We are already up to the penultimate weekend of regular season Minor League Cricket action in 2022, with division titles or playoff spots up for grabs in each division. With just a few matches left for each team, this weekend will see the most impactful matches of the year so far. Tom Nielsen dives into what to look for in week seven.
Starting in the Atlantic, the Manhattan Yorkers and Atlanta Fire are effectively in a dead heat for the top stop in the power rankings. Fellow playoff candidates New Jersey Stallions and Atlanta Lightning round out the top four, with a moderate drop off to the rest of the tightly packed Eastern Division and the Morrisville Raptors.
After taking wins from last weekend’s action, the New Jersey Stallions and Manhattan Yorkers have just about wrapped up the division’s two playoff spots. The best any other team can do is finish on 16 points (Empire State, DC Hawks, and The Philadelphians) – a single win the rest of the way for New Jersey and two wins for Manhattan would mathematically clinch their respective spots in the playoffs.
Eastern Division Weekend Matches:
- Saturday, August 6th, 10 AM ET: Manhattan Yorkers v New England Eagles, Mercer County Park
- Saturday, August 6th, 2 PM ET: New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers v DC Hawks, Howe Athletic Complex
- Saturday, August 6th, 2 PM ET: Empire State Titans v New Jersey Stallions, Idlewild Park
- Saturday, August 6th, 2:30 PM ET: New England Eagles v The Philadelphians, Mercer County Park
- Sunday, August 7th, 10 AM ET: New Jersey Stallions v DC Hawks, Mercer County Park
- Sunday, August 7th, 2 PM ET: Manhattan Yorkers v The Philadelphians, Mercer County Park
- Sunday, August 7th, 2:30 PM ET: New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers v New England Eagles, Howe Athletic Complex
The New Jersey Stallions will have a couple chances to clinch their playoff spot this weekend, against Empire State on Saturday and if necessary, against the DC Hawks on Sunday. The model gives them about an 85% chance to get at least a win on the weekend and clinch a spot in the playoffs. Manhattan would need a sweep of the New England Eagles and The Philadelphians to clinch, but realistically a win probably does it given their NRR advantage over the pack. To clinch first place, New Jersey Stallions would need to sweep and Manhattan go winless; otherwise, the race for the division title will go to the final weekend.
Last weekend was a bit of a missed opportunity for Morrisville, who dropped a tight 5-run loss to the Orlando Galaxy on Sunday, putting a bit of a dent in their playoff chances. Still, a 108-run win against Ft. Lauderdale did give them a big NRR boost, opening another potential path to the playoffs. The Raptors sit at about a 1-in-4 chance to make the playoffs behind the division leading Atlanta Fire and Lightning. The Fire currently have a slight advantage over the Lightning for first place in the division.
Southern Division Weekend Matches:
- Saturday, August 6th, 10 AM ET: Atlanta Lightning v Morrisville Raptors, Atlanta Cricket Fields
- Saturday, August 6th, 2:30 PM ET: Atlanta Fire v Orlando Galaxy, Atlanta Cricket Fields
- Sunday, August 7th, 10 AM ET: Atlanta Fire v Morrisville Raptors, Atlanta Cricket Fields
- Sunday, August 7th, 2:30 PM ET: Atlanta Lightning v Orlando Galaxy, Atlanta Cricket Fields
This weekend sees the Morrisville Raptors and Orlando Galaxy traveling to Atlanta to take on the division leaders. The stakes are highest for Morrisville, who need at least a win on the weekend to simply preserve the status quo from a playoff qualification perspective – though a sweep would bump them to about a 65% chance of making the playoffs.
The Silicon Valley Strikers retain the top spot in the power rankings despite their first loss of the season to the East Bay Blazers, second in the rankings. Dallas pops back up to #3 after a couple strong wins over the Chicago sides, with Michigan and Seattle close behind. In all, the Pacific Conference will likely see three new playoff teams in 2022, with only Silicon Valley likely to make a repeat playoff appearance.
The Dallas Mustangs have clinched the Central Division, almost certainly helping them avoid a first-round playoff matchup with the dominant Silicon Valley Strikers. The Chicago Tigers and Michigan Cricket Stars are battling it out for the final playoff spot, with the Tigers taking a slim edge given their standings advantage and moderately easier schedule, with Michigan still having a couple Dallas matches to come.
Central Division Weekend Matches:
- Saturday, August 6th, 11 AM CT: Chicago Tigers v Lone Star Athletics, Hanover Park
- Saturday, August 6th, 2 PM ET: Michigan Cricket Stars v Houston Hurricanes, Lyon Oaks
- Sunday, August 7th, 10 AM CT: Chicago Blasters v Lone Star Athletics, TBD
- Sunday, August 7th, 11 AM ET: Michigan Cricket Stars v Houston Hurricanes, Lyon Oaks
- Sunday, August 7th, 2:30 PM CT: Chicago Blasters v Lone Star Athletics, TBD
This weekend, Michigan hosts the Houston Hurricanes for a pair of matches while Lone Star travels to Chicago for a match against the Tigers and a couple against the Blasters. With just a few matches left, the Michigan-Houston series is incredibly important: a sweep for Michigan brings them to about 60% to make the playoffs; a split drops them to 23%, while getting swept would mathematically eliminate them from playoff contention. In fact, a sweep for Houston would open a 16% chance to make the playoffs for themselves. A win against a tricky Lone Star Athletics side would boost the Tigers up to 85% to make the playoffs, with a loss dropping them below 50%, in a match that the model still pegs at roughly a coin flip despite Lone Star’s lowly 1-8 record.
A massive win for the East Bay Blazers over Silicon Valley gives them a solid edge over the Seattle Thunderbolts in the playoff race out West. Silicon Valley are not quite mathematically assured of first place, but their NRR advantage and easy remaining schedule just about assures them of it.
Western Division Weekend Matches:
- Saturday, August 6th, 10 AM PT: Silicon Valley Strikers v SoCal Lashings, Morgan Hill
- Saturday, August 6th, 10 AM PT: Seattle Thunderbolts v San Diego Surf Riders, Morgan Hill
- Saturday, August 6th, 2:30 PM PT: Golden State Grizzlies v SoCal Lashings, Morgan Hill
- Saturday, August 6th, 2:30 PM PT: Hollywood Master Blasters v East Bay Blazers, Morgan Hill
- Sunday, August 7th, 10 AM PT: Golden State Grizzlies v Hollywood Master Blasters, Morgan Hill
- Sunday, August 7th, 10 AM PT: San Diego Surf Riders v Seattle Thunderbolts, Morgan Hill
- Sunday, August 7th, 2:30 PM PT: East Bay Blazers v SoCal Lashings, Morgan Hill
It’s a festival of cricket at Morgan Hill this weekend, with all seven Western Division teams taking part. The East Bay Blazers take on the Hollywood Master Blasters and SoCal Lashings, while Seattle has a pair against the San Diego Surf Riders. The model makes this a slightly more challenging weekend for Seattle, who can’t afford to drop matches against the Southern California side if they want to keep pace with East Bay.