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BSL All-Star Sunday Recap

The All-star festivities was a phenomenal way to finish off the season. The best of BSL put on a show for all those that turned up to watch. 

Here were the winners from the competitions: 

Pitching Showdown: Tanseer Khawaja with 33 points (New record)
Longest Throw Challenge: Sameer Rafique with a throw of 213 feet
Running Bases Challenge: Omer Dhaduk with a time of 13.32 seconds
Home Run Derby: Rehan Ahmad with 16 Home Runs in 4 minutes (Tied record)

The All-Star started off in a competitive affair until the Ansaar blew the game open in the 6th inning with a 7-spot and followed that up with 7 runs in the next two innings. The Muhajir tried to mount a comeback but never could put together a big inning. The Ansaar came away with a 22-10 victory. The most anitipated event of the night was the Youngin's vs the Oldtimers (over 30) game. The game was a see-saw affair unlike last year's blow out and things started getting chirpy. The game went to extra innings after both teams left the bases loaded and scored no runs in the 7th inning. Omer Chaudhry drove in two runs in the 8th while the Oldtimers stranded the tying run at 2nd to take the win 20-19. 


2018 BSL All-Star Sunday

After a fantastic season, we close down the diamond after our annual All-Star festivities. The very best of BSL in 2018 come together to show off their skills and play the final game of the season. The festivities begin at 1:45pm with the skills competition followed by the All-Star game at 4:30pm at Birchwood Park. 
 
BSL Skills Challenge: This year each individual competition will carry a $100 donation for the winner's team charity. Every BSL team will pick representatives from their team to participate in the Skill Competition. A player is only allowed to participate in a maximum of 2 skills competitions. The Competition will begin at 1:45PM.
 
Pitcher Showdown (1 pitcher per team)
Each pitcher will be allowed 30 pitches. Hitting the mat will be 1 point and hitting the targets on the mat will be 2 points. The pitcher with the highest total will be awarded the winner.
 
Running Bases Challenge (2 players per team)
Each player will run from home plate around the bases back to home and will be timed. Missing a base will be a 2 second penalty. The fastest time will be declared the winner. 
 
Longest Throw Contest (2 players per team)
Each player will get three throws from Centre Field into a box in the infield. The longest throw within the box will be awarded the winner. A net will be set up at Home plate, getting the throw into the net (either direct or after a bounce) will be an additional 10 feet. The longest throw will be declared the winner. 
 
Homerun Derby (1 player per team)
Each player will get a total of 4 minutes on the clock to hit as many homeruns as possible. The player can pick his own pitcher and will have one 45 second timeout. A pitch can only be thrown once the previous hit lands. The clock will stop for any homeruns hit in the final 30 seconds only and restart once the next pitch is thrown. The player with the most homeruns will be awarded the winner. 

Following the Skills Competition, we will have the 5th BSL All-Star game. This year's top two vote getters Shahzad Ahmed (61) and Osman Buttar (61) selected their teams through a draft. The 9 inning game begins at 4:30pm. Here are the teams: 

 
 

Congratulations to the 2018 BSL Champions - Sultans

Congratulations to the 2018 BSL Champion Sultans who beat the Mamluks 29-18 in a slugfest

The Mamluks were down 1 in the bottom of the 8th when Jibran Waqar and W K hit back to back HRs to give the Mamluks the lead. The Sultans were down to their final 2 outs before Shahzad Ahmed, Omer Chaudhry and Shaheen Limbada went back to back to back, giving the Sultans a 2 run lead. They didn't stop there as they put up 12 runs that inning to put the game to bed. The Mamluks came 2 outs away from the championship before the Stallions woke up and claimed their first title.

 

 


BSL Finals Preview - Sultans @ Mamluks

[written by Hashim Ghazi]
 
Sultans vs Mamluks - BSL Finals - 5:15PM @ Birchwood 1
 
In a season many say was the best to date given the parity, the two top-ranked teams heading into the postseason find themselves locked in a Finals matchup that many are struggling to predict.  On one hand, you have the Mamluks, a team that was clearly the most consistent and balanced team in the League this year.   On the other hand, you have the Sultans; a team that faced tons of adversity throughout the year and found themselves getting hot at the right time.
 
After the Ottomans mercied the Mughals in the first wildcard game, they ran into the buzz saw known as the Mamluks.  The semi-final saw the Green Machine pull out 15-6 thanks to some timely hitting and stellar defensive play – but really, what else would you expect from this group of guys?  The charge was led by none other than Baseer Yasseen, who notched six RBIs on the day, including a first-inning grand slam to straight away centre.  And you know how GM Rizvan Merchant & Co. get down – once they have a lead, you may as well call the game then and there.  The Mamluks look for their second championship in three years and know what to expect come BSL Final Sunday having been there before. 
 
On the other hand, the Sultans were one of two teams in the League that have yet to play in the Finals…until now. With the Nasrids completely stifling the Ayyubids in the second wildcard game, they found themselves in a back-and-forth affair with the Sultans that the Stallions won on a game winning sacrifice fly by Shaheen Limbada.  The boy they call Slim was a menace throughout the game, notching two home runs and 7 RBIs on the day that included a towering gland slam over the centre field fence.  He matched that offensive outburst with a commanding display in the outfield that featured flashy glove work and a couple of diving snags as well.  Limbada especially wanted this one against the Nasrids after having the worst game of his life versus them last year in the playoffs.  Omer Chaudhry had himself a day at the plate as well, going 4 for 4; the Sultans look to keep their momentum going into the Final, but must be at their best one-through-twelve to be crowned Champions come Sunday night. 
 
The last time the Mamluks won the championship, two of the Sultans superstars were rocking the forest green themselves.  The frontrunner for MVP Shahzad Ahmed and the aforementioned Chaudhry know what the Mamluks are all about and will hope their advanced knowledge of their opponents gives them an edge.  However, this may prove to be a double-edged sword, as the Mamluks also know the strengths and weaknesses of Shaz and the OC, two of the best hitters in the League, and if they shut them down, they basically will shut down the Sultans.  The game will also feature the two best defensive short stops in the League in Jibran Waqar and Kamil Haider.  We all can talk about Jibs play at SS until we’re blue in the face (and we should, because he is an absolute beast), but Kamil has been unbelievable as well all season and has galvanized an infield once seen as a weakness to a relative strength.
 
So, there you have it – the Sultans and Mamluks face off in a tantalizing Finals matchup.  Will it be the defensive-first approach of the Mamluks coming out on top or the juggernaut of power Sultans?  Will Riz regulate his way to a second championship in three years or will Shams’ Stallions stampede their way to the franchise's first ever title? Two teams.  9 innings.  One potential victor.  Who you got?

2018 Playoff Rumours

[written by: Riyad Ramjaun, Zahid Merchant & Taha Iqbal   |    edited by Hashim Ghazi]
 
2018 BSL Playoff Preview Podcast with Umair J and Sameer: https://soundcloud.com/user-237143434-479346354/2018-bsl-playoff-preview-podcast
 
The PLAYOFFS ARE HERE! The best weekend of the summer is upon us and 6 teams have a legitimate shot at the title this weekend. Only one team will be celebrating on Sunday at 7:30pm. So much can be said about each of the teams and the upcoming matchups. Our writers break down the matchups for the wild card and semi-finals. Here we go: 
 
This Sunday, BSL will be selling tandoori chicken pizza at the fields. $5 for 2 slices of pizza. Please come prepared. 
 
Mughals v Ottomans - 2:00PM BW1
Head-to-head: 1-1
Playoff history: 2-0 Mughals (2014 Finals, 2016 Semis)
Last 5 games: Mughals W,W,L,W,L; Ottomans: L,T,L,W,L 
BSL Writers Prediction: Ottomans win (58% of votes)
 
In their minds, both the Mughals and Ottomans took a shot at the trade deadline and are hoping it pays off.  Game 1 pits these two rivals against each other and unlike the first game after the trade, this game will feature all 4 players involved.  Although both teams still feel like they have bolstered their own respective lineups heading into the playoffs, each team’s records have gone in opposite directions since.  For the Ottomans, they have struggled a little since the trade going 1-4-1, but with their prized OF Hassan Chaudhry back in full form after getting married, the Turks will come out prepared.  GM Hashim Ghazi and AGM Rehan Ahmad will ensure that this squad is ready to go the distance and finally bring home that championship that has eluded the franchise thus far.  They took a shot with their deadline trade and are hoping this will pay off by increasing the depth and talent on an already talented team.  For the Mughals, they took their own shot by trading away key players while missing their own AGM for the 2nd half of the season and hoping that the remaining players could capture a playoff spot.  GM Zahid Merchant’s gamble has paid off so far, with the Mughals going 4-2 since the trade and locking up their playoff spot.  This week will be the first time the Mughals will field all 12 players with AGM Nadeem Hussein back in the fold, and on paper, a full Mughals roster looks dangerous; however, chemistry could be an issue.  Rumour has it the Mughals are practicing and meeting frequently to ensure they are all on the same page this weekend.  The teams split their matchup during the season, but a lot has changed since then.  Ismail Akhter has been a force against the Ottomans this year, going 9-9 with 2 HRs and 3 doubles – he’s licking his chops at the prospect of facing them again.  On the other hand, Taha Iqbal did what he’s done all season for the Turks, going 7-10 with 2 HRs and getting two doubles of his own in the two games against the Mughals. 

With all the feel of a Finals game, Game 1 of the playoffs between these two storied squads will set the tone for the rest of the weekend. 

Mamluks vs. Mughals/Ottomans - 4:00PM BW1
Head-to-head vs Mughals: 1-1
Head-to-head vs Ottomans: 1-0-1
Playoff history: 1-1 Mughals (2016 Finals, 2017 Semis); Ottomans 0-0
Last 5 games: W,W,T,W,W
BSL Writers Prediction: Mamluks win (67% of votes over both teams)
 
The Green Machine come in the playoffs riding an impressive 10-2-1 streak that earned them the top seed. Their only loss in the final half of the season came by 1 run to the Ayyubids. While their streak is impressive, even more impressive has been their ability to plug holes with key players missing. W K has missed the final six games of the season and Adeel Alam has missed more than half the season. Both players are expected back for the playoffs after team doctors patched their injuries. The Mamluks have all the confidence in the world coming into the semi-finals after winning close games all season. They will be hoping the two additions will give them more cushion and solidify an already dangerous lineup. The Green Machine will face the winner of the Mughals and Ottomans in the semi-finals. It is unclear which opponent they prefer but they are just hoping both teams gruel out a close game so the Mamluks can prey on a fatigued opponent. They won three out of four games against both sides and know them well. The key for the Mamluks will be to get off to an early lead and let the League’s stingiest defence take over. The last time the Mamluks were the #1 seed, they waltzed all the way to the title. They will be hoping they can do the same in 2018.  
 
Nasrids vs. Ayyubids – 5:45PM BW1
Head-to-head: 1-1
Playoff history: None
Last 5 games: Nasrids W,W,W,L,L; Ayyubids: L,W,L,L,W
BSL Writers Prediction: Ayyubids win (58% of votes)
 
Last year, right around this time, the lowly Nasrids caught fire and brought down the mighty Ottomans on BSL Super Saturday. The stage this year is not too dissimilar from last as the Nasrids again made the playoffs by the skin of their teeth. Omer Chaudhry’s homerun in the penultimate game of the regular season not only catapulted Sultans into a bye position, but also dragged Nasrids across the right side of the line separating ignominy and ecstasy. The Spaniards season this year has been a tale of two extremes, brilliant and shoddy, and they have been able to consistently oscillate between the two between weeks, heck, even between doubleheader games. While this may sound like a weakness, it makes Nasrids all the more dangerous and the only variable the Ayyubids cannot prepare against. The Ayyubids on the other hand have proved BSL analysts and their detractors wrong every step of the way. With 10 of their 12 hitters hitting above their career averages, a defence that has given up least number of errors and an elite pitcher, there is little doubt that this has been a complete team effort. While everyone predicted a middle of the pack finish, the men in black nearly pulled off a bye position only to be outdone by their run differential.  The Ayyubids and Nasrids split the season series 1-1 with Ayyubids taking the first game 10-9 but losing the second leg 7-15. Both these games were played on Birchwood 1 and they’ll stay on the same field for this playoff match-up as well. Unsurprisingly, Ahmad Ammad and Osman Buttar were the two stars from the season series – Ammad went 7-7 with three Homeruns, and Buttar went 7-8 with two dingers and a double. Other noteworthy contributors were Nirvaan Latif who went 3-5 with two Homeruns, two sac-flies and eight RBIs and Umair Sheikh going 5-8 with three doubles. Both games were defensively tight with both teams giving up only three errors combined over the two contests.

It’s anyone’s guess as to who will come out on top in this matchup, but we expect both teams ready and rearing for a matchup with the Sultans.

Sultans vs. Nasrids/Ayyubids – 7:45PM BW1
Head-to-head vs Nasrids: 1-1
Head-to-head vs Ayyubids: 1-1
Playoff history: 0-1 Nasrids (2017 WC); Ayyubids 0-0
BSL Writers Prediction: Sultans win (83% of votes over both teams)
 
Oh how one inning can change the fortunes of an entire season. The Sultans came into a do-or-die matchup against the Seljuqs with no starting pitcher and a 7-0 deficit after one inning. Down 11-4 with only two innings to go, they put up a staunch 7 run effort, and followed that up with a walk-off homerun by Omer Chaudhry to propel them into the playoffs.  The momentum carried on in a relatively easy win against the Mughals next, and they now find themselves with a bye heading into the playoffs – 6 outs away from potentially being eliminated to a 2nd seed. The Sultans are in the semi-finals for the first time in 4 years with a golden chance to play their first ever BSL Final. The team has grinded out games with guys missing time and playing out of position. None of that matters now because they are two wins away from the ultimate prize. MVP-candidate Shahzad Ahmed has carried the boys on his back and has a chance to cement the best seasons in BSL history. The Sultans will be in tough against either the Nasrids or Ayyubids. The Stallions split their season series against both teams but will definitely favour the Nasrids for a chance at redemption for last season’s wild card loss. The Ayyubids can match them HR-for-HR which will turn into a heavyweight bout should they meet in the semis.  The Sultans have everything going in their favour at the moment, but the two week break can be a momentum breaker as we have seen in the past. Can the Stallions gallop all the way to the September classic or will there be more disappointment for the horsemen?
 
BSL Writers Prediction for Champion: Ottomans (41%), Sultans (33%), Mughals (16%), Nasrids (8%)

Let's get it started!

Ottomans Be a GM Fantasy Challenge Results

MESSAGE FROM THE OTTOMANS 
(don't act like you did not LOVE seeing that pop up in your team group chats)
 
The inaugural Ottomans Be a GM Fantasy Challenge was a roaring success.  Thanks to the support of everyone from the League, we were able to make a $750 donation to Project Ramadan, allowing us to provide FIFTEEN food baskets for lesser privileged families in the GTA.  To learn more about this great initiative, check them out here
 
Fantasy Challenge Results
 
We had 29 submissions to the Fantasy Challenge, but only one can come out a victor.  The winner of the Challenge, picking a team that racked up 122 fantasy points on the day, was Imran Merchant of the Ayyubids!  Imran’s strategy was what you would expect of one of the leaders of his team – bet on yourselves.  Imran picked an Ayyubids heavy team, putting his full trust in Ahmad Ammad (the top performer on the day), Mohamed Kala, A R, Faiz Kalyani, and, being the confident man he is, himself! Congratulations – Imran’s interview will be posted in the coming weeks.  Here is the team he picked in full: 
 
Group A
Ahmad Ammad (AYY)
26 points
Group B
Owais Ansari (MUG)
13 points
Group C
Imran Merchant (AYY)
18 points
Group D
Mohamed Kala (AYY)
12 points
Group E
A R (AYY)
18 points
Group F
Imran Qureshi (MUG)
6 points
Group G
Zain Malik (SUL)
9 points
Group H
Faisal Khan (SUL)
9 points
Group I
Faiz Kalyani (AYY)
8 points
Group J
Randy Panesar (OTT)
3 points
 
Atif Parvaiz of the Mughals JUST missed out on the crown with a score of 121 points.  Umer Jabbar (AYY), Hassan Chaudhry (OTT) and A R (AYY) rounded out the top five fantasy scores of the day.  Here is how every team did (note: * denotes an incomplete ballot):
 
Team GM
Points
Imran Merchant
122
Atif Parvaiz
121
Umer Jabbar
117
Hassan Chaudhry
114
A R 
113
Umair Jabbar
112
Aamir Husainy
110
Zain Malik
107
Michael Arlitt
102
Zain Khilji
101
Zahid Merchant
100
Umair Sheikh
98
Taha Iqbal
94
Mohsin Zubair
92
Rehan Ahmad
89
Ahmed Butt
89
Riyad Ramjaun
89
Asim Waheed
88
Faheem Kotwal
88
Faraaz Alvi*
85
Hashim Ghazi
84
Furhan Azmat
82
Shahzad Ahmed
80
Hammad Afif
77
Mo Kala
76
Tanseer Khawaja
72
Jav Ahmed
68
Zia Ali*
67
Nirvaan Latif
57
 
Top Player Performances on the Day
 
Ahmad Ammad was the top performer on the day, including smashing two home runs, the second being a grand slam, in the same inning against the Ottomans their opponents in Game Two.  His top score of 26 points edged out impressive performances from Bilal Javed (ABB), Shahzad Ahmed (SUL), Omer Dhaduk (SEL) and Baseer (!!!!!!!!) Yasseen (MAM).  Here is how the top five performers scored on the day: 
 
Top Performers
Fantasy Points
Weekend Stats
Ahmad Ammad (AYY)
26
2 BB, 4 1B, 2 HR, 8 RBI
Bilal Javed (ABB)
25
1 BB, 5 1B, 2 HR, 6 RBI
Shahzad Ahmed (SUL)
25
1 BB, 1 1B, 4 HR, 6 RBI
Omer Dhaduk (SEL)
24
4 1B, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI
Baseer Yasseen (MAM)
24
7 1B, 1 2B, 7 RBI
 
The most picked player on the day was our very own Hassan Chaudhry, with 15 of the 29 ballots including him as their choice from Group D.  We recognize this as an irrelevant piece of information, but we had to show our guy some love.  However, he only scored 8 fantasy points on the day – it’s a good thing we didn’t make a midseason trade for him that made us part with the top candidate for Rookie of the Year. Wait, we did? Oh…
 
Anyway, thank you again for supporting a great cause and taking part in this fun initiative.  We hope to have even more participants (and raise even more funds) in next year’s challenge!
 
Sincerely, the Ottomans

Week 9 (Super Sunday) Recap

Super Sunday passed with plenty of drama. A walkoff to secure a playoffs spot, an 8 man team securing a top seed and plenty of Osmow's for everyone. The regular season is now complete. Thank you to the Abbasids and the Seljuqs for a fantastic 2018 season. Both teams played with great brotherhood and we hope to see them again next season.

