We had a game?!

This month has been a little bit weird, with games seemingly every other week. We again had a week off where the teams had a chance to recover from any nagging injuries or create some new ones (as is the case with the Falcons Abbasali Kermalli who has been lost for the season with a knee injury). Some teams completely forgot that games actually happen and as a result had to forfeit due to a lack of players as in the case of the Eagles – more on that shortly. This trend of off week will continue as next week is the long weekend and we are off again. So this may be your only JMS related update for another couple weeks.

Before we get into the recaps, we wanted to make a point about the upcoming All Star Game and HR Derby. If there are any remaining players that are still interested in participating, please proceed to the following page to indicate your interest in the event.

Game 1: Eagles (0) at Wolves (7)

So the day started out to a rocky start – with the Eagles players trickling in as late as 10:30AM (The game started at 10AM) they weren’t able to field a team and ended up forfeiting this one. Our office has had a stern discussion with the Eagles players and we’re hopeful they will use this moment as an opportunity to band together – this team should have the personnel to make a competitive push to close out the season, but they need to show up.

The Wolves on the other hand will take the W as this counts as a 7-0 win for them, and with run differential being one of the early tie breakers, giving up 0 runs is a huge benefit.

Game 2: Lions (5) at Wolves (12)

This was the battle for second place. With the Wolves holding a 4-2 record thanks to the Game 1 forfeit, and the Lions holding a 4-1 record coming into this one. The winner would potentially take sole possession of 2nd place in the standings and the highly coveted first round bye. The Wolves have a few of their players missing on the first round of the playoffs on August 28th and are going to scratch and claw to make sure they get a bye into round 2. This one meant a lot to them.

The closed out the Lions quickly in the first inning, and loaded the bases with 2 outs for Nadim Rahemtulla, who casually strolled into the batter’s box hat backwards, ready to do some damage to the scoreboard. Except there’s a uniform rule, no backwards hats, so he was promptly called out once he took his position in the batter’s box which ended the inning. We can almost guarantee that nobody will make that mistake again.

The next few innings were unspectacular for the Lions sending only 3 or 4 batters up to the plate each inning, it really wasn’t until the 5th inning that they were able to solve the Wolves defence and figure out the pitching of Mikael Ratansi – who would be making a strong claim for POY (Pitcher of the Year) were it not for another pitcher who is simply dominating – but more on that later. The Wolves meanwhile went to their assistant captain, Imran Nasser, and asked him to win the game for them, so bases loaded with 2 out Imran puts together an opposite field triple that thanks to a throwing error allowed him to bring in 4 runs by himself. He repeated the feat again 2 innings later, but this time remaining at 3B. Not to be outdone by his younger brother, Ali Nasser, deposited his own triple into the opposite field that had the defence scrambling and wondering if anyone not named Nasser could score a run. The question was promptly answered as Shane Worthington and Ali Merali scored on back to back hits, proving that this team can hurt you from every part of their lineup.

While the Lions did some damage in the later innings it never really was a threat to the lead the Wolves had built up. Now in control of second place, the Wolves will work to keep this spot in hopes of securing a first round bye as early as possible. The Lions meanwhile seem to be slumping, the top of their order not really able to put together any kind of run production, captains Asad Hussain, Zane Hussain, and Khalil Sivjee need to get the team’s bats figured out, and quickly.

Game 3: Owls (8) at Tigers (11)

The Tigers coming in at an undefeated 5-0 thought that their biggest weakness going into the second half of the season was a lack of backup pitching. Seeing the Owls on the schedule, they felt this was as good a time as any to try someone new – queue up Sam Valimohamed. The problem with that strategy though was that you can never really underestimate a team, especially one that feels like they’re being taken for granted. To add to this, the Tigers employed a new defensive strategy we haven’t seen yet – they went with 5 infielders and 3 outfielders. The tricky part to this was that they left RF completely open daring teams to hit it there.

The Owls, started this off by forcing Sam Valimohamed to hit the strike zone. As he struggled to figure it out, the walks piled up and the runners crossed the plate. Taking an early 3-0 lead, thanks to some peculiar courtesy runner switching at first base resulting in an out that ended the inning. You would think that the #1 offence in the league could come back from the deficit. However, the Owls newest pitcher Hassnain Chagani, had other thoughts quickly dispatching the top 3 of the Tigers lineup in order.

