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Week 9 Recap

The 2016 regular season has come to an end. We bid farewell to the Abbasids and Nasrids and thank them for their contributions this season. Here is what happened in the final week of the regular season: 

Sultans v Mamluks:
 TheThe Sultans were looking to find their bats before the playoffs while the Mamluks were looking to keep their hot bats going. The Sultans promoted their bottom order to the top of the order while the Mamluks kept things the same as they jumped out to a 13-0 lead. The Sultans would finally rally for some runs late in the game but didn't have the firepower to come back. Hassan Chaudhry continued his remarkable season going 3-3 to claim the batting title.  
Final Score: Sultans - 7, Mamluks - 17
              Star of the Game - Hassan Chaudhry

Ottomans v Ayyubids: Both teams looked at this as a playoff warm up but one one team came away feeling ready for the playoffs. The Ayyubids trampled all over the Ottomans in a 15-2 encounter. The entire Ottomans lineup struggled with 4 guys going hitless including their big bats. The Ayyubids took a while to find their bats and put up 15 runs in the middle three innings. The Ottomans have some soul searching to do while the Ayyubids will feel they got their mojo back.  
Final Score: Ottomans - 2, Ayyubids - 15        Star of the Game - Ali Jabbar

Abbasids v Mamluks: WhileThe Abbasids found enough guys to put together a squad for Sunday's game and played off into the sunset. The Abbasids got homeruns from Kashif Irshad and Hammad Afif to lift their spirits but they couldn't keep up with the Mughals offense. The Mughals scored 13 runs in the first two innings to pull away. The entire Mughals batting lineup got a hit and built confidence going into the playoffs. After going 0-8 last week, Mohammad Ali Pasha responded this week going 3-3. The Abbasids had a few experiments and enjoy their last evening together.  
Final Score: Abbasids - 9, Mughals- 20       
 Stars of the Game - Mohammed Ali Pasha

Nasrids v Seljuqs: In the final regular season game, the Nasrids continued their disappointing season with another loss but atleast they had fun doing it. The Seljuqs were in playoff mode as they took nothing easy on their opponents. This game was done early with the Seljuqs up 13-3 after three and they continued to pile on the runs. Sameer Rafique took player of the game for some fine defensive plays and a 2-4 evening at the plate. 
Final score: Nasrids - 6, Seljuqs - 19      Star of the Game - Sameer Rafique

We head into the second season next week with playoff games on Saturday and Sunday. 

Week 9 Rumours

We have reached the end of the regular season, and for the first time in BSL history, it comes with little to no drama. All the playoff matchups are locked in as teams look to play for momentum heading onto the big stage next weekend. Here's what is on and popping in the final installment of the regular season rumours for 2016.


Sultans vs Mamluks - 4:00PM BW1

SULTANS
The Sultans have been the warhorses at BSL, just as their franchise logo suggests. They have come together with all the talent at their disposal to put in performances that have forced other teams to get dirty for their wins. Since the Ramadan break, the Sultans recorded 3 losses and 1 win but kept a differential of -5 which included a matchup against the high flying Mughals. The Stallions have managed to stay in games and position themselves to win, but have lacked that clutch hit or game saving play, though they have definitely impressed more than their record shows. We didn't forget the upset win over Ottomans, who they will meet in the post-season to prove they can do it again. But what about Tanseer "Robocop" Khawaja. Somebody check the brand of his battery and stock up because this guy is still on par with players in their prime. It seems he's got even better on mound and has start adding homers (4) to his BSL profile which critics would have never predicted, his value continuously rises. Shamil Khadaroo has also impressed in his rookie season and has contributed greatly to the squad's success (in making post-season). The Sultans close out the regular season against the league best Mamluks, which will give them a good run for when it will matter in the playoffs.

MAMLUKS
The great Mamluks met their fate last weekend which put an end to their 100% season and gave doubts to critics who already crowned them as champions. It’s clear that the team had a below par performance on paper, but it was raining homeruns there at Birchwood 2. The Green Machine put it over too many times and were punished by the homerun differential killing their momentum every inning. The post-season will in its entirety be played on Birchwood 1 which takes away from what happened last Sunday – the Mamluks are still the Mamluks and are still the favorites by far. Shahzad Ahmed and Omer Chaudhry seem like they can hit homers in their sleep while Jibran Waqar, Hassan Chaudhry, and Taher Mirza can play the field with their eyes closed. Rizvan Merchant has to try hard at the mound but he’s still pretty good at it. This is just a reminder how stacked this team is. They await either the Seljuqs and Ayyubids in the semis, while they will look to chalk up more homers in the last game of the season against the Sultans.


Ottomans vs Ayyubids – 5:30PM BW1

OTTOMANS
The Ottomans pull their way back up to third and lock it up with 2 ambitious victories last week. The ball club is known for their ability to keep their opponents in reach even when their bats aren’t clicking and wait for Rehan the Great to drive the bus home. Rehan Ahmad once again hits a walkoff homer to put his team in the W column in a game that was slipping away. The juggernaut will have his eye on the homerun title leading with 13, but only two ahead of the current runners up. The one-two punch of Rehan and Shaheen Limbada was once again seen on different ends of the order with Shoaib Gaya sweeping in between but we figure the Ottomans are experimenting for optimal results. A K has been standing the mound well and allowing his field to make the plays while he can focus more on chipping away at the plate at number 2. The Navy and Red are no doubt a dangerous team but most of their danger comes from Rehan and Shaheen as the lineup can be inconsistent at times, but their defense is where they make up for it. They take on the Ayyubids this week to charge up for the Sultans and avenge an embarrassing loss last time out.

AYYUBIDS
The Ayyubids suffered two losses and a huge blow on their way to the playoffs last weekend forcing them to take an early pit-stop and reroute through the Seljuqs and Mamluks to play for the cup. Star pitcher Ali Jabbar was allowed to take vacation days during these crucial games causing league viewers to point fingers at GM Umer Jabbar (who happens to be his brother). The other brother, Umair Jabbar, has been a leader for the team on and off the field with his performances and dedication, but all superstars must receive special treatment these days and pressure is on Umer to strike a balance. The blow definitely came from the mound last week, where Zain Khilji stood for both games. It’s not that he couldn’t pitch, it was more his mentality that he can be a Roy Halladay on his first outing with no practice. He also needs to control his emotions if he wants to pitch. This comes to show how valuable Ali is to the team especially after he pulled out 2 wins with an 8 player squad the week before. The Ayyubids bats have been very inconsistent this season – it’s either on or off with no between. Last week they had 17 hits verses the Seljuqs and 5 against the Nasrids. On their “on” days, this team can really play the long ball with 7 players going over the fence more than once this season. Umair leads with 7, while Khilji and Ahmad Ammad follow with four apiece. The Ayyubids will take on the Ottomans before the post-season and will look to gain some momentum against a quality team. Umair has to hit another homer to satisfy his 8 homer season quota.


Abbasids vs Mughals – 7:00PM BW1

ABBASIDS
The Abbasids had another rough season at BSL registering only two wins this season with one game remaining. Similar to the Nasrids, the team hosted some great talent but struggled to put in all-rounded team performances. They made the Sultans work for their win last week, bolstering a late rally that fell just short of a comeback. GM Ahmed Hussain will be upset with this season's results and will face a tough choice on who to bring back for the Lions. We can only assume he has already began to think about it. The question is whether he will look to put together another Expos team or change to safer strategy. The Abbasids will take on the Mughals to close their season and try to prove they should have made the playoffs. Last thing they want is to finish last and drive away their supporters and ticket sales.

MUGHALS
The Mughals came through with another pair of wins and made a bold statement last week that echoed…“D! J! ZAHID! WE DA BEST!” In the victory that gave them no real ground in the standings but meant no less than a must win playoff game, the Mughals came in with the tiger in their eyes, and fire in their veins. They showed the league the Mamluks can be beaten and how typical of the blues, beating them through club-made intangibles. The team is still sitting on cloud nine with enough high to perhaps reunite them with the BSL cup. The top order was unstoppable and the life of their bats must have taken a steep decline. Mohammed Ali Pasha enjoyed the free ride going 0 for 5 at the plate. Sorry, I guess he contributed on defense. But Ismail Akhter…this guy is a beast and he grew too big, too fast. Back at the draft, GMs questions if this guy could make routine plays and hit some green. Yeah, he doesn’t hit green because he’s hitting the brown of the rusted train tracks behind the fences at Birchwood. With 11 homers, the homerun title may just be out of reach but we know he can smash a couple a game. The Mughals take on the Abbasids in the last week of the season where they come with the same intensity to carry into the post-season. Someone’s gotta pour some ice water on these guys.


Nasrids vs Seljuqs – 8:30PM BW1

NASRIDS
The Nasrids won a game last week! Against the Ayyubids! Their rivals! We still wonder what this team could have been, but they still have plenty of talent to show. Bilal Javed, Nirvaan Latif and N K have put up great numbers at the plate this season and will all play important roles for their respective teams next year (insha’Allah) as Usama Mahmood and Osman Buttar are expected to core the Nasrids. There was a glimmer of hope to make the post-season coming into last week’s games having to win 3 of the 3 remaining games, but they fell short in the first against the Ottomans. Buttar’s batting average plummeted as fast as the Nasrids playoff hopes and management will be wary of what happens come next season. The Nasrids now play for dignity to prevent their dynasty from finishing last for 2 years in a row. They will play the Seljuqs who are on the rise and certainly expected to come out on top, but rumour has it the word forfeit is in the air as there is yet another family wedding approaching and hosting 6 of the 12 Nasrids players. The 2017 Nasrids will come out stronger with a definite change in strategy.

SELJUQS
The Seljuqs continued their strong form putting up two solid performances against a pair of top half teams in the Ayyubids and Ottomans. The Eagles have definitely been the most improved team at BSL and they are really showing they can compete with the bigger teams in the league. Taha Iqbal and Imran Merchant have been putting in work at the plate going for the long ball or settling for a single when they prefer. GM Ibrahim Sardar is the serenity of the ball club, letting the bat and glove make his statements and keeping all the hovering energy stable and in control. The team will find the Ayyubids in the first round of the post-season and will have to be at their best as the win won’t come as easy as the last. The angry birds welcome back Sameer Rafique to their mix to solidify their field and add some pop in the line-up. They take on the Nasrids in the last game of the season and will look to continue their success into the playoffs.


Week 8 Recap

In the penultimate week of the season, all the playoff spots were locked up. There were some tight games and some shocking upsets. Here is what happened: 

Nasrids v Ottomans:
 The Nasrid were looking to complete a miracle and squeeze into the playoffs but the Ottomans had other ideas. The Nasrids were held scoreless through 6 innings before they were able to get two in the final inning. The Ottomans came out slow but got a huge 7 run 4th that put the game out of reach. The Ottomans played small ball and came away with the victory. The Nasrids post season hopes officially came to an end. 
Final Score: Nasrids - 2, Ottomans - 12
              Star of the Game - Junaid Mirza - Click to watch POTG Video

Ayyubids v Seljuqs: Both teams came out with hot bats and broke a BSL record for combined runs scored in a game even though they only played 4 innings. Ayyubids jumped out to an early lead with a 7 run mercy but the Seljuqs replied with 5 of their own. The Ayyubids put up 6 runs in the final inning to go up 19-18 but the Seljuqs rallied with single after single to bring around the winning run to walk off with the winning run. Imran Merchant finished with with 4 RBIs including the game winner.
Final Score: Ayyubids - 19, Seljuqs - 22        Star of the Game - Imran Merchant

Nasrids v Ayyubids: While the Nasrids had nothing to play for, they wanted to be the spoilers to fellow family. They took on the Ayyubids and finally got their bats going. Down 4-1, the Nasrids rallied to score 10 runs in the 4th and 5th on big hits from the bottom of the order to give them the win. Taqi Ahmed and Asim Waheed came through in the second last game of the season. The Ayyubids with the two losses fall down to 4th while the Nasrids look to play spoiler again next week. 
Final Score: Nasrids - 12, Ayyubids- 6       
 Stars of the Game - Asim Waheed/Taqi Ahmed Click to watch POTG Video

Seljuqs v Ottomans: In a crucial match up for the standings, the Ottomans jumped out to an early 3-1 lead. The Seljuqs mounted a comeback in the 4th with a 6 run inning. The Turks replied back with another 6 run inning of their own capped off by a Shaheen Limbada homerun. The Seljuqs were down by 2 on their last out and rallied to take a 14-13 lead. The Ottomans got a man on with Rehan Ahmad up, who went yard to walk off with the victory and lock up third place for the Ottomans. 
Final score: Seljuqs - 14, Ottomans - 15      Star of the Game - Shaheen Limbada/Rehan Ahmad Click to watch POTG Video

Sultans v Abbasids
: In a do or die game for both teams, this game had the makings of a tight one all the way. The Sultans jumped out to a huge 8-1 lead through two innings on huge RBIs hits by Shamil Khadaroo but were blanked the rest of the way. The Abbasids mounted a late game comeback and found themselves down 4 in the final at-bat. Orange was able to get 3 across with the winning run on base with two outs for Omair Zuberi who popped up to end the game. The Sultans lock up a playoff spot with the win and the Abbasids once again finish at the bottom of the tables.  
Final Score: Sultans - 8, Abbasids - 7    
     Star of the Game -   Shamil Khadaroo

Mughals v Mamluks: In a huge matchup of first vs second, the Mughals found themselves down to 9 men while the Mamluks looked to continue their streak. The Mughals started off with a 4 run first on a grand slam by Ismail Akhter. The Mamluks however replied with 6 runs on 4 homeruns. The Mughals continued to tack on runs every inning while the Mamluks were only able to find another 4 runs in the 4th inning. The Mughals continued their small ball and shut down the Mamluks in the final 3 innings to get the win and break the streak. 
Final score: Mughals - 14, Mamluks - 10     
 Star of the Game - Zahid Merchant Click to watch POTG Video

Mamluks v Abbasids: In a meaningless game for both sides, the Mamluks were looking for vengeance after their first loss and took it out on the poor Abbasids. The Green machine put up back to back 7 run innings to put this game away. Omer Chaudhry and Shahzad Ahmed homered for the Mamluks who looked in cruise control. The Abbasids only bright spot on the day was striking out Mamluks top hitters. Apart from that, they didn't get any extra base hits. Both teams close out the season next week and the Abbasids will be looking for the soccer cleats to prepared for BISL.  
Final score: Mamluks - 21, Abbasids - 6    
 Star of the Game - Omer Chaudhry Click to watch POTG Video

Mughals v Sultans:
 The Mughals magic number was one coming into this game to lock up the second seed while the Sultans still had hopes of moving up the standings. This one turned into a pitchers dual as both teams had only scored 2 runs total through 4 innings and ironically it was both pitchers that scored those runs. The Mughals offense woke up in the 4th for 3 runs and then another 5 in the 7th on homeruns by Nadeem Hussain and Ismail Akhter. The Sultans rallied for a pair of runs in the 6th and 7th but it wasn't enough. Both teams advance to the playoffs but the Sultans will have to play a wild card game to make the semis.  
Final score: Mughals - 9, Sultans - 5   
 Star of the Game - Nadeem Hussain 

That wraps up week 8. The playoff match ups are all set with only the final regular season left as a dress rehersal. 

Week 8 Rumours

It’s the penultimate weekend of the regular season, and there remains to be a clear-cut second best team in the league. This weekend will all but settle who’s in and who’s out of the playoffs, but there is a lot left to play for in where positioning in concerned. Let’s see how each team is looking going into Week 8. 

Ottomans (vs. Nasrids – 2:00PM BW1; vs. Seljuqs – 3:30PM BW2)

So you have a team sitting in second place on the season, having an ace on the mound throughout the year and the league’s top defence, and what do they do to start off the season post-break? Put a new pitcher on the mound and switch up their defence. After AK dominated the whole season to a tune of only one loss (to the Mamluks, no less), the Navies went with Hamza Hussain for both games this weekend. Hussain performed admirably, settling in well and staying consistent throughout, but unfortunately found himself in the losing column for both games. On top of that, GM Hashim Ghazi moved Rehan Ahmad from shortstop to centrefield for the weekend, thereby stacking the outfield to feature all three of Shaheen Limbada, Michael Arlitt, and Ahmad. The Ottomans also tinkered with their lineup, moving Shaheen Limbada into the 6-spot in hopes of balancing out the lineup. The end result still led to the same number of runs they’ve been averaging all year, and makes you wonder if all the changes really made the team better. This was the first weekend the Ottomans lost both their games, and it will be interesting to see how they set up offensively and defensively this weekend with big matchups against the free swinging Nasrids and in-form Seluqs. The Ottomans dropped all the way down to fourth and will need two huge wins and some help if they want to regain the second seed. They have already locked up a playoff spot so will just be playing for seeding. 
 
Nasrids (@ Ottomans – 2:00PM BW1; @ Ayyubids – 3:30PM BW1)

Man, another tough weekend for the Spaniards. The Nasrids are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs this year, with only one win to show for the season. However, there continues to be stories that bring optimism. Bilal Javed reached vaunted BSL territory over the weekend, joining the three HR in one game club after his stellar performance at the plate against the Mughals. He’s putting together an All-Star caliber season, batting .714 (!!!) on the year. Osman Buttar had his worse BSL performance to date, which he surely voiced displeasure in last weekend to the rumour team. Hamza Waheed also went from an All-Star season last year to a disappointing one this year. Every year we hear the same whispers – “we can’t do this family thing anymore, it becomes frustrating and it leads to more stress than fun” – and yet, year after year we see the same familiar unit come together at the beginning of the season. These guys need to band together as a unit and play hard to end out the season. With bats like Javed, NK, Buttar, Usama Mahmood and Nirvaan Latif, they have the talent to play spoiler. They get their chance to do so this weekend against the Ayyubids and Ottomans this weekend. The only way they can make the playoffs is by winning out and hoping the Sultans only gain one point the rest of the season.  