Here is what transpired in Week 9. [note: recaps have been written by members of the rumours committee]

Mughals v Nasrids: Super Sunday started off with a huge matchup with big playoff implications pitting the Mughals vs. the Nasrids on Birchwood 1.  Both teams would clinch a playoff spot with a win so this had that playoff energy right at the get go.  The Mughals entered the game shorthanded (as usual) missing Ismail “I’d rather wear Mickey ears” Akhtar, while the Nasrids, although had the majority of their players present, were missing the long flowy hairs of both MVP candidate Osman Buttar and Ibrahim Sardar.  The Mughals started off strong putting up 8 runs in the first 4 innings before the Nasrids could even get 1 back.  Pitching sensation Zahid Merchant was locked in from the get go and held the Nasrids bat’s to only the single run through 5 innings, while utility man Riyad Ramjaun played exceptional at SS again to ensure any potential comeback by the Nasrids was always halted.  The Mughals defense (both IF and OF) was extremely strong as they came away with a 10-3 victory and a birth to September.  Meanwhile on Birchwood 2, the Seljuqs would lose which would also clinch a playoff birth for the Nasrids.  Although both teams will play in September, the Nasrids could be in tough as they were only able to put up 3 run against a depleted Mughals team.  The Mughals on the other hand, enter September on a high.  With perennial all stars Ismail and Nadeem Hussein expected to return, the Mughals could be clicking at the right time.
Final Score: Mughals - 10, Nasrids - 3;    
Star of the Game - Zahid Merchant, 2-3, 3 Earned Runs
 
Seljuqs v Sultans: Funny how things work out sometimes. The schedule overlords bestowed a beauty on the league this past Sunday. With the very first game on BW2 sealing the playoff fate of multiple teams, nails were chewed off, nerves were fragile and stress-related sweats were on full display. Under the assumption that their star pitcher, ‘The Unbelievable’ AK, was going to miss the game, the Sultans Board of Directors was scrambling to come up with what their best option would be having tried out multiple players at the position.  At the 11th hour (literally just before the game) GM Shamil ‘The Mauritian Marvel’ Khadaroo told AGM ‘Shaky’ Shahzad Ahmed that the ball would be in his hands. Having no time to prepare, he took the mound and the results were what you would expect…a mercy inning.  The game started with the entire Seljuks side batting. Giving up a walk to ‘The Maniacal’ Michael Arlitt to start and then a hit to Zain ‘The Kangaroo’ Khilji and a shot to Omer ‘The Thrill’ Dhaduk, the AGM really let his team down but was determined to not let that result repeat in following innings.  Turns out he didn’t have to worry. Through what looked like a mirage, an image appeared in the distance, gliding towards the diamond.  As the form began to take shape, you could hear the chiming of a bell.  Was it a Dickie Dee vendor bringing ice cream to the BSLers on this scorcher of a day?  NO, IT WAS AK!!!  Coming through on his bike for his squad when it needed him the most, AK stretched, threw and took care of business. 
The Sultans bats were a little down after the horrendous first inning and were taking their sweet time getting up, seemingly hitting the snooze button multiple times. The Seljuks were keeping JUST out of range with some well-timed hits from Rameez ‘Sneaky’ Siddiqui and a dinger from ‘Speedy’ Saqib Khokhar and hoping their defence would be able to win them this game after building an 11-4 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning.  Two crucial things then occurred…Umair ‘The Jinx’ Jabbar was overheard yelling encouragement at his team along with the message that the Sultans had no bats.  This led to the appearance of Shaheen ‘The Lunatic’ Limbada; taking the message personally, punting the team bucket of balls and lighting a fire under his squad made the difference in this game.  The Stallions dropped their first touchdown inning of the game, led by Faisal ‘Clutch’ Khan and his bases clearing single, to tie it up 11-11 going into the final inning. The top of the 7th led to a zero spot from the Bulls as Kamil ‘’Krillin’ Haider went Super Saiyyan and put the defense on his shouders. Exclusive excerpts obtained by The BSL Bugle from Mississauga’s next city council meeting agenda have revealed that along with taxes, transportation and education, there needs to be a conversation about Kamil for Gold Glove. With the side putting up zero, the path was cleared for the Steeds to take the game.  A tie would have resulted in the rest of the league having to try for the rest of the day, while a W would cement who was going to the playoffs. Enter, Omer ‘The People’s Champion’ Chaudhry. After a brief pre-game back and forth on Facebook between Omer and pitcher Hamza ‘The Wizard’ Waheed, in which they both pre-emptively apologized for the other’s upcoming loss, this moment was how it had to end. Hamza with his glove in front of his face, Omer glancing at what the defense was giving him, approaching the plate, Hamza unwinding BOOM…walkoff, celebration, playoff teams settled. Final score: Sultans 13, Seljuks 11. Now the Mustangs move on to Game 2 to see if they can climb the standings and end up in 2nd place with a bye for the first round of the playoffs…
Final Score: Seljuqs - 11, Sultans - 13;      Star of the Game - Omer Chaudhry, 2-4, Walkoff HR
 
Nasrids v Ottomans: The Nasrids squared off against the Ottomans for the second week in a row, looking to duplicate their week 8 results and stun the Turks once again.  While there was a lot on the line in regards to playoff implications, the energy from both teams were missing at the start, with only 1 run being scored over the first 2 frames.  The Ottomans were finally able to break through with 7 runs over the third and fourth innings.  Furhan Azmat, who was questionable to play due to an injury, had a perfect day at the plate going 3 for 3 with and RBI.  Mohsin Zubair was welcomed back to the Ottomans lead off position and contributed with 2 hits and 2 rbi’s as well.  Unfortunately, not much positive can be said about the Nasrids play, as they looked lethargic all game.  Asim Gauhar was the only player to have a multi-hit game for the Spaniards, who finished the game going 8 for 30 (.267 BA).  Osman Buttar instantly regretted cutting his Samson like hair, and the league all wondered who his Delilah was that betrayed him.  The hair cut shook Nirvaan Latif so much so that not a single “Oh Yeah, Baby!!” was heard all game.  While the Nasrids didn’t help themselves at the plate, credit must be given also to Tanseer Khawaja who only allowed 2 earned runs in the contest, and kept the ball in the park against a team that scored 13 runs off him the week before.
Final Score: Nasrids - 3, Ottomans - 8;      
Star of the Game -  Tanseer Khawaja, 2-3, 2 Earned Runs
 
Sultans v Mughals: Both teams were high coming off huge victories that locked up a playoff spot for each team. The Mughals and Sultans came into this game with a chance to set themselves up for a #2 with a bye depending on what happened in the evening games. The game started off with a bang as Shahzad Ahmed hit a two run shot to start the game. Faraaz Alvi replied in the bottom with a 2 run dinger of his own. Both teams were swinging for the fences as they combined for a total of 11 homeruns. The Sultans would break a BSL record for 7 homeruns in a game. The game was evenly poised going into the 6th inning when the Sultans blew it open on a Omer Chaudhry 3-run shot to give them the lead for good. The Mughals didn't have enough firepower as they we missed a key bat in the lineup and the Sultans made a statement on Super Sunday with a sweep to take them from 6th to 2nd in the standings.
Final Score: Sultans - 13, Mughals - 8;      
Star of the Game - Kamil Haider, 4-4, 2B
 
Ayyubids v Mamluks:  The latter matches of super Sunday featured the Mamluks and Ayyubids on Birchwood 1. Both teams had sown up playoff spots, but were also playing for seeding. The Ayyubids, who had held the top spot in the league for much of the season were now fighting for a bye, as the Green Machine looked to secure the top rank of the season. However, the Mamluks were missing numerous players, which forced them to play with 8, and feature a funky defense. The Ayyubids were quick to respond to said funky defense, hitting 3 longballs in the first 2 innings, to take an 8-0 lead. Umair Sheikh was having himself a game, but the Mamluks rebounded, showing great poise and composure to put up a 7 spot in the bottom of the 2nd. Continuing to channel their inner Kansas City of 2015, the Mamluks continued to play small ball, getting on base and keeping the chain moving and building a comfortable 17-9 lead. The Ayyubids did challenge and put of a tremendous fight, scoring 6 in the 5th, but were unable to mount any comeback, as the Mamluks were able to clinch first place. 
Final Score: Ayyubids - 16, Mamluks - 17;    
 Star of the Game -  Rizvan Merchant, 4-5, 2B, 4 RBIs
 
Abbasids v Seljuqs: The Seljuqs and Abbasids played their last game of the season, and the last game of their year at birchwood 2. Although the Abbasids had been aware of their fate for some time, the Seljuqs had just come off a gut-wrenching loss at the hands of the Sultans to be kicked out of playoff contention. With an hour and a half break in between, the Bulls just moped around eating plates of chicken on the rocks to soothe their pain. The game began with both teams finding something to play for - a first victory of the season for the Abbasids, and not being the first victims of the season to the Abbasids. Both teams came out and scored some runs in the early innings, including back to back home runs by the GM-AGM Suljuq combo of Umair Jabbar and Omer Dhaduk. The game blew open in the bottom of the 4th with the Seljuqs expanding their lead. The Abbasids had one last push and scored a couple of runs in the top of the 7th, however Hamza Waheed stayed calm and collected to get the W. The Abbasids still had one more game remaining but even with the victory, this wrapped up a disappointing season for the Bulls.
Final Score: Abbasids - 13, Seljuqs - 15;    
Star of the Game - Omer Dhaduk, 3-3, HR, 3 RBIs
 
Abbasids v Mamluks: The Abbasids came into their final game of the season hoping to avoid the infamy of being the first BSL team to finish the season without a win and this final opportunity came against the first place Mamluks.  Both teams were missing key players as the Abbasids were without first overall pick Sameer Rafique while the Mamluks came in without Jibran Khan, W K and Sheraz Bhai.  The Abbasids started off well but mistakes on the basepaths hurt their rally with a runner being called out for taking a leadoff – an example of the mental mistakes that hurt them all season.  After three innings the game was tied up at 5-5 with the Abbasids looking like they could steam this game and they had to be motivated with Rehan Ahmed of the Ottomans affirming that his promise to buy the team pizza would stand even though it was not possible for his team to take first place anymore.  Going into the bottom of the fifth the game was tied up at 6-6 but in a reoccurring theme for the Lions the wheels fell off as the Mamluks put up seven runs to take a commanding 13-6 lead into the final inning.  With their back against the wall and now a crowd building with the Ottomans/Ayyubids game finished the Abbasids took their final turn at the plate and much to the glee of the crowd scored seven runs to tie the game up at 13-13.  With runners on base Bilal Javed came up with a chance to give his team the lead but he was not able to convert – a rare occurrence this season as he has been one of top performers for the Abbasids.  With the game tied going into the bottom of the inning the Mamluks got runners on base but had a potential winner thrown out at home by Abbasid shortstop Atif Akhtar.  With the Abbasids hoping to escape with a tie up to the plate stepped Aamir Husainy and with the pressure on he calmly hammered a ball to the left field fence to give the Mamluks a walkoff win to end the season.  The win did nothing to change the standings but denied the Abbasids a chance to end the season with a win and they now own the dubious distinction of being the only BSL team to go a full season without winning a game.
Final Score: Abbasids - 13, Mamluks - 14;      
Star of the Game -  Aamir Husainy, 3-6, Walkoff double
 
Ottomans v Ayyubids: The Ottomans were high coming off a huge victory over the Nasrids in their previous game. The Ayyubids, on the other hand, squandered their chance at a bye by losing to a severely depleted Mamluks in their first game. The Ottomans carried their momentum from the previous and got off to a hot start scoring three quick runs thanks to Rehan Ahmed’s first of two home runs. The Ayyubids didn't let that phase them as they rallied with four of their in the bottom of the inning to take a 4-3 lead. They followed the first inning with a 2-run second and 3-run third courtesy of homeruns by Jibran Khan and Umer Jabbar respectively. The Ottomans were unable to muster much offense as they were held scoreless for five out of the remaining six innings. The only other runs coming in the fourth inning highlighted by another Rehan Ahmed moonshot. 9-5 is the closest the Ottomans would come as the Ayyubids added 8 insurance runs with their final two innings of at bats to solidify the win. Ahmad Ammad was the star of the game as he capped off the Ayyubids 7-run sixth by leading off the inning with a solo shot and ending the mercy inning with his second homerun of the inning. Crazy, right? No pun intended. Ahmad’s two home runs also won him the home run title with two less at bats. A great pitching performance from Ali Jabbar handcuffed the Ottomans who were unable to come up with crucial hits across the lineup. 17-5was the final score in favour of the Ayyubids, who continue their inconsistent season as they solidify third place and setup a match-up against the Nasrids in the playoffs. Things look to get interesting in the playoffs.
Final Score: Ottomans - 5, Ayyubids - 17;    
Star of the Game - Jibran Khan, 4-4, HR, 3 RBIs

Week 9 (Super Sunday) Rumours

[written by: Rumours Committee   |    edited by Hashim Ghazi]
 
It's here - Super Sunday. Seven teams, six spots, and complete uncertainty as to who will play who in two week's time.  We expect the day to have one of the biggest showings of the season, where everyone will be sticking around to see who will be unlucky to miss out. But before we get into the permutations and matchups for the week...
 
This Sunday, the Ottomans will be raising money for their team charity, Project Ramadan. They will be selling Osmow's and if you pre-order, you will be eligible to take part in the Ottoman's Be a GM Fantasy Challenge, where you can pick players based on their offensive performance and give a go at who you would pick to make your team. Place your order by Friday 10PM to qualify by submitting the survey here:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6VW2XFY

(Playoff predictions do not take into consideration run differential because there are too many scenarios. First tie breaker is wins, then run differential) 

Nasrids (vs. Mughals – 2:00PM BW1; @ Ottomans – 3:30PM BW1)

Matchups: Mughals (1-0-1), Ottomans (1-1)
Best and Worst Case Scenario: 2nd place with 4 points and Ayyubids only earning 2 points, Eliminated with zero points and Sultans/Mughals splitting and Seljuqs winning both. 
 
The Nasrids have enjoyed quite the roller coaster season. Although they've been a top-6 team since week 1, they've faced the danger of dropping out of a playoff position on multiple occasions due to their streaky play. As an example, at one point the Greyhounds went three weeks recording only one loss. The one loss? A one-run defeat at the hands of the then league-leading Ayyubids. On the flip side, they've also endured a tough stretch of one win in six games. The one win? A one-run escape against a shortened Sultans side going through a slump. You get the point. Trending in their favour, the Spaniards have amassed a record of 3-1-2 in the six games that have been decided by 2 runs or less, which is why the players are extremely confident entering the last weekend – they are battle tested. They also recognize that they can't go through a hitting slump at this point as they did during the middle of the season. The Cardinals are positive that the slump is in the past as they're riding a three game win streak going into the this weekend, including two huge wins against the Ottomans and Ayyubids last week. Speaking of the final week, Nirvaan "Oh Yeah Baby" Latif's team isn't focused on the infinite permutations facing them. They recognize what's at stake. As far as Osman Buttar and Co. are concerned, their playoffs start this Sunday. The Mughals and Ottomans await in what should be a couple of entertaining ball games. It'll all come down to preparation and resilience if they are to earn two hard fought wins against two teams in a similar predicament. All three teams have a lot to gain and a lot to lose. The boys in grey are poised to make a statement in preparation for the playoffs and not let the season end abruptly.
 
Mughals (@ Nasrids – 2:00PM BW1; vs. Sultans – 3:30PM BW2)
Matchups: Nasrids (0-1-1), Sultans (1-1)
Best and Worst Case Scenario: 2nd place with 4 points and others splitting, Eliminated with zero points and Seljuqs earning three points. 
 
The Mughals season has been an interesting one to say the least.  On paper, this team can stack up with any other in the league.  On the field, however, attendance has been a major issue and has caused this team to underperform.  Week 8 gave the Mughals an opportunity to secure a playoff spot, but a 1-1 record puts them in a precarious situation going into the final week.  Unlike some teams, the Badshahs control their fate this Super Sunday.  Win at least 1 of the 2 games and guarantee a playoff spot; however losing both would mean they would then need help from other teams and Super Sunday would quickly turn into Black Sunday.  Rumour has it that GM Zahid Merchant is ensuring his boys are ready for the task at hand this coming week.  Treating Super Sunday like the first week of the playoffs, the boys in baby blue are hitting the cages, practicing and playing pickup games all week to ensure they come out strong and confident.  Losing and not making the playoffs is not an option for this proud franchise and you can bet your bottom dollar that these boys will come out swinging with everything they got. The Baby Blues have not been able to field a 12 man roster on any Sunday this year, and this Sunday that streak continues.  The boys will be hoping that AGM Nadeem Hussein’s duas while performing Hajj have been heard and will help them get to the playoffs so he can make his return and help lead the Badshahs to yet another championship.  In his (and others) absences, the rest of the team have stepped up to fill big shoes and have performed admirably playing positions they have not been accustomed to; expect more of the same this coming weekend.  “Big Papi” Owais Ansari comes back to the lineup this week after missing last week and should instantly bolster the Mughals batting and defense.  The biggest injection Ansari brings is his passion and his ability to pump up the team.  Look (or rather hear) the Mughals this Super Sunday as they play both the Nasrids and Sultans in the early games.  They split the season series against the Sultans, but have yet to win against the Nasrids.  Needing at least one big win against either of these two teams will not be an easy task as they too are fighting for their playoff lives – expect fireworks early on.  The Mughals 2018 season could be decided by 3:30pm this Sunday afternoon and the question on everyone’s minds is: will the boys be rejoicing and anticipating Nadeem’s return and a full roster for the playoffs, or will the mighty Mughals finally be forced to sit idly and watch the playoffs unfold without them?
 
Sultans (vs. Seljuqs – 2:00PM BW2; @ Mughals – 3:30PM BW2)
Matchups: Seljuqs (1-1), Mughals (1-1)
Best and Worst Case Scenario: 2nd place with 4 points and others splitting, Eliminated with zero points or two points with Mughals with 2 points and Seljuqs earning 4 points. 
 
The Sultans have the power, speed and talent but somehow find themselves with their backs up against the wall. The equation is simple for them. A win against the Seljuqs will guarantee them a playoff spot. A loss will, in all likelihood, see them miss out on the playoffs and begin an offseason with a series of "what ifs". The season series between the Sultans and Seljuqs is fittingly deadlocked at 1 - 1. The first game, the Sultanis beat their counterparts with relative ease. The latter game was just this past week, and the Seljuqs showed their ability with a full squad to get a convincing W. In each game, the team that scored double digits has won. For this rubber match, the Sultans will have to make sure their bats are warm; if they play to their potential they should be the favourites.  The second game the Sultans play is against the Mughals. The importance of the game is inextricably linked to the Sultan's game against the Seljuqs. If the Sultans win both, they could catapult themselves up the BSL rankings and enjoy a favourable playoff schedule.  With such a critical set of games approaching, sources indicate that the team is scheduling a practice organized by Zain Malik, with Faisal Khan arranging rides for team members in exchange for falooda and ice cream. Whether the players can move at the time of practice is another question entirely. What we can be sure about is that these boys will be ready to move up the standings this Sunday in their endeavour to win the ‘chip!

Seljuqs (@ Sultans – 2:00PM BW2; vs. Abbasids – 5:00PM BW2)
Matchups: Sultans (1-1), Abbasids (2-0)
Best and Worst Case Scenario: 4th place with 4 points and three other teams going 0-2, Eliminated with zero points or two points and Sultans earning 2 points. 
 
