Week 6 Rumours

[written by: Hamid Malik, Ibrahim Sardar, Riyad Ramjaun, Taha Iqbal, Zain Khilji, Zuhair Fancy & Hashim Ghazi]

Some surprise results last week makes this weekend all that more enticing as we approach Week 6.  The Ottomans were the true winners on the day, after securing top spot with a pair of huge victories despite only having eight men.  The Seljuqs also picked up their first point since week 1 with a come-from-behind tie against the Nasrids.  This week, we may finally see some teams clinch their spot to the big dance, while one team on the outside looking in made a huge trade in efforts to make a late playoff push.  We got a lot of dish for you this week, let's see what's gwannin. 

 

MAMLUKS (@ Sultans 2:00PM BW2 & vs Ottomans 3:30PM BW2)

The Mamluks are a difficult team to read at the moment. On one hand, they have clearly bounced back from the horrible start to the season with three weeks of promising play. On the other hand, they haven't been able to register more than one win on any given Sunday. Despite the mixed results, the team's confidence is riding quite high at the moment due to much improved individual performances. Returning BSL player Arslan Shahid is quietly stringing together an exceptional season at the plate, while Mohsin Zubair has been on a tear lately, picking apart the outfield with his versatile hitting. Although the hitting is coming together as the season progresses, the Green Machine is focused on refining good habits on the field. A balanced defensive lineup provides GM Hassan Chaudhry with options on finding the right mix as the playoff race gets tighter. This Sunday provides a contrast of opponents as they face the red hot Ottomans who are on a roll and the slumping Sultans who are counting on string of new players to get into a groove. It is not lost on the Mamluks that the Sultans found themselves in a similar spot last season prior to embarking on their championship run. The last Mamluks-Ottomans affair produced an offensive slugfest in which the Turks escaped with a one run win, whereas their game against the Sultans ended in defensive nail-biting 6-6 tie. Either way, this is shaping to be an exciting weekend, and the team is looking forward to having Salman Ahmad back after a lengthy absence.

 

SULTANS (vs Mamluks 2:00PM BW2 & @ Abbasids 3:30PM BW1)

The Sultans are beginning to remind us of the 1999 Chicago Bulls, and look to be the worst defending champions in BSL history.  The freefall continued for the Stallions this week as they dropped two more games to bring their record to 2-6-2, a mere point out of last place.  Game 1 was a close affair against the Nasrids where pitcher Basil Jeelany was in the zone, allowing only 7 runs as the starting pitcher and going 2-3 at the plate.  Unfortunately, the rest of his team put up only 9 hits and caused 3 errors defensively, allowing the Spaniards to squeak out a narrow 10-8 win.  In Game 2, the Sultans came in confident; their opponents, the Ottomans, were playing with only 8 players, and missing their top 2 draft picks.  All factors pointed to a cake walk for the Stallions that would allow them to regain their confidence and move forward in the season.  However, it was anything but that, as the 8-men Ottomans mercied the Sultans to the tune of 18-1.  3 more errors in Game 2 didn’t help the men in white, but the real issue is they only produced 7 hits against a defense that only had three outfielders on the day.  The Sultans had 18 hits in 2 games this past week and once the game ended, the Sultans immediately held a team meeting to realign things.  GM Shamil Khadaroo knew he had to do something, and something sooner than later.  What resulted was a mega trade that saw four players, including All Star Omer Chaudhry, go to the Ayyubids in exchange for more depth in Hassan Zubair, Zuhair Fancy, Shoaib Gaya and Sikandar Aftab now donning Sultan white.  The Sultans now boast a team that has the depth of a champion, but is it too little too late? This week, the Sultans will face a do or die week against the Abbasids & the Mamluks.  Two wins puts them back in the race for the playoffs, but two more losses could be too much for them to overcome.

 

ABBASIDS (@ Ottomans 2:00PM BW1 & vs Sultans 3:30PM BW1)

Coming off 2 tough losses the prior week, the Abbasids were hoping to get back on track against the two best teams in the league. The mentality was that if we can give these top teams a run for their money, there is nobody in this league we can’t beat. The Ayyubids were up first and the Abbasids just laid into them.  Captain Bilal Javed and MVP candidate Ahmad Ammad hit a pair of homers each bringing to bring in a combined 8 RBIs. Overall the Abbasids bats were flowing well and connected on 26 hits to the Ayyubids 9. With one win down, the Abbasids were riding high and were pumped going up against the top dawg Mughals. These two teams seemed evenly matched as both had 16 hits each and played lock down defense all game long. There were 4 homers in this game, courtesy of Ammad, Javed, Hamid Malik (the 1st of his BSL career) and Yousaf Chaudhry.  Going into the final inning of this game, we were all knotted up at 9 apiece. The Mughals had a chance to win it as they were down 2 outs, with Rehan Ahmed at the plate. All they needed was 1 run and they would’ve won the game. Rehan, easily capable of knocking it out of the park, aired it out to RF and just as it nearly cleared the fence, Hamid Malik jumped up and snagged it, robbing the Mughals of their win and ending it in a tie. Not the desired result but the Orangemen escaped this one managed to get 3 out of the 4 points against the best teams in the league. The Abbasids have now earned 5 out of 6 points against the top 3 teams in the league, which goes to show that they’re no joke. Slow start aside, their bats are finally coming alive and the defense is starting to suffocate opponents. With team chemistry on the rise, so are the Abbasids. They’re feeling pretty hot right now and any team that goes up against them will have their hands full as these guys are ready to make a playoff push. 

 

OTTOMANS (vs Abbasids 2:00PM BW1 & @ Mamluks 3:30PM BW2)

The Ottomans left Birchwood this Sunday singing “started from the bottom, now we here”. With two resounding wins this past weekend, their fans were heard mocking opposing fans with “too soon, too real” chants. Murmurs of a championship parade were in the offing as well. With their top two draft picks deciding to take a week off, the Mighty O were down to only eight players; what ensued was historic. The Turks mercied both the Seljuqs (who were shorthanded themselves) and the Sultans to not only get maximum points on the day but also go top of the table thanks to adding +32 to their run differential on the day. While every hitter on the team had a field day, five of them (AR, Taha Iqbal, Faheem Kotwal, Kashif Irshad and Rameez Siddiqi) went 34 for 41 combined – a remarkable average of .829. It is a good indication of league parity that even after going 5-0 in their last five games, the Ottomans still find the Mughals, Ayyubids and Nasrids hot on their heels. One bad week and they could find themselves back in the middle of the pack.  The Turks play the Abbasids and Mamluks this Sunday, and both are expected to be fiery affairs with the opponents looking to solidify their playoff positions. Both teams have picked it up in last couple of weeks and have strong performances to show for it. The Ottomans came up short by a run against the Abbasids in the first leg of their matchup – that 3-4 loss was the lowest scoring game in the League’s history. Against the Mamluks though, the Royals made a monumental comeback to erase a 13 run deficit in two innings to win 20-19.  However, Mamluks were missing their GM, Hassan, and ace pitcher, Ibrahim, in that game.  The Ottomans know what they need to do this week, and are confident to keep that parade route intact.

 

AYYUBIDS (vs Abbasids 2:00PM BW2 & vs Mamluks 3:30PM BW2)

The Ayyubids came into their Week Five games hoping to grab a pair of wins to keep pace with the leaders in the league, but things didn't go their way this day.  First, the Abbasids laid a beating on the Ayyubids as the Lions built a big lead early and coasted to an easy 20-6 win.  The Ayyubids were not able to string much together and put up a paltry nine hits in this game (compared to 26 by the Abbasids).  After their rough start to the day, the Ayyubids tried to salvage it against the Mamluks; things looked good in the early going as their bats woke up, and despite some base running gaffes, they had a 15-8 lead after six innings.  That’s when the wheels fell off.  The Mamluks managed to rally for eight runs in the top of the seventh putting the pressure on the bottom of the line-up to somehow save the day and that they did.  Down by a run with two outs, Shoaib Gaya legged out an infield hit putting runners at the corners for Neal Irfan to single home the tying run of the game.  Yasser Zia then walked off the game after crushing a ball to the wall that sent the team into a frenzy.  Perhaps not the way the Ayyubids would have drawn up their day, but a win generated by the bottom half of the line-up may give the team the boost it needs as they have struggled of late.  The Kurds went big on the trade market, sending four players, including Hassan Zubair who is having a career year, to the Sultans in exchange for a quartet of Stallions, the big name being Omer Chaudhry. The Ayyubids sacrificed some depth in exchange for a big bat, and hope that Payn (in addition to Zain Malik, Zia Ali and Asim Waheed) can be the final piece of the puzzle en route to a championship season.  Week Six will see the Ayyubids face the Nasrids, who they tied in Week Three, and Seljuqs, who they defeated in Week Four.  Another pair of critical games will give a better sense of what these guys are all about, as the Nasrids are hot on their heels and Seljuqs are in desperation mode to keep their playoff hopes alive.