Seljuqs
 (vs. Ayyubids – 2:00PM BW2; @ Ottomans – 3:30 BW2)

The Seljuqs have made a night-and-day transformation between the team we saw in the beginning of the season and the one we see now. A team that looked helpless on both sides of the ball in the first few weeks now appear to be in every game, and even showed they can give a rollicking themselves to opponents. After grinding through a clutch win against the Sultans and smacking the leather off the ball in a mercy victory over the Abbasids, they look as threatening as a 5th place team can look. This team has a lot of characteristics of the Seljuqs that made its way to the finals last year. They solved their pitching woes with Taha Iqbal settling in nicely. Sameer Rafique gets stronger at short stop every week, and the use of an aggressive rover in the outfield has limited opponents from getting bloop singles against the angry birds. They’ll need to keep that momentum going against two teams above them in the standings – the Ayyubids and Ottomans – this week. This team firmly believes going 2-0 against these teams is not out of reach, and if they show up like they did last week, they may find themselves in a battle for the second or third spot heading into the final weekend. 

Ayyubids (@ Seljuqs – 2:00PM BW2; @ Nasrids – 3:30PM BW1)

The Ayyubids also had a great weekend after the break, winning both their games and moving into third spot in the standings. They pummeled the Abbasids in their first game, while squeezing by Sultans in game two. Management must be happy to see the team coming through with big wins and grinding out tough ones. Zain Khilji has yet to miss a game this season – a surprise considering many GMs kept them off their draft board with concerns of his soccer league taking priority to BSL. Maybe there was something the Ayyubids knew all along that the rest of the teams didn’t? Or maybe Khilji simply relished playing the game again after the last few years were clouded by injuries, the stress of GMing, and family politics. Also, why is nobody talking about Khilji leaving his team for the team that stopped him from winning the championship like people did KD/G-State? Oh, right – because the only thing ‘KD’ about Khilji is his frame. Nevermind. The Ayyubids hope to go perfect again and challenge for that all-important second spot in the standings with matchups against the Seljuqs and Nasrids this Sunday afternoon. The Ayyubids be hoping to take care of business and then hope the Mughals lose a game.
 
Mamluks (vs. Mughals – 5:00PM BW2; @ Abbasids – 6:30PM BW1)

The Mamluks continued the second half of the season much like they ended the first half – domination. Though Riz Merchant had some trouble finding his groove after the hiatus, the Mamluks offense continues to blow teams out of the water, scoring eighteen runs in each of their victories. Of greater concern to their opponents is where the runs are coming from. Ergo, everywhere. The top of the lineup is hitting, the heart of the lineup is connecting, and the bottom of the lineup is stroking. There are virtually no holes, and this past weekend, it was the bottom that really turned it on against their foes. If Baseer Yasseen, Asad Moten, Sikandar Aftab, and Mohamed Kala continue producing like they have been – all four hit home runs last weekend – we may as well just give these guys the trophy right now. The defense has also been solid, and we see a bit of a position battle going on at third base. Shahzad Ahmed has performed admirably there all season, but in the innings we’ve seen Riyad Ramjaun lace ‘em up at the hot corner, he’s always impressed. May the Regulator give his big bat a DH role while Ramjaun takes control of the position? I guess we’ll wait and see. This week, the Mamluks face the Mughals and Abbasids as they continue their quest for perfection during the regular season.

Mughals (@ Mamluks – 5:00PM BW2; @ Sultans – 6:30PM BW2)

The Mughals didn’t look their best after the long layoff, but fought through it and got two huge walkoff victories to move them into second place in the L. Ismail Akhter continued his strong rookie campaign with a pair of dingers this past Sunday, moving into third place amongst the leaders in both home runs and runs batted in. Also, Faraaz Alvi is putting together his most complete season to date, surpassing his hit total from the last two years with still a few games to play. With Rafique Choudhry unavailable for the doubleheader, Mohammed Ali Pasha played the full game at short and despite some errors in game two, held down the position really well. The Mughals did field some calls around the trade deadline in an effort to put them over the top, but felt that no deal really made them better off than where they stand right now. After a statement win against the Ottomans, they look to continue their winning ways into this weekend in a massive matchup against the Mamluks and the Abbasids. The Mughals control their own destiny in the playoff standings with firm control over second place and just need to win out to hold on to the first round bye.


Abbasids (vs. Sultans – 5:00PM BW1; vs. Mamluks – 6:30PM BW1)
 
After weeks of our writers talking about how the Abbasids are better than their record shows, the Abbasids proved us wrong this weekend – they really are as bad as their record shows. The Orangemen hit rock bottom over the weekend, losing both by a combined score of 36 – 6. With GMs Ahmad Hussain and Haris Mallick not in the lineup Sunday, the wheels just came off and the lions all but waved a white flag of surrender against their opponents. Omair Zuberi has had a tough go this season. Just how everything was just going the pitcher’s way last season both on the mound and at the plate, the complete opposite is happening this year. Also, some love must be given to Atif Qureshi. After batting .340 in his BSL career coming into the season, he leads the team with a .563 clip this year – good enough for top-15 in the league. Despite the debacle last week, they find themselves just one point out of the last playoff spot with three games to go. The bad news is that the Abbasids play the Mamluks and Mughals in their final two games. The good news is that they play the Sultans this week for a chance to move into a playoff spot and the Sultans play the top 2 teams in the league to close out the season as well. If the Abbasids can't get motivated for their game against the Sultans, there is probably nothing that can motivate this bunch.

Sultans (@ Abbasids – 5:00PM BW1; vs. Mughals – 6:30PM BW2)

The Sultans went into the break with a big two-win day to put them back into the playoff hunt, but found themselves on the other side of the winner’s column last weekend. The Stallions were short-handed without big bat Suhail Taji and others, and both contests were very close. GM Amir Khalil’s side lacks situational hitting. In their first game against the Seljuqs, the Sultans found themselves down two with the bases loaded and no outs in the last inning with the top of their lineup coming up. All three players popped out and so ended their chance of stealing one against the team one spot ahead of them. If guys cannot shorten their swing and just hit clutch singles when needed, it will be very tough for this team to stick out close games. This team can clearly hit, but when your best hitters cannot come through in clutch situations like that and play the percentages, it makes winning that much harder. The Sultans sit in sixth place with just one point separating them from the Abbasids in seventh. They’ll need everyone to show up for their matchups against the Abbasids and Mughals to cement their spot in the second season. 

This weekend will determine if teams will have something to play for next Sunday. We expect games to have a playoff like atmosphere this weekend as teams push towards the playoffs. See you on the diamond.  

Week 7 Recap

BSL finally resumed on Sunday and there were some big winners this week. Four teams went 2-0 while the other four went 0-2 to drastically change the standings. Here is what happened: 

Nasrids v Mughals:
 The Nasrid came out hungry to keep their playoff hope alive and took an early lead on a Bilal Javed homerun. The Mughals were slow out of the gates but eventually caught up and took the lead on homeruns by Ismail Akhter and Zuhair Fancy. The Nasrids fought back in the bottom of the 7th to tie the game ona 2 run homerun by Bilal Javed (his third of the game). The Mughals rallied to fill the bases and got a break when the Nasrids pitcher botched a routine ground out to overthrow 3rd to allow the winning run.  
Final Score: Nasrids - 10, Mughals - 11
              Star of the Game - Zuhair Fancy Click to watch POTG Video

Ottomans v Mamluks: The Mamluks came flying out of gates in this one with Shahzad Ahmed hitting a 3 run homerun to give green an early lead. The Ottomans fought back and tied it up in the 4th on a homerun by Rehan Ahmad. The Mamluks offense was relentless with Basseer Yasseen hitting a triple to give them the lead and Asad Moten blew it open on a 3 run homerun. The Ottomans were unable to keep up with the offense of their opponents as the Mamluks again get a blow out win.  
Final Score: Ottomans - 10, Mamluks - 18        Star of the Game - Shahzad Ahmed Click to watch POTG Video

Ottomans v Mughals: In a big matchup for 2nd place in the standings, the Ottomans jumped out to an early 4 run lead on a 2 out rally. The  Mughals would reply back with Faraaz Alvi and Ismail Akhter homeruns. Shaheen Limbada would give the Ottomans the lead on a 3 run dinger and they went into the bottom of the 7th protecting a 2 run lead. The Ottomans walked the bases loaded and Randy Panesar drove home the tying run with the winning run on 3rd. Mo Ali Pasha hit a single right down the line to bring home the winning run against his former team. 
Final Score: Ottomans - 9, Mughals- 10       
 Stars of the Game - Mohammed Ali Pasha Click to watch POTG Video

Nasrids v Mamluks: The Nasrids jumoed out to a 2 run lead but the Mamluks bats were hot now and tacked on 7 runs on 3 homeruns in the first. N K tried to bring his team back with a 3 run homerun of his own. The Mamluks were relentless as Omer Chaudhry hit a grand slam to put this game out of reach. Baseer Yasseen went 3-3 with a homerun for player of the game honours. 
Final score: Nasrids - 8, Mamluks - 18      Star of the Game - Baseer Yasseen Click to watch POTG Video

Ayyubids v Abbasids: This game featured two teams without the GMs but one played like they didn't miss a beat. The Ayyubids jumped out to a 9-4 lead early in the game and didn't look back. The only offense the Abbasids were able to get all game were two homeruns from Rameez Siddiqi and Kashif Irshad. The Abbasids looked in disarray. The Ayyubids showed no mercy though as they pounded on the runs, led by Zaid Ghansar's 3-5 5 RBI game.  
Final Score: Ayyubids - 18, Abbasids - 5    
     Star of the Game - Zaid Ghansar  

Seljuqs v Sultans: In a huge matchup in the standings, this had the makings of a close game. In a tie game going into the 6th, the Seljuqs took control on a homerun by Imran Merchant and some small ball to take a 9-5 lead. The Sultans closed it to 9-7 going into the last inning. The Sultans loaded the bases with no outs with the heart of their order up. Ali Nazir flied out, Zain Malk flied out and W K flied out to end the game. The Sultans will be having nightmares about how they blew a golden opportunity to move up in the standings. Meanwhile, the Seljuqs get a crucial win to move past the Sultans. 
Final score: Seljuqs - 9, Sultans - 7     
 Star of the Game - Imran Merchant 

Abbasids v Seljuqs: The orangemen were already without their two leaders Ahmad Hussain and Haris Mallick but they say Rameeza Siddiqi disappear for this game as well. The Seljuqs showed no pity as they jumped out to an early 11-0 lead. The Abbasids only had 8 players and some of them looked like mannequins out there. This one looked like someone had to throw in the towel as the Seljuqs just poured in the blows with a monster homerun by Sameer Rafique as they won 18-1. 
Final score: Abbasids - 1, Seljuqs - 18    
 Star of the Game - Sameer Rafique 

Sultans v Ayyubids: In another important game, Sultans took an early 4-0 lead on RBI singles by Amir Khalil and Atif Parvaiz. However, the Ayyubids would have a 7 run 3rd inning to climb back on top that ended with a Zain Khilji sac fly. Zain Malik would bring them within 1 with a 2 run homerun in the final frame. The Sultans got the tying run on first with their GM up by he flew out to end the game. The Sultans lose two heartbreakers on the day to drop in the standings while the Ayyubids get two important wins to move up. 
Final score: Sultans - 9, Ayyubids - 10   
 Star of the Game - Ahmed Butt 

That wraps up week 7. Only two weeks left as we make the final playoff push. 

Mid-season Report: Sultans, Seljuqs, Abbasids & Nasrids

Only a few days left till the start of the second half of the season! 

This week marks the second installment outlining the performance of each team in the first half. Here are the remaining four teams that are fighting to move up the standings. 

2016 Mid-season Statistics: 


Sultans

Quick-Hits

Record: 3-6
Charity Represented: Islamic Relief
GM: Amir Khalil
Captain: Tanseer Khawaja
Top Performer: Suhail Taji
Second-half Sleeper: Shamil Khadaroo
Biggest Surprise: Zain Malik
Remaining Schedule: vs. Seljuqs, @ Ayyubids, @ Abbasids, vs. Mughals, @ Mamluks 

Offense

Team stats: 0.409 batting average; 0.455 on-base percentage; 13 homeruns; 106 hits; 8.4 runs scored per game

The Stallions had a brutal start to the season going 1-6 before they turned things around in the final week with two victories before the break. The team has struggled offensively with only two games with double digit runs. From the start of the season, we knew the Sultans didn't have the most offensive talent but no one expected they would be near the bottom in runs scored. While Suhail Taji and Ali Nazir have decent numbers, they haven't broken out the homerun power just yet. Suhail had a fantastic second half of the season last year so they will be hoping he can come through again. The bottom of their order has been disappointing so far with Atif Parvaiz, Zayd Ramjaun and (surprisingly) Ahmed Ramadan all hitting below 0.300. Shamil Khadaroo has really come on since the start of his rookie season and has been swinging a hot bat over the last few weeks.  Amir Khalil battles through injury to marshal his troops but would expect more from himself after a disappointing first half of the season. However, with two homeruns in the exhibition tournament, the little man that could is looking more like the little man that will. 
  
Defense

Team stats: 4.7 errors per game; 11.6 runs given up per game; 4.1 unearned runs per game

Allowing almost 5 errors a game is never a good thing. To make matters worse, the Sultans allow those 5 errors to turn into 4 runs every game- tops in the league. They have adequate fielders with W K, Noor Sheikh and Aftab Sheikh but have struggled limit the mistakes every game. They were able to pull off two victories in the last week while committing only a total of 5 errors. The whites have the defensive talent to be much better in the field than they have been and will only be able to hold a playoff spot if they can follow the same recipe for success. 
 
Pitching

Team stats: 10.1 earned runs per game; 17 home run given up; 1.5 strikeouts per game; 1.7 walks per game

The Sultans made a draft day trade to move up to take last year's pitcher of the year, Tanseer 'Robocop' Khawaja.  Despite the Sultans poor record, Tanseer has done his best to give the Sultans a fighting chance. While his strikeout totals maybe down, his walks per game are the lowest in the league. Tanseer will continue to be his consistent self every week and the defense behind him will have to do a better job of making the routine outs. Tanseer has helped his young squad in more ways than just pitching, taking over the captaincy of the team, and showing some power with some dingers on the season too. 
 
Intangibles & Future Outlook

The Sultans fortune changed on June 5th and now sit in control of a playoff spot. The team celebrated with a sheesha party in the parking lot. GM Amir Khalil continues to enforce strict dug-out rules so his players don't wonder off to the smoking zone between games. They face an important first week back with match ups against the Seljuqs and Ayyubids who they are sandwiched between in the standings. They have two difficult games to end the season so they will need to take care of business in the first few weeks before they face the Mamluks and Mughals. The Sultans are looking to get back into the playoffs this year after missing out last season. 
 
Seljuqs

Quick-Hits

Record: 2-5-2
Charity Represented: ISNA Food Bank
GM: Ibrahim Sardar
Captain: Imran Merchant
Top Performer: Taha Iqbal
Second-half Sleeper: Furhan Azmat
Biggest Surprise: Asim Gauhar
Remaining Schedule: @ Sultans, vs. Abbasids, vs. Ayyubids, @ Ottomans, vs. Nasrids

Offense

Team stats: 0.366 batting average; 0.458 on-base percentage; 14 homeruns; 85 hits; 8.6 runs scored per game

Rookie GM Ibrahim Sardar took some gambles on draft day and the reds are still waiting for those investments to mature. They have struggled to bring firepower every week and to put up enough runs to win games. The Seljuqs became the second team to be shut out in a game and were only able to muster one hit against the Mamluks. While they drafted players coming off productive offensive seasons, every player save a few are having their worst offensive seasons this year. Furhan Azmat and Sheraz Mahmood have sharply fallen off the peaks they reached last year. Furhan sits towards the bottom of the league in batting average, a stat he was top 10 in last year. Sheraz has spent more time celebrating his milestone birthday and vacationing than playing for his new squad.  Asim Gauhar has been the lone bright spot offensively and is one of two players hitting 0.500 on the angry birds. The Seljuqs might need to shuffle their batting order to spark the offense but management is confident that their bats will come alive in the second half.  

Defense

Team stats: 3.7 errors per game; 14.7 runs given up per game; 3.7 unearned runs per game

The Seljuqs as expected have one of the better defenses in the league with defensive savant Imran Merchant and GM Ibrahim Sardar in the outfield. Shortstop Sameer Rafqiue has had an up and down season so far but we know he can be one of the better middle infielders in the league. The challenge has been trying to fit in the rest of the pieces with some guys playing different positions every week. Arshad Chawdhry was one of the better first basemen last year but has been moved to the outfield where the learning curve has been steep. Coming off a Most Improved Player award, Fuzail Thakur has been asked to take a bigger role in centre field. Third base has been weakened with gold glover Taha Iqbal being move to the mound and A R being asked to fill big shoes at the hot corner. Yasser Zia and Omar Huda have been playing roulette with positions so far. The team will need to figure out the playoff rotation and clamp down in the field for the second half.
 
Pitching

Team stats: 15.6 earned runs per game; 20 home run given up; 1.1 strikeouts per game; 6.3 walks per game

The Seljuqs have experimented with pitching so far this season and it hasn't worked so far. A R began the season as their starter but only lasted 5 games after struggling with a high walk total. Taha Iqbal has taken over for the forseeable future. Taha had a brilliant first week with two victories and a total of 9 runs allowed but struggled in his games against the Mamluks and Mughals. He gives them the best chance of victory if he can keep his walks at a minimum. 
 
Intangibles & Future Outlook

The Seljuqs management had the difficult task of taking over a team and creating a new culture. The Seljuqs had an unusual draft, taking a mix of players from different teams and coming away without a proven pitcher even with a few available in the late rounds. The Seljuqs struggled with attendance early in the season and will need to get everyone motivated for the playoff push with crucial games on the horizon. They have been promised that Sheraz bhai will be available the rest of the way. The good news for the Seljuqs is they have a favourable schedule to close out the season. They control their own destiny in the playoff hunt with games against the Sultans and Abbasids in the first week back that could either see them move up to 4th or move all the way down to 7th. 
 