The Tigers did a little better in the second inning finishing off their order, but only having 2 runs to add to their record. Meanwhile the adjusted defence seemed to paying dividends as Maysum Jaffer acting as the 5th infielder was making plays he had no business being near. However, as they were building up momentum, the door was shut again by Hasnain Chagani who struck out captain Hussein Allidina, who watched the last strike and walked away almost saying to himself “I probably should’ve swung at that”. Yes, Hussein, you probably should have. Fairing no better was Miqdad Jaffer, who fouled the third strike to record another strike out in the inning. The Owls added another run in the bottom of the inning to take a 4-2 lead, and with the way they were playing defence that lead could survive a little longer.

Only problem is that the Tigers team is like the San Antonio Spurs, a complete team from top to bottom, one when player isn’t performing the others step up, so the bottom 7 players in the roster made it known that they weren’t going down without a fight. Leading the way was Maysum Jaffer who started things off with a single, quickly followed by a triple to deep centre field by Abbas Allidina, the inning finished with a single by Minaz Noormohamed who brought in the 6th and mercy run of that inning. Not one out was made in that inning and the Tigers had their first lead 8-4.

They handed the ball over to their ace, Abbas Allidina, who kept things under control and got the defence to work. Speaking of that defence, it seemed only Hussain Habib and Nabil Jetha threatened the open RF side, but overall it seemed to work in the favour of the Tigers. We’ll see if other teams adopt that strategy going forward. The Owls pulled as close as 8-7, but couldn’t make a run at the end as Abbas Allidina was able to shut the door on the game and pick up the win in this one.

Game 4: Falcons (2) at Tigers (10)

This date had been circled in the Tigers calendar for some time. Our early season prediction had the Falcons being the team to beat and only the Wolves had seemed to have their number so far. This was the first meeting of these two teams and they were amped to play. None more so than the POY and early-MVP candidate, Abbas Allidina, who would take one of the best offensive threats in the league, hold them to 2 runs, and record 5 strikeouts during the game, including one to self proclaimed “1A”, Ali Manek. Though not to be outdone, the Tigers captain, Hussein Allidina, tallied another strikeout of his own in this one. The Tigers kept to their 5 infielder defence in this game, and a big part of being able to pull that off was the fact that a lot of the strikes thrown were kept to the inside part of the plate.

The only 2 runs scored in this game were by Riaz Champsi, who crossed the plate in the 1st and 6th inning respectively after recording a pair of singles. It seems Riaz Champsi’s best performances happen in the absence of the heckling he receives from the Wolves players. The only extra base hit in this game for the Falcons was a triple by Mohez Kamalia to the open gap in RF. The unfortunate part of that though was that he tried to stretch it out into an inside the park home run and had that door promptly shut by a strike that was thrown from the outfield grass to the waiting Sam Valimohamed by the fifth infielder, Maysum Jaffer.

The Tigers meanwhile were methodical and surgical in their approach, wearing down the Tigers 1 and 2 runs at a time before opening it up in the 6th inning when they scored 5 runs to put this out of reach. The Falcons defence was great in this one, as they even adopted the 5 infielder 3 outfielder model the Tigers were using. They modified it a bit to suit their needs, but we’ll keep an eye out to see how this one changes. Pleasant surprise to the defence was the play of Kumail Habib who was a relative vacuum in the outfield, catching anything and everything within reach.

Equally impressive was the play of Irfahn Khimji at shortstop, who on one particular play soared and timed the jump on a line drive to rob potential extra bases. Guess assistant captain Bobby Bharwani knew what he was doing when he drafted a volleyball player. The Falcons held to their lowest offensive output and the lowest offensive output of any team this season (in non-forfeited games), will have to regroup and get back into form. This is going to be challenging as they have lost assistant captain Abbasali Kermalli to a season ending injury, we (and the Falcons) pray he pulls a Marcus Stroman and returns for the playoffs. For the Tigers, they now have a magic number of 4, a combination of wins (and/or) loses needed to guarantee first place and a first round bye. With every team played and handedly beaten, it doesn’t look like there is anything that can stop this team right now.

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