 

NASRIDS (vs Sultans 5:15PM BW2 & @ Seljuqs 6:45PM BW2)

The Nasrids are getting comfortable in their all but certain expectation to suit up during the playoffs with another 3 points this weekend. They will be disappointed to drop a point against an 8-man, last place team known as the Seljuqs though. Do the Seljuqs deserve to be in last place? You can decide – Omer Dhaduk certainly doesn’t, but anyways… Asad Syed did not travel with the team again last week and it’s menacing to think his presence makes the team even more dangerous. GM Nirvaan Latif did not disclose that Asad would be missing when confronted by the media despite being pressured in the Nasrids pre-game press conference. We will have more on the story as it unfolds. In other news, the Nasrids will be investing in unbranded sunglasses, as the sun at Birchwood Park 2 burned too bright to field under during the late hours of the day, but the team has only invested in one communal pair to share amongst the team at this point.  That’s because all their budget was put toward the training invested in Taqi Ahmed, who has been as bright as the sun for the Spaniards in all aspects of the game. His speed and versatility is allowing him to slot into important situations and increase trust with the coaches. The DC41 is certainly working for him more than others. The Nasrids will need everyone on deck against two top teams in the Mughals and Ayyubids this week, where a pair of wins will see them all but lock up a playoff spot.

 

MUGHALS (vs Mamluks 2:00PM BW1 & vs Abbasids 3:30PM BW1)

A big piece of humble pie was delivered to the Mughals in Week 5, as the top team in the league was brought back to reality and went winless against the Mamluks and the Abbasids. It was a tale of two halves, as the first game of the day saw the Mughals bottom order not able to hit against the Mamluks, while the second game the Mughals top of the order unable to hit against the Abbasids that led to a tie. The Badshahs had a chance to win against the Lions, but a big-time strikeout by former Mughal Zahid Merchant on last year's playoff MVP, followed up by a potential catch of the year by Hamid Malik, proved to be the difference in the bottom of the 7th. Even with the winless week, the Mughals still have a lot of things to be happy about for the rest of the season, namely the play of ROY candidate Tamour Sheikh. Big T hit 3 more homeruns on Sunday, placing him atop the standings amongst all rookies. Additionally, the play of Ali Wadee has been spectacular to say the least. Ali has proved that he is one of the most versatile players in the league that can play anywhere, and if not for his phenomenal play at first base this week, the Mughals would not have earned the extra point. This week, the men in baby blue will face the Seljuqs and the Nasrids. In their previous matchup, pitcher Riyad “Ice Man” Ramjaun [Editor’s note: self-anointed nickname] struggled against the Seljuqs, issuing 10 walks, but since then, has gone back to hitting the plate regularly. It will be interesting to see if the Bulls will test him out early and make him pitch. In the second game, the Mughals will face the Nasrids on Birchwood 2. This game should provide a lot of hits (and homeruns) as these teams boast some of the biggest hitters in BSL. Two wins this week can potentially clinch the playoffs for the Badshahs, but two losses would cause panic and self-doubt on whether the Mughals are as good as they think they are

 

SELJUQS (@ Ottomans 5:15PM BW1 & vs Nasrids 6:45PM BW2)

The Seljuqs had their backs against the wall and at risk of only having six players available for this coming Sunday.  Zain Khilji wasn’t ready to let his team down, and came back from a family vacation early in order to suit up for his guys.  The Seljuqs had 8 players for the two games on Sunday, and all in all, cannot be too harkened with a tie and a loss on the day given the circumstances.  Of note was the absolute clinic dreamboat heartheartOmer Dhadukheartheart put on at the plate on the day.  Fresh off a sunny vacation on the US West Coast, OD came ready to contribute, and contribute did he ever.  Dhaduk hit a pair of dingers in the first game and followed that up with three more in game two.  No BSL player has ever hit five homeruns on the day, and Dhaduk’s 5 HR 11 RBI Sunday was every bit needed for a team looking to hook onto any positive momentum they can.  Though a lot has not gone to plan for the Bulls this year, you cannot attribute any of that to the boy they call Oms, who has been a rock at third base and leaving it all on the line week-in, week-out.  The boys in red will be pleased to have some semblance of a full squad this week, and against two powerhouses like the Mughals and the Ayyubids, they will need everyone to come up big.  The Seljuqs are increasing their reps outside of Sundays with weekly practices, and know that this team coming together at just the right time will pay dividends.  Let’s see if they can finally turn some heads with some big performance against a pair of League contenders. 

 

We may finally see some teams lock up a postseason berth this Sunday (with 6 games to play) - let's see who's up for it.


Week 5 Rumours

[written by: Hamid Malik, Riyad Ramjaun, Taha Iqbal, Zain Khilji & Hashim Ghazi]

Eight games into the season and there remains two distinct classes forming the League - the Mughals, Ayyubids, Ottomans and Nasrids sit comfortably in the top half, while the Sultans, Mamluks, Abbasids and Seljuqs make up what's left.  It is looking more and more like the last two spots in the playoffs will come down to the wire - the question is who will be left on the sidelines and who will be parading into the playoffs in hopes of upsetting a favourite?

Continuing on with our team charity drives this Sunday, the Abbasids will be selling award-winning veal sandwiches from Kantene - yes, this sandwich was literally awarded the best veal sandwich in Ontario for 2019 by the Veal Farmers of Ontario.  You can get two mini sandwiches and a drink for $12, all in an effort to raise funds for Muslim Welfare Centre

Now, let's see what's on and poppin' in this week's rumours.  

 

ABBASIDS (@ Ayyubids 2:00PM BW2 & @ Mughals 3:30PM BW1)

The Abbasids were riding high after their two legendary wins last week and came into this week believing that the curse had been lifted. The first game of the day saw the Lions drop a neck-in-neck affair against the Sultans. The big bats did what they could, as Ahmad Ammad, Sameer Rafique and Yousaf Chaudhry combined for 4 dingers and 10 RBIs in the game, but the rest of the team could not back it up. A bizarre umpiring decision to call the game despite there being ample time remaining did not help the cause either. The second game against the Nasrids came down to the last couple of innings but ultimately resulted in a loss for the Lions. The Abbasids, despite being markedly better than they looked in the first two weeks of the season, clearly have some further kinks to work out. Both games were close and could’ve gone either way and had some routine plays been handled appropriately, the results may have been different. Everyone on this team needs to hold themselves accountable and start playing with a sense of urgency or this season can and will go down as another dud for the Orangemen. Next week, the Abbasids take on the two best teams in the League in the Ayyubids and Mughals. Do they stand a chance against these well rounded teams? I guess we’ll find out Sunday. 

 

AYYUBIDS (vs Abbasids 2:00PM BW2 & vs Mamluks 3:30PM BW2)

The Ayyubids fell to the Ottomans last week but keep their second place spot in the standings. They were victorious against the Seljuqs in their later game holding them to 4 runs and scoring 9 themselves. It seems the men in black are starting to slow down a little; by slow down, we mean come back on earth after a remarkable start to the season. Hassan Zubair and Mike Arlitt are continuing their astronomical contributions but Jibran Waqar fell victim to a poor weekend at the plate again. Aqib Khokhar stepped up against the Seljuqs with a 4-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI performance in the leadoff spot. Amongst all the action, rumours have it that Umair ‘Flash’ Sheikh almost made an impossible catch as he bolted from first to home plate to make a play on a foul ball. Spectators reported they could only see a blur fizzing towards the mishit ball. The crowd also witnessed a spectacular line drive from Shoaib Gaya which was met with an even more spectacular catch from Tausif Hussain. So spectacular that Shoaib called it a fluke. What isn’t a fluke is the way this team has carried themselves this season and look to continue their spell against two teams below them in the Mamluks and Abbasids. Most viewers would bet 2-0 on the day for the Kurds.    

 

MAMLUKS (@ Mughals 2:00PM BW1 & @ Ayyubids 3:30PM BW2)

Despite missing their GM Hassan Chaudhry and star pitcher Ibrahim Sardar, the Mamluks rallied together to split their games last week. Fill-in pitcher Umair Wasim benefited from his team giving him a strong lead to work with against the Seljuqs in Game 1 that led to a 12-8 win, while the boys in green fell one run short against the surging Ottomans in game 2.  All in all, you really cannot complain about how the results went down, especially considering how previous weeks went without a true pitcher on the mound.  Wasim did more than just pitch on Sunday though, hitting three homeruns on the weekend and showing that cricket swing is getting even more finetuned for softball with every passing week.  What's even better to see is superstar Ismail Akhter finally showing shades of his old self.  It appears that the monkey is finally off his back and he is ready to go back to his old ways after an impressive 3 homerun performance against the Ottomans.  This team possesses some incredible and if they continue to get some stellar play from the middle-order guys like Imran Qureshi and Mohsin Zubair, they will be a tough out.  The Mamluks face quite the test this week against the top two sides in the League in the Mughals and Ayyubids.  Let's see if the positive momentum can result in them turning some more heads this weekend.

