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Week 9 (Super Sunday) Rumours

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

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

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

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

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

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