One pitch was all it took.
Dominic Marijuana, star and captain of the New York Millennials, stepped to the plate in the 11th inning of a 2-2 game with two outs and nobody on base. The Mills had clawed back into the game to tie it up at 2 in the 8th, but both pitchers had shut down the opposing lineups since.
Dom took his practice swings, adjusted his helmet and stepped into the box. The first pitch came in low and outside. Ball one.
He stepped out again, to take a few cuts and adjust his helmet, his usual pre-pitch routine. The Seattle pitcher looked in for the signs. She shook off a couple and then nodded. She brought her glove to her waist as Dom waited in the box. She wound up and unleashed a fastball that went high and inside.
Dom had no time to get out of the way and he was hit hard in the middle of the back with the pitch. He went down in pain as the entire stadium went silent. Every face on the Mills bench went white.
Dominic Marijuana, the best batter in the lineup, captain of the Mills, one of the most popular players in Blaseball, had been marked for death. A debt needed to be collected.
Dom was hit by Jaylen Hotdogfingers on Day 55 of Season 7, the first of a three-game set between the New York Millennials and the Seattle Garages, teams in different leagues, with not much history up to that point. The game featured two aces on the mound as the Mills were looking to make a run to get in the playoff picture and the Garages were looking to solidify their playoff standing.
The Mills started out rough that season, losing the first six games, but had turned it around a bit to be at .500, 27-27, entering Day 55. Seattle was playing very well with a record of 31-23 including a three-game sweep of the Dallas Stakes in their previous series. The story line of two good teams, fighting for playoff position, with their best pitchers throwing would have been exciting enough. But all of this was secondary to the pitcher who started the game for the Garages and how she had changed the game, Jaylen Hotdogfingers.
Jaylen, the first ever player to be incinerated in the game of Blaseball when the Forbidden Book was opened, returned from the void at the end of Season 6. She was reincarnated, or brought back from the brink, or recused from hell (no one is really sure) and became a pitcher for the Garages at the beginning of the season, but with a new mod, Debted. But what did that mod mean? No one could know how Jaylen’s debt would impact the league. You can read more about Jaylen and more in this fantastic piece.
Jaylen took the mound for her first start in the 5th game of the new season and immediately something was wrong. In the top of the second, Jaylen hit Dickerson Morse of the Kansas City Breath Mints. Morse immediately became Unstable, a new mod that no one had seen before. Jaylen would go on to hit two more batters that game, both times resulting in an Unstable mod for the hit player. While being Unstable was strange, nothing appeared to happen to these players and the mods dissipated after nine games. Jaylen would pitch four more games and hit five more players. But that was it, nothing strange happened to the players she hit.
After not hitting a batter in two straight starts, Jaylen toed the rubber on Day 30 against the Tigers and hit three batters. It wasn’t until two days later, Day 32, that people began to understand the implications of the Debted mod. On that day, two players previously hit by Jaylen were incinerated in one game. And another player in the same game, not on the Tigers also met a fiery demise. This set off a chain reaction that resulted in two other players also being lost in the next game. Five dead over two games directly related to Jaylen’s pitching. BNN covered the events of the chaotic two days in Blaseball history in this fabulous article.
After Days 32 and 33, teams began to realize that Unstable players were at a much higher risk of being incinerated in games taking place during a solar eclipse weather event. The league was on the lookout and trying to determine when Jaylen was on the mound and praying that none of their batters got hit. After the fiasco of Days 32 and 33, Jaylen pitched four more games and hit three more batters, but no one else had been incinerated when the Mills came to town on Day 55.
Jaylen had not been pitching particularly well coming into her start on Day 55. She was on a three-game losing streak and looking to get back on track. Opposing her was Mills ace, Theo Cervantes. Theo only won four of his first 10 starts but had only surrendered 32 runs in those games, giving up 4 runs or more in a game a mere one time in that stretch. The offensive support just wasn’t there to support Theo so far that Season.
The batter carrying the Mills that was there was team captain and fan favorite, Dominic Marijuana. Dom was having a stellar season coming into the series. Batting .317, with 17 homeruns and 33 RBI, he was the best leadoff hitter in the league and a huge presence in the Mills locker room, the organization, and the entire Blaseball community. The batting tandem of Dom and slugger Thomas Dracaena batting 1-2 for the Mills struck fear into the hearts of all Blaseball pitchers. When both of these players were playing well, the Mills seemed unstoppable. The belief around the league was these two sluggers would form the core of the team’s lineup for seasons to come.
A complete and total sense of dread surrounded Game 55. Every team facing Jaylen felt this sensation, but it felt much heavier for this game than usual.
As predicted, the game turned into a fierce pitcher’s duel. Jaylen did not allow a hit until the top of the 5th, and Theo pitched very well, only surrendering 2 runs through the first 6 innings. Seattle held a 2-1 lead going into the top of the 8th and, most amazingly, Jaylen had yet to hit a batter. Maybe, just maybe, the Mills would escape this game spared the wrath of Jaylen Hotdogfiners.