 

MUGHALS (vs Mamluks 2:00PM BW1 & vs Abbasids 3:30PM BW1)

Eight games into the season, and dare we say that the Mughals look like the team to beat?  Due to a last-minute injury, the Mughals starting pitcher was forced to sit this game out, but in true Mughals form, the next man stepped up.  Hamza Hussain, who has only pitched a few games and has yet to win a game when he has, locked down both the Nasrids and Sultans to guide his team to two wins. On the offensive side, although others have been tabbed as potential ROY candidates, Tamour “Big T” Sheikh continues his dominance both with the bat and the glove, as he hit two more homeruns this past week.  Though Big T was a name floating on many GMs draft boards, credit to GM Owais Ansari for picking him up in the middle rounds of what seems like the deepest team in the League.  This week, the Badshahs will have a rematch against the Abbasids and will take on the new look Mamluks.  Although they mercied the Lions the last time they faced them, these Abbasids look drastically different this time around and will be hungry; the same can be said about the Mamluks who finally showed some life and welcome back some key players to the fold.  A pair of wins this week would potentially clinch the playoffs for the Badshahs and then they can concentrate on the ultimate prize.

 

SULTANS (@ Nasrids 5:15PM BW2 & @ Ottomans 6:45PM BW1)

The Sultans circled last week’s matchup against the Abbasids as a must-win to have any hopes of making the playoffs, and they squeaked out a gutsy 2-run win over them; game 2 did not bode well in their favour as a defiant 19-run performance was overcome by the 22 the Mughals put up.  GM Shamil Khadaroo will totally take a 1-1 weekend though when the loss comes in a game against the top team in the League where you put up an offensive performance that usually would lead in a win.  The team’s identity remains a work-in-progress and with so many new faces to jell with, the concern lies in whether it will come together in time.  You know what is coming together though? Faisal Khan and the resurgence.  The vet is putting up unruly numbers this season, sitting third in the league in home runs and fourth in RBIs.  The King has sat on the All-Star throne since year one of BSL, but if even semblance of this performance continues, he’ll all but be a certain lock to get back there.  The Sultans face the Mamluks and Nasrids this week – the two teams that a spot above and a spot below them.  If the Whites can go 2-0, they’ll be sitting pretty in the top half of the standings without a worry in the world. 

 

NASRIDS (vs Sultans 5:15PM BW2 & @ Seljuqs 6:45PM BW2)

The Nasrids continue to tiptoe between elite and mediocrity after splitting a pair of games last week.  The loss to the league leading Mughals by a single run that saw their impressive offense held to only nine runs (and no home runs) in the game, but found their stroke in game two with a 19-run performance in a victory against the Abbasids. There were some positives uncovered for GM Sir Nirvaan Latif as they prepare for week 5.  First, holding the Mughals to only ten runs shows that they can limit offensive powerhouses with elite pitching, courtesy of Tanseer “Robocop” Khawaja, and impressive defense. Secondly, with so much focus being on rookie Safwan Khan and superstar Osman Buttar on the offensive end, it was great to see Hammad Afif smack two over the fence and display that power we've seen in year's past.  People forget that Afif went yard six times last year, and having that sort of big bat in the bottom half of the lineup is an asset few other teams can match.  The Nasrids have a gift from the scheduling gods (read: Commissioner Zahid) this week with a pair of games against two teams struggling beyond belief in the Sultans and Seljuqs.  Let’s see if the Spaniards can continue their trend of feasting on the weak to propel up the standings. 

 

SELJUQS (@ Ottomans 5:15PM BW1 & vs Nasrids 6:45PM BW2)

The freefall continues.  The Seljuqs have now gone 0 for 6 in the last three weeks, and typically, you would say they are all but out of the playoffs.  Fortunately for them, the Abbasids, Sultans and Mamluks continue to be stuck in neutral and the 2-6 Bulls just need one weekend to get back into the mix.  This is a young team that always brings a ton of energy – where is that now? The best teams deal with adversity the same way they deal with success.  The Seljuqs flat out do not look like they are having fun out there and though a lot of the fun comes from winning, this team performs best when everyone is on a high.  They’ve been given lifeline after lifeline with teams above them stumbling, and they need to capitalize.  All this team needs is a result going their way to get back in order and continue riding high.  The good news is that All Star and cutie patootie heartheartOmer Dhadukheartheart is back in the fold and ready to rip.  The Seljuqs face two teams sitting smack dab in the middle of the pack this week in the Ottomans and the Nasrids.  Both these opponents have been running hot-and-cold this season, and the Bulls will hope that they can capitalize with a pair of wins.

 

OTTOMANS (vs Seljuqs 5:15PM BW1 & vs Sultans 6:45PM BW1)

The Ottomans have been on a torrid run ever since their first week debacle. Now though, that humiliation seems to be a distant memory as the last three weeks have seen the Turks go 5-0-1. Their offence seems to have finally come alive as they put up league leading 21 XBH and almost doubled their season hit count this past week. The youngest Merchant, Rizvan, seems to have silenced all his critics as he leads the league in average at the halfway mark. Imran Merchant, Faheem Kotwal, AR and Kashif Irshad seem to have come out of their respective slump and put up strong performances this past Sunday. Abdullah Akhtar and Zia "Doc" Beg remain the Ottomans’ lynchpins as they look to continue their strong run. And we cannot leave out that GM Taha Iqbal continues to lead by example by putting up comparable numbers to his otherworldly season at the plate last year.  The Ottomans are the only team to have beaten both the Mughals and Ayyubids, the two top ranked teams.  The Ottomans face Seljuqs for the first time this season and will hope to inflict further agony on the downtrodden Bulls.  The Turks will face Sultans in the nightcap who are also struggling to stay out of the relegation zone. Two wins this Sunday could see the Ottomans move in to top two. and (hopefully) shut the critics up for good.

 

There's less than forty eight hours to go before first pitch - let's get out there and play some ball. 


Week 4 Rumours

[written by: Hamid Malik, Hassan Chaudhary, Riyad Ramjaun, Zain Khilji & Hashim Ghazi]

With the first trimester of the season now in the books, we...really have no idea where anyone stands?  The League dropped their first midseason podcast of the year reviewing the season thus far, and the growing sentiment remains to be that it is too early to jump to conclusions because there is a lot of softball still to play.  Season 6 stands as the lengthiest BSL season to date (18 games total), and with more games remaining than ever before, it's probably best that we let the games decide who's hot and who's not (and to tell 'em who rocks and who sells out in stores). That makes this week's matchup all the more intriguing, as we commence four straight weeks of softball before our next long-weekend break in August.

Let's see what the rumour mill is churning out heading into this Sunday.  

 

MAMLUKS (vs. Seljuqs 2:00PM BW1 & @ Ottomans 3:30PM BW2)

After the first 2 weeks of the BSL season, the Mamluks were winless. Injuries had caused certain instrumental players to bow out and the team was in a slump that did not seem to have an end in sight. That's when the team's braintrust orchestrated a momentous, but fair, trade in which they got a full-time pitcher in Ibrahim Sardar, two strong outfielders in Ismail Akhter and Mohsin Zubair and a man set on re-writing his entry in the BSL almanac in Saoud Ramjaun. While it was a risk, a change was undoubtedly needed. The team lined up on Week 3 finally with some semblance of an identity after filling holes with quick solutions every week. The results proved merit to the trade with the Mamluks going undefeated by tying a heavily contested game against the Sultans and besting the high-powered offence of the Nasrids. Now with some momentum, the Mamluks will be looking to move on up. Although, in typical Mamluks fashion, their lineup remains unpredictable as rumors have it that their ambitious GM Hassan Chaudhry is on vacation while their newly added pitcher, Ibrahim, is also away.  Here’s to hoping the quick plugging of holes can keep the ship afloat until they are back to full strength.

 

SELJUQS (@ Mamluks 2:00PM BW1 & vs. Ayyubids 3:30PM BW1)

The Seljuqs were riding high to start the season and now find themselves as low as can be.  Two come-from-behind victories in week 1 showed that the demons that plagued this team last year, specifically not being able to dig themselves out of a hole, had been exorcised.  However, six games in, they may be a little too good at digging themselves out of holes because they seem to find themselves in one every game.  Though it doesn’t help that the team has played five of six games on unforgiving Birchwood 2, the issue remains the same: the Bulls cannot afford to start games from behind any longer.  Chasing a lead adds further pressure, and though the team is full of guys capable of handling that pressure, nobody is able to do it every week.  That sort of pressure generates stress-induced at-bats, errors in the field and having to force the game versus letting it come to you.  This week’s first trimester podcast summed it up best – if this team had a few bounces go their way, you would be looking at a 4-2 team with not a worry in the world.  The Seljuqs have been their worst enemy by shooting themselves in the foot to start games, and if it keeps going that way, we may see the ‘juqs sitting on the sidelines come September (again).  Though it may be too early to label any game a “must win”, the matchup against the Mamluks is as close to that as it comes.  The Seljuqs then have the pleasure of facing the league leading Ayyubids in game two.  And to make matters worse, the boys in red will be shorthanded, with BSL heartthrob heartheartOmer Dhadukheartheart unavailable this Sunday.  Management remains confident in the team ability to go 2-0 over the weekend given the depth of the squad though – let’s see if they are up to the task.

