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:
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!