Opening Day 2016

In just two days the NYESL willmake its glorious return to the blacktop and all of us who have been waitinganxiously for the season to start will have our craving for stickballsatisfied.  Its been a long offseason forevery team as the last two championships have eluded the Bronx teams.  Teams have retooled to make a run in 2016,and some new teams have joined the league in their pursuit of championshipglory and bragging rights.

The 2015 was a memorable seasonto say the least.  It was a season inwhich the NYESL saw the Bronx Emperors continue their recent dominance on theleague as they cruised their way to the league title, as well as the Memorialtrophy.  The Bronx Royals stepped up onthe defensive end and lost only four games (3 to the Emperors) in route toclaiming 2nd place.  The Goldmay have won their least amount of games in some time, but they still placedthird and managed 2 championship appearance and showed they are still a forceto be wreckoned with.  Leland had theirlowest win total since their inception in 2006 and struggled on the defensiveend, which has always been a strength of theirs.  The Jersey City Saints had one of the betteroffenses in the league last season, but their struggles on defense keptthem  from truly becoming a threat.  The D’Backs had arguably their one of theirbest seasons, but they too struggled on the defensive end which kept them on thebottom half of the league standings.  TheRavens struggled to field a consistent lineup and their production suffered forit.  And finally the Brew Crew providedsome memorable moments last year, but like most teams struggled mightily intheir first and only season.

In 2016 we have 7 of the teamsreturning to the Blvd. Unfortunately the 8th, the Brew Crew will notbe making a return.  This year we have 3new teams who be competing for a league title. Manhattans defending champs, Sugar Hill, will be joining the NYESL toprove they have what it takes to compete in the Bronx.   The Silver Bullets will also be making theirreturn to the Bronx after more than decade. Made up of former members of theStem, the Silver Bullets are comprised of the leagues youth who are nowexperienced vets.  The league would alsolike to welcome the Chiefs, who are also from Manhattan.  This team comprised of family will look tomake their mark on the league.

Game of the Week- Royals vs Emperors- Royals vs Emperorsreceived close to 50% of the vote for game of the week.  This is how you get the season started.  This matchup pits the league’s top 2 teamsfrom 2015 against each other on field 1, bright and early at 10am.  The Emperors handed the Royals 3 of their 4losses last year and will look to continue their dominance again this year.  The Emperors will be returning most of theirroster from 2015 including two MVP candidates in Anthony Caban and Vido Creales,while they lost some key role players to the newly formed Silver Bullets.  The Royals lost 3 keys players to the Bulletsas well, but have some big pieces, Frankie Rivera/Adam Gomez/RubenRodriguez/Ralph Perez, returning to the lineup which will be sure to bolstertheir offense.

Gold vs D’Backs- The Gold haveretooled this year in hopes of once again rising to the top of the league.Chuchi returns to bolster the offense and Jose Martinez of Miami will be makingthe trip every few weeks to help which makes this Gold team very strong.  The D’Back have another year under their beltand their young guns, Ant Jr./Martin/Mark/Dave, are prime to break out thisseason.

Leland vs Silver Bullets- Lelandlost some key members of their team last year in Izzy and Wayne, but their coreremains. Led by Dave/Edwin/Ed/Ferdi/Boo, Leland will look to right the shipthis year.  The Bullets are a young, butvery experienced team.  Their offensewill be led by David/Wayne/Austin/Sky who are all dangerous hitters and have areputation as being some of the best in the league.

Sugar Hill vs Royals- Sugar Hillsfirst game in the NYESL will be a true test. Sugar Hill has the speed to impact every game they play. But standing intheir way is a Royal team who feels their time is now and are out to prove itto all.

Saints vs Gold-  The Saints will be returning with theirhigh-powered offense in tow, led by Lenny/Cooks/Bambino/Pete, but they willneed their defense to step up if they want to keep up with the Gold.  The Gold is hungry and have that look intheir eye again this year of a team on a mission.

Chiefs vs Leland- The Chiefsfirst test in the NYESL won’t be an easy one. They will be facing a Leland team who can hit with the best. The Chiefswill have to either play outstanding defense to stay in this game, or get readyto hit the lights out.

Silver Bullets vs Ravens- TheRavens will be looking to get off to a much better start this year.  They have added Mick to their lineup and arelooking to erase the memory of the last two seasons.  The Silver Bullets young guns will be lookingto show off their speed and run all over the Ravens.

Emperors vs Saints- The Saints played the Emperors well last year, even taking a game from them in the process.  Even though the Emperors came away from 2015 with 2 titles, they feel like they should’ve had 4.  This is a team that knows how to focus and will be ready for business.

D’Backs vs Chiefs- This may betheir first meeting of 2016 in the regular season, but these two teams facedoff quite a bit in practice over the last couple weeks.  These two teams knows each other well andthis should be a tight match up.

Ravens vs Sugar Hill- Sugar Hillsspeed will prove to be a test for the Ravens, but if the Ravens could keepSugar off the base paths, they have a good shot at taking them out.

Emperors vs Leland- In what willbe each of these teams 3rd game of the day, this could be a sluggishgame.  But these two teams know each otherwell and I’m sure both of them will have the adrenaline flowing to face afamiliar foe.

See you on Sunday- #21- Ruben