 

OTTOMANS (vs. Ayyubids 2:00PM BW2 & vs. Mamluks 3:30PM BW2)

The Ottomans are currently ranked fourth in the league as they have 3 wins in 6 games. Not a bad start but we all know they’d love to have that game back against the Abbasids, where they put up a mere three runs on 8 hits to a team that hadn’t won a game since 2017. The only time your defence is not lauded for holding an opponent to four runs in softball is when you manage to score three. It’s okay though – sometimes things just don’t go your way and other times they do. The following game, the Ottomans woke up and stole a game from the Mughals as rookie sensation Abdullah Akhtar saved the game with an incredible diving grab in centre. The play of Rameez Siddiqi and Abdullah has been key to the Ottomans early success and has helped them stay afloat in the standings; it’s time for the rest of the boys to pick it up if they want to be recognized as one of the better teams. Most teams are starting to figure out their chemistry and move up the ranks, so if the Ottomans bats don’t heat up soon, they could drop in the standings –  the hungry Abbasids only trail them by a point. GM Taha Iqbal has had a great start to the season, and it’s up to him to fire up his squad and get more production from his men.  The Turks men will have their work cut out for them this Sunday as they go up against the best team in the league, Ayyubids and the back-from-the-dead Mamluks.  The Royal Blues have the potential to be one of the top teams this year but it will require hard work and consistency. If everyone can collectively step their game up, the Ottomans are a scary bunch.

 

AYYUBIDS (@ Ottomans 2:00PM BW2 & @ Seljuqs 3:30PM BW1)

The Ayyubids keep on rolling with 3 more points last game week that led them to atop the standings. What’s most to be noted is that Jibran Waqar is back…in black. Four homeruns on the day to go with 10 RBIs; now the squad is firing on all cylinders. If the Ayyubids are able to preserve the play of multiple guys having career years, we might see records being broken in BSL year 6. For a team whose logo is a brother with a shield, these guys are smacking it, Captain America style, and have scored a league best 86 runs. The most dangerous stat about them is their extra base hit tally which is currently at 33. The 2B stat filter is dominated by the Ayyubids repping the top 7 spots. Shoaib Gaya was seen using the filter to make his name appear on the first page (not true…maybe). Although they have been the best offensively, their defense is not too bad either, but perhaps that is their focus going into this week. They play a set of teams sitting in the middle of the standings this week that could prove to be a handful. If the Ayyubids still have some of that [redacted] they used in previous weeks, they will have the advantage. The career years must continue!  

 

SULTANS (vs Abbasids 5:15PM BW2 & vs Mughals 6:45PM BW2)

Oh, the Sultans…can ANYONE understand this team?  On paper, they should be destroying the league given their big bats, the play of their rookies and the resurgence of some vets, yet the Stallions can’t seem to find their groove.  Their four rookies (Khuram Channa, Shawn Narine, Owais Noori & Basil Jeelany) are hitting a combined .423 while contributing in all facets of the game, while their 6th round pick has seen a resurgence like never before seen, as Faisal “King” Khan has exploded for 6 homeruns and 15 RBIs in 6 games this season.  Khan has attributed his success this year to having an omelet before each game (although we suspect he was having that omelet all other seasons anyways).  GM Shamil Khadaroo has also been in a slump and seems to be over thinking his play, both offensively and defensively.  All this really means is that the Sultans are right on track to repeat as champions.  Last year at this time, they had a record of 2-6 and ended up winning the whole thing, so it’s only a matter of time until Sham and his crew turn things around.  Week 4 will see the men in white have a rematch against the Mughals (a team they tied last time around) and a revamped Abbasids team who are hungry to build on their success last week.  Usually a team would say anything less than 2 wins would be unacceptable, however, by losing the 2 games this coming week, the Sultans will be exactly where they were a year ago and right on track to repeat as champions.  

 

ABBASIDS (@ Sultans 5:15PM BW2 & vs Nasrids 6:45PM BW1)

After finding themselves winless in the first two weeks (or the past 22 months, if you really want to go there), the Abbasids had enough of the losing culture and worked out a blockbuster deal with the only other team winless thus far in the season, the Mamluks. I guess that was all it took to jump start the Orangemen as the boys came out surprising everyone with a pair of Ws in week 3. That’s right, the Abbasids actually won not just 1, but 2 games in a row, and in doing so, moved out of the basement and into fifth place. Ahmad Ammad had a career best 5 walks on the day while the rest of the new guys, Hamid Malik, Yousaf Chaudhry and Zayd Ramjaun batted a combined .500 and held it down on defense. Not bad huh?  However, lost in the charm of the new acquisitions was the performance of Mo Kala and Atif Akhtar, who provided some crucial hits on the weekend that were key to the side notching up the pair of victories.  It looks like like the Abbasids are starting to turn it around, and the shakeup has led to the exact sort of result GM Bilal Javed was hoping for. Next up in the cross hairs are the Sultans, where we will finally get to see the much anticipated Malik vs. Malik showdown.  Both brothers have had a slow start to the season and are looking to have a breakout game sooner rather than later.  Could this be the week? Let the best Malik win.  The Lions follow up the Malik bowl with a date against the impressive Nasrids.  Were the last two wins just a result of the new honeymoon phase or are these guys now for real? Stay tuned. 

 

MUGHALS (vs Nasrids 5:15PM BW1 & @ Sultans 6:45PM BW2)

The Badshahs return from the break looking to avenge their first loss of the season with a full squad in two this coming Sunday.  With pitcher Riyad Ramjaun struggling in week 3 (10 walks against the Seljuqs!!!), it was the defense and some timely hitting that prevailed and got them the win.  They would not be so lucky in game 2 against the Ottomans, losing a tightly contested affair by three runs after allowing four errors in the field.  With the return of Shaheen Limbada, Saad G & Asad Moten, the Mughals will look to erase those errors and right the ship to take both games this week.  Week 4 will have the Mughals play the Sultans in a rematch of the season opener in which the teams tied.  The second game of the day will pit the Mughals against the Nasrids, a team that they have not yet faced this season but have proven to be dangerous as always.  Rumour has it that a few Mughals spent the week off in Disneyland, and the team is hoping that the much-needed time off will settle everyone down.  The goal for the Badshahs remain the same as always; regular season success is nice but gearing up for a deep playoff run is the main goal with the ultimate prize being the championship.  #TAKEFROMTHEMEVERYTHING #GIVETHEMNOTHING

 

NASRIDS (@ Mughals 5:15PM BW1 & @ Abbasids 6:45PM BW1)

Polar Opposites.  Night & Day.  Black & White.  Take your pick on which term best describes the Spaniards this season.  Week 3 saw the Nasrids go winless with 33 hits total on the day.  The only issue with that was 82% of their hits came in in their first game.  Against the Ayyubids, the Nasrids saw everyone hit, including 3 big homeruns, while in the second half of the doubleheader, 6 of the boys in grey went hitless.  This type of inconsistency has to be driving GM “Sir” Nirvaan Latif mad; maybe it was the heat?  Maybe it was the food waiting?  Or maybe it’s the lack of “ooohhhhh yeaaaa ooohhhhh yeaaaa ooohhhhh yeaaaas” in game 2 by the GM?  Either way, the Nasrids are still one of the top teams in the league and sit in third place.  The Nasrids always seem to know who to draft when it comes to rookies, as it looks like they have found a gem in ROY candidate (and dare we say sleeper MVP candidate) Safwan Khan.  Safwan has led the league in batting average from the get-go and has continued his onslaught of the league, batting a league leading .750 thus far.  Unfortunately for the Nasrids, their bottom of the lineup needs to step up in a big way.  As is the case in all championship teams of the past, you will only go as far as your bottom takes you.  Although talented, some of the Spaniards need to provide more consistency for this team to challenge for a championship.  This week, the Nasrids will face an always dangerous Mughals team followed by an equally dangerous Abbasids team (this writer will admit, he never thought Abbasids & dangerous would be written in the same sentence).  Take both these teams lightly, and the Nasrids will fall back to the middle of the pack; 2 wins though could vault this team back to the top.  Only time will tell.


Finally, the boys of brotherhood are back on Birchwood this balmy Sunday - play ball.


Week 3 Rumours

[written by: Aamir Husainy, Ibrahim Sardar, Hamid Malik, Riyad Ramjaun, Taha Iqbal, Zain Khilji, & Hashim Ghazi]

Now two weeks in, things are starting to take shape a bit in BSL VI. The Mughals, Ayyubids and Nasrids have looked like the cream of the crop, while the Abbasids and Mamluks are battling it out for the role of the cream of the not.  It remains to be seen as to whether the Lions and Gangreen are toast or whether they can turn it around.  Meanwhile, teams like the Sultans, Ottomans and Seljuqs have shown two contrasting identities thus far - perhaps this weekend solidifies which side of these teams is real and which is fluke.  