Abbasids

Quick-Hits

Record: 2-6-1
Charity Represented: Hospital for Sick Children
GM: Ahmad Hussain
Captain: Haris Mallick
Top Performer: Kashif Irshad
Second-half Sleeper: Hammad Afif
Biggest Surprise: Atif Qureshi
Remaining Schedule:  vs. Ayyubids, @ Seljuqs, vs. Sultans, vs. Mamluks, @ Mughals

Offense

Team stats: 0.380 batting average; 0.444 on-base percentage; 14 homeruns; 96 hits; 8.3 runs scored per game

Rookie GM Ahmad Hussain came into the draft with a strategy and came away from the draft excited about his squad. On paper, this team looks like a formidable offense but they have disappointed their fans so far. The struggles start with the Abbasids GM trio of Ahmad Hussain, Haris Mallick and Rameez Siddiqi who average 0.420 with a few homeruns. Rameez 'Raja' Siddiqi has been a shell of himself with miserable stats compared to his rookie season where he set the league ablaze. Raja has noticeably slimmed down from last year, and that can attribute to the lack of power numbers this year (though looking svelte is never a bad thing - we see you, bro) The lions have the lowest on-base percentage in the league and the second least number of hits. Kashif Irshad has been the team's best hitter so far with good power numbers and leading the team is almost every offensive category. Atif Qureshi has been a nice surprise with a career best average. Nauman Abbasi was promoted to the leadoff spot to get on base but continues to try to prove he can hit for power with his backwards swing while all he has to do is get his wheels on base. Saoud Ramjaun remains the only player this season without a hit so far. Hammad Afif started off his BSL career with a bang but has fizzled since. The Abbasids GM needs to do something to wake up his teams bats. Unless the lions find a way to wake up their bats, they will find themselves on the outside looking in come post-season.  
 
Defense

Team stats: 2.4 errors per game; 13.6 runs given up per game; 2.8 unearned runs per game

The Abbasids possess one of the leagues best defense with gold glovers and great fielders in most positions. The addition of Kamil Haider and Hammad Afif have given the Abbasids a formidable infield to complement corner infielders Haris Mallick and Fraz Butt. The experienced tandem have kept balls in the infield and turned some highlight reel plays. When the ball has stayed in the yard, orange have used their experience to make the routine plays. They have limited their errors and have avoided letting those unearned runs come in. We expect their defense to help keep them in games. 
  
Pitching

Team stats: 15.1 earned runs per game; 27 home run given up; 1.0 strikeouts per game; 2.7 walks per game

The Abbasids came in with a game plan to pick a mature pitcher early in the draft to not suffer from last year's inconsistency. Ahmad made a bold move selecting Omair Zuberi in the first round after Omair's brilliant season last year. However, the story hasn't gone according to script. Omair has allowed more homeruns in half a season (24) than he had allowed in his first two seasons combined (18). His strikeout totals are also significantly down after his all-star performance last year. There is no explaining his rapid decline except for batter's no longer being mezmerized by his long, luscious, awe-inspring, ravishing, provacative, borderline risque- blowing hair. The Abbasids have tried out Kamil Haider on the mound but that has compromised their defense with second option at shortstop. We have heard that Zuberi has been practicing over the break to find a solution to his lost art.
 
Intangibles & Future Outlook

As the oldest team in the league, the Abbasids have lacked the fire and drive to pull off crucial wins this season - interesting after building around two younger players last year. After losing to the winless Nasrids, the orangemen need to quickly find a solution to their poor run of form. GM Ahmad Hussain has been suffering from sleepless nights and is hoping a few role changes might spark the troops. They start off the second half with important matchups against the Ayyubids and Seljuqs. They follow that up with a game against the Sultans before they face the mighty Mamluks. They close out the season against the Mughals and will want to lock up a playoff spot in their next three games because their final two games will be up hill battles. 
 
Nasrids

Quick-Hits

Record: 1-8
Charity Represented: ICNA Relief
GM: Kashif Waheed
Captain: Usama Mahmood
Top Performer: Osman Buttar
Second-half Sleeper: Hamza Waheed
Biggest Surprise: Bilal Javed
Remaining Schedule: @ Mughals, @ Mamluks, @ Ottomans, @ Ayyubids, @ Seljuqs

Offense

Team stats: 0.414 batting average; 0.468 on-base percentage; 20 homeruns; 104 hits; 8.8 runs scored per game

At the completion of the draft, many fellow GMs looked at the Nasrids team and expected a high scoring offense that would compete for the title but their season has been filled with nothing but disappointment. Their offense has been mediocre, primarily due to everyone the worst seasons of their career. The 4 Waheed brothers, Kashif-Akif-Asim-Hamza have all seen a sharp decline in their batting stats over previous years. They must all be suffering from the same poor 'paratha filled' diet at home. Someone tell Mama Waheed to stop making parathas for the boys. Osman Buttar and Nirvaan Latif continue their homerun hitting form but they haven't had much help. Bilal Javed has been the biggest star on the team so far with a phenomenal first half. The Nasrids or 'Nasties' have six players hitting below 0.400 which means they only get run production from their top order. N K once again hits for a decent average on a bottom-feeder team. This team has talent but they just can't seem to figure things out. They might need a new hitting coach. A reset after a long break might do them good. 
 
Defense

Team stats: 2.8 errors per game; 13.8 runs given up per game; 3.4 unearned runs per game

The Nasrids are not the worst defensive team despite their poor record. They have given up the 4th least amount of errors this season. With defensive stalwarts like Usama Mahmood, Osman Buttar and Nirvaan Latif, they should have enough to shut down opposing teams. The team drafted Taqi Ahmed in the middle rounds but he has struggled to find a regular role in the team. As a team built around family, we expected this group to practice regularly and improve week over week but they continue to make the same mistakes.    
 
Pitching

Team stats: 14.3 earned runs per game; 15 home run given up; 1.3 strikeouts per game; 7.7 walks per game

Entering the season, the Nasrids came out of the draft with 2.5 regular pitchers but have failed to find anyone that can keep his composure on the mound. After Hamza Waheed struggled at the beginning of the season, the ball was handed to Zia Ali. Despite Zia's pitching experience, he found himself being yanked as well after allowing 9 walks in a loss to the Abbasids. The team then groomed rookie Omar Husain who was also plagued with the same walk disease. Nirvaan Latif was given a relief appearance but was never given an opportunity to start. This team has allowed more than twice as many walks as any other team in the league. It doesn't matter how good your defense is if you can't allow them to play ball. Their best chance of success probably relies in Nirvaan Latif pitching for the Nasrids going forward. 
  
Intangibles & Future Outlook

The Nasrids find themselves in the basement of the standings once again at the break. The good news for them is a win before the break means they still have hope in reaching the second season. However, it won't be easy. They will likely have to go 4-1 after the break to sneak into the playoffs. A record of 3-2 will likely mean they might just fall short due to their poor run differential. To make the task even more difficult, they have to play each of the top 4 teams once in that 5 game span including the Mughals and Mamluks in the first week. The Nasrids have been listening to offers on the trade market but haven't pulled the trigger on anything yet. 

That completes all 8 teams. Only 6 make the playoffs. Let the games begin.

Mid-season Report: Mamluks, Ottomans, Mughals, & Ayyubids

The season is almost back! After our Midseason tournament, we prepare for BSL Season 3 to resume. Before we do, our reporters recap the teams accomplishments to date in our midseason report.   

This week marks the first of two installments outlining the performance of each team in the first half. We start this week with a breakdown of the top four teams in the league. Here are some league wide stats to provide some context. 

2016: Games Played: 36; League Batting Avg: 0.443; League On-base percentage: 0.498; Total Homeruns: 140; Avg Homeruns per game: 3.8; Total Hits: 980; Avg Hits per game: 27.2; Total Errors: 234; Total Walks: 276

2015: Games Played: 36; League Batting Avg: 0.394; League On-base percentage: 0.454; Total Homeruns: 91; Avg Homeruns per game: 2.3; Total Hits: 860; Avg Hits per game: 22.0; Total Errors: 235 Total Walks: 257

Mamluks

Quick-Hits

Record: 9-0-0
Charity Represented: Muslim Chaplaincy at the U of T
GM: Rizvan Merchant
Captain: Hassan Chaudhry
Top Performer: Jibran Waqar
Second-half Sleeper: Omer Chaudhry
Biggest Surprise: Shahzad Ahmed
Remaining Schedule: vs. Ottomans, vs. Nasrids, vs. Mughals, @ Abbasids, vs. Sultans

Offense

Team stats:  0.557 batting average;  0.592 on-base percentage; 25 homeruns;  179 hits; 17.5 runs scored per game 

The mighty 'Green Machine' has shown no signs of mercy on their opponents. The Mamluks offense is blowing away competition by averaging over 17 runs a game and an average victory margin of 10 runs. We expected guys like Jibran Waqar, Hassan Chaudhry and Taher Mirza to carry the offense but it's the rest of the lineup that has set them apart from the rest of the league. Omer Chaudhry has been tearing the skin off the ball. For a guy that barely hit the ball out of the infield last year, he has dazzled us with some monster homeruns which has pundits wondering what he ate in the off-season or if he was holding back last year. Shahzad Ahmed is looking like the steal of the draft. This homerun machine has put opposing pitchers on notice that his friendly nature means nothing when he steps in the batters box. Once thought of as their weakness, the bottom order of the Mamluks continue to their stellar performance. Mohamed Kala, Sikandar Aftab and Baseer Yasseen continue to all have career years. We haven't seen much of Asad Moten yet who has been busy gardening on Sunday every other week. This team has 9 guys batting over 0.500 and 10 guys that have hit homeruns. There is not much relief for opposing pitchers when facing this lineup.  
  

Defense

Team stats: 2.77 errors per game; 7.8 runs given up per game; 0.88 unearned runs per game

The Mamluks not only hit the leather off the ball but they also play stingy defense. They have only allowed an astounding 0.88 unearned runs per game. When they make an error, they rarely make another in the same inning. Umair Sheikh has quickly shown flashes of brilliance at first base and put himself in the conversation for gold glove. Early in the season, there were question marks about who plays third for this team and who will be the 4th outfielder but those have been adequately addressed. The combination of Shahzad Ahmed and Riyad Ramjaun playing third has been consistent. Basseer and Mohamed Kala have shown improvement patrolling the grass in right field. Opposing teams and reporters have been amazed how these guys can eat samosas, biryani, chili and kebabs DURING the games and still trot out there to play defense. I guess if you have a youthful team average age of 30, anything can be possible. 
 
Pitching

Team stats: 8.01 earned runs per game; 19 home run given up; 1.2 strikeouts per game; 2.4 walks per game

After the draft, no one knew who would be pitching for the Mamluks. GM Rizvan Merchant took it upon himself to prove the pitching runs in Merchant blood. With very little experence, 'the Regulator' has been solid and consistent on the mound for the green squad. His walks are below league average and he has trusted the bulletproof defense behind him to do their job. Riz also goes beyond the call of duty on the mound by yapping in the batter's ear during the entire at-bat. Hitters have been constantly distracted by his chatter and will be hoping Riz brings his mid-inning meal with him to the mound to keep his mouth busy. 
 
Intangibles & Future Outlook

The Mamluks have built great chemistry during their remarkable early season run and should be poised to continue their success in the second half. As long as the buffet continues to show up during games, the Mamluks should be in good shape. They start their second half against the second place Ottomans, followed by the Mughals in the next week as their two biggest challenges before the playoffs. The Mamluks homerun power has carried them this far and has them as virtual locks for first place overall going into the playoffs.  

Ottomans

Quick-Hits

Record: 6-2-1
Charity Represented: SMILE
GM: Hashim Ghazi
Captain: Shaheen Limbada
Top Performer: Rehan Ahmad
Second-half Sleeper: Faisal Khan
Biggest Surprise: A K
Remaining Schedule: @ Mamluks, @ Mughals, vs. Nasrids, vs. Seljuqs, @ Ayyubids

Offense

Team stats: 
0.451 batting average; 0.491 on-base percentage; 17 homeruns; 122 hits; 10.3 runs scored per game

The Ottomans brought back almost the same squad as last year but their mentality has changed. While most of their offensive numbers are down from last year, they have been able to win low scoring games and have gotten just enough offense. Rehan Ahmad and Shaheen Limbada continue their all-star form and solidify the middle of the order but many wonder if they would be better off separated in the lineup for balance. Michael Arlitt has been solid at the top of the lineup and Hashim Ghazi has found his year one form again but apart from that the Turks have been lacking the consistency. Shoaib Bhatti has shown glimmering signs of brilliance every few games and the Ottomans will be hoping he can string together a few good weeks. A K has been a diamond in the rough for this team as he is having his best BSL season to date with both bat and ball. In order for the Ottomans offense to turn it around, analysts look to either Faisal Khan or Zain Fancy to come out of their funk and become the second cleanup guy. Faisal was a long-ball threat in year one of BSL but injuries have limited his offensive output since. The Ottomans offense currently is too top heavy and needs balance from the bottom of the order which Faisal is capable of delivering.   

Defense

Team stats: 2.33 errors per game; 8.6 runs given up per game; 2.0 unearned runs per game

In the field, the Turks have been the league's best defense. With the least errors in the first half (21), they have given themselves a chance in every game so far. They will need to convert those minimal errors into a lower unearned run totals to move up in the elite category. Hamza Hussain has been a huge help in the outfield with some difficult catches and Shoaib Gaya has found a place at 3rd base even if it is unorthodox. The team finally has Gold Glove Catcher Furhan Hoda back to help solidify the infield. We will have to see where Junaid Mirza is moved to after he did an admirable job behind the plate in the first half. Their outfield has two of the best patrolling the grass and a reliable shortstop so we expect their defensive continue their success from the first half. 

Pitching

Team stats: 7.92 earned runs per game; 14 home runs given up; 1.22 strikeouts per game; 3.55 walks per game

The Ottomans Achillies heal has always been pitching. Last year they struggled to find a pitcher that could throw strikes but this year they took a gamble by drafting A K as their ace and it has paid huge dividends so far. A K has been one of the leagues best so far and has allowed his defence to help him out. His walks totals still need to come down but as he gets more experience, we expect him to be ready for the playoffs. The Ottomans have experimented with Hamza Hussain and Zain Fancy on the mound as well to give them a backup in case A K gets stuck at the cottage. 
 
Intangibles & Future Outlook

The Ottomans have had the benefit of synergy carried over from last year for a solid start to the season. Many teams are still trying to figure out their roster but the Ottomans benefitted from having all their core pieces come back. The Ottomans have proven this year they can win close games and shut down their opponents which is great preparation for the playoffs. They sit currently in second place and will need a big second half to hold that spot. They resume their season against the Mamluks and Mughals for a big opening week. They face some tough matchups to close out the season with the Seljuqs and Ayyubids both fighting for playoff spots. The Ottomans have the toughest schedule to close out the season and should be battle tested for the playoffs. 

Mughals


Quick-Hits

Record: 6-3
Charity Represented: Muslim Welfare Centre - Regent Park Meals Drive
GM: Zahid Merchant
Captain: Nadeem Hussain/Zuhair Fancy
Top Performer: 
Faraaz Alvi
Second-half Sleeper: Mohammad Ali Pasha
Biggest Surprise: Ismail Akhter
Remaining Schedule: vs. Nasrids, vs. Ottomans, @ Mamluks, @ Sultans, vs. Abbasids

Offense

Team stats: 0.486 batting average; 0.541 on-base percentage; 19 homeruns; 158 hits; 16.4 runs scored per game

The Badshah's offense has been difficult to predict so far this season. They started off with 41 runs in their first two games but then only scored 44 in their next 4 games. However, the Mughals found their bats again in the last week with 48 runs in two games. This high powered offense is capable of scoring big if they come to play. Faraaz Alvi and Atif Akhtar are both having careers years in their third season as Mughals. Ismail Akhter had a rocky start to his BSL career but has found his groove in his last few games. The Mughals are right behind the league leaders in almost every offensive category but still don't have the depth at the bottom of the order. While Asim Qurayshi and Jibran Khan have both improved this season, they still need to bring that batting average up to help their team's offense. Mohammed Ali Pasha is having a disappointing season with the bat but team doctors are hoping the extended time off will help the big man get his back fixed. Both assistant GMs Nadeem Hussain and Zuhair Fancy had slow starts to the season (like every year) but have recently turned it on now that the weather has warmed up. Nadeem can finally wear shorts to games which he claims is his secret to success.
 
Defense

Team stats: 3.1 errors per game; 9.3 runs given up per game; 2.88 unearned runs per game

The Mughals defense looked better coming out of the draft but has been spotty so far this season. A couple of their losses can be attributed to crucial errors that let games slip away. The Badshah's have always preached consistency so this season has been an unusual one thus far. Mohsin Zubair has been a great addition to the team's outfield. The Mughals have seen a much improved Randy Panesar at first base and are starting to see Rafique Choudhury play all-star defence in the field. The Mughals will need to cut down errors and the number of unearned runs if they want to compete for the title. 
 
Pitching

Team stats: 8.22 earned runs per game; 11 home run given up; 1.88 strikeouts per game; 4.0 walks per game

The Mughals still rely upon GM Zahid Merchant to carry the pitching load and he has had a good season thus far apart from the walks total. The Mughals picked Mohammed Ali Pasha first round as insurance for their pitching staff (of one) and it paid dividends in the last week as Pasha was able to secure two much needed wins for the squad while Zahid was busy welcoming his new daughter. It remains to be seen if Pasha will get more time on the mound or if he will continue to play a combination of 3rd and SS. The biggest improvement in the Mughals pitching has been the elimination of the HR ball. Since Zahid Merchant allowed 5 homeruns to the Ayyubids, he has only allowed 3 homeruns in 4 games and Pasha 0 homeruns in 2 games. They will be hoping to continue that trend. 
 
Intangibles & Future Outlook

The Mughals also benefit from a very similar clubhouse with 9 players returning. There were some doubts about chemistry after some mid-season losses but the team put that to rest with some big wins last games without their GM. They open the season against Nasrids and Ottomans. With first place almost impossible, they will be playing to lock up 2nd place in the standings which makes the Ottomans game crucial. They follow that up with a matchup against the Mamluks before they close out against the Sultans and Abbasids. The Mughals will be looking to carry their recent form into the second half as they push to get back to the promised land.