Are you running with the Bulls? The Seljuqs have started their stampede after a huge 2-0 last week breaking all the chains that have held them back this season. The spirits are high in the herd with all twelve men charging at full force. After a do-or-die performance last week, they must replicate what they achieved in order to appear in the playoffs. A win over the Sultans is almost a precondition for that to happen, but this time, both teams are staring into the eyes of win & in. This game is expected to break BSL attendance records and its anticipation has already sparked a rise in the prices of lawn chairs locally. With the pressures of being in 7th place comes the blessing of playing the Abbasids. Anything less than a win from this matchup would be detrimental to their chances of extending their season. The Seljuqs learnt first-hand to rate this match-up as high as any other, as they narrowly edged a victory against them the week before. The Bulls seem to have settled and matured in the pastures of Birchwood – once the stampede starts it doesn’t stop… and now the empires can hear them coming.
 
Ottomans (vs. Nasrids – 3:30PM BW1; @ Ayyubids – 6:30PM BW2)
Matchups: Nasrids (1-1), Ayyubids (1-1)
Best and Worst Case Scenario: 1st place with 4 points and Mamluks zero points, Eliminated with zero points and Seljuqs earning 4 points with all other teams splitting. 
 
WWell, the Ottomans sure like to do things the hard way don’t they?  It wasn’t long ago that the Turks were sitting in first place with all the momentum going their way.  So how could this team possibly miss the playoffs?  Two words…Trade Deadline!!  GMs Hashim Ghazi and Rehan Ahmad fell under the spell of Jedi Master Zahid Merchant and gifted him Rookie of the Year candidate Owais Ansari, and for what? Hassan Chaudhry? Who? Wait, NOT that brother? And NOT the one from BSL Nights either? The other OTHER brother? Wow. Since that time, the Ottomans have only earned 1 point over four games, making armchair GMs in the League yell in disgust.  Could Owais be the BSL equivalent to Babe Ruth and put the Bambino curse on the Ottomans?  Truth be told, both Hashim and Rehan have had three years of regular season success only to flame out in the playoffs.  For them, the Championship is the only goal, and acquiring a 2016 Batting Title Winner, 3-time All-Star, and Gold Glove winner in Chaudhry brought them that much closer to their goal.  Aqib Khokhar, who was also included in the deal, has also fit in nicely batting .467 since joining the Ottomans, 80 points higher than his numbers with the Mughals.  The Turks enter the final week of the season welcoming back Mohsin Zubair, their lead-off hitter who has been setting the table all season, as well as most improved player candidate Zia Ali who missed last weekend due to an injury (even though his Instagram stories showed him running around Muskoka, we see you bro).  Taha Iqbal, who has let his bat do the talking this year (.745 avg), has vowed to bring back his war cries this weekend to get the troops motivated and keep them engaged.  Furhan Azmat will be a game time decision, while he waits for the MRI results on his upper-body injury (no he did not injure himself trashtalking). With most of the regulars back, Tanseer Khawaja will finally have his optimal defense set behind him.  Khawaja has been lights out on the mound again this season, leading all starters in walks allowed (14 in 14 games).  You can bet he will once again be attacking the strike zone looking to add to his Strikeout lead.  Even with all the turmoil over the past few weeks, and second guessing, the Ottomans brain trust is very calm and confident knowing his team, even while underperforming, leads the league in runs scored and holds their destiny in their own hands.
 
Mamluks (vs. Ayyubids – 5:00PM BW1; vs. Abbasids – 6:30PM BW1)
Matchups: Ayyubids (1-1), Abbasids (2-0)
Best and Worst Case Scenario: 1st place with 1 point, 2nd place virtually guaranteed on run differential
 
The Mamluks are going into the final week of the season as one of two teams guaranteed a playoff spot. However the team as a whole is guaranteed nothing in terms of seeding or matchups. GM Rizvan Merchant has been steadfast in his approach and continues to preach that the Green Machine take each game one at a time, and as if it were the last one to be played. That being said, the Mamluks find themselves in a solid position, needing only 1 point to clinch the top regular season spot for the season. They can also put aside any inclinations of the Ayyubids have of taking back the #1 spot in their first game on Sunday, against them. This should be a fun affair, given the season series is tied, 1-1, and both teams are jockeying for position. In their second matchup, and last of the regular season, the Green Machine will turn their sights to the winless Abbasids. Some would say this is a matchup of David and Goliath, however, the Mamluks will be missing Jibran Waqar, Atif Khan, and Sheraz Mahmood on top of the injured WK and Adeel Alam for the final week. With three-fourths of their starting infield unavailable, we expect to see a very different squad on Sunday. Whether this is a tactical strategy to keep opponents guessing remains to be seen, but the stakes are high given the top spot and a bye week may be at stake. It will definitely be interesting to see just what shakes out for the men in green.
 
Ayyubids (@ Mamluks – 5:00PM BW1; vs. Ottomans – 6:30PM BW2)
Matchups: Mamluks (1-1), Ottomans (1-1)
Best and Worst Case Scenario: 1st place earn 4 points, 6th place with zero points and all other teams split. 
 
The Ayyubids season has been like a yo-yo to say the least. On paper, this team can stack up with any other team in the league.  On the field however, consistent defence has been a major issue and has caused this team to drop from 7-1 to 8-6. The final week has afforded the Ayyubids an opportunity to finish the season off strong and secure a bye for the playoffs.  The Ayyubids control their own fate this Super Sunday as they square off against the Mamluks and Ottomans. The Ayyubids split the season series with the Mamluks and lost both games to the Ottomans. The team will be looking to avenge both losses. The math for the Ayyubids is simple: win both games and guarantee a first round bye; however losing both would mean they would tumble in the standings and play an extra game in the playoffs.  Rumour has it that GM Umer Jabbar is ensuring his team is ready for the coming week by forcing his players to attend two practices this week.  The Ayyubids have been known to tinker with their lineup this year, however, that trend will end this Sunday as the team will revert back to the lineup which contributed to their hot 7-1 start. The boys will be hoping that Umair Sheikh returns to his unconscious self while leading off for the team. If he struggles, the rest of the team will have to step up and revert back to the small ball offense which made them successful early in the season. Look for the Ayyubids to play solid defence this week and come out hitting to secure a playoff bye.
 
Abbasids (@ Seljuqs – 5:00PM BW2; @ Mamluks – 6:30PM BW2)
Matchups: Seljuqs (0-2), Mamluks (0-2)
Best and Worst Case Scenario: Ruin the Seljuqs winter by eliminating them from the playoffs, Become the only team to lose 14 games in a season.  
 
Playing for Pride Pizza. The difficult season comes to a close this Sunday as the already eliminated Abbasids play their final two games of the season.  They are on a six-game losing streak and, aside from a pair of ties, have lost every game this season.  Credit to the players who have continued to show up and try to get this team their first win of the season but now they are down to their final two games and desperate to avoid the dubious record of going a full season without a win.  They will first face the Seljuqs who are desperate for a win as they look to jump into a playoff spot.  The Seljuqs have won both meetings, outscoring the Lions by 22 runs in both matchups combined, and the team is playing well, having won three of their past four games.  The Abbasids got a strong performance from Bilal Javed last week who went 7/8 with four homers, and they will need another big Sunday from him.  The Abbasids end their season with a game against the first place Mamluks who have the pole position all but locked up.  An Ottoman has done what he can to motivate the Abbasids to win this game, as Rehan Ahmed has promised to buy pizza for the team if they can pull off the upset – hence the opening line of the Abbasids preview.  It has been difficult to see exactly why the Abbasids have struggled so much this season as individually they have talented players, but putting these pieces together has not worked in any way this season.  Let's see what happens when all that is left is playing for pride and trying to avoid the infamy of playing on a winless team.

This measures up as the biggest regular season weekend in BSL History - a fitting end the fifth regular season of the League.  With seven teams jockeying for six spots, one very good team will have to watch from the sidelines.  League leaders have been brought back to life after hot starts, bottom feeders have shown what a full season of chemistry building and practice can do, and we await 8PM where the seeds will be locked, the intensity will continue to build, and the road to the championship becomes clearer.  Who will reign? 

Week 8 Recap

Here is what transpired in Week 8. [note: recaps have been written by members of the rumours committee]

Mamluks v Ottomans: The 2pm affair at Birchwood 1 featured the Mamluks and Ottomans in a 1 vs. 2 matchup. It was the sole game in the early slot and both team were shortened due to absences. The game was a back and forth affair with both squads trading runs almost every inning. The Mamluks were a bit shaky in the field with the absence of a catcher and the Turks took advantage, or at least as much as they could. They also welcomes newly acquired Hassan Chaudhry into the fold as he had a solid debut. Hammad Afif also made his presence felt as he went hard twice. Over on the other side, Jibran Waqar did Jibran Waqar things and Baseer Yaseen also came through in the clutch with a late two out double to give the Green Machine the lead. In the end though, Rehan Ahmad was able to bring home the tying run on a last inning double. As both heavy weights continued to throw haymakers, the final result ended in a tie.
Final Score: Mamluks - 12, Ottomans - 12;    
Star of the Game - Hammad Afif, 2-4, 2 HRs

Ottomans v Nasrids: In a back and forth affair that saw two teams trying to find their feet battle one another, the Nasrids took on the Ottomans in a must-win game. The teams traded barbs in the first two innings courtesy of home runs from Taha Iqbal and Osman Buttar. The Ottomans looked to blow it open with a six-run third inning, but the Nasrids had other plans. Led by some timely hitting from the bottom of the Spaniards lineup, the Nasrids piled hit-upon-hit for a 7-run fifth to take the lead 11-8 going into the last frame. After the Ottomans tied it up, it came down to the MVP-candidate Osman Buttar stepping up to the dish with a runner on, and did what Buttar does. The Greenbird/Greyhound smacked a walk-off 2-run shot to capture the win, and collect a much needed two points in the standings.
Final Score: Ottomans - 11, Nasrids - 13;      
Star of the Game - Osman Buttar - 4-4, 2 HRs

Mamluks v Ayyubids: The Mamluks were coming into this match without a loss since week 2, but with some key bats missing. The Ayyubids were looking to erase the memory of the beat down the Mamluks delivered to them in week 5. With both teams fielding only 9 players and with shortened lineups, both teams were expected to score runs. The game started with the Ayyubids throwing the first punch, taking a 3-0 first inning lead thanks to small ball hitting and patience at the plate.  The Mamluks put up a six-spot in the second capped with a Taher Mirza three-run blast. The Ayyubids would add two more in the second courtesy of a Jibran Khan homerun. The Mamluks added four more runs in the 4th inning, but would not score again. The Ayyubids would add, 1, 2 and 3 runs in the subsequent innings to take an 11-10 lead. AR capped the Ayyubids scoring with a 3-run homerun. The Ayyubids would hold on for the win thanks to solid d and a game ending diving catch by Umair Sheikh.
Final Score: Mamluks - 10, Ayyubids - 11;      
Star of the Game -  A R, Game winning HR

Ayyubids v Nasrids: Both teams were high coming off huge victories against the top two teams in their previous games. It was the Spaniards, though, that got off to a hot start with a first inning mercy. The Ayyubids didn't let that phase them as they chipped away at the lead to cut it to 7-5 and keep themselves in striking range. However, each of their comeback attempts ended abruptly due to untimely outs, which left runners stranded. Insurance runs from the Nasrids big boys Nirvaan Latif, Asad Syed, and Osman Buttar were the final nail in the coffin. Jav Ahmad continues his late resurgence with the bat to give the Nasrids much needed hitting in the middle of the order. The men in black could have used their missing bats today as playing with a shortened lineup hurt them. Ahmad Ammad was their lone bright spot as he went 4-4 and added to his season home run tally. A great pitching performance from Ali Jabbar wasn't enough as the Nasrids came up with crucial hits across the lineup and were a wall in the field. 15-7 was the final score in favour of the Nasrids, who continue their seesaw season as they will themselves into a tie for second place with the Ayyubids and Ottomans. It sets up for a dramatic final weekend where each of these teams will by vying for sole possession of second place and a first round bye in the September classic.
Final Score: Ayyubids - 7, Nasrids - 15;      
Star of the Game - Nirvaan Latif, 3-3, 2 HRs

Mughals v Abbasids:  The Abbasids came into this one knowing that while their playoff dreams may be over they could play spoiler for an opponent for what remained of the season and who better to bring down then the mighty Mughals!  The Abbasids were without perennial Star Sameer Rafique making the spoiler gig much harder while the Mughals were without Nadeem Hussain and recently acquired Owais Ansari.  Even without two big bats the Mughals came out hot as they dropped five-runs in the top of the first and seemed well on their way to dropping seven runs had they remembered to not touch home as did the runner crossing the plate for the sixth run which ended the rally.  The Abbasids responded with a pair of runs and seemed to show some fight but the Mughals were quick to extinguish any hope as they dropped seven runs in the top of the second to take a 12-2 early lead.  The Mughals were able to coast the rest of the way, getting runners on base with smart hitting and then using the long ball to clean up the bases as they knocked six out of the park and showed great patience in drawing seven walks over the game.  When the dust settled the Mughals roared to a 25-8 win where every batter got at least one hit and Faraaz Alvi had a particularly standout performance (tying league record) going 6/6 with 6 runs scored and 5 RBI which was capped off with a mammoth homer to right.  The Abbasids got a solid outing from Bilal Javed with a pair of homers and 4 RBIs.  
Final Score: Mughals - 25, Abbasids - 8;    
 Star of the Game -  Faraaz Alvi, 6-6, 2 HRs

Sultans v Mughals: After a much needed convincing win against the Abbasids, the Mughals looked to cement their playoff spot this week with a win against the Sultans and not worry about next week.  Unfortunately, things did not start off as planned in game 2, as the Sultans came out swinging the hot bat with a 4 spot in the first inning alone capped off by a HR by Shaheen “I Refuse to Age” Limbada.  The Mughals got one back on a solo shot by Ismail Akhtar but the Sultans got more HRs from GM Shamil Khadaroo, Hassan Chaudhary and a 2nd one by Shaheen.  Before you know it, 3 innings were in the books and the Sultans had built up a 10-1 lead and never looked back.  With the Sultans winning 13-6, all eyes would be on the Sultans next game against the Seljuqs; a Sultans win would guarantee the Mughals and Sultans a playoff spot.  The lone bright spot for the Mughals in this game was that their new look infield nicknamed RAIN (Riyad, Atif, Imran and Nauman) played exceptionally well and committed 0 errors in the game.  This could potentially allow management to play around with positioning for the last week and playoffs as people have proven they can play multiple positions that were previously not known.  The last week of the regular season will pit these 2 teams against each other again with 1 last attempt at securing a playoff push.  Will the Sultans come out and end the Mughals dominance since the league has started, or do the Badshah’s still have 1 trick left up their sleeve to secure that playoff spot?  Come out, grab a lawn chair, and enjoy the playoff atmosphere of the final regular season week where 6 teams are vying for that last spot to the dance. 
Final Score: Mughals - 6, Ottomans - 13;    
Star of the Game - Shaheen Limbada, 3-4, 2 HR

Abbasids v Seljuqs: Coming into this game, we expected the Seljuqs to blow the Abbasids out of the water as they were without Sameer Rafique and Kashif Irshad. The Abbasids came out pounding scoring 5 in the top of the first off homeruns from Bilal Javaid and Zuhair Fancy. The Seljuqs countered with 5 of their own with Omer Dhaduk and Rameez Siddiqui going the yard. Whenever the Abbasids put up runs the Seljuqs responded when it was their turn to bat. It was an overall tight affair and Seljuqs supporters were getting nervous about their chances at the second season. In the fifth inning, Omer Dhaduk created a gap in the scoreline with a second homer and toped it off with ‘another one’ in the sixth. The Seljuqs offense chipped away from the batter’s box and consistently brought in runs to see them over the Abbasids who played a solid 7 innings. All 12 batters in the Seljuqs order registered at least a hit and this kind of consistency and performance is what they need to make the playoffs and compete within. The Abbasids still look for their fist win.
Final Score: Abbasids - 12, Seljuqs - 20;      
Star of the Game -  Omar Dhaduk, 3-4, 3 HRs

Sultans v Seljuqs: The Seljuqs and the Sultans came in fighting for the 6th spot near the end of this BSL Season. Both teams had won their earlier game of the day and were seeking to get the W. Both teams started off hitting the ball well and racking up some runs in the first inning, however it was the Seljuq team that was able to consistently hit the ball well throughout the game. the runs piled on and by the 4th inning it was a 9-2 game for the Seljuqs. Omar Dhuduk continued his heavy hitting from earlier in the day and piled on another homerun to increase the lead. The moment of the game however came when the Sultans had three men on base setting up Shahzad Ahmed at the plate to start the comeback. After a couple of foul hits, Ahmed hit a laser down the line at third that was first deflected right into the anticipating hands of Omar Dhaduk and then turned into a double play to end the innings. Any hope the sultans had of coming back ended right there. With 4 points on the day for the first time this season, the Seljuqs are peaking at the optimal time. The Sultans however, blew an opportunity to move all the way up to 2nd place with a win. Now they face a rematch with the Seljuqs and a chance of being eliminated next Sunday. 
Final Score: Sultans - 8, Seljuqs - 15;    
Star of the Game - Omar Dhadhuk, 3-3, HR, 2 2B


Week 8 Rumours

[written by: Aamir Husainy/Saad Gaya/Shahzad Ahmed/Taha Iqbal    |    edited by Hashim Ghazi]
 
We head into the penultimate week of the season with four games left to play. Only one team has been eliminated and no playoff seeds have been secured yet. Expect plenty of drama this Sunday. Before we get into the rumours, we had two transactions completed before the roster deadline last Sunday:
  • Ottomans trade Owais Ansari & Kashif Waheed to the Mughals for Hassan Chaudhry & Aqib Khokhar
  • Sultans have Saoud Ramjaun drop out due to injury and replace him with Omar Khan
Also, this Sunday, the Sultans will be raising money for their team charity, Hospital for Sick Children. Sultans will be selling two beef patties and Mood water for $5. Please come prepared. 
 
Ottomans (vs. Mamluks – 2:00PM BW1; @ Nasrids – 3:30PM BW1)
 
Have you ever heard Taha Iqbal's legendary roar while crossing home plate? That was the reaction that everyone had after Hashim Ghazi's incredible catch, complete with barrel roll, in right field on a laser beam line drive by the Mughal’s Faraaz Alvi (who would later get his revenge in his next at-bat by hitting a three-run shot to put the game out reach). However, unfortunately for the Ottomans, the team had trouble putting together additional momentum to produce any wins last Sunday.  Iqbal had a pair of big home runs, but the Turks were unable to come through against the Mughals in a match up with tons of intrigue after a monster two-for-two deal that saw three of the four traded players suit up against their new teams.  The last of the traded players, Hassan Chaudhry, is set to make his much anticipated debut this coming weekend in Royal Blue, with Randy Panesar returning from very commendable relief work trip in Africa. Aqib Khokhar was also sent to the Ottomans in the deal, and he made his entrance loud and clear as he went yard against his former team, and also made a huge outfield assist in left field.  Rehan Ahmed had somewhat of an unprecedented week, hitting 3/9. If I were an opponent though, I would be more afraid than relieved, because this MVP is probably going to come out breathing fire. The Ottomans will look to make a push for first place, or at least secure a bye in the first round of the playoffs. It won't be too easy though, as they play the top ranked Mamluks, and a Nasrids team that has the talent to cause an upset. This is a big week for the Ottomans, and perhaps even bigger for the league standings!
 