After a successful campaign by the Ayyubids for SMILE Support Services, the Seljuqs will be raising funds for their charity of choice Islamic Relief Canada.  Be on the lookout for more information from your GMs on how you can contribute to the cause come gameday. 

Rumours.  Week Three.  Let's go.  

 

OTTOMANS (@ Abbasids 2:00PM BW1 & @ Mughals 3:30PM BW2)

Writing off the Ottomans after week 1 was never a good idea. Week 2 saw the Turks roar back into contention with two solid performances. While the offense flexed their muscles in the first game against the Sultans, we saw a defensive masterclass in the second game against the Nasrids. Rookie sensation Abdullah Akhtar is off to a flying start and is responsible for almost half of the team’s RBIs. Zia "Doc" Beg has been on point with his pitching as well, keeping the Nasrids and Sultans’ powerhouses to a combined 17 hits over 14 innings this past Sunday. The Ottomans will have a stiff challenge this week as they’re expected to be without their lynchpin, Rizvan Merchant. This week the Ottomans face a pair of franchises on opposite ends of the spectrum, but will have to heed caution to whoever their opponent is to make up for their rough week one results. The Abbasids’ showed signs of finally coming out of their slump and will give Ottomans a run for their money in the first game of the day. Also, Mughals have steamrolled their opponents thus far and they’d go in to their matchup against Ottomans as favorites if they’re anywhere close to being full-strength this Sunday. 

 

ABBASIDS (vs Ottomans 2:00PM BW1 & @ Seljuqs 3:30PM BW1)

On the heels of an embarrassing loss, the Abbasids gutted out a hard fought tie after finding themselves down 12-0 in the evening game last week that may be what they needed to reignite the orange flame. The resilient comeback was exactly what the doctor ordered for a franchise on a 20-game winless run dating back to 2017. But don't throw that stat out to the veteran leaders in this group. Mohamed "Sponsor" Kala, Arshad "Archie" Chawdhry, and Atif "Snoop" Akhtar are leading by example with their all-around efforts. The problem for the Lions has been the slow (and perhaps, unlucky) start the top of the order has endured during the 2019 campaign. Ismail Akhter is poised for his breakout game of the season as it seems he may be taking Pakistan's disappointing Cricket World Cup results to heart. Despite stalling out the gates, the boys remain upbeat about the task at hand and remain as confident as ever in turning the fortunes of this franchise around. Just ask Ahmed "AB" Butt who seems to have finally found the right swing mechanics and seems like a totally different player at the plate (Masha 'Allah). The team is excited to welcome Sameer Rafique back into the lineup after he missed last week's games camping out at Nathan Phillips Square for the Raptors Championship Parade. A couple of 2-2 teams await in the Ottomans and Seljuqs in what is shaping up to be a pivotal weekend at the early stages of the season with a bye week to follow. The Abbasids have the depth and belief to defeat both teams, especially after a lackluster offensive effort against the Bulls in week 1 still fresh on their minds.

 

SELJUQS (@ Mughals 2:00PM BW2 & vs Abbasids 3:30PM BW1)

It was all good just a week ago.  The Seljuqs were riding high after a 2-0 start to the campaign, only to see the buzz get wiped out with an 0-2 performance in Week 2.  It is tough to assess what exactly went wrong, but clearly something did.  Look for the Bulls to focus on what they did well in Week 1 to bounce back versus focusing on what went wrong in Week 2.  The defense looked impressive this past Sunday, with Omer Dhaduk and Umair Jabbar making plays all over the field to keep their opponents within striking distance.  Also, Umer Jabbar showed up in midseason form after hitting two huge homeruns on the day; his power in the bottom of the lineup will no doubt be an asset for the side going forward.  Of concern lies the health of their players, with half of the team showing some kind of injury by the end of the day Sunday.  Here's to hoping the squad fitness is up to par this Sunday with a two week lay-off looming in the distance.  The team hopes to welcome back shortstop Kamil Haider this week after he was unavailable last week to witness the birth of his third child (priorities, Kamil – come on).  The boys in red face a tough task in game one against the league leading Mughals, and then face an Abbasids side hungry for their first win on the season.  Though it's still early in the season, this is as close to a "make it or break it" weekend as can be, and count on these Bulls to charge forward at full speed.

 

MUGHALS (vs Seljuqs 2:00PM BW2 & vs Ottomans 3:30PM BW2)

Entering week 3, the Mughals stand as the only remaining undefeated team and, in the process of doing so, now have a large target on their backs.  Week 2 saw the Badshaahs dismantle the Abbasids and hang on for a win against the always dangerous Ayyubids, and Week 3 doesn’t get any easier.  Although the Mughals took care of business in Week 1 against the Ottomans, the Turks have bounced back themselves and will be dangerous come Sunday.  In game 2, the Mughals will face the Seljuqs who, if taken lightly, will make you pay.  The Mughals have been winning games this year on the backs of both their offense and defense.  Offensively, the team is a juggernaut with quality bat after quality bat in the lineup and is a nightmare for any opposing pitcher.  Week 2 also proved those naysayers questioning why the reigning playoff MVP was taken first overall, as Shaheen Limbada was voted as a star of the week after going 6/7 (with a controversial error call stopping him from a perfect day at the plate), hitting 2 homeruns driving in 7 RBIs.  If you ask his pitcher Riyad Ramjaun though, he will tell you that it’s Slim's defense that is the real star, as Shaheen routinely make highlight catch after highlight catch.  Unfortunately for the men in blue, Shaheen will not be available to play this week, and instead will rely on the next man up to ensure that things don't go awry in his absence.  In other Mughals news, Asad Moten has been a revelation at 1st base and saw his first homerun of the season called off due to the team maxing out the HR differential – sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing.  This was karma in its purest form, as Asad opted to keep the neon shorts at home in exchange for extremely fitted baseball pants with no socks (Editor's note: that's disgusting). The team held an intervention and are hoping that he reverts to the shorts for the remainder of the season, but if this is the only concern a team has, things seem to be going just fine.  

 

SULTANS (@ Mamluks 5:15PM BW1 & @ Ayyubids 6:45PM BW2)

The Sultans are back in business. With Faisal "Big Fai" Khan making some new deals with the homerun fence and enhancement supplement suppliers (NOT TRUE!), we could start to see the Sultans climb back to the top where they sat all off-season as reigning champs – something GM Shamil Khadaroo refuses to allow the League (and everyone else he knows for that matter) to forget. The Sultans had their best game in their only win this season and have put up a competitive run total by League standards. However, the defense has allowed too many runs for them to chase. On the bright side, Owais Noori has shown that he can flash some leather at short and with a reliable glove in outfield in Omer ‘Payn’ Chaudhary, the Sultans will look to fire on all cylinders and gain momentum in the standings this week. We don’t need to mention the added threat of Shahzad 'Shaz' Ahmed. The rookies have really rounded off the team in all aspects, particularly Basil Jeelany on the mound, and there is no reason to believe they won’t challenge to successfully repeat. They have a complete team and have what it takes to compete – let’s see what week 3 has in store against the Mamluks and Ayyubids.

 

MAMLUKS (vs Sultans 5:15PM BW1 & @ Nasrids 6:45PM BW1)

Two weeks in the books and the Mamluks have yet to win a game. The (sort of) silver lining this week was a tie against the Abbasids, but there is no reason the Mamluks should be celebrating that result after giving up should have lost that game after being up 12-0. They let the Abbasids crawl back into the game and before we knew it, game was tied as the final inning was called. For the boys in green, they’re still a little sluggish after the long offseason but we’re starting to see guys wake up and swing the bat with confidence. Suleman Mann was huge in his BSL debut going 5/7 with a homerun and an impressive display in the outfield. Add in the fact that Yousaf Chaudhry makes his long-awaited return to the team next week, things are looking up for the Green Machine. Imran Qureshi, Umair Wasim, Salman Ahmad and Hamid Malik have left a lot to be desired in their starts to the season, but it's only a matter of time before these guys shake off that rust and start contributing to their full potential. The Malik brothers face off against one another for the first time in BSL history when the Mamluks oppose the Sultans (which also features a Choudhry brother battle). Both teams are confident in their Malik-Chaudhry duo but only time will tell which pair gets the last laugh. Another bright spot has been the play of Zayd Ramjaun, who made his GM look good with a great day at the plate after being moved up in the order. Saqib Khokhar and Arslan Shahid both continue to impress as they have been consistent at the plate and in the infield. The Mamluks do not be given any favours as the rematch of the finals last year is followed up by a date with the Nasrids. The Mamluks may be second last in standings for now but, so were the St. Louis Blues at one point, and if we remember correctly, they just won the Stanley Cup. Any team in this League has what it takes to win it all and can get hot at any given moment. Look for the Mamluks to start heating up in the coming weeks as we move into a much anticipated week 3.