Ayyubids

Quick-Hits

Record: 5-4
Charity Represented: 
ICNA Food Bank
GM: Umer Jabbar
Captain: Umair Jabbar
Top Performer: Umair Jabbar
Second-half Sleeper: Ahmad Ammad
Biggest Surprise: Ahmed Butt
Remaining Schedule: @ Abbasids, vs. Sultans, @ Seljuqs, vs. Nasrids, vs. Ottomans

Offense

Team stats: 0.436 batting average; 0.494 on-base percentage; 18 homeruns; 130 hits; 11.4 runs scored per game

The Black's have struggled with attendance early in the season and some brutal mistakes to drop their record to 5-4. They came out of the gates blazing with a 3-1 record but have gone 2-3 since then. They have missed crucial pieces in Yasser Malik and Aazar Zafar on multiple occasions. Aazar should be available now that the Raptors season is over. The Ayyubids batting line up lacks the depth of last year but they still have plenty of pop. Ahmad Ammad, Zain Khilji, Ahmed Butt, Umer Jabbar along with Umair Jabbar have shown they can all play long ball. Umair looks rejuvenated this year playing with his brothers and starting off the season with MVP aspirations but has struggled to keep his pace. The Ayyubids also possess plenty of speed with Atif Khan and Yousaf Chaudhry leading off. On paper, this team looks as good as anyone else but they have failed to deliver the results on the field. Hasan Afzal and Ahmed Butt have made huge strides in improving this season with both almost doubling their batting average. The Ayyubids offense needs to get back to their early season form to move up the ranks. 
 
Defense

Team stats: 3.88 errors per game; 10.2 runs given up per game; 3.4 unearned runs per game

The Ayyubids recent form in the field has been their biggest disappointment thus far. Team management would attribute it to the missing players and guys playing out of position but that still cost them a couple games. With a full complement of players, the Ayyubids defence has been enough to pull off a couple big wins but they have struggled with regular costly errors. With the second most errors thus far, that is an area they will need to clean up quickly before it haunts them in the second half of the season. They have continued their practices throughout the break so let's see if they come back improved when games resume. 
 
Pitching

Team stats: 
8.48 earned runs per game; 17 home run given up; 1.5 strikeouts per game; 2.2 walks per game

The Black's have no concerns on the mound with Ali Jabbar even if he hasn't turned in his best performances this far. His walk and strikeout rates are about the same as last year and amongst the leagues best. Ali has been reliable and unfazed since he joined the league last year. With additional motivation of playing with his brothers, we expect him to have a better second half of the season. However, the Ayyubids might need to lock in a second starting pitcher in case Ali decides to take a biryani break. 
 
Intangibles & Future Outlook

The Ayyubids have a young team which is good for durability but sometimes can cost you with lack of experience. They hurt themselves in a few games and will have to learn from those mistakes to move back up the rankings. They have a fairly easy schedule ahead in the second half with only one game against a team ahead of them in the Ottomans in the final week. However, all teams they play are fighting for a playoff spot so nothing will come easy.

Coming up next week.......a look at the underdogs, hungry to dismantle the top dogs of BSL and make waves as we approach the playoffs. 

Congratulations to the 2016 BSL Tournament Champions - Mamluks

Congratulations to the 2016 BSL Tournament Champions - Mamluks

The Mamluks defeated the Nasrids 29-13 in the first round game, Ayyubids 15-0 in the Semifinals and then overcame the defending champion Mughals 19-8 in the finals to win the one day tournament. Omer Chaudhry won Tournament MVP honours for his 7 homeruns on the day, including two grand slams. 
MVP of Tournament - Omer Chaudhry Click to watch SOTG Video



2016 BSL Tournament

The 2016 BSL Mid-season Tournament is upon us. After a long Ramadan break, we resume the season with an exhibition tournament for bragging rights. The schedule is complete and all teams will be looking to start off their second half of the season with some silverware. Let the games begin on July 17th. 


Week 5 Recap

RAMADAN KAREEM ! Ramadan is officially here and we are on hiatus for over a month. Before we break, there were scores to settle and some shocking scorelines. Week 5 had some upsets, close games and blowouts. The rain tried to dampen spirits but everyone was committed to finishing off the games. Here is a recap of week 5:

Sultans v Nasrids: The two bottem dwellers took to the field in an attempt to leave the other behind. The Sultans got out to an early 3-0 lead on a Zain Malik single but Nasrids struck back with an N K homerun and rallied to take a 5-4 lead before a rain delay. Once play resumed, the Nasrids were unable to find their starting pitcher Omar Hussain. Hamza Waheed was forced to pitch and allowed Tanseer Khawaja to drive in the winning run. The Sultans would take the lead in the 5th on RBI singles by Zain Malik and Shamil Khadaroo. Nirvaan Latif would drive in the run in the bottom half but Usama Mahmood and N K couldn't cash in the trying run. Tanseer Khawaja pitched a great game, only allowing 6 runs with 3 of them earned. 
Final Score: Sultans - 7, Nasrids - 6
              Star of the Game - Tanseer Khawaja Click to watch POTG Video

Ottomans v Abbasids: In another low scoring Ottomans game, the Navies took care of the Abbasids in easy fashion. Shaheen Limbada went deep in the first to put them up 2-0 and they followed that up in the next inning with a Rehan Ahmad dinger to go up 6-0. They never looked back as Zain Fancy made his pitching debut and held the Abbasids to 3 total runs in the game. The Ottomans must be feeling comfortable with their pitching rotation with 3 guys showing potential. The Ottomans added a Shoaib Gaya homerun for insurance but had this under control from the get go. 
Final Score: Ottomans - 9, Abbasids - 3        Star of the Game - Zain Fancy

Abbasids v Nasrids: In a big matchup for the standings, the Nasrids needed to finally get a win, but the Abbasids were winless in three. The Nasrids took charge first on Hamza Waheed and Akif Waheed RBI hits. Kashif Waheed would get an RBI single in the 2nd to add another pair of runs to go up 5-0. Nirvaan Latif would put the game out of reach with a grand slam for a 10-1 lead. Kashif Irshad would give the Abbasids some respectability with a 3 run homerun but the Nasrids followed with a pair of homeruns from N K and Bilal Javed for a 13-4 rollicking. The Nasrids finally got the monkey off their back in the final game before the break. They still have a slim chance at the playoffs but will need to come out blazing in the second half.  
Final Score: Abbasids - 4, Nasrids- 13       
 Stars of the Game - Nirvaan Latif & Hamza Waheed Click to watch POTG Video

Ottomans v Sultans: The Sultans were looking for redemption while the Ottomans looked to lock up 2nd place before the break. The Sultans looked like a different team on this day and they put the pressure on early. The Stallions exploded for 6 early runs on a RBI double by Tanseer and a monster homerun by Shamil Khadaroo. W K followed that up in the next inning with a grand slam for a 10-0 lead. Rehan Ahmad would reply with a 3 run shot of his own but the Ottomans just didn't have the offence to come back. Tanseer and Zain Fancy would trade homeruns but the Sultans would cruise into the break with a 12-5 victory. 
Final Score: Ottomans - 5, Sultans - 12    
     Star of the Game - W K  Click to watch POTG Video

Mamluks v Seljuqs: The Mamluks continue to stampede through the league and they have started breaking records on the way. Rizvan Merchant pitched a one hit shutout over the overwhelmed Seljuqs. Riz pitched the second shutout in BSL history. If shutting out your opponents wasn't enough, the Mamluks would put up 19 runs on the board to annihilate their competition. Every player on the Mamluks got a hit to increase their run differential. The Mamluks almost assure themselves of the first seed before the break.  
Final score: Mamluks - 19, Seljuqs - 0     
 Star of the Game - Rizvan Merchant Click to watch POTG Video

Mughals v Ayyubids: The Mughals came into Sunday with their team being questioned. They found out earlier in the day, they would be without their GM and pitcher Zahid Merchant who had just welcomed a new baby girl (Congrats). The Badshahs came flying out of the gates with two consecutive mercy innings (BSL record). The Ayyubids were stunned and tried to put together a rally but the Mughals played great defence around their new pitcher Mohammad Ali Pasha. Pasha looked like a seasoned vet out there after a shaky first inning. The Mughals got two hits from almost everyone on their team and poured in runs every inning. The Ayyubids kept getting runners on base but were unable to bring them home. They were held homer-less for the first time and it might be the first time a team didn't hit a homerun on field 2. The Mughals dedicated the victory to their absent GM and had a statement game. Ismail Akhter earned player of the game for going 4-4 with a homer and 7 RBIs. 
Final score: Mughals - 26, Ayyubids - 7    
 Star of the Game - Ismail Akhter Click to watch POTG Video

Seljuqs v Mughals: In the final game before the break, two teams coming off mercy games. One was in victory while the other was in a historical loss. The Seljuqs finally found some offence in the first inning with RBI singles by Sheraz Mahmood and Furhan Azmat to put the birds up 3-0. The Mughals brought their warm bats as they put up another mercy inning in the first on the backs of Ismail Akhter and Zuhair Fancy homeruns. Asim Qurayshi would get the mercy hit to finish off the inning. The Seljuqs added one in the second but the Mughals put on another 6 on an Atif Akhtar double and Asim Qurayshi single to go up 13-4. The Seljuqs would add a few more but the Mughals put an end to their misery with another 7 run mercy inning in the 4th to end the game. The Mughals fans must be wondering if this team is better off without their starting pitcher and GM as the Mughals demolish both games. The Mughals team would tell you otherwise. 
Final score: Seljuqs - 7, Mughals - 22   
 Star of the Game - Ismail Akhter Click to watch POTG Video

Ayyubids v Mamluks: This game also featured two teams coming off mercy games and the Mamluks were looking to go undefeated into the break. The Ayyubids however would not go away easy even without their regular outfield. The Ayyubids struck first with an Atif Khan leadoff homerun but the Mamluks responded with 3 in the bottom half. The Ayyubids tied it up in the 2nd with a Hasan Afzal RBI single but Sikandar Aftab replied with a huge homerun to put the Mamluks back up. Jibran Waqar and Omer Chaudhry would hit long shots too as the Mamluks went up big. The Ayyubids would reply with the long ball as well in the 5th with Zain Khilji, Ali Jabbar, Ahmad Ammad going deep to bring them down one. Shahzad Ahmed would hit a two run shot but Umer Jabbar would reply with a 3 run homerun but only 1 run counted due to a base running error. That momentum change was all the Mamluks needed as they added another 5 runs to close out the game. 
Final score: Ayyubids - 8, Mamluks - 15    
  Star of the Game - Sikandar Aftab Click to watch POTG Video

Week 5 Rumours

Last week before the Ramadan break and everyone wants to solidify their standing before we part for 5 weeks. Teams will be ready this Sunday to make a lasting impact so they can feel good about themselves during the break. Here are the matchups: 

Nasrids (vs. Sultans – 2:00PM BW1; vs. Abbasids – 3:30PM BW1)

This is it folks, this is the week of the Nasrid breakout. Despite chasing after that elusive ‘W’, the Nasrids have a golden opportunity to go 2-0 where they square off against two teams who failed to register a win last week. The Spaniards need to find a way to score early in the game as they’ve been playing catch up all season. GM Kashif Waheed continues to be optimistic that things have already begun to turn around citing last week’s match where they outhit the Mughals 13-9 in a losing cause. The Nasrids are looking to forget their 3-run performance the last time they played the Stallions and with the team slowly beginning to run on all cylinders, expect a closer dual between the two. The Nasrids found themselves losing to themselves against the Abbasids the last time they met, dropping a win by walking a whopping 14 batters! Kashif has found himself changing his pitchers more often than Justin Bieber changes his hairstyles. Their bloated 6-man pitching rotation has walked 62 batter thus far, 22 more than the next-in-line pitcher. Nevertheless, this team is far from out as it’s pretty clear it’s not the offense nor the fielding but the mound that needs to be addressed. On the bright side, new additions N K and Bilal Javed continue to hit the ball well supporting anchor, Osman Buttar with offensive production. In fact, Bilal Javed is one of three players in the league to hit 1.000 with runners in scoring position. Kashif Waheed himself is beginning to find his groove at the plate so expect an interesting turn of events this week where we may find a new basement dweller. Two losses this week and they might as well make other plans for August 27th.
 
Sultans (@ Nasrids – 2:00PM BW1; vs. Ottomans – 3:30PM BW2)

GM Amir Khalil brought back many of the players of the 2014 season in an effort to improve on last year's disappointment. To this point things remain largely the same even though the team, on paper, appears more talented. Last week the Sultans lost two games against teams directly above them in disappointing fashion, failing to score double digits in either game and committing a number of fielding errors. After being called out in last week’s rumours W K hit a solo home run in both games. Ali Nazir looks to return this week and Tanseer Khawaja will be hoping his return can solidify the infield. This week the Sultans play the Nasrids who is the team’s sole victory and sitting right behind them in the standings. This is a must win for the stallions otherwise they could drop to last place. In their second matchup, they face the Ottomans who shellacked them 14-3. The Sultans need to start making a move in the standings if they want to keep the playoffs in their sights. It will be interesting to see if Amir and company can get the offense going, another 0-2 week might spell the end of playoff hopes.

Abbasids
 (vs. Ottomans – 2:00PM BW2; @ Nasrids – 3:30 BW1)

The Orangemen continue to lurch in mediocrity as their current record stands at 2-4-1. Suffering a humiliating loss by the Ayyubids, GM Ahmad Hussain has ordered a team practice hoping to find an explanation to their lack of offense. Fielding-wise the team has committed only 18 errors, the least in the league. Yet with sufficient power from top to bottom, the Abbasids have averaged under 5 runs in their last 3 games so clearly a shake-up is needed. Rumour has it a friendly match is set against the Nasrids sometime during the week. Interestingly, both teams are slated to face off for their second game this Sunday so expect both GMs to fill their pages with detailed scouting reports. Known as ‘late-bloomers’ there’s no reason not to expect the same this season. Late round pick up, Atif Qureshi has been a potent force with a team-leading batting average of .667 at the plate. Should we be surprised? He lead the 2015 squad with 4 doubles so expect outfielders to be on the alert the next time he steps up to the plate. While Kashif Irshad and Hammad Afif are beginning to find their bats, the Abbasids will have trouble securing a playoff spot unless their once offensive juggernaut Rameez Siddiqi quickly finds his rhythm. With the season half done, one wonders whether Rameez’s weight loss has something to do with his reduced offensive production as his numbers are nowhere close to last season’s. The Abbasids are looking to redeem themselves against the Ottomans, suffering a loss after scoring 9 runs in the first 2 innings the last time these teams met. With a history of bringing their A-game against top tier teams, don’t be surprised if they climb out of mediocrity and go 2-0 week. 

Ottomans (@ Abbasids – 2:00PM BW2; @ Sultans – 3:30PM BW2)

The Turks continue to surprise with victories every week in close games. The team has learnt from last year and are benefitting from the poise of their new starting pitcher to keep games close and shut down their opponents late. The Ottomans suffered their first loss of the season but bounced right back to beat the Mughals in convincing fashion. Rehan Ahmad continues his onslaught of pitchers and the order ahead of him are doing a great job of filling their bases for his big bat. They have 3 guys sitting over 0.600 and 5 guys over 0.500. Shaheen Limbada continues to be overshadowed by Rehan but is quietly having a great season. The Ottomans defence has also been stellar, committing only 19 errors through 7 games. GM Hashim Ghazi couldn’t have asked for anything more from his new infielders Shoaib Gaya and Shoaib Bhatti. The Ottomans face the Abbasids and Sultans this week who they beat in week 2. Both opponents will be motivated to bring down the Turkish empire but will have to find a way to score plenty of runs against the stingy Ottomans. The team are still looking for the whereabouts of Furhan Hoda who hasn’t played a game thus far. They are wondering if he will reappear before the mid-season break.
 
Ayyubids (vs. Mughals – 5:00PM BW2; @ Mamluks – 6:30PM BW2)

The reigning champions continue their season long journey with a tough test this coming Sunday. The men in black stunned everyone with a 20-2 demolition of the Abbasids that catapulted them into 3rd place. The Ayyubids have homeruns from 7 players thus far with Hasan Afzal being the latest addition. With the bottom of their order in Ahmed Butt and Hasan hitting bombs, this team will be relentless offensively. The Ayyubids will be glad they continue to play on Diamond 2 to continue to run up their homerun totals and remain undefeated on the smaller field. The team continues their mandatory weekly practices and couldn’t have found better additions like Ahmad Ammad who shows up to everyone’s practices. Team management hasn’t decided whether practices will be mandatory while fasting for the next month. The Ayyubids face a stiff challenge this Sunday with games against the Mughals and the undefeated Mamluks. Pitcher Ali Jabbar will be tested this Sunday against two of the top scoring teams. The Ayyubids sit only a point behind second place but have teams right behind them for 3rd so they will be hoping for a pair of victories.

Mughals (@ Ayyubids – 5:00PM BW2; vs. Seljuqs – 6:30PM BW1)

The badshah’s are in unfamiliar territory with their 4-3 record. The Mughals franchise has never tasted 3 regular season losses and been this low in the standings this late in the season. They concerning part is they have not beat a team with a winning record so far and continue to have their offence disappearing in big games. In their 3 losses thus far, they have left over 10 men on base and have been held scoreless in 3 innings each game. Onlookers commented that this Mughals team has lost its chemistry and everyone is swinging for the fences to pad their own stats, a far cry from their small ball strategy. It will be interesting to see how the team deals with mediocrity. We expect them to shake up their batting lineup this week to spark their offence. Zuhair Fancy, Mohammed Ali Pasha and Randy Panesar are all batting under 0.400 for the first time in their careers. They will need to make amends to balance out the lineup. The Mughals also are at the top of the league in errors committed which can’t make their supporters happy. One opposing GM mentioned you can tell which Mughals team will show up based on how early the players arrive. With games against the Ayyubids and the Seljuqs this Sunday, the Mughals have a chance to either move up in the standings or drastically fall to the basement before the break. Let's see which Mughals team shows up this week. 


Seljuqs (vs. Mamluks – 5:00PM BW1; @ Mughals – 6:30PM BW1)
 
After losing their first 3 games, the Seljuqs have not lost in their last 4 games. With a 2-3-2 record, they look to build upon recent success, their GM Ibrahim Sardar is turning heads with his performance at the plate (5 hits last week). The recent Seljuq surge has baffled many BSL analysts with a team that has only 1 player hitting over .500 yet steadily climbing up in the ranks. How is this possible? The team is winning close games and has found a defensive lineup that can hold opponents at bay. The Seljuqs will get their chance to prove their worth when they face off against Green Machine Mamluks for game 1 and the Mughals for game 2. With the right amount of fine-tuning in their fielding and timely hitting from all members of the team don’t be surprised if the Seljuqs eke out a victory against any of their top tier opponents. Newly appointed ace Taha Iqbal will have to continue where he left off pitching solid 2 games last week in order to give his team a fighting chance. It’s tough to really pinpoint how the Seljuqs have kicked it up a notch; some speculate it’s their mandatory weekly practices that are starting to bear fruit.

