The 2016 Memorial Tournament has come and gone and after 3 long days of action packed stickball games, only one team remained. And that team was none other than the Silver Bullets. In just their first year in the league, the Silver Bullets managed to win the title that has eluded so many established teams before them. Their will to win was greater than the other 14 teams participating and watching them play you couldn’t help but feel they had the spirit of Steve Mercado watching over them.
On Saturday and Sunday, summer had officially arrived at Stickball Blvd. The hot and humid weather made the grueling 6 game schedule that much more difficult to navigate. The forecast called for rain all day and playoff Monday looked like a long shot to get in, but the stickball gods wanted the games to go on and the skies cleared early enough to get all the games in. Tessie Marrero and Steve Mercado helped push the rain along so that we could all witness one of the best playoff Mondays in recent memory.
This year’s tournament featured a new wrinkle to the playoff format. In year’s past, it was always the top 8 teams that would earn the right to play for the ultimate bragging rights on Monday. However, this year playoff Monday would include the top 10 teams, with a play-in game between the 7 through 10 seeds.
After 2 days of intense competition, the Gold and the Tampa Chargers each finished 6-0 to earn the top two seeds. Two teams who surprisingly did not make Monday were the defending champion Emperors and the Puerto Rico Rookies. Just goes to show that anything can happen during the qualifying rounds. The 10 teams who earned the right to play Monday were:
- Gold (6-0)
- Tampa Chargers (6-0)
- Miami Heat (5-1)
- Royals (4-2)
- Leland Legends (4-2)
- Silver Bullets (3-2-1)
- Ravens (3-3)
- Warriors (3-3)
- Goblins (2-3-1)
- D’Backs (2-3-1)
The first ever play-in games featured the Ravens vs the D’Backs and the Warriors vs the Goblins. The Ravens outlasted the D’Backs in an 11 inning epic, while the Goblins from Tampa blanked the Warriors for the right to play the undefeated Gold and Chargers.
In the first round matchups, Leland shut down the high scoring Royals in the first matchup. In the second matchup, the Silver Bullets outlasted the Miami Heat in a 9-inning classic. The Heat and Royals finished 1-2 in runs scored this weekend, but neither left any offense for when it counted.
After surviving their play-in games, the Ravens took on the Chargers and the Goblins met the mighty Gold. The Chargers made easy work of the Ravens, while the Goblins were delivering the upset of the tournament by knocking off the top seeded Gold.
The semi-finals featured an all Bronx matchup between the Silver Bullets and Leland, and the battle for Tampa as the Goblins faced off with the Chargers. In the first match-up, the Silver Bullets superior defense and clutch hitting helped them get past Leland by a score of 2-1. Meanwhile on field 1, the Chargers were putting an end to the Goblins run as they cruised to an 8-1 victory.
And the final was set. The cinderella Silver Bullets vs the mighty Tampa Chargers who were looking to take home their third straight championship trophy. But in the end it was the team of destiny that would prevail. You could see the young Bullets gaining confidence with each passing inning and the world of stickball witnessed something truly special unfolding before all of our eyes. Anthony Rosado Jr. earned MVP honors and showed the stickball world there’s a new “Ant-Live” on the blvd as he delivered with clutch hit, after clutch hit.
The Mercado brothers, Skylar and Austin, took charge of the defense in the outfield as well as sparked the Bullet offense.
For one night all the drama on the Blvd was forgotten. The Silver Bullets showed everyone on Stickball Blvd what this game is all about. One team with one mission. A family on and off the field who wanted nothing more than to make their founding father proud. They made everyone on the Blvd see how beautiful this game can really be. This was Stickball at its finest.
The NYESL would like to thank everyone who came out and supported this year’s tournament. A special thank you to all the teams who participated. Without you guys, this tournament isn’t possible. And a special thank you to the board, Eddie Espada/Darnell Byrd/ and Ty Davis who put all their time into making this tournament go on without a hitch. Thank you to Vido Creales for his efforts with the Hall of Fame.