 

NASRIDS (@ Ayyubids 5:15PM BW2 & vs Mamluks 6:45PM BW1)

The Nasrids are coming off week 2 with a split that still leaves a sour taste in the Spaniards mouth. In their first game against the Seljuqs, the Nasrids came back against the Seljuqs on an Asad Syed walk-off homerun. However, in their second game of the afternoon, the Nasrids were stifled and only able to put up four runs. No blame goes to early rookie-of-the-year favourite Safwan Khan though, as he continues to light up the league; Saf was finally recorded out and sees his average drop to a very disappointing 0.929 – the slump in Khan's form has GM Nirvaan Latif considering moving him to the bottom of the lineup or maybe even asking him not to show up anymore given his detrimental form (note: sarcasm). Moving forward, the Nasrids will need a little more production from the bottom of the order to continue progressing upwards. That being said, we do expect some regression to the mean as Nirvaan's numbers will surely improve. Additionally, the Nasrids boast a solid defensive unit and are likely itching to get back onto the field to try and reclaim the top spot in the standings. Week 3 pins them against the Ayyubids in a primo matchup, while the second game features a rematch of their week one opponents in the Mamluks. It should be a fun week 3, and will give some insight about how the standings will shape up. When assessing who are the real contenders and who are the pretenders, we expect the Nasrids to emerge as the former.

 

AYYUBIDS (vs Nasrids 5:15PM BW2 & vs Sultans 6:45PM BW2)

The boys in black continue to roll thanks to a balanced team picking their spots against worthy opponents.  In fact, things have looked so good for the Kurds that there has been no talk of the biggest story not making headlines thus far.  What on earth is going on with Jibran Waqar? Does he only possess superpowers wearing green-and-yellow? Has the loss of "the Regulator" in his corner really damaged his drive to win? What are we missing here? Jibs is batting a paltry 0.375 on the season.  Or, to put more specifically, Jibran Waqar has a worse batting average than Hashim Ghazi on the season. Wow. Yikes. Oolti. That is a cause for concern.  Not a cause for concern though is how Michael Arlitt is stepping up for the Ayyubids.  Mike had a perfect day on the field last Sunday which earned him player of the week honours.  With news that Arlitt is not missing a single game this season, GM Umair Sheikh must love what his centre fielder is bringing to the table week-after-week.  The Ayyubids have two home games this week on Birchwood 2 against power-heavy teams in the Sultans and the Nasrids. Look for the homerun differential to be an ally of the Kurds in these evening matchups against two of the better sides in the League.  


Week 3 goes live in just over forty eight hours. See you at the Birch on Sunday.  


Week 2 Rumours

[written by: Aamir Husainy, Hamid Malik, Hassan Chaudhary, Riyad Ramjaun, Taha Iqbal, Zain Khilji, Zuhair Fancy & Hashim Ghazi]

After the masses draped in red and black took to the streets last night to celebrate the Seljuqs going 2-0 to start the season the Raptors winning the NBA Finals, we likely have a number of groggy players and supporters finding anything they can to make the day go by quicker.  What better way to kill a few minutes than to indulge in this week's rumours?  Opening week had a number of surprises, but the energy on the field from opening pitch to the final out on the day remained high as the boys of summer were back on Birchwood. 

Thank you to all those that came out to support our fundraising campaign opening weekend, and we look forward to your further support as teams begin their individual initiatives to support their charities.  This week, the Ayyubids will be selling Popeye's and raffling off four Father's Day gift baskets, all in an effort to raise funds for their charity of choice SMILE Support Services.  Please show your support! 

We also unfortunately have another transaction to report featuring the Mamluks: W K of the Mamluks has withdrawn due to injury, and the Mamluks have picked up Suleman Mann (of BSL Nights) off waivers to replace him.  We wish W K a swift recovery and welcome Suleman to the League. 

And now, it's time we give the people what they want - here is week two's instalment of the rumours. 

 

OTTOMANS (@ Sultans 2:00PM BW1 & vs Nasrids 3:30PM BW1)

The Ottomans were one of three teams that went winless opening weekend. One may look at the outcome of the games and think it may be a long season; however, if one truly looked at the performance of the Ottomans in the season opening week, there are still a lot of positive signs to observe. The team played decent, if not spectacular, defense. Rizvan Merchant manned the shortstop position rather smoothly, and also contributed immensely at the plate. However, same cannot be said for much of the other players, specifically the heart of the lineup. Don't sound the alarm yet though, as talents like Kashif Irshad and Faheem Kotwal can only be held down for so long. These are guys with proven track records and a penchant for being more than able to contribute on both ends of the game. We anticipate a solid bounce back from the squad, especially given the way newcomers Imran Choudhry, Usman Ali and most notable Abdullah Akhtar swung the bat. In an interesting week two matchup, the Turks face the reigning champ Sultans who too are looking for their first win of the season. They then match up with the Nasrids who looked like the best team out the game this past week. Both matchups bring their own challenges and could really act as a fulcrum for where the Ottomans are headed.

 

SULTANS (vs Ottomans 2:00PM BW1 & @ Seljuqs 3:30PM BW2)

Though the Sultans went winless to start the season, they have no reason to shed an ounce of concern yet. The team went up against two of the favoured teams going into the season and came away with a close loss and a tie. Also, as we are sure the Sultan brass will tell you, who really cares about the regular season?  The Stallions had an up-and-down campaign throughout the summer last year, and even faced the risk of missing the playoffs entirely but for a game-winning homerun by Omer "The" Chaudhry on Super Sunday. And things ended up just fine for them – you know, if fine means winning the championship. So do you think these guys will be worried after a winless weekend? In June? Really? Nah, the Sultans just had a bit of title-defense fatigue. The winless record will not last, but you know what probably will? Reigning MVP Shahzad Ahmed's continued assault on neon-yellow spherical objects on Sundays. Shaz came out with a 0.625/2 HR/7 RBI weekend for the white knights, and with a little more help from his championship-winning teammates, those numbers will translate into some Ws. Rookies Khuram Channa, Owais Noori and Basil Jeelany had admirable debuts to their BSL careers with a collective 0.524 AVG/11 H/3 RBI on the weekend. The Sultans have a chance to right some wrongs in the afternoon games this week, facing a pair of teams on opposite ends of the spectrum (for now) in the undefeated Seljuqs and the only-defeated Ottomans. Let's see which side of the spectrum the Sultans fall on come Sunday.

 

SELJUQS (@ Nasrids 2:00PM BW2 & vs Sultans 3:30PM BW2)

Opening weekend could not have gone much better for the men in red, white and black. Midway through game one, the Seljuqs found themselves down 9-0 against a highly touted Mamluks. That's when the bats woke up, and put seven up through some timely hitting from everyone. Shortly thereafter, the defense shifted gears and Hamza "the Kid" Waheed dialed in on the mound; in turn the Seljuqs only gave up one more run and scored a total of fifteen themselves to win 15-10. Showing that sort of character so early in the season is all team management could ask for. Game 2 was a reverse of Game 1, with the Seljuqs taking the lead early and clamping down thereafter to stifle the opposing Abbasids to four runs to come out on top 10-4. This week the team will be facing the big bats of the Nasrids and Sultans. However, the Seljuqs showed that they are a team of depth. While the power hitting of Omer Dhaduk and Umair Jabbar is well-documented, Zain Khilji showed his lean build consists largely of muscle, as his hits were going the distance to the tune of eight ribbies. Consistency from the rest of the order never gave the opposing team's defense any rest, which was further amplified by a pair of menacing bats at the bottom of the order in Hasan "Desert Storm" Afzal and Tausif "Toffee/Tausty/THE DRIP/Hurricane" Hussain putting their talents on full display. This team runs 12-deep and rides into its week two matchup brimming with self-belief – we'll see if it's a lucky start or the real deal come 5PM this Sunday. 

 

NASRIDS (vs Seljuqs 2:00PM BW2 & @ Ottomans 3:30PM BW1)

Opening Weekend of BSL Season 6 is in the books and the Nasrids are one of three teams off to a perfect start. While the Nasrids’ offense has always been their strong suit, their pitching is what started really had on point this past Sunday. Tanseer "Robocop" Khawaja was up to his old tricks and after week 1, he has the lowest WHIP amongst eligible pitchers. The Nasrids’ seems to have put together an elite defensive team as well as they did commit a single error. Their offense was led by their rookie Safwan Khan who went 5-5 and was declared one of the stars of the week. What's scary is that the superstar Spaniards did not show even a glimpse of their best form and the team still racked up a pair of convincing wins. You would expect these juggernauts to truly come alive this week, putting up numbers commensurate with their talent and record, and furthering their initial hold on the top of the standings. In week two, the Nasrids’ meet two team with very contrasting start to their season. The Seljuqs’ too are coming off a perfect start, which is not something that they’re accustomed to. On the other hand, the Ottomans have had the worst possible start to the season, losing both their opening games.