Mamluks (@ Seljuqs – 5:00PM BW1; vs. Ayyubids – 6:30PM BW2)

The Mamluks sealed the deal last week solidifying their dominance over the entire league. This offensive behemoth boasts a runs differential of 61 almost doubling the next best, they have 8 of their 12 players hitting well over .500, with Jibran Waqar and Omer Chaudhry in the league’s top 3 in RBIs. The lineup is a pitcher’s nightmare especially when new additions Umair Shaikh and Shahzad Ahmed are pounding homeruns of their own. With a perfect record at the midway point, GM Riz Merchant is looking for ways to keep his squad engaged and challenged. Observers noticed the Mamluks bench looked more like a Ramadan iftar potluck scene than anything else, with players all contributing exotic dishes like spicy kabobs. They even had aunties hand delivering aluminum wrapped trays of food during their game (I saw her with my own eyes). At his point it’s hard to deny there’s a strong correlation between their deep fried spicy masala diet and their ability to smack the ball all over the field. Jokes aside, Riz Merchant needs to keep his boys in check as they face two opponents that shouldn’t be taken lightly for different reasons. Game 1 they square off against a team that is possibly hungrier for a win than they are. With their second game against the 3rd-seed Ayyubids, anything can happen as the last time they met ended in a close 11-7 with the Mamluks going ahead at the very last inning.

Enjoy the last week of games before the break. Ramadan Kareem. 

Week 4 Recap

Week 4 has passed and some teams continue to make a name for themselves while others see their playoff hopes fade. This was an important week as every team has now played each other once as we head into the second half of the season. Here is what happened.   
Ayyubids v Sultans: The Ayyubids put the pressure on the Sultans early with a 7 run mercy inning to start. Not the start the Sultans would have wanted. The Sultans replied back with 3 runs. Even though they shut down the Ayyubids offence for the next 3 innings, they weren't able to get enough runs across to make a game of it. The Ayyubids continued their solid form with 15 hits and 12 singles. The Sultans however could only get 6 hits with their bottom four hitters going 0-8. Ali Jabbar went 3-3 and only allowed 6 hits for the player of the game honours. 
Final Score: Ayyubids - 11, Nasrids - 6
              Star of the Game - Ali Jabbar

Seljuqs v Abbasids: In a low scoring affair, both teams started off struggling for offence. With only 2 runs through 3 total innings, both teams responded later in the game with clutch hits. The Abbasids scored 4 runs in the 4th and 5th but the Seljuqs had a huge 6th inning with the game on the line with an Imran Merchant opposite field 3 run homerun to go up by one. The Abbasids started a 2 out rally with Hammad Afif being driven home by a Fraz Butt single. With the winning run on third, the Seljuqs got Omair Zuberi to ground out to end the game. Taha Iqbal made his debut pitching performance and was impressive holding the Abbasids to 6 runs on 1 walk. Hammad Afif went 3-3 and scored the game tying run. 
Final Score: Seljuqs - 6, Abbasids - 6        Star of the Game - Hammad Afif & Imran Merchant

Sultans v Seljuqs: In a big matchup for the standings, the Sultans needed a win here to staying close to the pack for a playoff spot while the Seljuqs wanted to up. The Sultans struck first on a Tanseer Khawaja sac fly but the Seljuqs did them one better with a Fuzail Thakur 3 run homerun. In the third inning, the Seljuqs would add 3 more on a two-out two-run single by Sheraz Mahmood. W K would hit a solo shot in the losing cause as the Sultans once again struggled offensively. Fuzail Thakur's 3 run shot was the difference in this one as he earns player of the game honours. 
Final Score: Sultans - 3, Seljuqs- 9       
 Stars of the Game - Fuzail Thakur

Abbasids v Ayyubids: Two franchises very familiar with each other took to the field looking to make a statement and it was the Ayyubids that did just that. They rocked the Abbasids on route to a 20-2 victory. They put up two mercy innings in the 2nd and 3rd, capped off by homeruns by Hasan Afzal and Ahmed Butt to end the inning. They would add another 4 in the 4th to seal up the victory. The Abbasids were able to get hits but not consistent enough to get runners home. The Ayyubids finished off a fine day going 2-0.  
Final Score: Abbasids - 2, Ayyubids - 20    
     Star of the Game - Ahmad Butt & Hasan Afzal  Click to watch POTG Video

Mamluks v Ottomans: Two undefeated teams took the field at 5pm on Sunday and only one would survive. The Mamluks made sure the Ottomans knew it would be them early with a 10-1 lead after 2 innings. The Ottomans would reply back with 2 homeruns from Rehan Ahmad but as the Mamluks have done all season, they put up crooked numbers regularly. They replied with a big 6 run inning in the 5th to put the game out of reach. Umair Shaikh went 3-4 with a homerun and 7 RBIs to help his squad remain flawless. 
Final score: Mamluks - 18, Ottomans - 11     
 Star of the Game - Umair Shaikh 

Mughals v Nasrids: The winless Nasrids came this Sunday ready to turn their season around. They all arrived 60 mins early to practice and get ready. The Mughals as usual, arrived right at game time but were that ones that struck first. With Omar Husain making his pitching debut, the Mughals took 7 walks in the first inning before Jibran Khan hit a monster homerun to mercy the inning. The Nasrids would reply back with a Bilal Javed homerun but the walks continued to pile up against for the Nasrids. The Mughals would add on another 5 runs late to put this game out of reach. Ismail Akhter went 3-3 with a homerun and 2 doubles in the victory. 
Final score: Mughals - 14, Nasrids - 10    
 Star of the Game - Ismail Akhter

Mughals v Ottomans: In the final game of the night on diamond 1, two rivals took to the diamond. The Ottomans took advantage first putting up 6 runs in the first three innings and held the Mughals scoreless. The badshah's would finally get their bats going with a 7 run 4th capped off by a Nadeem Hussain homerun. The Ottomans however, would reply back with a 7 run 2 out rally in the 5th to go up for good. The Mughals would get one more but would leave men on base again. The badshah's left the bases loaded 3 times and came away with nothing. Rehan Ahmad would hit another homerun while Shoaib Bhatti went 2-4 with 2 doubles and 4 RBIs against his former team. 
Final score: Mughals - 8, Ottomans - 13   
 Star of the Game - Shoaib Bhatti

Mamluks v Nasrids: In a matchup of undefeated vs winless, the result was almost predictable. The Mamluks offence showed no mercy as they put up another 20 runs against an opponent. The Nasrids tried matching them homerun for homerun but didn't have the depth to keep pace on the scoreboard. Omer Chaudhry hit 2 homeruns batting in the cleanup role to add to his RBI totals. The Nasrids will have to go back to drawing board to figure out another strategy because their plan didn't work this Sunday.
Final score: Mamluks - 22, Nasrids - 11    
  Star of the Game - Omer Chaudhry Click to watch POTG Video

Week 4 Rumours

We finally get a warm weekend to play some softball. The season resumes this Sunday with only 2 weeks left before the Ramadan break. We break down each team and what to expect in this edition of rumours. 

Sultans (vs. Ayyubids – 2:00PM BW1; @ Seljuqs – 3:30PM BW1)

The Sultans have been practicing during the break to be better than their record suggests and they are better than a 1-4 team. The Stallions can’t catch a break, with teams going yard and demolishing the score line. The Sultans can hit and field but just can’t find their rhythm. It’s surprising to see Suhail Taji and W K put only 1 homerun to thier name so far and it could be the reason Sultans are struggling to keep up at the plate. Noor Shiekh has come around from last season to hit 3 over the fence but a production needs more than one moving piece. The 2015 Best pitcher, Tanseer Khawaja continues to surprise us with his athletics and we are beginning to think his young soul is trapped in the Robocop body. In exhibition, Khawaja ran the diamond for an in the park homer, made spectacular catches behind the plate from the mound, and even fetched the homerun balls his teammates hit. Practice and game are whole different things and this week the Sultans take on the Seljuqs and Ayyubids, both coming in with high hopes against them. The squad must invest in momentum of their own to overcome these matchups and get back into the standings.
 
Ayyubids (@ Sultans – 2:00PM BW1; vs. Abbasids – 3:30PM BW2)

The Ayyubids split their games last week, but put up two very convincing performances to make some space for themselves as a top half team at BSL. The blacks continue to display balance from top bottom and right to left finding consistency against every opponent. Umair Jabbar has been the brightest in black and the only real cleanup on the team setting him up to be a BSL great. Stats suggest when Umair bats .500 or higher, the team pulls out a victory solidifying the extent to which the team relies on him. The Jabbars, Ali, Umer, and Umair have been influential to the clubs’ success and management hopes the brothers don’t plan any Instagram photoshoots with their jerseys on. Ali Jabbar and has pitching has been the Ayyubids’ trump card and the foundation their stringent defense, reinforcing the quality of a championship pitcher. In the physio room, Zain Khilji brings his hamstring curse to his new team, taking no time to infect Atif Khan and Ahmed Ammad who are to recover from hammy strains for this Sunday. Aazar Zafar, a self-proclaimed Raptors superfan, is once again questionable for Sunday based on the chance of a Game 7 against the Cavs. Our reporters indicate, the Ayyubids may have paid off the NBA officials to avoid a game 7 so that Aazar can be available for this week’s games. Aazar or no Aazar, the Ayyubids are not an easy team to beat.

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

The Abbasids have had a bumpy ride at BSL so far and are riding the middle of the standings with 1 game below 500. The Orangemen can score runs, there’s no doubt about it, but they haven’t been able to stop their opponents from doing so. Omair Zuberi continues to hit the plate and disallow batters from taking a walk, but is he doing enough to make it difficult to get the ball in play. It may be too critical to ask questions of the pitcher who has done nothing wrong and this early, but the Abbasids need to start somewhere to strengthen their defences. The field is well scripted to make those routine plays but can they make the extra out or the fine catch? GM Ahmed Hussain put together a well rounded team from a home away from home but there is still room to improve chemistry as many have not played together most notably, the doctor trio. Speaking off, Hammad Afif needs to get the gorilla off his back, or have whatever Atif Qureshi is having. The Abbasids take on the Seljuqs and Ayyubids this week for a chance to jump the standings and up their rep as a squad that can challenge the best. 

Seljuqs (@ Abbasids – 2:00PM BW2; vs. Sultans – 3:30PM BW1)

The Seljuqs made way for themselves in the standings last week after falling into a 0-3 hole to start the season. The birds finally got their claws on some valuable points taking flight to 6th on the standings and are just behind the flock of BSL. The headship of GM Ibrahim Sardar is headed in the right direction and the energy in the squad is still buzzing from previous week. Team stars Imran Merchant, Taha Iqbal, and Sameer Rafique hit crucial homeruns in the open innings that put their opponents on their back foot. This team has an instinct for driving in an abundance of late runs which will turn games in their favour as they did last week in both games. A R has found his rhythm and is turning out to be the reliable pitcher the team needs, but he won’t be available for the first game this week. The squad will happily welcome back Sheraz bhai after his two week hiatus and his calm presence should help the club. The team is already having issues with attendance and can only go as far as their players take them. With the Sultans and Abbasids on their schedule this week, the Seljuqs have the opportunity to fly higher and prove they should not be underestimated.
 
Ottomans (vs. Mamluks – 5:00PM BW1; vs. Mughals – 6:30PM BW1)

The Ottomans remain undefeated after 4 and prove once again they have what it takes to win close games. The squad plays with a juggernaut sort of style preventing opponents from breaching the score line and relying on their heavy bats to drive in the wins. They currently host the best runs against total in the league but haven’t been able to put up a competitive runs differential given their batting potential. Perhaps their approach is, as long as we win we won’t need the differential. Last week the Ottomans were definitely stretched in very close games resulting in a tie and a win by 1 run. If it wasn’t for the heroics of Rehan Ahmed’s last inning homer against the Ayyubids, the Ottomans would be perceived differently. The bottom must start clicking again to award their core with more chances to drive in runs, but what about A K. The man is on mission. He’s hitting the gaps and plate and the stats charts making him a crucial portion to the team’s power supply. GM Hashim Ghazi has also stepped up his game shaping the season to be his career best, but won’t be able to build on it as he is not available for selection this week and what a crucial week, this. The navy will have to take on 2 of the best teams without their GM, the Mughals and the Mamluks. We know they can hold it in the field but can they outscore their opponents to keep the undefeated sequence alive

Mamluks (@ Mamluks – 5:00PM BW1; @ Nasrids – 6:30PM BW2)

The Mamluks are perfect with 5 wins in 5 games and are doing it with ease. Alas, the Bordertown guys found a team to embody them and now look to take BSL. With a run differential of 43 in just 5 games the team is on track to set unbreakable records. The team is rolling on all 12 wheels with impactful contributions from every player and it’s incredible to see the worst batting average on the team is .412. In fact, 10 out of 12 guys have hit homeruns so far and the 2 who didn’t are certainly capable of it. Rizwan Merchant, being 1 of the 2, is living the stress free GM life, leaving it up to his abundant superstars Jibran Waqar,  Taher Mirza, Hassan Chaudhry and rookie Shahzad Ahmed to do what they do. The giggly Rizwan is enjoying himself at the plate with no pressure and perhaps the reason why his average has suffered, but on the mound he knows he has to do well and has beyond expectation. In other news, first basemen, Umair Sheikh, is in retirement form as he held his back while limping to first on a grounder during an exhibition game. Legends say he used to hold a golden glove but the old age that came too early now forces him to play at first. Regardless, Umair will be an important piece for the greens as they look to extend their perfect season especially against the number 2s, Ottomans. Everyone including our simulators expects them to be 7-0 after Sunday.


Nasrids (vs. Mughals – 5:00PM BW2; vs. Mamluks – 6:30PM BW2)
 
The hole grows deeper and the climb gets steeper. The once feared Nasrids are basement sweepers…. I mean… are trapped on ground floor going pointless in 5 games and no elevator is coming. The team is forced to take the stairs against the high flying Mamluks and Mughals who will look to suppress the boys in beige from a chance at a post season. What is going on? A team hosting studs like Osman Buttar, Usama Mahmood, “Sir” Nirvaan Latif, NK, Kashif Waheed aaaand Hamza Waheed can’t find a win? We know the Nasrids have enough talent to beat any team but have to put in at least a decent performance to do so. It doesn’t help that the team still continues to experiment with their positions, but the mound is where we can point to and say, that can’t happen, The Nasrids allowed 26 walks last week alone and management will make sure that will never happen again. It goes to say, the Nasrids will be at their best this weekend and the Mamluks need to be defeated. What better way to make a statement. Bilal Javed is having a swell season from the corner and will be key in helping his stars make the breakthrough this week. Hamza Waheed must “hold the door” from the outburst of runs the Nasrids are being exposed to before all is lost. This week will determine if the Nasrids “are ready”.

Mughals (@ Nasrids – 5:00PM BW2; @ Ottomans – 6:30PM BW1)

The Mughals sit pretty at third with a boastful run differential having split their games last weekend. The “old folk” are another team that strive from balance and good chemistry adding rookies Ismail Akhtar and Mohsin Zubair who are living up to the Mughals standards. A rare occurrence that is not so rare for the team this season is the term “practice”. Mohammed Ali Pasha who likes to involve himself in management and not to mention, has an opinion on everything, has taken lead on practice and shaking the rust off the veterans. Atif Akhtar and Faraz Alvi are having solid seasons at the plate alongside Zahid Merchant who also holds down the mound with footwork that echoes the grace and delicacy of a teenage ballerina. On the contrary, it’s not all flowers and ponies for the Mughals. The baby blues have had 3 convincing wins yes, but lost the 2 more meaningful games against the Mamluks and Ayyubids. They square up against the undefeated Ottomans this Sunday and will have to prove they can defeat a top half team. It’s safe to say the squad will look to shorten their swing and consistently hit the gaps in both games, except for Randy Panesar, he goes for a homer at every at bat. Mughals are looking for the big 2-0 this week to jump to second and nail their critics.    

Big games this week. See you on the field. 

Week 3 Recap

We went into week 3 hoping for some summer weather but we were once again denied. Each team battled the bitter cold and wind to play two games on Sunday while the Raptors played game 7 in the second round. Let's see how everyone faired.  

