughals selecting Hassan Chaudhry from their archrival Mamluks. Overall, it was a great night and lots of fun. Here are the teams for 2018 in alphabetical order. Some trades are still being discussed so nothing is final. 




2018 Preseason Update

Welcome to the 2018 BSL Season. This will be the 5th BSL season and we hope to make this a memorable one. The planning for the season is well underway and we wanted to share with you some of the finalized details. 

1. We are in the process of creating a separate Thursday night league primarily for new players with limited spots for experienced BSL players. If you are interested in playing, fill out this survey: https://goo.gl/forms/T7j9dlka3Tx295Hp1 Stay tuned for more details. 

2. We have 88 players returning this year with some notable omissions. There will be 8 spots for new players this year.

3. Based on your feedback, we have decided to change to 1 Assistant GM this year. No other rule changes are expected at this time. 

4. We will have new GM announcements coming up soon.

5. With Ramadan starting  on May 15 and ending on June 14, we have the ability to add a couple more games to the season.

Here is the tenative schedule for this season: 

BSL Draft: May 7th or 8th
Preseason: June 17th (weekend of Eid)
Week 1: June 24th , 2 to 8pm
Off week: July 1st,  (Canada Day)
Week 2: July 8th, 2 to 8pm
Week 3: July 15th, 2 to 8pm
Week 4: July 22nd, 2 to 8pm
Week 5: July 29th, 2 to 8pm
Mid-season tourney: Aug 5th, 9am to 5pm 
Week 6: Aug 12th, 2 to 8pm
Week 7: Aug 19th, 2 to 10pm 
Week 8: Aug 26th, 2 to 8pm
Off week: Sept 2nd (Labour day)
Wild Card & Semis: Sept 8th, 2 to 10pm 
3rd place & Finals: Sept 9th, 3:30 to 8pm  

We will be posting announcements and teasers on Instagram and Facebook. Keep an eye out for more details.