 

AYYUBIDS (@ Mamluks 5:15PM BW1 & @ Mughals 6:45PM BW1)

The Ayyubids got their season off to a strong start with wins over reigning champ Sultans and perennial contenders Ottomans on Opening Weekend. The first win showed resilience as they scored 10-runs over the final two frames for a comeback win, while the second featured a big start that carried them the rest of the way. The team did take a moment after the first win to acknowledge Neal Irfan and Zuhair Fancy who were part of the winless Abbasids squad last season – understandably both seemed overwhelmed with the sensation of winning a game. Week Two has them facing another pair of tough opponents in the Mamluks and Mughals. If they can get another strong performance defensively, where they made some mistakes but were able to recover, they will be in good shape. Both games will be on Birchwood Two so they'll have to tighten things up against some big bats they will be facing, as over the two games they will be against the top three homer run hitters in the L thus far. Aqib Khokhar did well as leadoff and Umair Sheikh did his job in the clean-up spot picking up 7 RBI. If they continue getting contribution throughout the line-up, then there is no reason to doubt them racking up another pair of wins.

 

MAMLUKS (vs Ayyubids 5:15PM BW1 & @ Abbasids 6:45PM BW2)

After a rough Opening Weekend, the Mamluks find themselves down 0-2 in the young season with a few unanswered questions. If that wasn’t bad enough, news just broke that W K will be withdrawing from the league due to injury. While wishing W K the best in his future endeavours, we welcome newcomer Suleman Mann to the Mamluks courtesy of BSL Nights. After losing two key players early in the season, it looks like the Mamluks will have to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to get back on track. Overall, the Mamluks had a below average start on the offensive end, with exception to Ahmad Ammad. As usual, Crazy did crazy things with his bat and kept the Mamluks in both of their games with a 6 for 7, 4 HR and 10 RBI Sunday. Saqib Khokhar and Arslan Shahid also had great starts to the season with some .500 hitting in the bottom of the lineup to keep the mill churning. Unfortunately, the rest of his squad cannot say the same, as the bats were a bit flat. However, the Green Machine are a confident bunch who will shake that offseason rust in no time. The cool demeanor of team's management style had a very calming effect on the squad, even under pressure. With a team first mentality, there is no way the Mamluks will stay down as there’s a lot of positivity to go around and enough opportunity for guys to step up on both ends of the field. Sleep on them at your own peril.

 

MUGHALS (@ Abbasids 5:15PM BW2 & vs Ayyubids 6:45PM BW1)

After opening weekend, the new look Mughals are one of four teams to remain undefeated; however, an intense affair that featured some controversy resulted that undefeated mark being a win and a tie as opposed to two wins. The Mughals look to be adding two more bats this week as Tamour Sheikh and Omar Khan make their Badshaah debuts. Meanwhile, the rest of the team look to be settling in, led by GM Owais Ansari who had 3 HRs himself last week. Faraaz Alvi and Ali Wadee have started the season with a bang, batting exceptionally well this past weekend, while Asad Moten and Furhan Azmat are proving doubters wrong with their exceptional play in the outfield. Riyad Ramjaun was stellar in his return to the mound in BSL, leading the league in Ks and ERA; however, this week will be a real test as he faces the top scoring team from last week in the Ayyubids. In the second game this week, the Mughals will take on the former face of the franchise, Zahid Merchant. Seeing Zahid in dark blue is still something most of the league needs to get used to and knowing Ziggy, getting that W against his former team is all he’s thinking about – it will be up to the Badshaahs to ruin his homecoming. Finally, as the majority of Birchwood heard, the Mughals are attempting a new pre-game hype chant. Some say it sounds like a bunch of dogs barking, while others think it's just loud grunting. In fact, the new team slogan is something most will remember after seeing the movie 300: take from them EVERYTHING and give them NOTHING. Regardless of what it sounds like, Papi will once again position his guys to go undefeated in Week 2.

 

ABBASIDS (vs Mughals 5:15PM BW2 & vs Mamluks 6:45PM BW2)

After two losses in their opening week, the Abbasids can't help but think if the franchise truly is cursed. However, with new management and a different squad, we will surely see a changed mentality on how they will respond in order to gain some leverage in the standings. The poor performance can be attributed to the lack of runs scored and the underwhelming batting stats of their top players. We don’t expect this continue at all and still rate the Abbasids as one of the top teams in the league. Drawing up a very balanced batting lineup last week, we are excited to see what changes management will or will not make. GM Bilal Javed has an abundance of talent to utilize in several combinations, but will need all twelve players to perform to their abilities. Of note is that the Abbasids announced that they will be cautious with veteran second baseman Atif Akhtar and had him sit out for opening day as he will be on a load management program. Look for him to sit out additional weeks as the season progresses to keep him fresh for the postseason. The team has all the right pieces to make a comeback against the Mughals and Mamluks this week. Zahid Merchant will have butterflies facing the only franchise he's ever known prior to this year, but the team knows what’s at stake if they lose focus – that should be enough for them to rue the results of last week (and last year, and the year before, and the year before that, and the…). Expect a big week from Ismail Akhter too as he is lining up against the shade of blue he's only ever worn in BSL only to feature on the a navy side this time around.

 

We're all set for week 2 to launch this coming Sunday.  See you then. 


Week 1 Rumours

[written by: Aamir Husainy, Hamid Malik, Hassan Chaudhary, Riyad Ramjaun, Taha Iqbal, Zain Khilji & Hashim Ghazi]

WE BACK. WE BACK. WE BIGGITY BIGGITY BIGGITY BACK. Season 6 of BSL is 48 hours away and we cannot WAIT to get back onto the field.  Birchwood is looking as crisp as it's ever looked, and we enter into S6 with a lot of new identities.  With five new GMs, a lot stands to see what these new-look franchises bring to the table.  Also, with so many "one-team players" taking up residence in new dynasties, it will be interesting to see whether the new surroundings better or batter their performances. 

We also have a transaction to report: A K of the Mamluks has withdrawn due to injury, and the Mamluks have picked up Arslan Shahid off waivers to replace him.  We wish A K a swift recovery and welcome Arslan back to the League. 

We will be hosting a day of fun on Opening Day that will feature food to indulge in and a number of activities for kids (including a live reptile show and free Henna - for the players asking whether they can get henna tattoos, the answer is no.  This isn't Wonderland in 1999, act your age please).  All proceeds raised from Opening Day will go to Islamic Relief - we look forward to you and your families attending! 

And now without further ado, here are the rumours for Week 1. 

 

ABBASIDS (@ Nasrids 2:00PM BW1 & vs Seljuqs 3:30PM BW2)

Enough has been said about the past of the Abbasids, but new GM Bilal Javed is not focusing on that.  Javed has assembled arguably the deepest and best team in the League, and according to this writer, stand as the favourites coming into the season.  The top five – Sameer Rafique, Ismail Akhter, Ibrahim Sardar, Zahid Merchant and Bilal himself – balances contact with power, and make up the core of their defense.  However, as every championship team will tell you, it's not your top that makes the difference, it's the bottom.  Javed hit some draft-day home runs in picks like Mohsin Zubair, Arshad Chawdhry and Mohamed Kala that will really take this team to the Promised Land.  These three play a huge role in establishing an elite defense that will hold leads and let their offense work without pressure.  The Abbasids will also lean on Sardi to man the mound like he did last year for the Nasrids, and allow former pitcher Ziggy to make an impact on other areas of the field.  The new-look Abbasids aren't focusing on the skeletons in the closet because to them, they have none.  The team is committed to looking ahead, not back, and drawing from their collective experience to propel forward and take the league by storm.  How the Lions get out of the gate will set the tone for their entire season, and they cannot wait to change the narrative surrounding the franchise starting this Sunday.

 

AYYUBIDS (@ Sultans 5:15PM BS1 & vs Ottomans 6:45PM BW1)

The new-look Ayyubids will feature some old and new this coming season.  Former GM Umer Jabbar elected to withdraw as GM of the side in an effort to focus his time to his role as a Board member, and in comes new GM Umair Sheikh.  Sheikh is no stranger to positions of leadership on the diamond, as he has played the role of manager for teams in other leagues and has always relished the opportunity to take charge when called upon in BSL.  With him comes Jibran Waqar – yes, you read that right.  White Man Can't Jibs will look a bit different in orange-and-black this year, but the man will continue to do what he does best on the diamond, which frankly is everything.  Umair had a fantastic draft, notably in nabbing arguably the best pitcher available in Ali Jabbar, and then arguably the best defensive outfielder available in Michael Arlitt.  He then went on to pick pieces that complement one another, taking some calculated risks in hopes of those bets leading to wins, most notably in nabbing second-year stud Aqib Khokhar.  Khokhar is a shortstop by trade and happens to have a bazooka for an arm.  With shortstop being held down by Waqar, Umair picked Aqib and slotted him in at third base.  Aqib has all the tools needed to be an elite 3B in the League, and this stroke of genius may be what bring the Kurds back to glory this season.  The Ayyubids feature in a tantalizing pair of matchups against the Mughals and Ottomans to open the season, and are confident in their chances to get two results on the good side of the ledger. 