Ayyubids v Nasrids: On a cold day, there were plenty of Waheed/Mahmood family to take in the first game. The Nasrids were looking for their first win and started off cold going scoreless in their first two innings. The Ayyubids played small ball and got walks to bring in 5 runs before the Nasrids woke up. The Nasrids finally got runs off a Osman Buttar homerun to get back in the game but the Ayyubids got a clutch bases clearing double from injured Atif Khan to give them a big cushion. Ali Jabbar struck out 5 batters on the day to shut down the Nasrids offence for the win.  
Final Score: Ayyubids - 10, Nasrids - 4
              Star of the Game - Atif Khan

Ottomans v Seljuqs: In a tale of two innings, this game started off with plenty of runs. The Ottomans put up 7 runs in the top of the first on plenty of walks and situational hits but the Seljuqs replied back for 3. Nothing happened till the 4th when the Ottomans put up 7 more runs on a grand slam by Hamza Hussain. The Seljuqs replied right back with a 7 run inning on a grand slam of their own by Ibrahim Sardar. With the Ottomans up by 4 in the last inning, the Seljuqs tied up the game with a two run homerun by Sameer Rafique and a clutch 2 run homerun by Taha Iqbal. The game would end in a tie with the Seljuqs stranding the winning run on base. 
Final Score: Ottomans - 14, Seljuqs - 14        Star of the Game - Taha Iqbal 

Ayyubids v Ottomans: In a big matchup, Ayyubids looked to take down the undefeated Ottomans. The Ayyubids struggled early with two men playing injured and couldn't get a rally going. On the other hand, the Ottomans quickly put up two runs on the board. It wasn't until the 5th inning when the Ayyubids offence came to life for 3 runs to take the lead. The Ottomans however replied back with a Rehan Ahmad 3 run homer to reclaim the lead for good. The Ayyubids brought one run across but left the tying run on third as Yousaf Chaudhry flew out to end the game. Hamza Hussain came in to pitch at the end to get the save. 
Final Score: Ayyubids - 5, Ottomans- 6       
 Stars of the Game - Hamza Hussain Click to watch POTG Video

Seljuqs v Nasrids: Two winless teams played their second game on diamond 2 and both wanted to win badly. Both pitchers were either walking guys or getting lit up for homeruns. Hamza Waheed broke his own BSL record with 16 walks allowed. Both teams put up massive runs on the board but the Seljuqs broke it open with a 12 run open inning to put the game out of reach. Imran Merchant hit 2 homeruns with 8 RBIs to cap off that 12 run inning for the Seljuqs first win of the season.  
Final Score: Seljuqs - 24, Nasrids - 15    
     Star of the Game - Imran Merchant

Mamluks v Mughals: The undefeated Mamluks looked to make it 4-0 against the Mughals and they started off the game with a flurry of singles and a homerun from Taher Mirza to open the score at 7-0. The Mughals tried to respond but once again left men on base at critical moments. The lone bright spot was Randy Panesar hitting a two run homerun. The Mamluks got hitting from every part of their order despite 5 strikeouts in the game. The Mamluks continued their good early season form to easily win this one. 
Final score: Mamluks - 14, Mughals - 8     
 Star of the Game - Taher Mirza Click to watch POTG Video

Abbasids v Sultans: White and Orange faced off to turn their season around. Both teams started off in a frenzy with big innings and homeruns from unlikely sources. Noor Sheikh, Shamil Khadaroo, Kamil Haider and Atif Qureshi all hit their first career BSL homeruns. It was Atif's 3 run homer that was the difference in this game and put the Abbasids ahead for good. The Sultans missed the presence of their big bats in this game while the Abbasids got a much needed win. 
Final score: Abbasids - 14, Sultans - 10    
 Star of the Game - Atif Qureshi Click to watch POTG Video

Mughals v Abbasids: In the final game of the night on diamond 1, the Abbasids jumped out to an early 5-1 lead against the Mughals before their offense finally showed up. The Mughals batted around for a crucial 7 run inning with hits coming from Jibran Khan and Asim Qurayshi to finish off the inning. That would open up the floor gates as the Mughals scored another 7 runs in the next three innings. The Abbasids offence couldn't carry over to diamond 1 as they were held to 1 run after the 3rd inning. Both teams earned a split on the day to stay in the middle of the pack. 
Final score: Mughals - 15, Abbasids - 6   
 Star of the Game - Nadeem Hussain

Mamluks v Sultans: In the final game on a cold day, the Mamluks were relentless in their attack on the Sultans. They scored crooked runs in every inning to put up 22 runs. They got homeruns from Jibran Waqar, Umair Sheikh, Baseer Yasseen and Asad Moten in their onslaught. The Sultans did their best to keep up but there was no way they were scoring 22 runs. Noor Sheikh and Shamil Khadaroo added to their good day with another homerun each. On the bright side, the Sultans got hits from everyone so they just need to work on driving in those runs. The Mamluks completed their day with two easy wins to go 5-0. 
Final score: Mamluks - 22, Sultans - 9    
  Star of the Game - Asad Moten Click to watch POTG Video

Week 3 Rumours

As we head into the third week of the season, there are some big games before we take a break in honour of Her Majesty the Queen (Victoria Day). The weather doesn't want to co-operate so far with cold temperatures again this Sunday. Let's see the matchups for this week. 

Nasrids (vs. Ayyubids – 2:00PM BW1; vs. Seljuqs – 3:30PM BW2)

We are fa-mi-ly! Our team sits at Oh-and-Three! That song is awful, much like the family picnic known as the Nasrids performances thus far. They’ve lost defensive battles, they’ve lost high-scoring affairs, and they’ve lost in a blowout…to the Sultans. This can’t be for real, can it? A team with former MVP Sir Nirvaan Latif, last year’s MOP Osama Buttar, and studs Hamza Waheed and Usama Mahmood? Again, much like the Seljuqs, we’ve seen this team at their worst, and it’s only a matter of time until their best shows up. They just can’t seem to find a formula that works. Against the Abbasids, they went with three pitchers. They’ve tried guys in different positions in the field – it’s just not clicking. GM Kashif Waheed just needs to re-evaluate his squa, and put his guys in positions to succeed. When you have a defensive stalwart in Usama Mahmood at short, a quality pitching duo of Nirvaan and Hamza, and a power bat in Buttar, there’s really no excuse. Maybe the guys just need more time to gel, but they’re all family – but what if that’s the issue? Everyone is too comfortable and don’t hold one another responsible, which leads to a more lax clubhouse versus the more competitive edge seen on other teams. You have to be nice to your family, maybe that’s the issue? Regardless of what the issue is, they need to fix it, and fast. With matchups against last year’s champion Ayyubids and the also-winless Seljuqs, they have to get at least one win on the day or else they find themselves in a hole maybe too deep to climb out of.
 
Ayyubids (@ Nasrids – 2:00PM BW1; @ Ottomans – 3:30PM BW1)

I know we refer to the Ayyubids as last year’s champions, but they’ve undergone such a facelift that maybe the title isn’t warranted. Regardless, they’ve been playing like a team capable of winning another, especially with the Jabbar brothers doing damage week in-week out. Ali Jabbar remains a force to be reckoned with on the mound, and Umer Jabbar continues to play big when it counts and keep his squad motivated and focused on victory. But yo, who the hell predicted Umair Jabbar coming out the gate like THIS? Rumour has it that after his bestie Rizvan Merchant had a son, Jabbar now plays second fiddle in Riz’s heart, and that in turn has led to this juggernaut dressed in black and orange. Could a broken heart lead to all these broken records? Umair is playing the best ball of his life, and is doing it all. You could also say that as a relatively young member of the League, he had a huge responsibility on his shoulders to be a leader the last few years on the Abbasids. Now that he’s playing with his older brothers that have taken on the clubhouse leader role more, he just has to show up, play ball and lead by example. The kid is turning heads around the League, and we’re excited to see if he can keep this going. The Ayyubids face the Nasrids and the Ottomans this week, and look to further their title defence in orderly fashion..

Seljuqs
 (vs. Ottomans – 2:00PM BW2; @ Nasrids – 3:30 BW2)

On one side of the spectrum, you have the Seljuqs, who have been beaten, and beaten badly. However, this team has far too much talent to really expect them to perform at this level all season. They were missing first round picks Furhan Azmat and then Sameer Rafique in back-to-back weekends, leading to guys playing out of position and a lack of chemistry in the side. They’re stacked with talent, notable with Imran Merchant, Taha Iqbal and the aforementioned Rafique and Azmat. With a hopefully full squad this week, don’t be surprised to see the Birds sing a different tune. They’ve had a flurry of runs in the late innings of games, and have trouble coming out strong out of the gate. GM Ibrahim Sardar recognizes that and does see silver lining in them closing games strong despite them being out of reach. It’s a far better scenario then being dejected in big losses. The teams have something to build on, but they just haven’t put it together yet. The task doesn’t get any easier this week, with a matchup against the Ottomans to kick off the day. If they can’t get the monkey off their back in game one, they face fellow winless team Nasrids in game two, which will have both teams seething for a win if remain winless after their first encounters. 

Ottomans (@ Seljuqs – 2:00PM BW2; vs. Ayyubids – 3:30PM BW1)

Pitching remains the questions mark. They don’t have a true infield. They brought back the same group of guys so the same results will come in. This is just a taste of what other GMs were saying around the League after the Ottomans draft. However, with a combination of phenomenal pitching by AK and a staunch defense that’s given up the least amount of runs and produced the least amount of errors, those question marks entering into the season have changed into exclamation marks. Surely everything is peachy for the Turks, right? Wrong. The GM trio got ahead of themselves last year after a commanding first half of the season only to fall flat on their face into the second half and in the playoffs. They cannot afford to get complacent this time around, but there is still a lot to be happy about. Most notably, the bottom of the lineup has been stellar. Last year, the big O relied on Shaheen Limbada and Rehan Ahmad to pile on all the runs, but this year, it’s been more small ball and a more complete effort offensively from one through twelve. Newcomers Hamza Hussain, Junaid Mirza and AK have all been getting on base at will at the bottom of the lineup, easing the pressure on the big bats and letting everyone do their part to get Ws. With matchups against the Seljuqs and Ayyubids this week, the Ottomans look to make it 5-0.
 
Mughals (vs. Mamluks – 5:00PM BW1; @ Abbasids – 6:30PM BW1)

Can we please take a second and revisit Zahid Merchant’s solo shot to start off the game against the Seljuqs? Okay, that’s a second…let’s move on. The “C+ infield” of the Mughals has been anything but, and they haven’t been quiet when reminding teams about it. The fiery Mohammed Ali Pasha broods after every groundout like he’s a gladiator, and the team’s responded well. Let’s not forget that everyone, including Pasha himself, were stunned at the Badshahs taking him as the fifth overall pick. That’s not a slight to Pasha (yes, for one I am not taking a shot at Pasha) – he’s definitely got the talent to be a first round pick – but for a team with a stud in Ziggy on the mound, why go for another amazing pitcher and fiery combatant? Well, the answer is right before as Pasha has seamlessly fit in with Rafique Choudhary, Atif Akhtar and Randy Panesar in the infield, turning double plays and routinely getting forceouts on grounders. Also, on the topic of the draft, did Zahid really knock it out of the park with the unknown commodities in Ismail Akhtar and Mohsin Zubair again? Last year, it was WPG’s finest and unknown commodity Furhan Azmat, and this year, the newbies in baby blue have hit home runs and cashed in runs like it’s nobody’s business. Once again, the self-nicknamed Ziggy the Zenith has found diamonds in the rough that are paying dividends immediately. The Mughals face the Mamluks in a highly-touted matchup this week at 5:30, and then close out against the Abbasids in game two.

Mamluks (@ Mughals – 5:00PM BW1; @ Sultans – 6:30PM BW2)

Straight up, the Mamluks look DEADLY. They’ve been amazing defensively, they have been piling on the runs, and The Regulator can actually pitch. Jibran Waqar’s been putting up Jibran numbers; the Chaudhry brothers are doing work in the outfield as expected; but, how about this Shahzad Ahmed kid. Twenty-five players were taken before him. TWENTY-FIVE. He was a fourth round pick! GM Rizvan Merchant saw very little of the boy from Ajax, and took a gamble on him in the fourth round that paid off. He was high on the Ottomans list, with Shahzad being Faisal Khan’s cousin and all, and the boys in Navy didn’t think anyone would touch him until he fell to them in the fourth round. But Rizzy reached, risked and got rewarded. He’s been solid at third base and has been tattooing the ball out of the park. He hit homeruns that cleared the train tracks on his first two at bats. Do you realize how far those train tracks are? No really, do you? Do me a favour and walk out to the train tracks before your game next week (don’t go on the tracks, that’s illegal). Then you’ll see how far that really is. The Green Machine looks unstoppable right now, and many GMs tabbed them as favourites coming into the season. The scary thing is they look even better than we thought they would. If Riz keeps finding the plate and his team keeps playing like this, we’ll be saying a lot more than “contenders” by the end of the season. They face a major test in the Mughals in game one of their weekend doubleheader, and follow it up with a date with the Sultans.


Sultans (vs. Abbasids – 5:00PM BW2; vs. Mamluks – 6:30PM BW2)
 
Dear Amir, please don’t come back from your vacation. Sincerely, your team. (On second thought, we need you back now)
That letter was figuratively penned by the Stallions after their 19-3 drubbing of the Nasrids sans their GM. The team absolutely annihilated their opposition and was clicking on all cylinders. However, that win is the only bright spot on a poor start to the season, and the boys in white look to turn their fortunes around this weekend. They have an ace on the mound in Tanseer Khawaja, and they have the bash brothers in Suhail Taji and W K that can turn any game with one swing of the bat. However, the biggest surprise has been Zain Malik (not that one). Malik joined the Ayyubids late and never lost a game with the boys in black on his way to championship glory. He’s brought great offense into the lineup for the Sultans and we expect him to continually provide a punch just after the heart of the lineup. Trust me, this won’t be the last time you hear his name in the rumours. With GM Amir Khalil making his way back into the side for this weekend’s doubleheader, it will be interesting to see which version of the Sultans show up. The demolition crew we saw against the Nasrids, or the meek lineup we saw in their losses. If I was a betting man, I would say this isn’t the last time we’ve seen an offensive outburst like that from this squad, but the question remains as to whether they can do it week in and week out. The Sultans face a tough doubleheader against two big offenses in the Abbasids and the Mamluks this weekend.

Abbasids (@ Sultans – 5:00PM BW2; vs. Mughals – 6:30PM BW1)

The Expos Abbasids have been on the other side of some difficult losses. In week one, they had an offense firing on all cylinders only to meet the scintillating bats of the Mamluks. In week two, they jumped out to a big lead against the Ottomans, only to see the lead dwindle through small ball (and were subject to a three-man outfield due to missing bodies). The Abbasids finally got a result they can be proud of in a high-scoring back and forth matchup against the Nasrids. GM Ahmed Hussain really can’t fault his guys for their performances thus far. Omair Zuberi has been pitching well and not walking guys, the newcomers originally from La Bell Provence have been smashing the ball around the park, and the defense has not committed many errors. They’ve simply just met teams that played better than them. Of the teams with the losing records, this one definitely looks the best and is most likely to turn it around. They have all the makings of a team that can beat the best of them on any given day, and they look to be on the winning side of matchups more often than the losing side. It doesn’t help that they’ve been up against two of the undefeated teams on the season thus far, and it doesn’t get any easier with a date against the Mughals this weekend. The Abbasids first face the Sultans at 5:30PM and hope to keep their momentum from last week’s win going into this weekend.   

Big games this week. See you on the field. 

Week 2 Recap

Week 2 had some close games and some blow outs. Two teams emerged as 3-0 to begin the season while two others start the season 0-3. The Mamluks maintained their dominance and the Ottomans proved their doubters wrong. Here is what happened this Sunday:   

Nasrids v Sultans: To begin the day, the Sultans began the day looking for vengence after a disappointing opening week. They started off hot, putting up crooked numbers in each inning. Hamza Waheed was looking for a second great start but was rocked early by Sultans hitting for 19 runs in 4 innings. The Nasrids offense only put together 3 runs in 5 innings to get mercied by the Sultans. Zain Malik had a brilliant game going 3-3 with 2 doubled and 5 RBIs to earn player of the game honours. 
Final Score: Nasrids - 3, Sultans - 14
              Star of the Game - Zain Malik

Abbasids v Ottomans: On field 2, the Abbasids and Ottomans traded blows in a tight game. The Abbasids took an early 9-3 lead on the back of Ahmad Hussain and Haris Mallick homeruns. Nauman Abbasi would hit the first cross handed homerun but unfortunately it didn't count due to exceeding the limit. The Abbasids offense fell asleep after that and only scored 1 run in the next 5 innings. The Ottomans fought their way back to score big runs in the 4th and the winnings runs in the 6th. A K shut down the orange offense to end the game in the 7th. Shaheen Limbada went 3-3 with a homerun and 4 RBIs for player of the game. 
Final Score: Abbasids - 10, Ottomans - 13        Star of the Game - Shaheen Limbada Click to watch POTG Video

Sultans v Ottomans: With both teams coming off big wins, we expected a tight game but it was anything but that. The Sultans took an early 1-0 lead on a Suhail Taji homerun but that was the onyl lead they would get. The Ottomans put up 8 runs in the first two innings and never looked back on their way to a 14-3 win. The Sultans must have burnt themselves out putting up 19 runs in their first game because they couldn't get anything going. A K has emerged as a stud pitcher early in the season. Rehan Ahmad continued his stellar form with a 3-4 2 homerun effort for player of the game. 
Final Score: Sultans - 3, Ottomans- 14       
 Stars of the Game - Rehan Ahmad Click to watch POTG Video

Nasrids v Abbasids: Two winless teams played their second game on diamond 2 and it couldn't have been a closer contest. Both teams brought their hot bats with every team scoring a run on almost every inning. Going into the 5th inning the Abbasids had a slim 2 run lead but the Nasrids put up 4 runs on a homerun by Zia Ali. The Abbasids reponded with two bases loaded singles and a bunch of walks to take a 3 run lead. The Nasrids could only get another run across but left the tying run on base before ending the game. Kashif Irshad earns player of the game for his homerun and 4 RBIs.
Final Score: Nasrids - 16, Abbasids - 18    
     Star of the Game - Kashif Irshad Click to watch POTG Video

Mamluks v Ayyubids: The late game featured green against black. This one started off as a defensive matchup with only 3 runs through the first three innings. The Mamluks blew the game open with a 5 run 7th inning courtesy of Mohamed Kala's 3 run homerun. The Ayyubids had their chance in the final inning with 1 run across and men on base but couldn't get the clutch hitting. The Mamluks showed depth without two of their stars to get this big victory. Mohahmed Kala was the start with his first career homerun.
Final score: Mamluks - 11, Ayyubids - 7     
 Star of the Game - Mohamed Kala Click to watch POTG Video

Mughals v Seljuqs: InIn a highly anticipated battle, the Mughals got off a flash start putting up 7 runs in the top of the first. GM Zahid Merchant started the game with his first career BSL homerun something many thought would never happen. The Mughals through 4 innings led 17-0 and had the Seljuqs down to their final strike for the mercy and shutout but they couldn't close the deal. The Seljuqs showed a lot of fight to put up 4 runs when down to their last out to force a 6th inning with Yasser Zia and Fuzail Thakur hitting homeruns. The Mughals would add 3 and the Seljuqs 2 before the final 20-6.
Final score: Mughals - 20, Seljuqs - 6    
 Star of the Game - Zahid Merchant 

Seljuqs v Mamluks: InThe final game of the night on diamond 1 had the Seljuqs looking to carry momentum from their last game over. The Mamluks took control early with a 6 run first inning and never looked back. The Seljuqs finally got some runs in the 5th inning but the Mamluks already had 15 runs by then. Jibran Waqar and Shahzad Ahmed had homeruns but Umair Shaikh went 3-3 for player of the game honours.   
Final score: Seljuqs - 5, Mamluks - 16   
 Star of the Game - Umair Shaikh Click to watch POTG Video

Ayyubids v Mughals: BothThe final game of the night was a dandy. Both teams had their offense going and were smacking the ball all over the park. The Ayyubids got out to an early 8-3 lead and kept adding runs but the Mughals fought back late in the game with a 7 run 6th inning to tie the game. Mohsin Zubair had a break out game with 2 homeruns. With the game on the line, Hasan Afzal came through with a clutch 2 run double and Yousaf Chaudhry hit a homerun to give the Ayyubids a 4 run lead. The Mughals got back 2 runs in the bottom of the 7th and had 2 men on with nobody out. Unfortunately for them, Mohsin grounded into a fielders choice, Randy flew out and Jibran grounded out to end the game. The Ayyubids held off the Mughals for the victory in dramatic fashion. Hasan Afzal got player of the game for his clutch double at the end. 
Final score: Ayyubids - 17, Mughals - 15    
  Star of the Game - Hasan Afzal 

Week 2 Rumours

Week 2 of the season is here. After a wet and cold first week, we expect much better weather this Sunday. For the next few weeks, teams will be tested with double-headers every Sunday until we hit the Ramadan break. Every game will be that much more challenging. Let's see what we have in store this Sunday
 
Sultans (vs. Nasrids – 2:00PM BW1; @ Ottomans – 3:30PM BW1)

The Stallions stumbled out the gate after suffering a defeat at the hands of the Mughals last week. The men in white had high expectations for the season and have implemented mandatory practices for the squad. Amir’s men struggled offensively, mustering only one extra base hit on second overall pick Tanseer Khawaja’s homerun. The Sultans will need to find their offence heading into this week with difficult matchups against the Nasrids and Ottomans. The Stallions have decent pop in their lineup but need guys like Suhail Taji and Waseem Kala to bring their hot bats this Sunday. Rumour is the Sultans held out on using their new bat because of cold temperatures last Sunday which resulted in their lackluster offensive performance. In their first matchup against the Nasrids, there will be plenty on the line as both teams are 0-1 and missed the playoffs last year. Both teams will be looking to change their fortunes this Sunday. Reports have found out that both teams might be missing crucial players, with GM Amir Khalil away this weekend. They face the Ottomans in the second half of their double header. The Sultans will need a significantly better performance this Sunday if they want to sweep both matchups.
 