Mamluks (@ Ottomans – 2:00PM BW1; @ Ayyubids – 3:30PM BW2)
 
What is the secret behind the Mamluks’ success this year? Well, it has something to do with how they’ve performed on the field, but a big factor is how they’ve managed to keep their WhatsApp group mum. With Umair Sheikh and Hassan Chaudhry moving on, the only messages now on the Mamluks’ WhatsApp group are forwarded chappal sale promotions from GM Rizvan Merchant. It is understood that last post on the group was three weeks ago when Jibran Waqar forwarded a promotion on Fair & Lovely. The Mamluks are sitting at the perch going into the penultimate week and they have done so without much hoopla. While everyone expected the Mamluks to be good this season, their clinical performances have far exceeded everyone’s expectations. Their bats have been consistent, but their pitching is what has set them apart. Rizzy the Regulator is leading in almost every the pitching category, including an ERA which is more than two runs lower than second best. If anything, a negative for the team has been Salman Ahmad struggling to put up similar numbers to his successful rookie campaign. He was heard reassuring his teammates that a cricketer is never out of it – don’t be surprised if he turns his fortunes around in the final two weeks of the regular season. With a playoff spot already guaranteed and a bye all but confirmed, the Mamluks will try to lock-down the top spot going in to September. They face the Ottomans, fighting for the top spot themselves and looking to get realigned after running astray last week, and the Ayyubids, who look to turn a corner and take the Greens down.  
 
Nasrids (vs. Ottomans – 3:30PM BW1; vs. Ayyubids – 5:00PM BW1)
 
Run Forest Run. The Nasrids enter the second last week of the BSL Season Five in sixth place, losing out the number 5 spot on run differential. They stand on flimsy ground and need to get create some safe distance to protect their spot in the playoffs from the Seljuqs. The Spaniards played the bottom two teams in the league last week, but only came out with one win. Word on the street is that Ibrahim Sardar is looking for a barber during this Hajj season to chop off his hair in an attempt to throw off his opponents. He has been a bright spot on the mound for the Greyhounds, and shows why he’s one of the most versatile players in the League. However, he might need more than a new haircut to prevent that big LP (losing pitcher) beside his name while playing the Ottomans and Ayyubids this week. Both teams have outperformed the Nasrids over the season, but if other players can back up Osman Buttar with the bat, this might be the week for the Nasrids to get ahead and recapture that late season glory they offered last year. Team members have also requested Imam Saab Salar Rasoul to add the team to the masjid dua request list at Jumah. If you suddenly see this team actually catching every lollipop pop-fly in their outfield, you’ll know why.  The Nasrids need to rekindle their flame to avoid their freefall, and if they can pull off a pair of Ws this weekend, they will be right where they want to be heading into September – playoff-bound.

Ayyubids (vs. Mamluks – 3:30PM BW2; @ Nasrids – 5:00PM BW1)
 
‘You can’t ascribe our fall from grace to any single event or set of circumstances. You can’t lose what you lacked at conception.’ -James Ellroy
 
It will be up to the Ayyubids themselves to decide whether the above plays out to be true or not.  Which team are they?  The world beaters who at one point boasted the top spot in the league with a 7-1 record with the only loss coming on a walk-off that had half the league shook at facing them, or the post-Hulk Bruce Banner-ish team that has reached their peak and has the other half of the League claiming they were overrated? GM Umer ‘Gulaab Jamun’ Jabbar must be in shock, unable to believe what has transpired in the last two weeks of play; but he knows, along with the rest of the league, that this team is not to be slept on. Coming off another disastrous week, they have serious work to do if they want to build some momentum going into the playoffs. This team still boasts top of the league talent in players like Umair ‘The Intrepid’ Sheikh who fearlessly sits in the top five for both AVG and OBP, and ‘Angry’ Ahmad Ammad, who grips the bat like he’s going to deliver a beating, swings to kill every time, and also leads the team in Hits, Home Runs and RBIs.  AGM and Pitcher Ali ‘The Accurate’ Jabbar has been phenomenal on the mound, keeping batters guessing while he sits second in Wins and ERA, and coming through when the team needs him with either a K or a hit of his own. This last week didn’t have many bright spots, but the team should try to build off of the positives experienced, such as the Faiz ‘The Prize’ Kalyani going 4-5 on the day (and who is one of the nicest people in the league…if he ever developed a mean streak and stopped smiling a la Dwight Howard, he could be lethal), and ‘Jabbin’ Jibran Khan for punching a ball out of BW1. Expectations should be to build on these performances and not look back. Facing the always dangerous Mamluks and Nasrids this weekend will be a true test for this squad’s contender status. A lineup shuffle may be called for as more is expected from their killers like Imran ‘Milton’s Maniac’ Merchant and Mo ‘The Mercenary’ Kala. These “0-fer” games cannot happen for their studs if the Ayyus expect to win their 2nd league title. If they right the ship, cover your ears as you’ll hear the team howling like wolves after victory: ‘AYYUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!”
 
Abbasids (vs. Mughals – 5:00PM BW2; @ Seljuqs – 6:30PM BW2)
 
Playing for Pride. The difficult season continued for the Abbasids last week with back-to-back mercy losses. Having been mathematically eliminated from contention, the question becomes: will this team even muster the courage to show-up and perform for a single win on the season? If there was ever a moment in BSL history for a team to play for something more than just a potential championship, this would be it. The Abbasids have had some great moments this season but unfortunately, for one reason or another, have not been able to get the W. No, it’s no longer about having fun and no longer about the spirit of the game - it’s now about chasing that ghost once and for all before the season ends and avoiding being remembered in history for the worst of reasons. Four games remain, meaning that a potential 8 points are up for grabs to propel the Abbasids from last place. All of this has been said before so it’s time for the men in orange to simply let their game speak. We often commend the character of this team, and if there is any time for that character to shine and play their heart out for respect, now is the time. This week’s matchups include a perfect opportunity to do so, as they play a flailing Seljuqs team that is as consistent as a Freedom mobile connection. Players like 'Mr. Nice Guy' Neal Irfan, who skip happening house parties for the sake of their families, must now show their meaner side and pull out that homerun swing displayed earlier in the season. The second matchup against the Mughals will be no easy task, but if Fuzail Thakur can bring home the win against the O.G Ziggy, the season may end on a high note. Good Luck Boys, show us what you got!
 
Mughals (@ Abbasids – 5:00PM BW2; vs. Sultans – 6:30PM BW1)
 
Don't panic. The Mughals are here, and they are fine. The Boys of Baby Blue came out like royalty on week 7 on the heels of a blockbuster deal where they welcomed Owais Ansari and Kashif Waheed to the Badshahs. Both players contributed to the Mughals in a big way, as they made their way comfortably up the playoff ranks and moved from 6th to a cool 4th place. They also had a big week 7 performance from Atif Parvaiz who went 4/4 in a marquee match-up.  Faraaz Alvi also had a clutch performance, bopping a big home run as the Mughals are squashing any doubt that they belong in the playoffs and are ready to defend their title. GM Zahid Merchant is probably tapping his fingers together in his ice bath as he looks forward to the Mughals week 8 match up against the Abbasids and Sultans. The Badshahs need to continue rolling and not take anything for granted, as they play the Abbasids in a potential trap game. Additionally, the Sultans are finally boasting a complete team, and look as dangerous as ever. However, the Mughals are hoping that by completing their own team through trade, they will be right there with the rest of the big boys. Look for an intense, action-packed week up ahead!  
 
Sultans (@ Mughals – 6:30PM BW1; @ Seljuqs – 8:00PM BW1)
 
‘RISIN’ UP, BACK ON THE STREET,
DID THEIR TIME, TOOK THEIR CHAAAANCES.
WENT THE DISTANCE, NOW THEY’RE BACK ON THEIR FEET,
JUST SOME MEN AND THEIR WILL TO SURVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!’
 
If you don’t recognize the Sultans version of Eye Of The Tiger, then get out more!  The Rallyin’ Stallions have chosen the perfect time to come together as a unit. The #SultansRevengeTour came through as underdogs against the Ayyubids and Ottomans last week where they served up both a mercy game to the Ayyus and an L to the Ottos.  This was all made possible because of the performances of: star leading man Kamil ‘The Hero’ Haider, who went 4-4 and 3-4 and was robbed of a Player Of The Game Award in game 1 and also ran to the rescue of a fallen comrade when he awkwardly slid into second base; Shaheen ‘The Machine’ Limbada with a perfect game 1 and 6-8 day overall, running around the bases and field without fatigue like a terminator; and ‘Zealous’ Zain Malik whose dedication and loyalty is unparalleled and is experiencing his best success in his new home in the lineup with shots down the line like he was partying with LMFAO and Lil’ Jon. Khizer ‘Don’t Change The Channel’ Channa, along with his brother also on board for a shortened (surprise, surprise) Sultans squad, formed The ‘Channa’i Express and choo-choo’d all the way to home plate for runs. The return of GM Shamil ‘The Shepherd’ Khadaroo helped herd the team together and ensure they were all on the same page for this crucial portion of the season.  Ace AK ‘47’ was gunning down strikes and touching parts of the plate that the plate community is calling offensive and inappropriate. His presence is an absolute necessity for a deep Sultans run to the championship. That run includes – wait…WAIT…This just in.  BREAKING NEWS:  For the first time this year, The Manly Mustangs will field a full team!!! *Violins blaring, doves flying, flowers blooming* The Sultans welcome Omar ‘Incognito’ Khan from the BSL Nights league as a replacement for Saoud Ramjaun who was forced to withdraw from the League (we hope to see him next year iA). Will his experience there and in fantasy sports help? Tune in to find out. Now, back to our regularly scheduled rumours – upcoming matchups against the Mughals and Seljuks. The Mughals are trending upwards, led by GM Zahid ‘The Zenith’ Merchant, who is currently sitting at his most powerful and earned his nickname after two unexpected wins (in which he was striking out some of the best hitters in BSL history), is looking to continue to build on what was achieved last week…especially after the Investigations Unit of The BSL Bugle caught exclusive footage of the special dua request by the Commish to his AGM Nadeem ‘Haji’ Hussein: ‘Ya Parvardigaar, please don’t let us lose by more 5-7 runs. Ameen.’  The Seljuqs however, are experiencing a season of ups and downs under rookie GM Umair ‘The Hair’ Jabbar. With a chance that a team he’s a part of will miss the playoffs for the third straight year, it is possible that the documentary titled “Umair: No Jabbar Jadoo” may be greenlit and set for filming this September. The return of ‘Thunderin’ Taqi Ahmed and ‘Hustlin’ Hassan Chaudhary 2.0 with their speed and base running ability are going to be relied on heavily as they are integral pieces of the puzzle that, when finished, looks like the Championship Trophy. The Sultans sit back, surveying, observing…’AND THEY’RE WATCHING US ALL WITH THE EYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYE…OF THE SULTAAAAAAAAANS…’
 
Seljuqs (vs. Abbasids – 6:30PM BW2; vs. Sultans – 8:00PM BW1)
 
While GM Umair Jabbar's 'sapno ki raani' is back, he still finds his team in a precarious position and fighting for a play-off spot. On paper, the Seljuqs seem to be one of the stronger teams, but they haven’t been able to translate that into on the field success. Their biggest problem has been consistency and stringing wins together. Hanging by a thin thread, Umair has powered up his jukebox to change their luck – next up is the 70s hit – ‘Coming Back to Life’. Hamza Waheed has been a shining light for the Seljuqs this year. His pitching has come of age lately – while he hasn’t set the stage on fire, he has performed beyond expectations and has kept the Seljuqs in most of the games. Michael Arlitt is back from his hiatus and has slotted in nicely at the top of the lineup. And although Saad G’s performance seems to be tapering off, he has led off admirably for the Reds so far. It’ll augur well for his team if he is able to replicate his performance from the start of the season – nonetheless, he’s one the leading candidates for the ‘Rookie of the Year’ award. The Seljuqs success from here on is dependent on how their bottom half of the order reacts to the situation – if they’re able to punch above their weigh-class, then expect the Seljuqs to make a strong run for playoffs. Expect Rameez Siddiqui and Zaid Ghansar to up the ante this week. Last time the Seljuqs came up against the Abbasids, they steamrolled them 23-9 – with playoff spot at stake, the Seljuqs will look to go for the kill. Further, with both the Sultans and Seljuqs fighting to stay alive, the Bulls’ nightcap may prove to be the most important game of the year for them. 

Let's get it started!

Week 7 Recap

Here is what transpired in Week 7. [note: recaps have been written by members of the rumours committee]

Mamluks v Abbasids: After a successful BSL Midseason Tourney, the brothers of summer were back at it, and Birchwood 1 featured the tale of two streaks. The Mamluks were coming into the week with an undefeated streak which sat at seven games, and the Abbasids were still seeking their first win of the season. The game began with little drama, as it was tied 1-1 until the Mamluks busted the game wide open, sporting a 7, 3, and 6 run inning in the 3rd, 4th and 5th, respectively. The entire team brought their hitting shoes against Fuzail Thakur as each player reached base via hits, including 8 of their 10 hitting safely at least twice. It was a total team effort that put up 17 runs without star hitter W K. He did come out to support the team, which may have provided them the fuel to bat over .657 as a team. On the other hand, the Abbasids struggled to get on base, hitting only .333, and only put up 2 runs. Their playoff chances, although slim, also came to a screeching halt, although not for a lack of effort. Sameer Rafique did hit a solo home run that left the yard in record time on a frozen rope. Unfortunately for him and the Orange men, it was much too little as the Green Machine overpowered them 17-2.
Final Score: Mamluks - 17, Ottomans - 2;    
Star of the Game - Taher Mirza, 4-4

Ottomans v Nasrids: The Nasrids squared off against the Seljuqs to kick off week 7 on Birchwood 2.  For the first time this season the Seljuqs had their entire squad in the line-up, and they were eager to get going. Umair Jabbar and Omer Dhaduk had their team pumped with their patented screams of “Let’s Go!!!” The Seljuqs came out firing, scoring five runs before the Nasrids could even record an out, including a 3-run homerun off the bat of Umair.  The Nasrids, on the other hand, looked sluggish and had a hard time getting anything going over the first three innings, managing to only get 3 baserunners on over the three frames.  In the bottom of the third, with the score still 5-0, Umair came to the plate again with two runners on and a chance to extend the lead for the Seljuqs. Ibrahim Sardar induced Jabbar into grounding out to Usama Mahmood to escape unscathed. That looked to awaken the Nasrids momentarily, as Asad Syed started the 4th inning with a solo homerun to finally put the Nasrids on the board.  Not to be outdone, the Seljuqs answered back in the bottom half of the inning by scoring a pair of their own due to a couple key errors committed by the Nasrids.  Hamza Waheed kept the Nasrids bats pretty much in check all game, allowing only 10 hits and walking no batters for the Win. 
Final Score: Nasrids - 3, Seljuqs - 10;      
Star of the Game - Hamza Waheed

Nasrids v Abbasids: The Nasrids and Abbasids were both in desperate need of SOMEONE stepping up going into their final game of the day. Despite having the makings of a closely contested affair, this game was anything but. Unfortunately for the Orange this was another one-sided loss in what has been a disappointing season. The Spaniards on the other hand finally got to right their ship just before it felt they were sinking rapidly.  It was classic all around team effort with almost everyone having a multi-hit game, including a tremendous 7-8 combined output for Hasan Afzal and Asim Waheed. Osman Buttar was thankful to be back in Birchwood 1 as he led the game with 7 RBIs, including two very Buttar-ish home runs. The Nasrids pitching and defense also played its part in making zero errors and keeping the Abbasids at bay for most of the night. Akif Waheed had a solid 2-2 at the plate but didn't get much help from the rest of his teammates as he was left stranded on both occasions. Sameer Rafique and Bilal Javed brought some life to into their team after a slow start with homers to collect 6 runs over the 4th and 5th innings. However, it was a little too late for the Abbasids as the Nasrids offense ran away with this one in the first three innings. The final score of 21-6 means that the Abbasids have officially been eliminated from playoff contention but knowing the character guys on that team, they'll be ready to show up and play hard for their remaining games. The Nasrids meanwhile kept pace with some of the other teams to still be in control of their destiny with a lot to play for over the next two weeks.
Final Score: Nasrids - 21, Abbasids - 6;      
Star of the Game - Osman Buttar, 4-4  

Mamluks v Seljuqs: Both teams entered the game looking to remain perfect on the afternoon.  The Seljuqs started the contest much like they did game one by putting up a crooked number in the bottom of the first.  Two bloop hits off the bats of Michael Arlitt and Omer Dhaduk got the ball rolling, scoring 2 runs for the Seljuqs. Shoaib Gaya cashed in an RBI single, and Sikandar Aftab walked with the bases loaded to cap off a 6-run inning for the Seljuqs.  The Mamluks didn’t even flinch, and used small ball to get themselves on the board off an RBI single from Yasser Zia. The big blow of the 2nd inning was a 3-run homerun from Taher Mirza, his first of the season.  Rizvan Merchant would complete the 7 run second with an RBI single.  The Seljuqs looked stunned, and the Mamluks, sensing blood in the water, went into attack mode scoring another 7-run max in the top of the third inning topped off by a Jibran Waqar 3-run homer.  Dhaduk tried to get the Seljuqs back in the game, smashing a 2-run HR in the bottom half of the third, making the score 14-9 Mamluks after three. In the bottom of the 5th, with the score 16-9 Mamluks, the Seljuqs had a chance to chip into the lead with the bases loaded and only one out, but could only muster a single run.  The Mamluks only scored in three of the seven innings, but made sure to make them count.  The real story of the day was some defensive miscues by the Seljuqs as well as some questionable defensive positioning.
Final Score: Mamluks - 16, Seljuqs - 10;      
Star of the Game - Rizvan Merchant, 4-4

Sultans v Ayyubids:  This was a match of two powerhouses that were trending in opposite directions, but coming in with similar senses of urgency. The Ayyubids were looking to erase the memory of their first 0-2 weekend of the season and the Sultans were surging and getting much needed help thanks to a full and healthy line-up. The game started with the Sultans throwing the first punch, taking a 3-0 first inning lead thanks to small ball hitting and RBIs from Shameel Khadaroo and Shaheen Limbada.  Both teams locked down in the second inning which was scoreless.  The Sultans added more cushion to their lead thanks to a 7-run mercy in the third.  The Ayyubids would get on the scoreboard thanks to homeruns by Jibran Khan and Ahmad Ammad, but would not score again. The Sultans added more runs in the 5th and 6th inning where they also held their opponents scoreless, leading to the Ayyubids first mercy loss of the season.
Final Score: Sultans - 18, Ayyubids - 3;    
 Star of the Game -  Shahzad Ahmed, 5-5