 

MAMLUKS (@ Seljuqs 2:00PM BW2 & vs Nasrids 3:30PM BW1)

Coming in to 2019, the Mamluks have a brand new look as we get ready to welcome two old faces to the Mamluks management team, Hassan Chaudhry and Taher Mirza.  After another top-of-the-standings finish and trip to the finals, the Mamluks season ended in disappointment as they surrendered twelve runs in the final inning of the championship game despite being neck-and-neck with them from innings one through eight. Looking to avenge the loss will be the outfield duo – or is it shortstop-outfield duo? Pitcher-outfielder duo? Pitcher-shortstop duo? Who knows – of Hassan and Taher after former GM (and former pitcher, allegedly) Rizvan Merchant has packed his bags and headed to the Ottomans this year. Although the Mamluks fell short against the Sultans, they feel that they won't make the same mistakes again this year they drafted a strong team with a great defense to go along with it. The only knock on Mamluks that comes to mind is the uncertainty of their pitching as they are unsure of who takes the mound. Regardless of who draws the short straw, Gang Green will have plenty of help on defense as the outfield is full of quick guys with a chops to make big plays like W K, Yousaf Chaudhry, Hamid Malik, and Umair Wasim. There’s enough talent on this squad to keep opponents on their feet as Mamluks are pencilled in to finish the year in the top 3. Although that achievement won't be served to them on a silver platter, the Mamluks are confident as their preseason practices have focused on welcoming new players into the mix and building team chemistry. Captain Hassan has done a great job scheduling practices and working one-on-one with a lot of his teammates during the month of Ramadan in order to get ready for the upcoming season.  As long as they don’t get in their own heads, the Mamluks are looking to return with a vengeance and will not be satisfied with anything short of a championship.

 

MUGHALS (@ Ottomans 5:15PM BW2 & vs Sultans 6:45PM BW2)

The Mughals enter the 2019 BSL Season drastically different from past Mughals teams.  Specifically, the Mughals will, for the first time in their illustrious history, boast a new GM and in turn a new pitcher going into the season.  Rookie GM Owais “Big Papi” Ansari will look to cement himself in Mughals history by taking the franchise to the promise land in his inaugural season.  Big Papi in the middle of the lineup would make most pitchers quiver, but using early draft picks on big time hitters in playoff MVP Shaheen Limbada, Faraaz Alvi and Tamour Sheikh further add to the identity of the side as a power-laden offence.  The rest of the roster is rounded up by BSL veterans who know what it takes to win a championship and who bring the right attitude to each game.  The final piece of the puzzle this year will be the new Mughals pitcher, Riyad Ramjaun.  Riyad previously pitched in seasons 1 and 2 of BSL but has since not taken the mound.  Being a former Mughal himself, Riyad will look to channel his inner zigginess and hope he learned enough from Zahid Merchant to continue the Mughals winning ways.  On paper, the 2019 Mughals look to be possibly the greatest Mughals team ever assembled, but paper means nothing once the season starts and it’ll be up to the players to prove that the Badshaahs will rise once again.

 

NASRIDS (vs Abbasids 2:00PM BW1 & @ Mamluks 3:30PM BW1)

The Nasrids must be happy with all the events leading up to the long-awaited opening week of BSL 6. The roster is looking like one of the best (if not the best) in franchise history and are already positioned in eyes of many as the team to beat. Their first success was being able to sign GM ‘Sir’ Nirvaan Latif to another short-term contract extension and bringing the likes of perennial MVP candidate Osman Buttar along with him. Asad Syed then slotted perfectly into their first pick to round off the core. The Nasrids, however, will miss out on the talents of their 4-year star shortstop Usama Mahmood, who will not feature in BSL this season. The team has high hopes on rookie Safwan Khan to replace the Usama-sized hole at shortstop, who turned a lot of heads with his play in the position at BSL nights. To round off the noticeable Nasrids names is former Nasrids GM Kashif Waheed, who is most excited about getting to rock the grey jerseys after suffering in sand in years past. Among the "good" the Nasrids are taking into the season is the term "practice." Nirvaan has openly emphasized practice in their pre-season routine and rumour has it that Asad tried to implement a mandatory ‘100 hits a day’ until their first game…we wish him the best with that.  Sir Nirvaan also negotiated a trade that strengthens their outfield in acquiring Aazar Zafar. The team seems to have all the pieces, including a veteran pitcher in Tanseer Khawaja, to take them back to the finals they were so-close to winning a few years back. However, translating all that into wins is going to be the true test for the Spaniards.

 

OTTOMANS (vs Mughals 5:15PM BW2 & @ Ayyubids 6:45PM BW1)

The perennial juggernaut Ottomans return to Birchwood Park this year with an entirely new outlook. New GM Taha Iqbal and Imran Merchant have been teammates for most of their years in BSL, and are handed over the reins to continue the storied legacy of the Turks after Taha set the League ablaze for the squad last season. The Ottomans continued with their "new identity" approach in drafting former Mamluks GM Rizvan Merchant with their first round pick, and followed up with rookie-of-the-year candidate Abdullah Akhtar in round two.  This core locks up the left side of the field and demonstrates five-tool capabilities in spots one through four of the lineup.  The Turks peppered in some veterans and former teammates with the remaining picks of the draft, but had two questions facing them at the end of draft – who plays short and who pitches?  They addressed the latter with a draft day deal acquiring Zia Beg, who, in his rookie campaign, manned the mound for the Royals during the franchise's best regular season in history, but the who plays short remains to be seen. It is only appropriate that these new look Ottomans face the two franchises they have storied pasts with in the Mughals and Ayyubids.  The Mughals feature a number of core players from Ottomans teams of past, and this current Ottomans core has some ties to the Ayyubids – most notably Imran who is psyched at facing his former teammates and getting one up on them to start the year.

 

SELJUQS (vs Mamluks 2:00PM BW2 & @ Abbasids 3:30PM BW2)

Thanks to the informative GM podcast, we now know the Seljuqs name is pronounced Sell-Jooks, thanks to a little digging by team historian Zaid Ghansar and GM Umair Jabbar. What remains unknown is why the team's internal expectations do not match with external expectations. The Seljuqs were rarely mentioned by opposing GMs in their podcasts, if barely at all. However, the men that line up wearing the red, white and black that dreams are made of, know what they have in their locker, and in true Seljuq fashion, the team's unity, guided by their GM's voice which can be heard from Milton to Multan, remains unrivaled. These Seljuqs have certain similarities to the squad that so nearly ousted last-year's champions on the final weekend of the regular season. Namely, in addition to Umair, they bring back Omer Dhadhuk, Zain Khilji and the aforemented Ghansar, who offer immediate impact on both sides of the field. Hamza Waheed also returns from his sojourn in western Canada with a pitching game that is in full ascent. The new Seljuqs players add to the team's arsenal, with all-star and league darling Kamil Haider serving as shortstop. The icy-cool shortstop will be accompanied by Umer Jabber and Akif Waheed to fortify the team's infield. The outfield will be bolstered by a combination of Hassan Chaudhary (formerly of the champion Sultans), Hashim Ghazi (read: Hash), Tausif Hussain (rookie alert and dare we say sleeper pick?) and Hassan Afzal (read: Desert).  The mix of old and new will produce a product that surely will not be forgotten by GMs in future weeks. 

 

SULTANS (vs Ayyubids 5:15PM BW1 & @ Mughals 6:45PM BW2)

And here we are again. The grass has been freshly cut, the smell of hotdogs and burgers fills the early summer air, and the boys of Brotherhood Softball are back. And with that new beginning comes the commencement of the Sultans title defense in a year that features some new interesting changes. The Stallions continue to boast a strong core of GM Shamil Khadaroo, MVP Shahzad Ahmed and former OPOY Omer Chaudhry, but have lost some key pieces in last year's playoff MVP Shaheen Limbada (who was selected first overall) and elite shortstop Kamil Haider (who went eighth overall). How these changes will affect them will be interesting to monitor, but what will be even more interesting is what newcomers Owais Noori, Shawn Narine, and Basil Jeelany will bring to the League. Despite not a lot being known of these gentlemen prior to the draft, they preseason chatter has been on another level – basically, all three have been touted as rookie-of-the-year favourites by different people.  Shawn is a former MVP and can hang with the best of them.  Owais is a lethal bat.  Basil is the best pitcher-hitter combo in BSL.  A lot of praise in the direction of these guys will no doubt lead to some pressure as we await to see quotes stand as fact or folklore as the season progresses. The new look defending champs will be opening their season in the night portion of Sunday. They will be squaring off against the Ayyubids and Mughals, and there will be plenty of storylines to follow, including a matchup against their playoff MVP himself. Many questions loom: will the Sultans be able to overcome any potential falooda hangovers from last year? Will their matchup with the Mughals be a fairy tale like reunion? Will the established parity in the League pose a challenge for our reigning champs? Though no team has repeated as champs in the past, the Sultans are committed to changing that in 2019.

First pitch is set for 2PM on Sunday - season six couldn't come soon enough. 








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