Nasrids (@ Sultans – 2:00PM BW1; @ Abbasids – 3:30PM BW2)

The Spaniards struggled out of the gates this Sunday in a low scoring affair against the Ottomans. While we expected a high powered offence from this bunch, they could only produce 5 runs in their first showing. GM Kashif was seen scratching his head after the game to understand what happened. Their bottom 5 hitters failed to produce a hit and a total of 7 players were held hitless. The will suffer the same fate as last year if they continue at this rate. We expect them to bounce back this week and put up the double digit scores they’re capable of. However, a lot of that will depend on whether super slugger Osman Buttar attends this Sunday, which appears doubtful. They may tinker with their lineup to get some guys going. The lone bright spot was the pitching performance of Hamza Waheed. The youngster showed poise holding the Ottomans to 8 runs while striking out 3. Most importantly, he didn’t walk anyone. If they can put up double digit runs and Hamza can continue his early pitching form, the Nasrids will be moving up the standings soon. They face off against the Sultans in their first game and the Abbasids in the afternoon game. The Nasrids are playing two teams that both lost last week so they can drastically change their standing if they can win both games.

Ottomans (vs. Abbasids – 2:00PM BW2; vs. Sultans – 3:30 BW1)

The Ottomans started off their season last Sunday in convincing fashion. The Turks showed their defensive rating was undervalued in the preseason write up and proved that with only 2 errors on Sunday. Newly acquired ace A K pitched a stellar game only allowing 5 runs and was the only pitcher not to give up a homerun last week. The Ottomans high powered offense was gun-shy last week but that probably won’t be the case again this Sunday. Rehan Ahmad started his season off with a solid outing that included his first homer of the season. The Ottomans had three additional home runs along with Rehan’s  (Shaheen Limbada, Hashim Ghazi and Shoaib Gaya) but only 3 counted due to the home-run difference rule. The Ottomans took offence to their preseason ratings and let the rest of the league know it. They will be facing two of the better pitchers in the league in Omair Zuberi and Tanseer Khawaja this Sunday. In their first matchup against the Abbasids, they will be facing the team they defeated in the wild card game last year so you can expect the Abbasids to be up for that. Both teams have plenty of firepower and will probably come down to which pitcher can keep the ball in the park. In their second matchup, they will be facing the Sultans who they dismantled all last season, but appear ready to bounce back and change their fortunes. The Ottomans seem to have the Sultans number in the last two years and will be looking to continue that trend this Sunday. 

Abbasids (@ Ottomans – 2:00PM BW2; vs. Nasrids – 3:30PM BW2)

The Abbasids continued their trend of starting slow after they were tortured to a 21-12 loss. Some on-lookers claimed they got ‘Mamluked’ (more on that later). The Abbasids have never won an opening day match up in BSL and will have a tough test this Sunday again with two quality squads. First round pick Omair Zuberi was talking a big game before the season that he allows the least amount of homeruns but was light up for a record 5 homeruns in a game which is half the total he gave up last season. He will need to adjust quickly because he faces two power hitting teams again this week. On the bright side, the Abbasids got debuts from their ‘doctorates’ with Hammad Afif, Kashif Irshad and Kamil Haider all having quality debuts. Their defence was pretty solid as well, only allowing 3 errors. Had they kept the ball in the ballpark, they might have had a chance. In their matchup against the Ottomans, they will need to do just that if they want to win especially since they play on field 2. In their second game against the Nasrids, their endurance will be tested. With the oldest team in the league, they will have to fight through fatigue and tender joints against a far younger Nasrids squad. GM Ahmad will have his work cut out for him to manage lineups to ensure his big guns get plenty of bench time to preserve them for the doubleheader marathon.
 
Ayyubids (vs. Mamluks – 5:00PM BW1; @ Mughals – 6:30 BW2)

What a difference home cooking makes? After two disappointing season, in his first game with mama’s cooking on the bench, Umair Jabbar broke out his slump going 4-5 with two moonshots. Older brother Umer Jabbar must have known that all Umair needed was some 'parathas' before the game to keep him ready. The rest of the Ayyubids team also responded with every player getting a hit. Ahmad Ammad hit a solo shot in his debut which shocked many because he played sub for many teams last season and never went yard. Maybe he was holding back for his real team. The Ayyubids really impressed, especially without first- and fourth-round picks Atif Khan and Yasser Malik in the lineup. Both are expected back in the squad this Sunday and they will both be needed with the Mamluks and Mughals in the opposing dugout. They will match up against the dangerous Mamluks first who out did the Ayyubids by putting up 21 runs on Sunday. Both teams should be familiar with each other after they held scrimmage games in the preseason. In their second game, they will play their long-standing rivals the Mughals which never disappoints. Despite a 1-4 record against the Badshahs, both teams always bring their A game for the matchup. A lot will be riding on pitcher Ali Jabbar as he faces two teams that put up 21 runs last Sunday. He will need to put a stop to their offence if the Ayyubids want to come out on top this Sunday.

Mamluks (@ Ayyubids – 5:00PM BW1; vs. Seljuqs – 6:30PM BW1)

The green machine made a lot of statements last Sunday and put the rest of the league on alert. Firstly, Rizvan Merchant proved that he is no pushover on the mound. He only allowed one walk and two homeruns in his debut, but his team’s offensive prowess stole the show. They hit a record five homeruns on Sunday. 4th round pick Shahzad Ahmed had the entire ballpark buzzing after hitting two homeruns onto the train tracks – a BSL first. We knew they had homerun power in Jibran but Hassan, Omer and Shahzad all showed they can go yard as well. Teams will be looking at their bottom order and looking to exploit them. The only weakness the Mamluks showed last week was on defence. They gave up 7 errors, most of which were in the infield. They will be looking to clean that up this Sunday. They open the week with a tasty matchup against the Ayyubids. There is plenty of familiarity there with friends Umair Jabbar, Zain Khilji, and Yasser Malik all playing for the opposition. Both teams are coming off big wins so someone will be walking away humbled. The Mamluks then take on the Seljuqs. The Mamluks will either be coming in on a high or a low after their first matchup and will probably not show any mercy to the Seljuqs pitching.

Seljuqs (vs. Mughals – 5:00PM BW2; @ Mamluks – 6:30PM BW1)
 
The other new GM in the league also had a rough start to the season last Sunday. In the season opener, the Seljuqs barely escaped a mercy game but fought their way back to respectability despite a poor performance. New pitcher A R had a rough first outing, allowing 16 runs in his first three innings pitched. Although he gave up three homeruns, all the runs weren’t entirely on the pitcher as the Seljuqs defense made 8 errors behind him. They must clean those up if they want to give their pitcher a chance. Their batting order struggled as well, only scoring 3 runs through their first 5 innings until they woke up in the 6th inning for 4 runs. The Seljuqs have a decent batting lineup and must get production from their bottom order to keep baserunners moving. The key to that will be Fuzail Thakur and Arshad Chawdhry. Rumour has it that the Seljuqs maybe shorthanded this week with perennial champion Sheraz Mahmood out of town. It will be interesting to see how the Seljuqs shuffle the lineup, however they welcome back first round pick Furhan Azmat who is expected to leadoff and play second for the red army. The Seljuqs will have to turn things around against the Mughals this Sunday who are coming in confident after their drubbing of the Sultans. The subplot for this game will be former Mughals of last year squaring off against their former squad. In their second matchup, they encounter the hot bats of the Mamluks who will be looking to increase A R’s ERA. The Seljuqs will need an error free game and a stellar pitching performance to keep Mamluks offense in check. The Seljuqs don’t possess as much homerun power so they will have to beat them with small ball.         

Mughals (@ Seljuqs – 5:00PM BW2; vs. Ayyubids – 6:30PM BW2)

The Badshahs began their 2016 season with a dominant performance last week in the late game versus the Sultans. The Mughals squad looked like they were in midseason form, with 9 extra base hits off the 2015 pitcher of the year. The Mughals got contributions from everyone in the lineup and were pumped from the get-go. If there was one weakness in the Mughals arsenal, it was their infield. – 4 of their 5 errors came from inside the dirt. They will be looking to sort that out this Sunday when they face storied matchups against the Seljuqs and Ayyubids. The Mughals lost in the semi-final to the Seljuqs, however not a single player from that squad remains adorn in red. Instead, they face half of the former Ayyubids (now on Seljuqs) which only furthers the rivalry. The strategies between both squads are fairly similar and it will come down the execution this Sunday to see who comes out on top. You can bet the Mughals will be gearing up to face former players Furhan Azmat and Asim Gauhar. In their second game, they face the Ayyubids (most of the former Seljuqs, ya I know confusing). The Mughals will be tested by the younger Ayyubids squad in the second half of their doubleheader. Despite a good record last year in doubleheaders, Mughal’s doctors have told reporters that the boys spend the rest of the week in the trainer’s room recovering from back-to-back games. It remains to be seen whether Zahid Merchant pitches both games or if Mohammed Ali Pasha will get a shot at the mound. We expect a lot of rotations to give players rest throughout the day.   

There you have it. 8 games. 8 teams. 8 storylines. 1 goal. Who will reign?

Week 1 Recap

BSL Season 3 finally began last night. All teams were sporting in their new uniforms and came ready to play on a cold and wet day. We had 17 homeruns hit in 4 games which broke all records. Here is how the action went down: 

Seljuqs v Ayyubids: The Ayyubids and Seljuqs began the season with in a rematch of the finals but this was nothing like the finals game. The Ayyubids hammered the Seljuqs from the get go with Umair Jabbar hitting 2 homeruns and 6 RBIs in his first two at-bats of the season. He beat his homerun total for all of last year in two at-bats. The Ayyubids poured on the runs with Ahmad Ammad hitting a dinger in his debut. The Ayyubids were up 18-3 at one point but the Seljuqs showed fight to put 4 runs on the board. Umair Jabbar was player of the game for his 4-5 day with 2 homeruns and 6 RBIs. 

Final Score: Seljuqs - 7, Ayyubids 18      Star of the Game - Umair Jabbar 

Abbasids v Mamluks: In the second matchup of the day, everyone expected a tight game. Both teams showed firepower early with homeruns by both teams. Hammad Afif hit a monster shot in his first BSL at-bat. Shahzad Ahmed for the Mamluk one upped him with 2 homeruns in his first two BSL at-bats. The Mamluks hit a total of 5 homeruns on the day with Jibran Waqar, Hassan Chaudhry, and Omer Chaudhry also going yard. Rizvan Merchant had a great day going 3-3 and also picking up a win in his first pitching performance. The player of the game honour belonged to Shahzad Ahmed who finished 3-3 with 5 RBIs. 

Final Score: Abbasids - 12, Mamluks 21      
Star of the Game - Shahzad Ahmed - Click to watch POTG Video

Ottomans v Nasrids: In a matchup of the two elite hitters from last year, we expected plenty of offence but this turned out to be a defensive stalemate. The Ottomans got on the board early on a Rehan Ahmad homerun but failed to score anything else for the new two innings. The Nasrids finally got on the board in the second inning to take a one run lead. In the 4th inning, the Turks took control on a pair of homeruns from Shaheen Limbada and Hashim Ghazi to 6-2. The teams would trade two run innings but the Ottomans defence and pitching closed out the game. A K had a brilliant pitching performance for the Ottomans only allowing 5 runs to a dangerous Nasrids offence. 

Final Score: Ottomans- 8, Nasrids - 5
     
Star of the Game - A K 

Sultans v Mughals: 
The final game of the night came after all the hoopla and big hits in the afternoon. The rain and cold was gone and now white v blue in the late game. The Mughals jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the first inning and were up 9-1 by the 3rd. Tanseer Khawaja helped his own cause by hitting a three-run homerun to bring the Sultans back within striking distance. However, they kept stranding runners every inning without clutch hits. The Mughals followed that up with a big 4th and 6th inning to put the game away. Ismail Akhter had a homerun in his debut and Atif Akhtar hit a triple and a homerun for player of the game honours. 

Final Score: Sultans- 7, Mughals - 21      
Star of the Game - Atif Akhtar 

Team Outlook: Mughals & Sultans

The final matchup of opening week features the mighty Mughals against the scrappy Sultans. Both teams made a big trade at the draft that landed the Sultans Tanseer Khawaja and the Mughals got a mid-round pick in return. The Mughals and Sultans have had a silent rivalry where both teams circle this game on the calendar for bragging rights. It was surprising that the teams found common ground to make a trade. Both teams had a plan to reunite their squads of yester year through the draft and both were pretty successful.

Mughals

GM Zahid Merchant shocked the entire draft room by overlooking Sameer Rafique and Zain Khilji in acquiring former rival Mohammed Ali Pasha at 5th overall. Some speculate that it was only so they wouldn’t have to hear his chirping from the other bench – if there’s chirping at least it’ll go the other way. The Mughals then proceeded to bring back their formidable core of Faraaz Alvi, Atif Akhtar, Rafique Choudhury, Randy Panesar and Jibran Khan. The team also extended a 1-year deal to returning Mughal Asim Qurayshi who has already announced retirement after this season. The Mughals gambled on an early round pick on the relatively unknown Ismail Akhter, and grabbing a promising later rounder Mohsin Zubair. Maybe they knew something the rest of the league didn’t but those picks could either make or break their season if they don’t pan out. Mughal pedigree is all about consistency that has been impressive over the last two seasons after coming one hit away from returning to the finals. With an aging core of players, they’ll be hoping it doesn’t catch up to them.  

Strengths: 
Rarely is continuity a strength but this squad has 6 guys who are playing together for the third straight year. Their core group doesn’t consist of any superstars like other teams but they have guys that know how to win and come through in the clutch. The Mughals have always had pitching and outfield as their strength and this season is probably no different. Pitcher and GM Zahid Merchant has led the league in wins and ERA in each of the last two season. There was a rumor brewing that he was leaving the mound but it seems management vetoed that self-destructive idea pretty quick.

Weaknesses: 
The Mughals once again have an average infield without any big names. They have been able to get by without it over the last two seasons but competition gets tougher year by year, it might finally catch up to them. With one of the oldest teams in the league, double-headers might prove too cumbersome for those old legs late in games. The Mughals got off to a slow start last year before they found their mojo but they won't be able to afford the same false start this year.
 
Keys to success: 
We know what to expect from their core group but what can the new Mughals add to the squad. Mohammed Ali, Ismail and Mohsin will have to be big contributors if this team is going to make up for their heart-breaking semi-final loss last year. Mohammed Ali Pasha was drafted to be their utility guy to play any infield position and pitch in emergency. Will he be willing to accept the role and buy into the Mughals strategy? We’ll know a few weeks.

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : A
Infield : C
Outfield : A
Batting : B


Sultans

GM Amir Khalil was on a mission to turn his franchise around after a dismal second season. The Sultans lacked the fire and passion of the 2014 squad. Management had decided it was time to take a page from the past and bring back the bad boys of 2014. They swung a crucial deal to move up in the draft to get the stalwart ace and leader Tanseer Khawaja. The Sultans then used the next four picks to re-unite Waseem Kala, Ahmed Ramadan, Aftab Sheikh, and Noor Sheikh. The core is back and now they were looking to finish what they started in 2014. The Sultans then selected friends Shamil Khadaroo and Zain Malik, picked up late rounder MIP candidate Zayd Ramjaun and took their chances in acquiring newbie Atif Parvaiz. The Stallions suddenly have a deep squad, at least enough to satisfy their 2015 lone super star, Suhail Taji.


Strengths:
There is no question, the Sultans made the huge upgrade in the pitching department getting last year’s best pitcher Tanseer Khawaja. The Sultans lacked a vocal leader last year and Tanseer will look to fill that void for the 2016 squad. They also now have a seasoned batting lineup with the addition of contact hitters Ahmed Ramadan, Tanseer Khawaja and Noor Sheikh. While Noor had a disappointing season last year, he returns to his original team. Expect him to bounce back.