Mughals v Ottomans: Drama!  Tension!  Rivalry!  Game 1 of the afternoon slate between the Mughals and Ottomans provided all this and more.  A mere 48 hours after the biggest trade in BSL history, the two teams squared off against one another.  With three of the four players involved in the deal playing in this game, the tensions were strong, and the atmosphere was intensely felt throughout the park.  Did Hashim Ghazi & Rehan Ahmad pull a coup to finally get them a championship or did Zahid Merchant & co. figure a way out to further secure a spot in the playoffs?  The game started off with the Mughals coming out strong and scoring four quick runs to take the lead.  The Ottomans, not to be outdone, began hitting the long ball with homeruns from Taha Iqbal (who had two on the day), Ghazi and newly acquired rookie Aqib “Lights Out” Khokhar.  Those in attendance noticed the attempted but failed bat flip by Aqib and the staredown to Zahid when he hit the HR. Going to the 4th inning the Ottomans were up 11-7, which was all the Ottomans could put up since all their runs were manufactured through the HR and could not hit any more due to reaching the limit.  The Mughals would begin to rally, scoring 11 unanswered in the bottom four innings to win the game 18-11.  The newly acquired Mughals, Owais “Big Papi” Ansari and Kashif “Big Dog” Waheed could be heard all day, pumping up their team and raising the spirits of their new team for the big win.  Round one in this new rivalry goes to the Badshahs, but Round 2 could be different once the Ottomans prized acquisition Hassan Chaudhry returns from his honeymoon.  If these 2 teams meet in the last week of regular season or in the playoffs, grab a seat and get your popcorn ready; this rivalry is just heating up! 
Final Score: Mughals - 18, Ottomans - 11;    
Star of the Game - Ismail Akhter, 5-5

Ayyubids v Mughals: The Mughals came into their second game looking for a sweep after an emotional win over the Ottomans, while the Ayyubids looked to regroup after getting mercied at the hands of the Sultans. The Badshahs started off with a bang courtesy of two runs off Faraaz Alvi and Imran Qureshi singles. The Mughals shut down the Ayyubids top-eight batters before they tagged on five more runs, three of them coming off an Ismail Akhter dinger. It wasn't until the 4th inning when the Ayyubids bats woke up. The Captain himself took matters into his own hands, hitting a monster 3-run homerun to bring them within striking distance. In the 5th inning, Imran Qureshi's triple would score three more for the Mughals to give them a 10-5 lead. Ahmad Ammad would hit a 2-run homerun to bring it at 10-7 going into the top of the 7th. The Ayyubids bats rallied for three runs to level the score heading into the bottom half. Newly acquired Mughal Owais Ansari led off with a double, moved over to third on a sac fly. He was then brought home by the other new Mughal Kashif Waheed, as the Ottoman-turned-Mughals made an immediate impact to walk off the game. In a stunning turn of fortune, the Mughals go 2-0 against a pair of top three teams in the league. The Ayyubids had their second rough Sunday and have now dropped four in a row. 
Final Score: Ayyubids - 10, Mughals - 11;      
Star of the Game -  Imran Qureshi, 3-4

Sultans v Ottomans: After doing damage in the first game with a mercy-win, the Sultans looked to keep that momentum going into another statement game against the Ottomans. With Taha Iqbal unavailable, the Ottomans were forced to play a lot of guys out of position. It didn't matter though, as the Sultans bats continued to hum in another big offensive outburst. After both teams traded runs for the first three innings, the Stallions blew the game open with a seven-run fourth that featured a three-run jack by Shahzad Ahmed and two-run double by Shamil Khadaroo. A K kept doing A K things on the mound, stifling the Ottomans and preventing them from stringing together a big inning of their own. Omer Chaudhry and Faisal Khan went yard themselves as the Sultans demolished the Turks 15-6.  The boys in white once again went a perfect 2-0 on the weekend with 32 runs scored and only 8 given up - these guys are getting hot when it counts, watch out.
Final Score: Sultans - 15, Seljuqs - 6;    
Star of the Game - Omer Chaudhry, 3-4


Week 7 Rumours

[written by: Aamir Husainy/Hashim Ghazi/Zahid Merchant]
 
We head into week 6 of the season with six games to go on the season, the top 3 teams are evident now while the remaining continue to wrestle one another for a ticket to the postseason. This Sunday may feature some official clinched playoffs berths and other official eliminations from playoff contention. Let's get right into it, but before that... 
 
This Sunday, the Seljuqs will be raising money for their team charity, National Zakat Foundation. Seljuqs will be selling a two piece tandoori chicken, naan and bottle of water combo for $8. Please come prepared. 
 
Abbasids (@ Mamluks – 2:00PM BW1; vs. Nasrids – 3:30PM BW1)
 
The Abbasids found themselves at a crucial spot a few weeks ago, but just could not seem to get the job done. They played relatively close games only to let them slip away at the end. This seems to be the bugaboo for the Orangemen, as they remain competitive in games, but are unable to play an entire seven innings...or as Dwayne Casey used to say, a full 48 minutes. They are skating on thin ice, but perhaps the Dunton Tourney will bring them some good luck as AGM Kashif Irshad not only donned Abbasid orange during his tourney title win, but also took home the MVP honors. Bilal Javed GM’d and captained the tourney team to its championship run as well. Maybe a taste of success will propel the Orangemen to overcome the odds heavily stacked against them. If they can somehow manage to win their remaining games, and have luck fall on their side with the teams immediately ahead of them sputtering, they may find themselves locked into the second season. For now, what they need to do is put the overall record out of mind, as GM Ahmad Hussain suggests. The focus for the Abbasids will be to just go out, play, have fun, and try to put some victories on the board. In order for this to happen, the Abbasids will need their bats to come alive. Right now, they sport only four players batting over .400 and will be hoping others will be able to elevate their play. However, the reality is that they absolutely must win their remaining games, and this Sunday serves them the surging Mamluks and spiraling Nasrids. The Abbasids will have to do everything they possibly can to shut down the Mamluks who have not lost for the last 3 weeks. If they can somehow pull that off, perhaps it will give them some momentum against a Nasrid team that has managed just one win in their last five. The matchup versus the Spaniards will especially be a tantalizing affair, as the last time these two played each other, the Abbasids coughed up a nine run lead in the last inning that led to a tie. 
 
Mamluks (vs. Abbasids – 2:00PM BW1; @ Seljuqs – 3:30PM BW2)
 
The Mamluks head into the home stretch of the season riding high as they continue to chip away at their flaws. With each week, they seem to be isolating areas for improvement, and trying to maintain their success over the past few weeks. AGM Jibran Waqar is reportedly also resorting to two-a-day workouts with W K in order to be in tip top form for the playoffs. This despite the latter having been a part of his third consecutive tourney title at Dunton fields. The Green Machine hopes to build off that success. Something to keep an eye on, however, may be how the layover from the last game may affect the ‘luks. Coming into the second week of the season, the team experienced bits of rust, and it will be interesting to see if any such rust may be prevalent at this stage. Additionally, the health status of Adeel Alam also seems to be a bit uncertain. The rookie has been a calm and steady influence, contributing in many different aspects; his pending return should not be overlooked and will be a certain boost for the men in Green. For the Mamluks to continue their steady ascent this year, they need to continue playing elite defense to back up the stellar pitching of Rizvan Merchant. He has kept the ball in play and kept hitters off balance with his approach. The spine of the team with the Regulator on the mound, Waqar at short and Taher Mirza in centre has allowed the fewest runs in the league. The Green Machine is exactly that when it comes to the defensive side of game...a well-oiled Green Machine. What we are all waiting for is an offensive outburst given their relatively strong lineup filled with hitters capable of making dents. The question now is whether it will happen or whether the Mamluks will be forced to rely on pitching and defense to continue their winning ways. These final few weeks of the regular season will serve as an invaluable tune up for the men in Green. This week in particular, the Mamluks square off against the Abbasids and Seljuqs. The Abbasids continue their hunt for their first victory of the season, and the Seljuqs will look to steal one to secure a spot in the playoffs – we expect both matchups to be fiery affairs.  
 
Seljuqs (vs. Nasrids – 2:00PM BW2; vs. Mamluks – 3:30 BW2)
 
Mere sapno ki raani kab aayegi tu? GM Umair Jabbar asks AGM Omer Dhaduk this every week, yearning for an answer – and they can now say they’ve gotten it. Jabbar and Dhaduk have had August 12th circled on their calendar since the beginning of the season, and it has finally come – Umair's sapno ki raani, Michael Arlitt, is available to play. Arlitt faced a long layoff for travel and family weddings, and was itching to get back in the field as much as the Seljuqs wanted him there. Mike got a bit of a tune-up last weekend in the midseason tourney, and is ready to lead the charge for the Bulls to get back in playoff position. The Seljuqs goal was to stay afloat while missing their top-10 pick, and have managed to do so, sitting only one point out of the playoffs with a lot of ball to play. We will now finally see what this team looks like at full strength this weekend. The SG brothers have also been a positive for the 'juqs this year. Shoaib Gaya came into the season in the best shape of his life and continues to hit the ball hard - his bottom-lineup pop has been an asset for a team many deemed as top-heavy going into the season. Also, his older brother Saad G has had a very impressive rookie campaign, boasting a top-20 average while continually growing in presence as a third basemen. If these two can continue their boisterous campaigns, look out.  The Bulls face the Nasrids and Mamluks this week in hopes of collecting their first wins of the season against them. A perfect weekend is the goal and nothing less – let’s see if the real Seljuqs show up. 

Nasrids (@ Seljuqs – 2:00PM BW2; @ Abbasids – 3:30 BW1)
 
The Nasrids have had a roller coaster season featuring blown leads and comeback ties, but the Spaniards haven’t been able to stay consistent week-over-week. They were blown out in both games last Sunday and were fortunate to have a two week break to forget about it. They face huge games on Sunday with an opportunity to pick up points against two non-playoff teams and cement their place in the standings. Two victories combined with two Seljuq losses will virtually guarantee the playoffs for the Nasrids. However, two losses on Sunday could see the Nasrids going into the final two weeks fighting for the playoff lives. The Nasrids will be excited to see Asad Syed finally showing some power during the mid-season tournament with a few HRs while also making some great catches in the outfield. They will need his hot bat to provide MVP candidate Osman Buttar some protection. Though GM Nirvaan Latif and first-round pick Usama Mahmood have had respectable seasons, Buttar has been doing all the heavy lifting and playing out of his mind (even by his standards).  He leads the team in every major offensive category – not no Parkay, not no margarine, strictly Buttar baby, strictly Buttar.  The Nasrids would have never expected sophomore Ali Wadee to hit 0.250 at the break. While the bats of Jav Ahmed and Asim Gauhar have been welcomed additions, their lineup gets much thinner with Ali hitting poorly – expect the athletic phenom to figure things out during the two week break for the home stretch. The Nasrids must look at this Sunday as two must wins before they face the Ottomans and Ayyubids next week.
 
Ayyubids (vs. Sultans – 5:15PM BW1; @ Mughals – 6:45PM BW1)
 
The Ayyubids looked determined to continue their streak as the best team in the League this year, but being shorthanded a few weeks back cost them. The two losses moved them to third place, but when you're missing your pitcher and a couple of your best hitters, you would have to expect a result like this. With AGM Ali Jabbar unavailable, GM Umer Jabbar took the mound and left much to be desired. Credit Umer for stepping in for his team when they needed it, but he walked twenty batters in the loss to the Ottomans. You'd have to wonder why they didn't go with AR on the mound in such a crucial game given that, though AR has had issues finding the plate himself in the past, he has more experience. The good news for the boys in black is that they look to have Ali and key personnel like Mo Kala and Umair Sheikh back in the mix. When this roster is at its peak, they are nearly impossible to beat. Everyone knows the last two games were an anomaly and does not truly represent the Dark Knights – but losing their grasp on that first-round bye has to hurt. We all know how crucial that can be, so look for these guys to continue pushing hard to close the season out strong. This weekend, they face the Sultans and Mughals - two teams who are far better than their records indicate and have had a plethora of attendance issues to deal with themselves. Look for the Ayyubids to continue their dominance (when at full strength) and dampen both team's hopes of securing a playoff spot. 
 
Sultans (@ Ayyubids – 5:15PM BW1; @ Ottomans – 6:45PM BW2)
 
The Sultans are coming off a massive week which saw them go 2-0 and lift themselves into the 6th and final playoff spot. Our friend Shahzad Ahmed remains cautious as he suggested that the recent success should be taken with a grain of salt, as the victories came at the expense of shorthanded teams. Ironically, the Sultans themselves have struggled to field a complete roster, having only five players suit up for every game this season – Taqi Ahmed, Zain Malik, Khizer Channa, Kamil Haider, and Shaz himself. Any additions would be welcomed back to the Sultans with open arms, and it is rumoured that the AGM has even offered to buy ladoos for all returning players to celebrate their return. Perhaps the biggest remedy for the Stallions will be the coming together of the entire team, as they gear up for, potentially improve, and ultimately maintain their playoff spot. Overall, the individual performance of the team has been quite strong; however, consistently missing top tier production from the likes of Shaheen Limbada and Omer Chaudhry prevents any sort of consistency developing week-in week-out. The addition of GM Shamil Khadaroo, finally back from his trip to the UK, back into the mix will also further galvanize the roster. Really, for the Sultans, it's just about seeing what their entire team together looks like when they take the field. The boys in white have some stiff competition to close out the regular season. They have a chance here to secure the final playoff spot with a perfect weekend, while showing the league that they are a team that needs to be taken seriously. This week they will be dancing with two heavyweights: the Ayyubids and the Ottomans. Both teams present the Sultans with a great deal of challenges, but the monumental match ups may end up crowning a newest heavyweight in the team we have all been waiting to see – the Sultans.  
 
Ottomans (vs. Mughals – 5:15PM BW2; vs. Sultans – 6:45PM BW2)
 
The mighty Turks finished off the final week before the break with two convincing victories to put them atop the standings. While they faced two shortened squads, credit to the Ottomans for taking care of business and increasing their run differential total. They have a huge lead in total walks, but that is because they had twenty walks in their last game against the Ayyubids. They have more good fortune of facing another crippled team this Sunday in the Mughals, who are expected to be without two top players. In their second matchup, they face the Sultans who should finally have a full roster. The Ottomans have a fairly easy schedule to close out the season and will be hoping to lock up that top spot before the final Sunday. The squad was hoping to have Randy Panesar back after an honourable journey to Africa for some relief work, but he will be unavailable this weekend as he settles back into life here. The team has missed his passion and hope he can step right in after a few weeks off when he rejoins the squad on the penultimate weekend. Furthermore, Mohsin Zubair, who should make his first all-star team this season, will be missing as he heads back to the motherland for a few weeks. The team will have to make some adjustments to fill his presence both at the leadoff spot and in left-centre field.  The Ottomans had two easy victories over the Mughals and Sultans last time, but with both teams looking to make a statement and lock up their spot in the second year, they will face an uphill battle.

Mughals (@ Ottomans – 5:15PM BW2; vs. Ayyubids – 6:45PM BW1)
 
The Mughals come into the last few weeks of the season in the position they have never experienced before. The Badshah dynasty had lost a total of 6 games over the last two seasons and currently sit at five in this season alone. A ton of player absences and some bonehead plays have caused them to find them in this spot. A few once in a lifetime occurrences –  Hassan Chaudhry getting married (mA) and Nadeem Hussain going for Hajj (mA) – might cause another first…the Mughals *gasp* missing the playoffs. The squad will be without their all-star centre field pairing this week and will need everyone to come together to find a way to steal a victory against two of the top teams in the league: the Ottomans and Ayyubids. Not all is doom and gloom for the baby blues – the significantly improved play of Faraaz Alvi to complement a fantastic season already for Ismail Akhter is a good sign. Faraaz has pulled his average up to 0.550 after a brutal start to the season. The team also expects to have utility man Riyad Ramjaun back after a few weeks off. You can expect the Mughals management has all the scenarios mocked out, but the mocks mean nothing if they can’t take care of business themselves. Statistically, the Mughals haven’t been playing terribly – their batting averages have been on par with the middle of the pack teams, but all that goes out the window with runners in scoring position. They just haven’t been able to convert those opportunities into runs and it has cost them. The team faces a tough task this week, but the Mughals feel confident they can step up to the challenge.

The two week break is over and everyone is rearing to get back on the field - let's play ball!

The Legends - 2018 Midseason Tourny Champions

Congrats to The Legends - 2018 Midseason Tournament Champions

Despite starting the day with a 16-1 loss to the Rickshaw Rydas, the Legends earned a walkoff and a blow out victory to reach the finals. In the finals, they exacted revenge on the Rydas by beating them 16-0. Everyone had a great day and enjoyed the new format for the tournament. Thanks everyone for making it out and for helping organize the day. Special thanks to our GMs Aftab Sheikh, Bilal Javed, Mohamed Kala and Taher Mirza
 
MVP of the tournament was Kashif Irshad who had 4 homeruns on the day including a walkoff. He donned the Abbasids jersey right before he touched the cup.
 

 


2018 Mid-Season All-Draft Team

This year we are changing up the mid-season report. Our rumours, social media and stats committee have upped the content all year with the power rankings and more details analysis week over week, so rather than a midseason report on each team, we took a shot at something new. This year we have so many players having career seasons and outplaying their draft status. Our BSL Rumours Committee has come up with the All-Draft Team, the best picks from each round (plus the best Assistant GM and best GM) based on their performance thus far this season.  Each players stats are put side-by-side to the stats of their draft-round counterparts to get a real sense of why these guys are worthy of recognition.  Eleven of our BSL Writers voted and contributed to this piece, with four Ayyubids, four Ottomans, a pair of Mughals, and a single Mamluk and Nasrid rounding out the twelve players selected. Without further ado, here's your BSL Midseason All-Draft Team.  

 

Round 1 (drafted 5th overall):    Taha Iqbal  - Ottomans 
2018 Stats: 0.676  Hits: 25 RBIs:18  ||  Round 1 Player Avg: 0.586    Avg Hits: 19.3

A ring, gold glove, playoff MVP and four all-star selections.  Think about it.  With an awards collections rivalling that of Queen Elizabeth, Taha ‘Theatre’ Iqbal (because he puts on a SHOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW) has never needed to make his presence known to the softball world.  He’s just existed.  More impressive than the diCAPRIOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-like resume though, is his performance this season. In a first round full of keeper-calibre players, he shines the brightest. Taha ‘The Therapist’ Iqbal (because he puts on clinics OR because he should see one for his suppressed rage issues...that ‘LET’S GOOOO’ is legitimately terrifying) sits in the top ten of the entire league in every important stat.  What do you want in a perfect player? Speed? Got it. IQ? Yup. Bat? Check. Voice that will scare your unborn children? 100%.  Like his favourite actor, he instills Darr in his opponents, is a Baazigar with the bat and a Don of BSL. He gives his teammates hope when they’re down, saying Main Hoon Na

You couldn’t ask for anything more and I for one cannot wait to see what else he does the rest of the season…LET’S GOOOOOOOOOO!

[written by Shahzad Ahmed]

 

Round 2 (drafted 15th overall):    Ahmad Ammad - Ayyubids 
2018 Stats: 0.636  Hits:21   HRs: 12   RBIs: 26  ||  Round 2 Avg: 0.583    Avg Hits: 16.3 

If you ever wondered why they call Ahmad Ammad "Crazy," playing with or against him explains it pretty quickly. Though we can't say for certain where the nickname came from, his intensity and obsession over being the player in this League gives us an idea of the guy's mindset. Crazy hit nine home runs last year in royal blue, a number that far underestimates the punch he packed, as he often was handcuffed from going yard with his power-laden teammates maxing out the home run rule by the time his third at-bat came along.  Now in a lineup where he has the green light to touch ‘em all every time he steps up, he's been smacking the ball over the centre field fence with no regard for human life. However, lost in all that bicep circumference power is the fact that he’s a really, really good softball player. Crazy can go oppo. Crazy is a brick wall in the infield. Crazy's got a cannon for an arm and knows when and how to use it. Crazy is a smart and hard baserunner. And most of all, Crazy now understands the game and plays it like he's been doing it for years. Add all that to his insane drive, maniacal dedication and unparalleled work ethic? Crazy. 

