The forecast did not look too favorable heading into to playoff sunday , and after multiple rain delays there was a familiar name standing alone at the top of the NYESL. For the third consecutive year, the Bronx Emperors collected another NYESL championship and silenced their doubters who thought their reign of dominance was coming to an end after a regular season which saw them struggle early on.
The weather almost did not cooperate as the first round opened with multiple delays. After just one inning of play in both games, playoff Sunday was in jeopardy. Both games were halted 45 minutes while the league waited for the weather to clear. After the first delay, the 3rd seeded Emperors were tested by the 6th seeded D’Backs. The D’Backs gave the Emperors everything they had but fell short. The Emperors defense was at the top of its game holding the D’Backs scoreless in a 1-0 shutout. On field 2, the 4th seeded Royals took on the 5th seeded Ravens. The Ravens jumped out to the early lead, but the Royals answered each time. After a second rain delay, which last longer than the first, the skies turned sunny with just 10 minutes remaining before the 1pm league imposed deadline to call off the games. The Royal offense overcame the delay to take the lead for good and go on to win 7-4.
In the second set of games, 2nd seeded Leland took on 7th seeded Sugar Hill. Sugar Hill provided the lone upset of the first round as they went on to defeat Leland 1-0. Leland rebounded from a down year in 2015 to finish second in the regular season this year, but Sugar Hill they can hang with anyone on any given Sunday. On field 2, the #1 seed, the Gold, took on the 8th seed, and reigning Memorial Day Champions, Silver Bullets. The Gold flexed their muscles and overpowered the young Bullets by a score of 6-1.
The semi-finals featured the Emperors vs the Royals, and the Gold vs Sugar Hill. The Emperors have stood in the Royals way for years and Sunday was no different. The Royals jumped on the Emperors early, but the Emperors fought back to erase the early deficit and the reigning league MVP Anthony Caban put the Royals away with a clutch 3-run bomb late in the game, and the Emperors defeated the Royals 6-3. The Emperors would await the winner of the Gold vs Sugar Hill. The Gold continued their hot hitting and simply overwhelmed Sugar Hill. When it was all said and done, the Gold was on their way to another NYESL final appearance with an 11-0 victory.
The NYESL final was set. Gold vs Emperors. The most storied teams in the NYESL were set to battle once again with bragging rights on the line. For 5 innings, the Emperors and Gold showed why these teams are so tough to beat. Great defensive play after great defensive play was show cased as these two teams entered the 6th inning tied at 0. In the top of the 6th, the Emperors finally broke through with one of the grittiest performances you will ever see. Mike Carrion has been dealing with an injury that hasn’t allowed him to play, but that didn’t stop hit from setting up the league MVP to do his thing once again with a clutch hit. It was painful to watch him try and run to first, but he made it, and that was all the motivation the Emperors needed to break this game open. The MVP delivered right after and the Emperors were on their way to a third straight NYESL championship. “We play for each other” had been the Emperors motto all year long and in the end that is what carried them to win yet another title.
Congratulations to your 2016 NYESL champs, the Bronx Emperors.
2016 Emperors Championship Roster
I want to thank the NYESL board, Ty Davis, Eddie Espada, and Darnell Byrd for everything they did this year. It was the most challenging season I have witnessed on the Blvd since I started playing this game. They were able to deal with adversity all year long, and each time managed to navigate the league through difficult scenarios that seemed never ending this year. People like to criticize league decisions sometimes, but this isn’t an easy job. It is a full time job to run this league, and each of these men have families at home and full time jobs. They don’t get paid to do this, so please give credit where credit is due. Not every decision is a popular, but more often than not, it is the right decision. Thank you gentlemen for everything you do for this league.
Secondly, thanks to the families/wives/girlfriends and friends of the league who support us week to week by showing up and putting up with us. There have been instances in the past few years that make you shake your head and wonder how people show up to watch us every week after some of the things that go on on the Blvd. This is a kids game we play every week and no one gets paid to show up. We play this game because of the comradery and chance to be with people who all love the game as much as the next person. Lets show each other class and grace in victory as well as defeat.
Next up is the Jersey City tournament on August 14th, and then the Labor Day tournament hosted by Miami.