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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. 


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.

  • 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
  • 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
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.

  • 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. 
  • 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. 
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.
  • 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.
  • 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
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.

  • 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.
  • 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. 
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.
  • 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. 
  • 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+
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.


  • 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.
  • 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. 
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. 
  • 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.
  • 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
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.
  • 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;
  • 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.