Weaknesses:
On paper, the Sultans look like they have a decent infield with Ali Nazir, Suhail Taji, Ahmed Ramadan and Noor Sheikh in the dirt. However, their outfield lacks a gold glover to cut the grass. Amir Khalil is coming off injury and Waseem Kala isn’t known for his defensive prowess. It’s assumed Aftab Sheikh and Zain Malik will be in the outfield but neither of them have great speed. The outfield will be heavily dependent on Amir being healthy and running at full speed to chase down balls.

Keys to success: 
Commitment was the biggest reason why the Sultans suffered last year and it already looks like management has addressed that with passionate players. This team will need to improve throughout the season to win close games against tough opponents. With a fly-ball pitcher in Tanseer Khawaja, they’ll need a healthy outfield running on all cylinders in order to establish their presence as contenders. 

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : A
Infield : B
Outfield : C
Batting : B

Team Outlook: Nasrids & Ottomans

The third game of the season features a head-to-head battle between two of the best sluggers who took the league by storm, Rehan Ahmed and Osman Buttar.  The Ottomans and Nasrids, both with similar drafting strategies, opted to bolster their rosters with family and friends.  Let’s hope the ‘family first’ mantra can translate into something both teams crave – playoff success.

Nasrids

Nasrid GM Kashif Waheed, wasted no time dispensing his late first round pick, acquiring Seljuq assistant GM, Nirvaan Latif. Nirvaan is looking to revive those 2014 MVP numbers, and along with second round pick N K, expect both to play pivotal roles on a revamped Nasrids squad. Kashif then proceeded to pick up family and friends to fill out the rest of their roster with Hamza Waheed, Akif Waheed, Asim Waheed, Bilal Javed, Ali Wadee, and Taqi Ahmed. This roster should be called the Waheedy bunch – don’t confuse with ‘Wahabi’ ; ) It remains to be seen whether Hamza Waheed will be their starting pitcher or will ‘Sir’ Nirvaan take the mound? The Nasrids also secured former Ottoman ace Zia Ali late in the draft but there is no news whether he will be given the nod as the starter. Game 1 is around the corner and the Nasrids see themselves one player short . New acquisition Ali Wadee had to withdraw from the league without even making his debut with a knee injury. We wish him a speedy recovery. The Nasrids have opted to replace him with 19-year old Omar Husain, son of former player Raza Husain. The Spaniards did some decent drafting getting majority of the players they wanted but it begs the question, will they be strong enough to compete every week? 

Strengths: 
This lineup has no shortage of power bats but where are the contact hitters. We all know that Nirvaan and Osman can both go yard every game and despite N K’s underwhelming 2015 season, he’s a potent presence in this dynamic line up. Add veterans Usama Mahmood and Kashif Waheed to the mix and this team will be a long ball threat every single game. This team might be the most improved as the season goes on, now that the family can practice together every week. The outfield looks well covered with four solid outfielders in Kashif Waheed, Osman Buttar, N K and Nirvaan Latif

Weaknesses: 
The Nasrids clubhouse remains hush-hush on who will be pitching for them this season. If Hamza takes the mound, their outfield is solid with Nirvaan in the grass. However, if Nirvaan takes the mound, their outfield might suffer. With almost every team upgrading their offence, this will be the toughest decision facing the Nasrids. Apart from Usama at SS, the infield’s a toss-up. Bilal Javed significantly improved last season but Taqi Ahmed and Omar Husain are newbies that will have to be up to par.
 
Keys to success: 
Most importantly, the team will need Osman Buttar and Usama Mahmood to play majority of the games if they want to remain competitive this season. Their hockey schedules impacted their availability last year and will likely do so again. With a full squad, they should definitely do some damage to opposing pitchers. They will need Hamza Waheed to mature as a starting pitcher and trim down on his high walk ratio to claim his position amongst the elite.  

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : C
Infield : B
Outfield : B
Batting : A


Ottomans

The mighty Ottomans were humbled last season in a disappointing semi-final defeat to the eventual champions - the Ayyubids. Despite having one the best offenses in the league, the Ottomans suffered from lack of consistent pitching and defense. We expected a drastic change in draft strategy from the navies but they surprised everyone by bringing back 8 of their players from last year. They took the obvious choice in Mike Arlitt first round but surprised everyone by taking Shoaib Bhatti in the second followed by family friend Faisal Khan. Everyone was waiting to see which pitcher the Ottomans would go for this year. No one could have expected A K to be their choice as a starter. GM Hashim and bunch, then picked up Zain Fancy, Shoaib Gaya and Furhan Hoda from last year’s squad. Hamza Hussain and Junaid Mirza join the Turks for the first time to complete the 12 man squad. Ottomans management believes last years' squad was championship material and will be hoping a few minor changes gets them back to the top of league. 

Strengths:
Hitting has always been the Ottomans advantage over other teams since the inception of the league. With prolific hitters like Rehan Ahmad, Shaheen Limbada, and Faisal Khan, every team will be circling the guys hitting around them to ensure they get those outs before these three come up. Add in Michael Arlitt, Zain Fancy and Shoaib Gaya and you won’t find many easy outs in the lineup. The Ottomans also added a top 10 average guy in Shoaib Bhatti to set the table for their power hitters. The Ottomans look like they bat all the way down the lineup so expect a ton of runs from the boys in blue. 

Weaknesses:
The Ottomans have always struggled filling in third base. They went through multiple people last year and it seems the nod for the starting position is still up for grabs. While Michael Arlitt and Shaheen Limbada are spectacular outfielders, the rest of the outfield has question marks around it, and it remains to be seen who patrols the right side of the grass. If you compare this squad to last year’s, they look very similar; therefore expecting a different outcome will be a challenge. If there’s any promising change, newly acquired starting pitcher A K will have to shoulder most of it. Despite his pitching tenure being limited to last place teams, the Ottomans will be hoping A K is an upgrade over their last year’s pitcher and will be able to keep his composure in pressure situations.

Keys to success: 
The Ottomans brass picked A K as their anchor this year on the mound and they will ride him either to the top or to disappointment. A K is a great athlete and known for coming through in pressure situations so this might just be his calling. However, he goes missing (literally) in the heart of summer on outdoor trips. Hashim might have a pact with his new pitcher about his commitment before he spent a top 40 pick on him. Someone will have to fill the hot corner for the Turks to shore up the infield. Shaoib Bhatti filled in that role for the Mughals for a season so he might be moving back to the left side. 

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : B
Infield : C
Outfield : B
Batting : A

Team Outlook: Mamluks & Abbasids

In the second game of the season, the revamped Mamluks take on their former pitcher, Omair Zuberi and the Abbasids in a match that will hold many expectations. Both teams looked to shake things up and bounce back with a different squad. One team chose familiarity of guys that already play together while the other opted for experienced players that they hadn't seen before. The Abbasids are the biggest secret going into the season. We will see what the teams have to show this Sunday. 

Mamluks

GM Rizvan Merchant might have won the first overall pick in the draft but gladly threw it away for Taher ‘Super’-Mirza to complete the Bordertown’s best. The green machine then added bordertown big brother Omer Chaudhry to coarsen their core and then added the ‘other’ big bat in Shahzad Ahmed to give them some homerun prowess from third base. The luks smoothed out their squad by embracing quality and character to the team with Mohamed Kala and Asad Moten. Three lawyers on their team will give them plenty of legal representation when Rizvan’s excessive chatter puts him in the press. The Mamluks got a steal in Riyad Ramjaun in the 7th round to give them a pitching option and later pocketed some great value for Baseer Yasseen and Sikandar Aftab late in the draft. 

Strengths: 
The top 5 of the Mamluks order will have any pitcher caught in 2 minds as these batters can dictate how far the ball goes. The Mamluks batting lineup looks deep and should produce a potent amount of runs throughout the season. Their outfield will cover a lot of green with Hassan Chaudhry, Taher Mirza, Omer Chaudhry and Mohamed Kala manning the grass while Jibran Waqar will be pivotal in the infield to help support some new talent in the dirt. The Mamluks have a core who play together regularly so they should benefit from consistency and synergy. Taher has the ability to switch places with Jibran in the infield when they need the extra speed and whip.

Weaknesses: 
The Mamluks have some questions at the mound this season. Rumour is, Rizvan will be taking the responsibility himself this year and has Riyad as insurance in case 'the regulator' runs into trouble. Riyad was a great find late in the draft and might be a steal if he wins the starting pitching job which allows Riz to play in the field. The rest of the infield is unproven with a few guys playing in the league for the first time. Shahzad Ahmed will have to show he can play the hot corner every week.
 
Keys to success: 
The Mamluks have a dangerous batting line up but will need their bottom order to consistently find a base to give their top order the extra at-bats. While the offense will give their pitcher plenty of run support, they can only go as far as their pitcher takes them. To be an elite team, you need an elite pitcher to hold it down when the game is on the line. Riyad hasn't proven he can be that guy and Rizvan has never pitched in a league game. A lot riding on one of their shoulders.   

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : C
Infield : B
Outfield : B
Batting : A


Abbasids

The Abbasids of 2016 have shaken things up once again, this time starting with a new GM Ahmad Hussain. Using his obsession with the once-upon-a-time Expos, Ahmad has tapped into former ‘Montrealers’ to make up half of the Abbasids. With 6 returning players, the Abbasids are looking to redeem themselves from a very disappointing loss in the first round playoffs to the Ottomans. On that note, caution to all new players – DO NOT – step on home plate! The Abbasids surprised everyone by waiving rights to Umair Jabbar and Sameer Rafique and favour adopting those to Rameez Siddiqi and Haris Mallick to shake up the entire core. Rameez suffered from ‘Kevin Durant syndrome’ last year as he was a forgotten man despite 41 RBIs and 11 homeruns after Rehan and Osman took the league by storm. The Abbasids surprised many by using their first round pick on the enlightened Omair Zuberi, who left a mark at the mound last season. Adding to the squad, Ahmad has put a lot of currency into the doctor trio and league sponsors, Hammad Afif, Kamil Haider and Kashif Irshad. If these guys are simply all sizzle and no steak, the Abbasids could find themselves as the new basement dwellers. Yes the trio are all north of 40, but rumor has it they have the real potential to catapult the Abbasids deep into the playoffs. The Abbasids continued to surprise by picking Asif Farooq and Nauman Abbasi which later proved to have childhood ties to new GM Ahmad. Back in orange for a third time are Atiq Qureshi and Saoud Ramjaun. They added Fraz Butt as a late round steal to round out their squad. There should be plenty of Habs talk on their group chat. Oh wait, there are no Habs to talk about?

Strengths:
The lions have no shortage of experience with many softball veterans on their squad. The composure and serenity will be a welcoming sight for Abbasids supporters after their history of franchise meltdowns. The Abbasids have a deep batting lineup, going all the way down to #10 with plenty of power bats sprinkled throughout the lineup. We will have to wait for the debuts of the doctor trio to really gauge the capabilities of this order.

Weaknesses:
The Abbasids have no clear shortstop or centerfielder to anchor the defence. Protecting the green could be a serious concern for the orange supporters as uncertainty is in the air. Haris is expected to play third and Fraz first but outside of that, it is unclear where anyone will play in the field. The Abbasids are keeping lids on this information and will perhaps, employ it to their advantage to start the season.  

Keys to success: 
The Abbasids might get off to a slow start with so many new pieces but should benefit from experience in close games. The Abbasids have a tough schedule to start against some power hitting teams and will need to prove they can play defence in critical positions to keep themselves competitive. Omair Zuberi was taken first round after going very late in the 2015 draft, can he be as good as last year to warrant a first round pick?

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : B
Infield : B
Outfield : C
Batting : B

Team Outlook: Ayyubids & Seljuqs

BSL 3 opens its books with the 2015 finalists by invoking a rivalry between the two ball clubs from its inception . This matchup could not have been made spicier after three former Ayyubids are now sitting on the Seljuqs management team while the former Seljuqs GM now plays for the Ayyubids. The franchises had major renovations and seem to be overly collaborative for rivals. Who would have guessed? Add to the fact that both GMs are brother-in-laws. Here’s are how the teams look after the draft.

AYYUBIDS

Remember the saying ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?’  Well someone tell that to GM Umer Jabbar. The 2015 BSL champions have done an Extreme Makeover: Jabbar Brothers Edition. If you’re wondering why Seljuqs GM Ibrahim Sardar was swift in dealing this 1st overall pick to the Ayyubids, just ask Umer how long he’s been working on his arm-twisting negotiation skills. There is some sliver of speculation that Ibrahim added a clause which promised him a year’s supply of paani puri. Who said family pressure doesn’t work?? The Ayyubids traded their two assistant GMs Imran Merchant and Taha Iqbal to the Seljuqs for first and third pick, Umair Jabbar and Ali Jabbar. Umer then convinced the Ayyubids board to allow the team to be sponsored by Shezan juice so the three brothers could appear on every mango juice box. The Ayyubids then swiftly stole former Seljuqs GM Zain Khilji in the second round and added to their outfield depth by drafting last year’s second overall pick in Aazar Zafar. Umer did bring back Atif Khan from his championship squad but it remains to be seen if he appears in the same role. Zain evidently had an impact on his new team’s drafting strategy bringing on former Seljuqs Yousaf Chaudhry, Hasan Afzal, Ahmed Butt and wanna-be Seljuq Ahmad Ammad. The men in black rounded out their squad with newbies Yasser Malik and Zaid Ghansar

Strengths: 
The Ayyubids have the mound and outfield in their grasp. Ali Jabbar brings experience back to the mound after a stellar rookie season. The Ayyubids put a lot of emphasis on filling their outfield after trading away one of the leagues best. An outfield of Umair Jabbar, Yousaf Chaudhry, Yasser Malik and Aazar Zafar should be one of the league’s best this season. Apart from pitching and outfield, it is hard to find any other strengths as the team on paper looks less balanced than last year, especially with the bat.  

Weaknesses: 
The blacks certainly have an unproven infield that will be put to test to keep the ball and their team in front of them. Zain and Atif will control the left side of the dirt and will be moving into unfamiliar positions, especially if Atif plays third base. With Umer, Ahmad or Zaid at first and second, their infield has much to demonstrate over the first few weeks of the season. Their batting lineup is built on speed and lacks a clear power hitter to drive in runs. Will they play small ball again this year or step into a grander approach?
 
Keys to success: 
Ayyubids success largely depends on 2 factors: Zain Khilji will have to stay fit and physically show up to games while Umair Jabbar will have to render present at the plate.  For the #1 overall pick, he’ll have to do more than catch pop flies in the outfield. 
 
Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : A
Infield : B
Outfield : A
Batting : C

Seljuqs

New GM Ibrahim Sardar showed plenty of poise with his swift dealing in his new role. He wasted no time to make moves on the trade market and was by far the most active GM leading up to the draft. He traded his two assistant GMs (Taher Mirza and Nirvaan Latif) for first round picks and in return traded some of those picks to the Ayyubids to scoop up their assistant GMs Imran Merchant and Taha Iqbal. While the Seljuqs lost two of the best players in Taher and Nirvaan, no one can complain about the great package they got in return. The Seljuqs had a plan to get as many middle round picks as possible. The Seljuqs got a late first round steal in Sameer Rafique to play SS and then took leadoff hitter Furhan Azmat. The Seljuqs got solid mid-round picks in Sheraz Mahmood, A R and Arshad Chawdhry. Last year’s MIP Fauzail Thakur dropped to them as a steal in the 6th pick. The Seljuqs completed their draft taking great character guys in Asim Gauhar, Yasser Zia and Omar Huda to fill their roster. The new GM trio did their best to build their team on depth vs star-power but lost their way midway through the draft when they realized they lacked a starting pitcher. The team looks well rounded at first glance but is missing a few critical pieces. 

Strengths:
The reds have a solid left side of the infield with Sameer Rafique and Taha Iqbal controlling the hot side of the dirt. They will both be critical to keeping the Seljuqs in games. Add the glove of Sheraz Mahmood to the infield and you have a solid core in the gravel. With Imran Merchant patrolling the grass in left field, you can almost assume that no one is getting hits on the left side. 

Weaknesses:
The Seljuqs are the only team going into the season without an experienced pitcher. Taha Iqbal has pitched in a few games but will be reluctant to take the mound after mining gold at third last season. Rumour has it, A R or Fuzail will be pitching for the reds this year which is a huge gamble no matter how much they have been practicing in the offseason. Aside from GM Ibrahim Sardar and Imran Merchant, their outfield is unproven. Between Fuzail, Furhan and Asim, someone will have to take their fielding to another level to complete the outfield and compete this season. 

Keys to success: 
Pitching, pitching, and pitching. Every team will be looking at this squad and will force their pitcher (whoever it is) to prove he can stand in there and deliver strikes in pressure situations. Their team will only go as far as that takes them. Second round pick Furhan Azmat will have to flash his glove this season to prove that he is worthy of a top 10 selection.

Preseason ratings: 
Pitching : C
Infield : A
Outfield : B
Batting : B

2016 BSL Draft Results

The season is less than 2 weeks away. There were some surprise picks and some late sleepers at last nights BSL Live draft. The results are in - presenting the rosters in alphabetical order for BSL Season 3!






2015 BSL Awards

Congratulations to our 2015 BSL Award winners: 
Check out their profile page to see their awards

Most Improved Player: Fuzail Thakur - Ayyubids

Brotherhood Award: Hamza Waheed - Abbasids

Gold Glove Award:  C - Furhan Hoda, 1B - Fraz Butt, 2B - Arsalan Shahid 3B - Taha Iqbal, SS - Jibran Waqar, P - Ali Jabbar,
OF - Imran Merchant, OF - Osman Buttar, OF - Taher Mirza, OF - Hassan Chaudhry

Batting Title: Jibran Waqar - Mamluks 

All-star Game MVP: Shaheen Limbada - Ottomans

Strike Out Champion: Omair Zuberi - Mamluks

Homerun Title: Osman Buttar- Nasrids

Best Pitcher Award: Tanseer Khawaja - Seljuqs

Best Offensive Player: Osman Buttar - Nasrids

Regular Season MVP: Rehan Ahmad - Ottomans

Playoff MVP: Taha Iqbal - Ayyubids