And to think, you actually wondered why they call him that.

[written by Hashim Ghazi]

 

Round 3 (drafted 18th overall):    Umair Sheikh - Ayyubids 
2018 Stats: 0.741  Hits: 20   Doubles: 10  ||  Round 3 Avg: 0.500    Avg Hits: 15.8 

The man you love to play with, but hate to play against.  The Ayyubids snatched up Umair Sheikh in the 3rd round, hoping that he would form part of the team's renaissance and lead them to BSL glory again. While humble is a word seldom attributed to Umair, who reminds this writer he is the “fastest guy in the league” and “will hit a homerun each time he strides towards the plate” (both complete falsehoods), on draft-day he played down his talents and quietly questioned whether he was picked too high.  Five weeks into the season, the man has been Sheik'n & Bakin' and the Ayyubids have got themselves a steal. The only thing more jaw-dropping than his BSL picture and his dances moves are his batting stats. He finds himself with a league leading OBP, a top-3 batting average and in the top-10 for both Slugging and Extra Base Hits.  His presence is also instrumental to the Ayyubid's success – with Umair on the field, the Ayyubids boasted a league-leading record of 7-1. In his absence? The team has gone 0-2. 

If Umair can continue his current success, the faint whisper of BSL MVP may begin to become a chant – a chant that may be predominantly led by the man himself.

[written by Hassan Chaudhary]

 

Round 4 (drafted 26th overall):    W K - Mamluks
2018 Stats: 0.692  Hits:18   RBIs: 16  ||  Round 4 Avg: 0.493    Avg Hits: 14.0  

W K. W[redacted] "The Tank" K[redacted]. W[redacted] "The Dream" K[redacted]. Call him whatever you want...but this man is mashing. Drafted in the 4th round, W K is turning out to be an absolute steal. Coming off an MVP playoff performance, he has picked right up from where he left off, putting up an impressive .692 average that puts him at fourth in the league. In addition, many of those hits, 8 to be exact, are for extra bases, with five of them leaving the yard. Given his propensity for hitting the ball with such regularity and power, W K sits at 5th in slugging percentage as well. Add all this up and you have an absolute dynamo at the plate. However, he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for his play behind the plate as catcher, and for his work in the outfield as well. He has made every play when called upon, and been an absolute stellar teammate as well. He’s not only one to be his best at the plate, but also motivate others to raise their performance and believe in themselves. And I say that from experience! 

Perhaps he should be called W[redacted] "The Steal" K[redacted]!

[written by Aamir Husainy]

 

Round 5 (drafted 37th overall):    Mohsin Zubair - Ottomans
2018 Stats: 0.556  Hits: 20  ||  Round 5 Avg: 0.446    Avg Hits: 12.4

With the 37th pick overall in the 5th round of this years draft, the Ottomans chose outfielder Mohsin Zubair. I’ll be honest here – neither myself nor Hashim knew much about Mohsin outside of his stats and our pre-draft player rankings (we had him ranked way higher than 37 on our board). In fact, I don’t think I had even said a word to either Mohsin or his brother Hassan during their time in the league (mainly because I never knew which twin I was talking to). What we thought we were getting was a mild-mannered, serviceable outfielder with a decent bat who we could slot in the middle of the order. But what we got is one of the top lead-off hitters in the League who has yet to make an error in the field and has a cannon of an arm. Mohsin is batting 120 points higher than his lifetime average this year, and is already two hits away from matching his career high. His knowledge and insight into the game has also been a pleasant surprise, as I have been able to talk strategy with him, and receive valuable advice that has added to the Ottoman brain trust. We have so much trust in him, in fact, that Mohsin has replaced me in the field as our go-to LCF, allowing myself to move to right. And the best part? You can still see the potential for even more growth, as Mohsin is continually working on his swing and overall game. 

I’m sure I speak for all the Ottomans in saying that we are lucky to have Mohsin as a teammate. 

[written by Rehan Ahmad]

 

Round 6 (drafted 47th overall):    Mohamed Kala - Ayyubids
2018 Stats: 0.618  Hits: 21  ||  Round 6 Avg: 0.423    Avg Hits: 13.4 

Mohamed Kala, or Kala, as they call him, has outperformed his spot in the draft – a repeated trend year over year. Mo always exceeds expectations and continually moves higher and higher up the draft board, filling teams who passed on him with regret.  Clockwork.  This year in particular, Kala has been special on both sides of the ball.  His acrobatic diving catches in the outfield may be a thing of the past (due to his position change this year), but he has been nothing short of stellar in manning first base for the Ayyubids.  He has been a key component to our ranking as the team with the least errors not only by cleaning up when balls are hit to him, but by making his infielders look good with stretches, digs, and tip-toe snags at the bag.  Kala has also been instrumental in mentoring the “not so consistent,” and has shown leadership worthy of a GM spot down the line – an opportunity we’ll see in the flesh this weekend at the midsummer tournament!

The Ayyubids will be making a serious run at the title this year, and having a strong “glue guy” in Kala greatly benefits the team from one through twelve.

[written by Jibran Khan]

 

Round 7 (drafted 50th overall):    Faheem Kotwal - Ayyubids
2018 Stats: 0.567  Hits: 17  ||  Round 7 Avg: 0.352    Avg Hits: 9.3  

After a disappointing and career-worst season with the Ayyubids last year, Faheem Kotwal has turned it around to gain the honors of being a part of this year’s all-draft team. The Ayyubids have four players on that team this year and we can assume that they are doing something no other team is doing – practice.  Faheem is an example of that paying off, as he can be seen hitting 200ft effortlessly. It’s not just that for Faheem; management brought him back knowing he has the potential to surprise even after a disastrous 2017. Batting a career average of .357 before this season, he certainly measured beyond his draft value by going .567 thus far, and the value isn’t just from the batter’s box. Kotwal has been reading the ball like his good ole 2014 days when he picked up a gold glove for his defensive efforts. In fact, Faheem hadn’t hit a homerun since Week 1 of BSL Season 1, and finally got himself another one this year to add to his successful campaign. Although his injuries have played a part in his decline, his athletic history always hinted that he could be the trusty player he’s been this season. 

It looks as if he will help his team battle for first place this year, and participate in his first playoffs weekend since Year 1 – when everyone made the playoffs.       

[written by Zain Khilji]     
 

Round 8 (drafted 61st overall):    Riyad Ramjaun - Mughals
2018 Stats: 0.480  Hits: 12  ||  Round 8 Avg: 0.362    Avg Hits: 9.4 

As the only Merchant brother to have not played with Riyad Ramjaun, I was excited to land him at this stage of the draft after hearing so much about what he brings to the table.  Every team needs a utility guy that can play multiple positions and not get phased by being moved around. Not only does Ramjaun fill that need as the defensive infield utility role for the Mughals, but he does it very well.  Riyad is also having a career year with the bat, hitting a cool 0.480 at the break.  As one of a couple of players on this list that play in BSL Nights, the extra reps have clearly helped RR take his game to the next level. While his stats are impressive, it's the intangibles and positive attitude that sets Ramjaun apart. He is a student of the game that is always looking for ways to improve his game and help out his teammates.  Riyad is everything you want in a teammate – he plays well, he plays hard, he plays with class, and he plays to win. 

An unfortunate injury has set him back in the last few weeks but expect Riyad to come back ready for the home stretch and help the Mughals secure the role of spoiler in the playoffs.

[written by Zahid Merchant]

 

Round 9 (drafted 67th overall):    Asim Gauhar - Nasrids
2018 Stats: 0.440  Hits: 11  ||  Round 9 Avg: 0.310    Avg Hits: 8.3  

Asim Gauhar might just be one of the most low-key personalities in the league. His game this season has been anything but.  After he inexplicably fell to the 9th round of the draft due to a below average performance last year, the Nasrids management ensured he wouldn't slip past them at pick #67. He's hit greater than .500 ball for the majority of the season and after just eight games, he has nearly equaled his career high for hits in a season.  He also has been a steady glove at first base for the Spaniards. Playing in another weekday Barbican league has surely helped his cause. What's funny though, and I'm sure this is not lost on him, is that this isn't the first time he's putting up strong numbers. He has proven time and time again that he can post big numbers but GMs don't seem to be doing their homework.  His teammates know his value lies beyond the numbers though. He holds himself to a high standard of character, and his calm and relaxed persona is something I personally try to emulate in the heat of the competition (even though I generally fail miserably). The icing on the cake though (besides his hilarity in the dugout and the team groupchat)? You'll never hear him complain. His approach will always be the same whether he bats 1 or 12, or whether he plays first or catcher. That alone makes him valued way above a second-last round pick. 

Look for Asim to continue his strong play for the remainder of the season insha'Allah.

[written by Ibrahim Sardar]

 

Round 10 (drafted 76th overall):    Zia Ali - Ottomans
2018 Stats: 0.435  Hits: 10  ||  Round 10 Avg: 0.301    Avg Hits: 5.4

See ball, hit ball. It's that simple for Zia Ali. A guy that's way too hard on himself has simplified his approach to the game this season and it's paying major dividends. Over his four years in the League, he has shown can be a run producer, but it was far too inconsistent. So rather than going to the lab and cooking up some brand new elaborate recipe on how to approach the plate, he kept it simple - see ball, hit ball. The result? Zia is hitting the stitches off the yellow despite being a last round pick, outperforming players drafted fifty picks ahead of him. It's not only that he's hitting the ball well, it's also that he knows which pitches he hits well. If you ask the Ottomans, it's his patience at the plate that impresses the most. Zia has four walks on the season to go with 3 home runs and 10 RBIs. He has the plate discipline to wait for a pitch he likes to come his way, and when it doesn't, he can trot to first and rely on teammates to bring him in. No self-induced pressure. No overburdening expectations. No need to overthink. Just see ball, hit ball

Steal of the draft and I refuse to be told otherwise. Also, he now shows up on time, which is very much welcomed.

[written by Hashim Ghazi]

 

Assistant GM:    Rehan Ahmad - Ottomans
2018 Stats: 0.767 Hits: 23  RBIs: 33  ||  AGM Avg: 0.621    Avg Hits: 20.5  

Before the start of every BSL season, Rehan Ahmad walks up dejected to his friends and makes a confession: "Guys, I think I'm going to be garbage this year. I traveled all year, hung around with my buds (Steven Stamkos, Auston Matthews, Ronaldinho, and Salt Bae, to name a few), I’m another year older, and I have gained weight – guys, I’m telling you this is the year.  This is the year I am going to lose it."  If you’re a common man, you’ll start rejoicing and think “wow, he’ll probably just hit 10 homeruns this year instead of 15 he usually does – I think there will be better parity in the league now.” Right? WRONG.  You’ll soon realize that you were duped and feel a kick to your nether regions when Rehan ‘The Great Kabuki’ Ahmad nun chucks three homeruns against you.  While an All Star spot is virtually locked down, Ahmad is making an unprecedented run for season MVP, the triple crown, gold glove and the best offensive player awards. For the season, he’s leading the league in RBIs and his OBP+ of 2.688 is remarkably .300 points better than the second best. In addition to his mind-boggling offensive stats, he’s also top-3 in walks and has been walked on more than 20% of his at-bats.  Damnit, no wonder his OBP is through the roof every year.  So, what is one thing that Ahmad can’t do on a softball field?  Lift the BSL Trophy – there, we said it! 

While BSL Bugle Squad was specifically instructed not to awaken the steroid-infused sleeping lion, this reporter turned out to be an insider and might have given ‘Captain BSL’ enough motivation to turn from The Great Kabuki to Ric Flair – WOOOOO!

[written by Taha Iqbal]

 

GM:    Zahid Merchant - Mughals
2018 Stats: 0.590 Hits: 23  ||  GM Avg: 0.521    Avg Hits: 13.8  

Zahid Merchant, aka Ziggy, has once again proven through the first half of this year why he is considered over year the top GM year-over-year.  With both his batting prowess and pitching, he’s one of the few duel threats in the league.  This year has been no different, as he is tied for 3rd in the league with 23 hits and sports a strong .590 batting average.  Additionally, he is tied for 2nd among qualified pitchers in strikeouts and also sports an ERA under 10.  Rumour has it he’s been practicing his curve ball so much on the side of his house that he’s replaced the neighbours windows a number of times already.  This year has been more of a struggle for his Mughals with attendance and batting issues leading to a fringe playoff-position.  It’s only a matter of time until he figures out what’s been plaguing the Mughals this year to turn that ship around, as he’s done in the past.  What you can always rely on is Ziggy’s consistency in all facets of the game, including his leadership.  He has worked with his team and has taken their game to the next level by coaching them in all facets.  You can always hear his war cry when he’s looking to pump up his team no matter what the situation – even if it means rooting on the opponent with his head scratching “Gooooooo Mamluks…I mean…Mughals…Go.”  

He is one of the best teammates and a GM who will consistently push you to be better and work with you to get you there.  

[written by Riyad Ramjaun]

 

There you have it - twelve guys who stand out amongst the rest for how they've done this season in comparison to their draft round counterparts.  Enjoy the long weekend tournament and we'll see you back for regular season games on August 12th!

Week 5 Recap

Here is what transpired in week 5:
 
Recaps have been written by members of the rumours committee
 
Seljuqs v Sultans
Two teams that were headed in opposite directions took the field for the early game on Birchwood 1.  The Seljuqs, trending upwards with a few ties and wins in their last couple of weeks after not getting off to the start they wanted, and The Sultans, losers of their last five after getting off to a decent start. The afternoon looked to start off rough for the Horsemen as they would be missing their star pitcher and looked to AGM Shahzad Ahmed to do something right for once and hopefully not add to his BSL history worst ERA…but as he approached the mound (Former WWE announcer Jim Ross voice) ‘WAIT A MINUTE!  OH MY GAWD…THAT’S AK’S MUSIC!!!’ there was a glimpse of glowing white charging down the runway as ‘The Amazing’ AK was able to attend last minute. With hope renewed, the battle was now on.  After the Seljuqs’ opening at-bat provided them with a four spot due to excellent hitting from Zain ‘Filthy’ Khilji, (who went 3-4 in the matchup and whose graceful stride when he’s sprinting leaves gazelles jealous) and Rameez ‘Cheeky’ Siddiqui who also went 3-4 while providing the kind of commentary that the BSL Bugle Editorial section is always hiring for. The Sultans responded with 2 of their own in the bottom of the inning.  And then their defense went to work. Stopping the Seljuks in the next two innings from putting up runs, the Bulls were only able to muster up two runs in the 4th thanks mostly to three straight bloop hits, the worst from Umair ‘Pappu Jaan’ Jabbar. They had one more run in them in the 5th where they put up three…highlighted by work from Zaid ‘The Answer’ Ghansar, who this writer believes is the most underrated player in the league. Tune in to the weekly podcast, ‘Gabbin’ About Ghansar’ to hear more about his achievements.  
Meanwhile, the Men Who Fight in Blue and White, put up innings of five, six and two runs led by their stellar one-spot hitter ‘Courageous’ Kamil Haider.  Kamil, who took a ball to the nose, bravely fought off dizziness to make stellar plays and continue to help his team. It is said that the famous Salt N Pepa song ‘What a Man’ is based on Kamil’s BSL career. Speaking of inspiration, Hamza ‘William Wallace’ Waheed also took a line drive off his leg and powered through it to continue pitching for the Sels. The return of ‘Handsome’ Hassan Chaudhry 2.0 was another great story after injuring his leg a few games ago as he went 3-4 including a beautiful double. The combination of Omer ‘Oppo’ Chaudhry going RF yard and Zain ‘Zindabad’ Malik returning to a comfortable spot in the lineup and dropping line drives like Drake albums was too much for the Seljuks to overcome. To top it off, Taqi ‘Yucky’ Ahmed (so named because the gorgeous plays he makes cause people to make that nasty face) came through with both offense and defense. This all resulted in a final score of 15-9 to give the Sultans there first win in five games. Not taking anything for granted, both teams returned quietly to their dugouts knowing there was still one more game to go…
Final Score: Seljuqs - 9, Sultans - 15;     Star of the Game - Kamil Haider, 2-3, 3B, swollen nose
 
Abbasids v Mughals: The Abbasids came into the Sunday looking for their first win but were without their GM who suffered a shoulder injury. The Abbasids got on the board first on a Kashif Irshad solo HR. The Mughals reponded in the third inning with a 2 out rally that scored them four runs. Nadeem Hussain would hit a 2 RBI triple to add to the lead. Bilal Javed tried to bring the Lions back with a two run homerun to cut the lead down to two but the Mughals scored in every inning to add to their lead. The Abbasids offence was held in check once again where they scored only 5 runs of which 3 came off the long ball. The Mughals finally outhit their opponents in a game and took home a comfortable victory. 
Final Score: Abbasids - 5, Mughals - 10;      Star of the Game - Nadeem Hussain 3-3, 2B, 3B
 
Abbasids v Sultans: Game two for both teams.  Coming off different results, the feelings for both squads was positive. The Abbasids, knowing full well they’re only a few hits and defensive plays away from winning their games, led a cheer in their dugout to get the team pumped up. The Sultans on the other hand, losing perennial all-star Omer ‘It’s Not MY Wedding’ Chaudhry for game two, had an in-depth conversation about positioning, lineup and what needed to be done…this had them confident and coming out of the dugout like silent assassins.  The Abbasids took advantage of batting first by putting up three runs to start the game off the strength of the top of their lineup. Unfortunately, this would be only one of two innings in which the Abbasids would put up runs as the strength of the lineup had days like 1-for-3s and 1-for-4s…the only highlight coming from a Bilal ‘The Banger’ Javed shot that went off the fielder and over the fence. The Sultans on the other hand, after not being able to score in the first inning, put up runs in every single inning afterwards, topped off by Hassan ‘CHAKKA!’ Chaudhry 2.0 going Grand Delight in CF.  That was part of a seven-run mercy inning that the Stallions would not look back from. Being short in the OF seemed to have no effect on the bigger diamond as instructions on how to play each batter were being yelled back and forth and back-up coverage seems to be everywhere. This win for the Dudes With Might in Blue and White, resulting in their first 2-0 Sunday of the season, allowed them to leapfrog into 6th place where they hope to continue to climb from. Another 0-2 Sunday for the Abbasids has them down but not out as they are still mathematically in the playoff hunt. GM Ahmad ‘The Hustler’ Hussein may need to put the nickname to action and look for ways to better the team through trade.  Rumour has it that his sleep is full of nightmares involving violently swatting away trade offers…this writer believes that may be how he separated his shoulder.  The saga continues… 
Final Score: Abbasids - 7, Sultans - 17;      Star of the Game - Hassan Chaudhary 2-4, Grand Slam and a wedding to attend.... 
 
Seljuqs v Mughals: The second match up featured the Seljuqs looking for a big victory against the Mughals who were looking to climb up the rankings. The Seljuqs struck first with a mercy inning to take a 7-0 lead that featured a Rameez Siddiqi grand slam. The Mughals replied with three in the bottom half on an Ismail Akhter HR. The Seljuqs were playing with 3 outfielders but the Mughals offence couldn't find the gaps. They chipped away with 1 run every inning while the Seljuqs offence was halted. In the top of the 7th, the Seljuqs were up 9-6 with two on and two out. Zain Khilji hit a deep flyball that was going over the fence until Nadeem Hussain pulled it back but was unable to hang on which produced a run. Omer Dhaduk hit a groundball that should have been the third out but resulted in another run. The Mughals went into the bottom half needing 5 runs to tie. They loaded the bases for Ismail Akhter who sac flied. Faraaz Alvi hit an oppo field homerun to bring them within one run with two outs. The next two batters popped up and ground out to end the game. The Seljuqs earn a huge victory to keep them in the playoff hunt while the Mughal offence continues to sputter. The Mughals will have to go the rest of the way without AGM Nadeem Hussain who will be departing for Hajj to make dua for his lads. 
Final Score: Seljuqs - 11, Mughals - 10;      Star of the Game - Zain Khilji 4-5, 2 2B, RBI
 
Ayyubids v Mamluks: 
The afternoon match on Birchwood 1 featured a few heavy hitting teams squaring off as the Mamluks hosted the Ayyubids. Both teams were shorthanded for the match, and there were a number of players playing out of position. However, the Ayyubids were able to score 5 uick runs in the first inning, batting around following the resurgent Faheem Kotwal's lead. He led the team, getting on base regularly, just waiting for the Ayyubids bats to bring him in. Unfortunately, after the first inning, Rizvan Merchant and company decided to put a clamp on things as they limited the Ayyubids to just 2 runs the rest of the game. With Jibran Waqar quarterbacking the defense, the Mamluks have been the stingiest team defensively this year. This was also the first game that Ahmad Ammad did not go yard. On he flip side, the Mamluks responded to heir 5 run deficit and put up a 7 spot in the first and third innings. Their patient approach, drawing a total of 14 walks and having 8 of 9 hitters reaching base at least times, along with timely hitting pushed them out in front and they never looked back. It looks like the Green Machine might have all cylinders being primed and ready to go.
Final Score: Ayyubids - 7, Mamluks - 15;      Star of the Game -  Jibran Waqar, 3-4, 3 RBIs
 
Nasrids v Ottomans: The Nasrids got a big lift just before game time with news that Osman Buttar would be available to play.  Better yet, Buttar would be in a foul mood after his Greenbirds were eliminated early from the Salaam Cup, and the Nasrids hoped he would take out his frustration on the Ottomans.  In the top of the first, Buttar and company just did that, scoring 7 runs in the inning off of homeruns by Osman, Ibrahim Sardar and Salar Rasoul.  Not to be outdone, the Ottomans answered right back in the bottom half of the inning with 6 runs of their own off a 2 run homerun by Rehan Ahmad and a big RBI double by Zia Ali.  Fans thought they were about to witness a barn burner, but the Ottomans pitching and defense were having none of that.  The Nasrids were not able to score again over the next three innings, while the Ottomans used a combination of small ball and a 2 run homerun by Zia Ali to put up 7 runs over the same period.  With the score 13-7 Ottomans heading into the fifth, Osman Buttar hit a solo homerun for his second dinger of the afternoon.  The Ottomans blew the game open in the bottom half of the inning, starting with a line drive solo homerun by Taha Iqbal, followed by a 2 run homer by Owais Ansari and capped off by another 2 run homerun by Zia Ali (his second of the game).  The Nasrids were only able to muster up 2 runs and 5 hits over the final 5 innings, while the Ottomans scored at least 2 runs in every inning of the game. 
Final Score: Nasrids - 9, Ottomans - 18;     Star of the Game -  Zia Ali, 3-3, 2 HR, 5 RBIs
 
Nasrids v Mamluks: The latter match of the evening on Birchwood 1 had the surging Mamluks facing the fizzling Nasrids. There was talk that the Nasrids may have suffered the loss of superstar Usman Buttar, and first round pick Usama Mahmood, although Buttar came through. Perhaps the entire team felt sluggish after an unfortunate GreenBirds loss as the Nasrids were unable to get anything going. They were unable to string together many hits, and the Mamluk defense thwarted any potential attacks. In addition, the Mamluks seemed poised to take this game as they built a 12-0 lead, powered by the middle of their lineup. W K is quietly putting up an absolutely monster year and he was displaying it all against the Nasrids, going yard, driving in runs, and even making a few plays in the outfield. This was another game where the Green Machine was humming nicely, until perhaps the final inning, where they let up a tiny bit, and a grand slam off the bat of Asad Syed made the score look a little bit more respectable.
Final Score: Nasrids - 7, Mamluks - 12;      Star of the Game -  Yousaf Chaudhry, 3-4, HR, 3 RBIs
 
Ottomans v Ayyubids: The battle for top spot in the league highlighted the final game of the afternoon on Birchwood 2, with the Ottomans trying to hand the Ayyubids their second loss on the day.  The Ottomans have been coming out flat in the back end of double headers, playing down to their opponents, and were hoping that trend didn’t continue versus a short-handed Ayybuids team. The top of the first saw Tanseer Khawaja hit a grand slam homerun staking the Ottomans to an early 4-0 lead.  Ahmad Ammad, who entered the week with an amazing 11 homeruns, hit another monster shot scoring 3 for the Ayyubids.  The Ottomans exploded for 7 runs in the top of the second off the strength of a 2 run home run from Owais Ansari, a bloop 2 run single by Kashif Waheed, and capped by a 2 run double off the bat of sub Abdullah Akhter.  Akhter filled in admirably going 2 for 2 in the game with 4 RBI and 2 walks.  It should be noted that Akhter only became available to the Ottomans once Osman Buttar became free to play (assist to Nirvaan Latif for letting the Ottomans pick him up).  The Ayyubids did not have an answer for “CAPTANSEER” as Khawaja looked locked in on the mound.  The Ottomans had their second mercy inning in a row in the top of the third, which included a 3 run homerun by Rehan Ahmad, his 50th HR in his BSL career.  The real story however was the Ayyubids pitching unfortunately.  With Ali Jabbar driving across Canada, and Humza Hussain dealing with an injured back, the Ayyubids had to turn to their third string pitcher Umer Jabbar.  Jabbar’s control would escape him over the next two innings, and would finish the game with 18 walks (a BSL single game record).  The Ayyubids did try and fight back, but the Ottomans defense wouldn’t allow it, highlighted by a perfect relay play from Furhan Azmat (RF) to Kashif Waheed (2B) to Owais Ansari (SS), gunning down Mohamed Kala trying to stretch a base hit into a double.  With the score 24-3 Ottomans heading into the bottom of the fourth the Ayyubids tried to make the game respectable scoring 5 runs with AR hitting a 3 run homerun and Mohamed Kala hitting a 2 run homerun as well.  The Ottomans order showed great plate discipline, and had a BSL record 20 walks in the game.  The Ayyubids will exit the weekend upset with the two losses, but aware that they were missing their ace starting pitcher as well as their lead-off hitter Umair Sheikh and his .750 OBP.  The Ottomans on the other hand finish the weekend with two wins for the first time since opening week, and see themselves in first place overall.
Final Score: Ottomans - 24, Ayyubids - 10;     Star of the Game - Mohsin Zubair, 2-2, 2 RBIs

Week 5 Rumours

Written by: Aamir Husainy/Rehan Ahmad/Riyad Ramjaun/Zain Khilji
Edited by: Hashim Ghazi
 
We head into week 5 of the season with half of the regular season complete. The top 3 teams are evident now and the rest are in a dog fight at the bottom of the standings. This Sunday will be vitally important before the regular season halts for two weeks. 
 
This Sunday, the Ayyubids will be raising money for their team charity, Islamic Relief.
Ayyubids will be accepting pre-orders for Naan Bros deep fried Burgers with Drink for $8/pr. Please EMT [email protected] Prior to Sunday morning, and click this link to place your order: https://goo.gl/forms/oMDEHOxWlSgFD5bi1
 
Also, we are changing the format of the Mid-season tournament on August 5th. We will be picking new GMs and re-drafting teams for just the tournament. If you would like to be a GM, please contact the league office. 
 
Let's breakdown the week 5 matchups: 
 
Sultans (vs. Seljuqs – 2:00PM BW1; vs. Abbasids – 3:30PM BW1)
 
The Sultans are coming off a week where they dropped their 4th and 5th straight games. Since Week 2, the mighty Stallions have been scuffling, though a large part of their struggles may well be the continued absence of a full roster. The Sultans are hoping to field more of a complete team with the probable return of Hassan Chaudhary. He should provide a little more length in the lineup. Last week, both Shaheen 'The Dream' Limbada and Omer 'The' Chaudhry returned providing a little bit of pop in the lineup. However, against a tough competition, they fell short. Both games seemed to be tight until later in the games, where the Sultans ultimately were left without any points on the day. 

At the end of their games, Shahzad Ahmad and Khizer Channa were seen consoling each other, wondering what could possibly be done to change the outcomes of their latest games. Sources say a little bird flew onto the shoulder of Shaz and let him know that a complete team, and perhaps he himself hitting higher in the lineup, may help the Stallions offense run a bit more steadily. Ahmed seemed open to the suggestion, so perhaps on Sunday we will see more of the vintage Teddy Bear Trot around the bases as the Sultans look to climb back into the limelight. 

Just like the Abbasids, the Sultans find themselves out of a playoff spot...for now. However, although just at the half way point of the season, the standings are becoming more and more interesting. The Stallions find themselves only one point back of the Seljuqs for the 6th spot, which means they are very well still in the race, and have a fair chance at securing a birth to play in September. It becomes even fairer as the first matchup of the afternoon for the Sultans is against the 6th seeded Bulls. This matchup has some serious playoff implications now for both teams. The Sultans also face a hungry Abbasids team, who they can make up ground on as they are chomping right behind them. Suffice it to say that the Sultans have a big week ahead, and have control over their own fate given the matchups that they have coming up. Will our lovable Teddy Bear friend and his compadres be able to pull it off with their abundance of experience? We will find out Sunday...should be a doozy!
 
Seljuqs (@ Sultans – 2:00PM BW1; @ Mughals – 3:30PM BW2)

The Seljuqs continue to disappoint themselves with another loss and a depressing tie. They currently sit in a playoff spot thanks to the Sultans’ commitment issues. The Bulls have been batting well, however, putting up 91 runs in eight games, but struggle to prevent their opponents from scoring. We thought the bulk of the team’s defensive issues would come from the mound, but Hamza Waheed has done exceptionally well down the stretch. The boys behind him haven’t helped his situation and will need to clean up without the fear of getting dirty. The young squad are lacking that vital focus and perhaps experience (which is not to be confused with talent) to build on leads and prevent going down too deep in order to win more games. With Mike Arlitt still not back in the lineup and the omission of two to three others this week, their field could see another shakeup which only adds to their growing problems.
 
This week is extremely important for the Seljuqs as they play the teams directly above and below them. Both teams they play are within one win or loss from each other and now is the time to seize the opportunity as playoff implications become narrower by the game. Pressure will be on AGM Omer Dhaduk to carry the offensive burden this weekend, while he has been the best hitter on the squad, they need him to take over a game when they need it most. In the last week before the break, there is no better time. 
 

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

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  Does anyone remember the last time the Mughals held a record under .500?  Think as hard as you can, but we guarantee you won’t remember it.  Under his leadership, GM Zahid Merchant’s baby blues have never held a sub .500 record in their history, but are faced with this new challenge now.  On paper, the Mughals have one of the most potent offenses in the league, but for some head scratching reason, this roster has not been able to dominate.  While still relatively early in the season, the Mughals need to come out strong on Sunday and win both their games heading into the mid-season break to alleviate some of the pressures being put on them by teams below them.  
 
This week, the Mughals will face a rejuvenated Seljuqs team in game 1 of their double header that knocked off the Ottomans and tied the Mamluks in the past couple of weeks.  The Seljuqs sit only two points behind the Mughals in the standings and could leapfrog with a win.  To make matters worse for the Mughals, Hassan Chaudhry will be missing this week, which could be a huge deciding factor on where the Mughals finish this year in the standings.  Rumors have it that management expected Hassan to not miss games but instead he is choosing to be selfish and get married instead (like that’s a reason to miss softball!!!).  In game 2, the Mughals will face a very hot (yet winless) Abbasids team.  Don’t let their record fool you – the Abbasids have been in almost every game they have played in this year and came away with two hard fought ties last week.  With their ace, Zia “Doc” Beg back on the mound, the Lions could take a bite out of the Mughals, and play spoiler in killing any momentum the Mughals look to carry into the mid-season break.  
 
On a final note, Mughals AGM Nadeem Hussain will be performing Hajj this year (Masha’Allah) and will miss some August games.  It looks like the Mughals management might be in panic mode and have resorted to sending someone to the holiest of sites to come back with a prayer for this team – God knows they could use all the help they can get right about now.

Abbasids (@ Mughals – 2:00PM BW2; @ Sultans – 3:30PM BW1)
 
The Abbasids walked out of Week 4 having picked up their first few points of the season. They also went undefeated in their week after tying both of their matches that afternoon. Although putting points on the board is a feel good moment for the team, there is undoubtedly a sense that they can do more after squandering leads in the final innings to draw with the Nasrids and Ottomans, respectively. Zia Beg was missing for the afternoon affairs and Fuzail Thakur filled in admirably, showing that he can definitely pitch in a pinch, and even hit the long ball as he attempted to help his own cause. Neal Irfan joined the party too, blasting his own home run. Coupled with the newfound sticks, the revamped Abbasids' infield featuring Atif Akhtar at shortstop is also seemingly paying dividends in the field, as the Lions have been a lot more stingy defensively. Kashif Irshad also returned to the lineup having missed Week 4 and contributed in a big way with a diving catch to save a point for the Abbasids. 

As we hit the midway point, the trouble with the Abbasids doesn't seem to be any issue with talent. The come out of every game firing in the beginning, building leads through strong hitting and disciplined fielding. However, what seems to be the Abbasids bugaboo, consistent with past seasons, is mental mistakes. The Abbasids are a capable team, however when it comes to crunch time, and closing the deal, they seem to tighten up and not make the simple plays. GM Ahmad Hussain has maintained his positive approach that the team’s steady improvement should allow them to more effectively close out games as well. One silver lining from Week 4 is also that the Lions squared off and tied with 2 of the better offensive teams in the league, showing they can keep up with the best of them. 

As it stands, although viewing the Abbasids record may seem like a recipe for another failed season, Hussain should pull his best Dwayne Casey and ban all stat sheets from their team locker room. After picking up their first couple points of the season, the Abbasids are very much still in the playoff hunt, trailing the 6th seed by three points, and the 5th seed by five. The Abbasids are a hot streak and top run of form away from catapulting into a playoff spot – a development that seemed unlikely a few weeks ago. In Week 5, they are given ample opportunity to do just that facing the Mughals and the Sultans - both teams that the Abbasids are chasing. Although it is the half way point, the ramifications of this week's games could be the crowning moment for the Abbasids. If they can come out this week with a pair of wins, they would be more than in the thick of things – they may be the one's to beat! So, will the Abbasids be able to pull it off? Is Kawhi Leonard really in love with Toronto? Will Goku complete his spirit bomb in time? Tune in next week to Dragon Ba...errr...BSL!
 
Mamluks (vs. Ayyubids – 5:15PM BW1; vs. Nasrids – 6:45PM BW1)
 
The Green Machine come into this week riding a high from going undefeated last week and sporting a 4-0-1 record in their last 5 games.  If there were any concerns early in the season about how this Mamluks team would do after coming out of the gate at 2-2, the Green Machine laid all those fears to rest last week when they toppled the Mughals and then came back in dramatic fashion to tie the Nasrids and earn that crucial point.  Although the Mamluks usually rely on their vaunted defense to win games, it’s the bats that have come alive lately to propel them to victory.  WK, as usual, has found his rhythm and is having his best season batting so far, while Baseer Yasseen who was held hitless in the first 4 games of the season, has since been batting 0.533 with 3 doubles, a HR and 7 RBI’s in his last four.  Getting production like that from the mid to bottom of the lineup will always put a smile on GM Rizvan Merchant’s face, who also leads the league in ERA amongst qualified pitchers.  
 
With Rizvan’s pitching, Jibran and Taher’s defense, and the rest of the Mamluks hitting as well as they are, the Greens look to continue their winning ways this week against the Ayyubids and Nasrids.  The Ayyubids come into this week at the top of the standings and look like the team to beat.  Former Mamluk staple, Umair Sheikh, will go head-to-head against his former team this week, which should provide a lot of entertainment and trash talking (especially if Umair and the Ayyubids win).  In Game 2, the Mamluks play the Nasrids and although the Mamluks beat the Nasrids in their first meeting, it was a close affair.  The Spaniards will be shorthanded but if history has shown us anything, the the remaining Nasrids always come out hard against their opponents on Salaam Cup weekends (put up a 30-spot in the past while missing their stars to the hockey tournament in the past).  The Mamluks have a chance to go into the break with 7 wins, but need to remain focus against these two strong opponents.
 

Ayyubids (@ Mamluks – 5:15PM BW1; vs. Ottomans – 6:45PM BW2)

The 7-1 Ayyubids don’t need to prove they are the best team in BSL anymore. The critics have got the answers to all their questions and have come to terms with there being no way to predict this. While being two wins away from clinching a playoff spot, the Dark Knights certainly have one eye on the prize as they continue to flatten the league like ‘atta.’ Ahmad Ammad is making roti out of everyone with four homers last week and a league-high 11 on the season – only a handful away from the single-season BSL record. GM Umer Jabbar is a genius for this one – let’s take a trip back in time and show you why. It all started back in 2016, when Ahmad made his debut and signed his first major league contract with the Ayyubids. Umer took a huge gamble on a lad who, at the time, lacked experience but was jacked and curious. Ammad had a fine debut season and occasionally showed he could hit massive homeruns, especially in the 55 mandatory Ayyubids practices that season. So what does Umer do? He sends him to the Ottomans to learn the art from Rehan Ahmad…MINDBLOWN! Now stronger than ever, Crazy resigns with the Ayyubids and continues his mission to bring the GM who trusted in him to glory. (this anecdote is entirely fictitious - brought to you by BSL rumours).
 
This team isn’t a one man show though, or one-two punch, or a 3-headed dragon. The collective efforts of all 12 players are bringing consistency in their performances. Eight players are hitting .500 or better, and nine of them have hit homeruns this season. They are playing the cleanest, error-free ball of their careers and even Umair Sheikh has some basis of saying he is doing well this season, batting a cool .741. The Ayyubids will try to continue their ascendency against the Mamluks and avenge their only loss to the Ottomans this week. How will this squad surprise us next? 
 
Ottomans (vs. Nasrids – 5:15PM BW2; @ Ayyubids – 6:45PM BW2)
 
The Ottomans pass the half way mark of the season in second place, with the second most runs scored, and the second best run differential by a wide margin.  So why so glum Ottomans?   The team as a group can be seen leaving the parking lot every week almost in tears.  The Ottomans believe they are the best team in the league, and have set the bar very high for themselves.  Let’s analyze why they think so highly of themselves. Tanseer Khawaja has arguably been the best pitcher in the league, leading in Strike Outs, WHIP, BAA and Walks allowed.  Not only that, he has been the appointed on-field Captain of the Ottomans and has helped relieve the pressure and responsibilities put on GM Rehan Ahmad.  Wait, what? Isn’t Hashim Ghazi the GM? Well if attendance dictates who is in charge, then Hashim has been replaced.  Rumour has it that ever since Rehan went off the board draft night, Hashim and Rehan have been butting heads on almost every on field decision to be made.  So much so, that Hashim extended his vacation and missed an extra weekend, and will once again be missing two games this weekend to attend his brother-in-law’s cousin’s wedding (YUP – HE IS NOT EVEN RELATED TO THEM!) Rehan was overheard asking Hashim if he even knew the name of the Bride and Groom. 

Taha Iqbal, who many questioned as the 5th overall pick, has continued to prove any doubters wrong.  Taha leads all first round picks in Hits, OBP, AVG and Extra Base Hits.  Team defense has been really strong as well, with the Ottomans having only committed 17 total errors on the season, with 7 of those however coming in three innings (we are not sure if this is a positive or negative to point out).  It seems as the Ottomans have a had a tough time not picking up their teammate when an error is made, and have had innings where numerous brain cramps have cost them. The biggest surprise defensively has been the Ottomans Outfield with Kashif Waheed (who has battled an injured hand), Arshad Chawdhry, Furhan Azmat and Moshin Zubair all playing well above projections thus far.  So much so it has allowed Rehan Ahmad to move to RF, although there is speculation that he is hiding an injury.  Owais Ansari has continued his strong play as the top Rookie in the league and has fit right into the Ottomans way, even taking on a leadership role within the team.  

The aforementioned Furhan Azmat has butted heads with management regarding punctuality, but has been the most intense Ottoman once the game starts by far.  The rest of the team however seems to require about 3 innings to get going every week, and it has cost them at times.  Maybe their over the top pre-game chant is tiring them out? Maybe the 1 hour pre-game ritual Rehan and Hashim swear by is too much for this older group?  Whatever it is, they will need to figure out the right formula this week as the Ottomans face off against the short-handed Nasrids, and the first place Ayyubids who will be looking to avenge their only loss of the season.  The Ottomans will get some much needed help when they welcome back Zia Ali, but will be without 2B Gold Glove candidate Hammad Afif who already has eclipsed career highs in HRs and RBI, as well as Randy Pansesar who is working in Africa on a charity mission, and Hashim Ghazi (A COUSIN-IN-LAW’S WEDDING!!!!!! SMH).  It will be interesting to see if the Ottomans choose to use a sub or decide to play with 9 players, with either no catcher or 3 outfielders.  Either way, if the Ottomans are looking finish the weekend with two wins for the first time since opening weekend, they will have to get more contributions from the bottom half of their line-up that seem to vanish during game two on Sundays.

Nasrids (@ Ottomans – 5:15PM BW2; @ Mamluks – 6:45 BW1)
 
The Nasrids come into Week 5 having lost only one of their last six games, getting solid contributions up and down their line-up. They will however be in tough this Sunday, as they face off against the surging Ottomans and Mamluks, two teams above them in the standings, and will be doing so without Salam Cup-tied stars Osman Buttar, Usama Mahmood and Ali Wadee. However, keep in mind last year the Nasrids were able to score a league record 30 runs in a game when these same players were missing, with team GM Nirvaan Latif hitting a pair of homeruns and collecting 5 RBI in the win!  There is still a chance Buttar and Co. will arrive in time for their second game versus the Mamluks, but that depends on their Salam Cup team results. In the meantime, Aftab Sheikh has been named Director of Scouting with a mandate to find an offensive minded player like Buttar, a defensive minded player like Mahmood and a mild mannered individual like Wadee.  Word is Sheikh feels as though he has found this diamond in the rough and the big reveal will occur on Sunday at game time.

Asim Waheed has busted out this season and is having a career year at the plate.  Waheed has looked much more relaxed since coming back from his honeymoon.  One can only wonder if there is a connection between…nevermind, let’s keep it Brotherhood halal. After starting out the season 1-for-8, Abdulaziz, aka Salar, aka Sheikh, aka Rasoul (henceforth know as Abdulaziz) decided to change up the game plan a bit and wanted to get into game mode well before the first pitch.  Last week he was observed donning his Nasrids jersey whilst giving a dawah lecture at ISNA two hours prior to the game.  The end result? A 6-for-6 day with Player of the Game honours versus the Abbasids.  We cannot confirm if he has removed his jersey since last Sunday.  Ibrahim Sardar continues his impressive first campaign as a full-time pitcher, consistently giving his team a chance to win. Sardar also took on the role of team Offensive Coordinator after the Nasrids began the season only averaging 10 runs a game.  Sardar performed his best Cito Gaston impersonation and has got the team scoring four more runs a game.  It’s tough to say too much negative about Rookie Asad Syed, who is batting .630 on the season, but Syed is hitting only .300 with runners in scoring position and has missed a few opportunities to blow the game open.  

The Nasrids brain trust feels as though they are one big player away from winning it all and have inquired about trading for Abbasids Sameer Rafique.  The asking price seems to be too high however, as the Abbasids have asked for life time Nasrid players in exchange, and neither Buttar or Latif want to do what Masai did to DeMar by not staying loyal.  Their counter offer of leftover Popeye’s dinner boxes didn’t go over well with the Abbasids GMs.
If the Nasrids can somehow pull out two wins shorthanded, they could end the weekend in second place.  Two losses, however, will have them hovering just inside the playoff race.


Let's get it started!

Week 4 Recap

The wet conditions didn't stop the boys from taking the field this Sunday. Here is what transpired in week 4:
 
Recaps have been written by members of the rumours committee
 
Seljuqs v AyyubidsThe Seljuqs came into this Sunday coming off a huge win against the Ottomans and were looking for revenge against the Ayyubids for an opening day loss. Unfortunately for the Seljuqs, the game did not start off as planned as the Ayyubids put up a five spot in the first inning courtesy of Ahmad Ammad grand slam. The Seljuks would fight back with three of their own in the bottom of the inning, however, the Ayyubids’ bats continued their relentless hitting and by the end of the fifth inning, they were up 16-7. Due to some uncharacteristic errors from the Ayyubids in the last inning, the Seljuqs were able to put together a short rally scoring four runs. In the end, however, the Ayyubids were able to shut the Seljuqs down and preserve the win. The Seljuqs had no answer for Ahmad Ammad as he torched them by going 3-3 with 3 homeruns and 6 RBIs.
Final Score: Seljuqs - 18, Ayyubids - 11;     Star of the Game - Ahmad Ammad 3-3, 3 HRs, 6 RBIs
 
Mughals v Mamluks: Game 1 on Birchwood 2 featured a rematch of Week 1 where the Green Machine fell to the Badshah’s 10-3.  The Mughals were anticipating missing Hassan Chaudhry due to his Nikkah happening on Saturday, however, in true BSL form, Hassan made the game and the Mughals were determined to gift him 2 wins as a wedding gift.  As the rest of the season has gone, the Mughals came out of the gate slow as the Mamluks put up 2 runs in the first to take a 2-0 lead.  The lead would continue to grow with WK hitting a HR in the 3rd to break the game open (or so we thought) giving the Mamluks a 9-0 lead after 3 innings.  With the game seemingly getting away from them, the Mughals decided to start scoring with HR’s from Ismail Akhter, Nadeem Hussain and Rookie of the Year candidate Aqib Khokhar to take a 12-10 lead into the bottom of the 5th.  After the Mamluks tied it with a Rizvan Merchant 2 run HR in the 5th, the game was tied heading into the bottom of the 6th.  This game featured a lot of HR’s and the Mamluks didn’t disappoint, with Jibran Waqar and WK hitting solo’s to put the Mamluks up by 2 for good.  The Mughals need to right this ship fast or the season may be lost soon as they suffer loss number 3 on the season.  More alarming, the Mughals only scored in 2 of the 7 innings played, while the Mamluks seemed to have hit their stride just at the right time.  WK continues to show off his batting prowess, batting 3-4 with 2 HR’s and 5 RBI’s to take player of the game honors.
Final Score: Mughals - 12, Mamluks - 14;      Star of the Game - W K 3-4, 2 HR, 5 RBIs
 
Mughals v Ayyubids: The Mughals came in desperate in the second game after a narrow loss to the Mamluks while the Ayyubids were riding high after taming the Bulls in the first game. The Mughals for once jumped out to an early 2-0 lead but the Ayyubids bounced right back to go up 3-2 after 1. The Mughals would tie the game up in the 3rd on a Faraaz Alvi single. The Ayyubids would break the game open in the bottom of the third on a Ahmad Ammad HR (his 4th of the day) and a Faheem Kotwal 2-run long ball. Mo Kala would hit a 3-run shot in the 4th to give the Ayyubids a commanding 10-4 lead. The Mughals showed fight as they tagged on 3 runs in the 5th. In the 6th, with the tying run on 1st with Ismail Akhter up, Ismail hit a long drive to CF where Imran Merchant would rob him of extra bases with a jumping catch. The Ayyubids would score 3 in the bottom of the 6th with time expiring to give them another impressive victory. The Mughals once again showed potential but it was too little too late as they fall to under 0.500 for the first time in franchise history. The Ayyubids soar to 7-1 on the season with the ability to lock up a playoff spot next week. 
Final Score: Mughals - 8, Ayyubids - 13;      Star of the Game - Faheem Kotwal 3-4, HR, 3 RBIs
 
Seljuqs v Mamluks: The second match up during the matinee portion of week 4 showcased the Mamluks and Seljuqs on Birchwood 2. Both teams were coming off tight finishes in their first games of the afternoon, so the level of competition was ramped up quite a bit. It was the Seljuqs however that started the game off with a bit of a bang, chipping in runs chipping in runs in each of the first 3 innings, to hold a 7-3 advantage. Zaid Ghansar and Shoaib Gaya hit a pair of loud home runs to build up that lead. However, on the other side of the dimaond, the Mamluks were struggling to find any rhythm against Hamza Waheed, and it wasn't until the bottom of the 6th that the Mamluks exploded for a 7 runs to not only tie the game, but also take the lead on a clutch Baseer Yaseen home run. The momentum charged the Mamluks and had their energy level soar, but it was quickly struck down as Omer Dhaduk and Rameez Siddiqi hit back to back shots to restore a one run lead for the bulls. The beauty of Birchwood 2 continued as in the bottom half of the final inning, that Atif Khan decided it was his turn to go yard in a clutch way, as he tied the game up with a single swing of the bat, with two outs in the inning. After Taher Mirza reached base, the game concluded in a Jibran Waqar thunderous fly ball that just failed to leave the yard. This back and forth, ping pong like affair, with plenty of home runs and surges of energy ended in a 12-12 draw. 
Final Score: Seljuqs - 12, Mamluks - 12;      Star of the Game - Shoaib Gaya 2-3, HR, 2 RBIs, Atif Khan 2-3, Game tying HR
 
Ottomans v Sultans: 
Another week, another shorthanded Sultans squad looking to overcome the odds and come away with a couple of wins.  Coming off a week in which they went 0-2, the Horsemen strode onto Diamond 1 to face-off against the storied Ottomans franchise. The Turks split last week 1-1 and were looking for any excuse to put their finishing WWE move, ‘The Empire Fire’ on their opponents.  This game was circled on every copy of the BSL Calendar that Commissioner Zahid Merchant possesses…even the one taped to his bedroom ceiling (above his race car bed adorned with Mughals themed sheets) as it was supposed to have it all; raging offense, a revenge story and most importantly, kebabs. Between Rehan ‘The Wrecking Ball’ Ahmad, Shaheen ‘Call Me Dada’ Limbada and Omer ‘Hit Homers’ Chaudhry, this game featured some of the greatest hitters in BSL history…surefire first ballot hall of famers.
The game started in its usual manner with the Turks shouting their pre-game cheer dubbed ‘We Are Ottomen, We Are Problem, Men!’.  Unfortunately, that was the last exciting thing to happen for the next 60 minutes…unless you’re a Denver Broncos fan and love defensive games.  This game remained at 1-0 THROUGH FOUR INNINGS with the only run coming off a sac-fly. The game broke open in the top of the 5th with the Ottomans’ heavy top order (seriously…like Yokozuna heavy) getting on base for Hammad ‘The Beef’ Afif who promptly went Grandy.  That 5-0 lead would not last long as the Sultan bats finally decided to come out of their coma and put up 5 of their own including a Limbada Long Ball which led to a bit of relief as Shaheen was working himself up to Beatrix Kiddo levels before the game. But the grogginess from the comatose bats held a lingering effect as the Sultans were only able to put up three more runs the rest of the game while Hammad’s banger seemed to awaken a fasting beast who started doing ifthaar with softballs like it was friggin’ Hungry Hungry Hippos. The Ottomans put up 10 more runs to make the final score 15-8. 
While many players went 3-4, this game came down to two things. On the W side, Taha ‘SO Sick’ Iqbal, who went 4-5, was putting the ball wherever he wanted…he also slid into third for a triple while deciding elbows aren’t necessary to enjoy the rest of your life.  This writer is convinced that Taha’s patented ‘LET’S GO!’ battle cry is used in many facets of his life….’LET’S GO!’ before eating biryani, ‘LET’S GO!’ before a meeting at work and ‘LET’S GO!’ before doing oolti when he’s sick. On the L side of things, this loss can be blamed solely on AGM Shahzad Ahmed who has done a poor job in GM Shamil Khadaroo’s absence. If he doesn’t correct his lineup decisions, lead by better example and focus more on the team, then this season could quickly unravel.
Final Score: Ottomans - 15, Sultans - 8;      Star of the Game -  Rehan Ahmad 2-3, 2 HR, 5 RBIs
 
Abbasids v Nasrids: Week Four saw the Abbasids enter a tough match-up with the Nasrids still looking for their first win of the season.  With the Abbasids brain-trust feeling that their offense let them down in Week Three there was a lot of talk about how to get their offense going so some tweaks were made to move players around in the batting order to see if it sparked things – a forced change was to their pitcher as starter Zia Beg was not available this weekend forcing Fuzail Thakur into the spotlight.  The Abbasids got off to a strong start in this one as they put up six runs to open the game and seemed to be feeling good about their chances.  The Nasrids responded with a pair in the bottom of the first as Osman Buttar launched a mammoth two-run homer into the ravine of Birchwood Two.  The Abbasids continued to hum along and after the top of the sixth had built a solid 16-5 lead and just needed to close the game out.  The Ottomans put up a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to make it a 16-7 game going into the seventh where Ibrahim Sardar shut down the Abbasids bats giving his team a chance to make a game of it.  The pressure was on the Nasrids to open the final frame and who better to show them that "Anything is Possible" than Sir Nirvaan Latif who led off with a single to the wall that just missed going over by a couple of feet.  From there Nasrids bottom of the line-up found a way to battle as they went small ball and knocked singles all over the field.  After grinding out four runs they brought up Osman Buttar with the bases loaded and one homer run already under his belt, Buttar hit a sky high ball that managed to drop by virtue of the Abbasids outfield playing on the warning track.  A pair of Abbasid miscues on the infield gave the Nasrids runs and second chances to keep the rally going.  After another single to tie the game up, the Abbasids finally got the third out to end the game but not before squandering a nine run lead to end the game in a 16-16 tie.  While the Abbasids broke their six-game losing streak they left the game knowing full well that they allowed their first win of the season to get away.  The Nasrids showed some great perseverance to keep battling despite being down big right to the end of the game which bodes well for their team morale. 
Final Score: Abbasids - 16, Nasrids - 16;     Star of the Game - Sameer Rafique 3-3, HR, 4 RBIs, Salar Rasoul 3-3
 
Abbasids v Ottomans: The Ottomans looked to build on their big win against Sultans with a matchup versus the Abbasids. The Abbasids came in with a mixed bag of emotions, having tied their previous game to collect their first point of the season after giving away a ten run lead. The Orangemen once again looked to Fuzail Thakur to man the mound against one of the League's top offences. Fuzzy showed his best stuff, allowing only one run in his first round of the OTT lineup. His got some run support in pieces throughout the game, notably with Ahmed Butt picking up three RBIs and AGM Kashif Irshad bringing three in as well. Irshad had the biggest hit of the game after smacking a two-run shot for added insurance for his boys. With the Abbasids up two going into the last inning, Fuzail had to shut down the Ottomans 2-3-4 batters to seal the deal and taste victory. The Ottomans brought in two runs to tie it up and had runners on the corners with two away and their GM Hashim Ghazi at the plate. Thakur worked Ghazi into a full count, and forced Hashim to fly out to shallow centre to end the game in a deadlock. The Abbasids, despite not getting a win, take away a lot of positives from the game, most notably Fuzail Thakur's performance on the mound - holding the Ottomans to single digit runs shows he's got what it takes to pitch week-in, week-out. On the other hand, the Ottomans once again came out flat in game two, and have yet to go 2-0 since week 1 despite sitting second in the League. Rehan Ahmad collected 5 RBIs for the Turks.
Final Score: Abbasids - 9, Ottomans - 9;      Star of the Game -  Kashif Irshad 3-3, HR, 3 RBIs, Rehan Ahmad 3-4, HR, 5 RBIs
 
Sultans v Nasrids: Coming off a huge come-from-being tie, the Nasrids dugout was amped while preparing for the Sultans at Birchwood 2. The Sultans, who once again were short some key players, were coming off a disappointing loss. Not surprisingly, the Nasrids picked it up right where they left off with a 6 run first inning including a Sir Nirvaan homer.  Shazzy's boys didn't let that deter them as they scored in each of the next 3 innings, capping it off with 6 run 4th. With their bats clicking through the lineup, the Sultans seemed to have gained control of the game with a 10-7 lead. The Nasrids wouldn't quit despite leaving the 3rd inning with the bases load and no outs with zero damage. They responded in the bottom of the 4th with a 5 run tally of their own to regain the lead and set up a nail biting finish. The Sultans managed to get a HAYUGE 1-2-3 inning in time to setup a 6th and final inning down by 2 and the top of their order batting at the turn. Shahzad let out a DEAFENING Taha Iqbal-esque roar in an attempt to fire up his squad. His team responded and the moment was all all set for Omer Chaudhry to regain the lead for the White's down by 1 with a runner on base and two outs. Disappointingly for the Sultans,  Omer flew out to RF Salar Rasoul to end the game with a 12-11 victory in favour of the Nasrids. The Nasrids had some great contributions defensively in the outfield and with the bat from Asad Syed, Nirvaan, and Salar, but player of the game honours go to Osman Buttar who hit two homers and collected 3 RBIs. Hopefully for the Nasrids that signals an end to his Birchwood 2 hitting woes. Faisal Khan and AK, meanwhile, were the top contributors with the bat for the Sultans. Both teams did a poor job taking advantage of runners on base with the Sultans leaving 14 stranded while the Nasrids left 11. The Nasrids managed to get big results this weekend with the Salaam Cup scheduled for next weekend while the Sultans are now fighting for a playoff spot with four straight losses. They will be hoping to get their full squad back for the final weekend before the midseason break.
Final Score: Sultans - 11, Nasrids - 12;     Star of the Game - Osman Buttar 3-3, 2 HR, 3 RBIs

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 W “the tank” K 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.