With one out in the top of the 8th, Schneider Bendie blasted a solo home run off Jaylen to tie the game at 2-2. Both pitchers shut down the opposing line up in the 9th and the game headed to extras. The Mills had faced Jaylen Hotdogfingers for 9 innings and not a single batter had been hit.
After a scoreless 10th on both sides, Dom came to bat. Two outs in the bottom of the 11th. Empty bases.
Jaylen nailed him with a 1-0 pitch.
After a few moments of disbelief, Dom was able to make it to first base with a smile. For a player who was now marked as Unstable, he seemed at ease. He was thrown out trying to steal second a few pitches later to end the inning. Theo was stellar in the bottom of the inning, and the game moved onto the 12th.
In the 12th, Winnie Mccall singled, and two batters later, Andrew Solis hit a two run homer to give the Mills the lead. The very next pitch, Nandy Fantastic crushed a pitch over the center field wall to extent the team’s winning margin. Theo allowed a single hit with two out in the bottom of the inning, but struck out Luis Acevedo to seal the win for the Mills.
The Mills won, but no one celebrated. While Dom was not gone yet, he was a deadman walking.
The team would split the next two games to win the series against the Garages. On Day 58, the Mills would take on Miami Dale under a Solar Eclipse. The eyes of the entire league were on Dom during the next game. Would he make it through the eclipse and avoid the wrath of the rouge umpires?
Indeed, he did. Dom survived the 7-3 loss on Day 58, going 1-4. Maybe Dom would survive, he had survived three days so far, and one Solar Eclipse. Not every player hit by Jaylen is incinerated, after all.
Even though Day 59 called for a Solar Eclipse, he would surely survive. People in the league and the club tried to look at the positive side, but it felt hallow.
Dom was on a tear since he became Unstable, batting .571 over almost three games. It was as if he had found another level of batting to propel the Mills into the playoffs. The Mills were beating up on the Dale 8-1 in the top of the 6th inning when Sandie Turner was at bat.
While in the dugout, a rouge umpire trained its sights on Dom and incinerated him.
The captain, the face of the team, of the league was sent to the void.
While everyone was surprised, his death felt inevitable. The moment he was hit on that night in Seattle, he was marked for death. His life was a debt that needed to be collected.
We all knew his story would end in tragedy, which, paradoxically. makes his loss easier to understand, but much harder to accept.
Blaseball is relentless and the game must go on. The Mills scored 9 more runs after Dom’s death to thrash the Dale 17-2.
Dom’s demise was not only a huge loss for the team and the league emotionally, but it left a massive hole in the Mills lineup. Charlatan Seabright is a decent player, but she is no Dom, and it would not be fair to hold her to that standard.
The Mills not only soldiered on after the loss, they went on a tear, galvanizing around the loss of their most feared player, going 15-5 in the 20 games after Dom’s incineration. The team went 25-15, a .625 winning percentage in the final 40 games, to finish the season and clinch a playoff spot on the last day of the season. But without Dom in the lineup, the had no chance against the mighty Crabs and were swept in the opening round, barely putting up a fight. The next season, the Mills almost made the playoffs, losing in the last series to miss the post season by a game.
Jaylen lost her next two starts after Day 55 to extend her losing streak to six straight games. She won her start on Day 70 to break the skid and went 3-2 down the stretch for the Garages. She would hit 11 more batters in the regular season, which lead to two additional incinerations, including league favorite Boyfriend Monreal on Day 96.
The Garages went 24-20 in the games after Jaylen hit Dom and hobbled into the playoffs. After beating the favored Shoe Thieves in a full five game long series, they fell in the Mild League Championship Series to the eventual IBL Champion Wild Wings in four games.
Jaylen pitched in two post season games, going 2-0 and hit hit 8 additional batters, including five on Day 105 alone against the Mexico City Wild Wings, including Miguel Wheeler.
Wheeler was incinerated two days later, becoming the first player on the Wild Wings to be incinerated. It was also the first roster change in the Wing’s franchise history.
The Millenials and Garages franchises are now going in opposite directions. The Mills are a middling team trending downward according to most pundits. When the Mills pitching staff gets on a roll, they are nearly unstoppable, but that happens infrequently. Without the punch Dom brought to the lineup every game (no one has meaningfully stepped up to fill that void in the batting order), compounded by the fact they have not received any power-boosting Blessings of note recently, the Mills offense is average, exactly 10th in the league in runs scored in Season 8.
The Garages built on their playoff success and won 65 games in Season 8, the most in the Mild League. The incineration caused by Jaylen hitting batters subsided as well.
Instead of becoming Unstable, players Flickered when hit by Jaylen, meaning they were more likely to swap teams instead of be incinerated. This is a positive change that avoided much heartbreak, because she hit more batters in Season 8 than in Season 7.
With the weight of possibly banishing the souls’ of any batter she hit to the void off her shoulders, Jaylen was able to focus on what she does best: pitching.
She dominated the opposition, starting off the season with 12 straight victories, on her way to a 18-1 record. While the Garages were upset in the first round of the Season 8 playoffs by the upstart Philly Pies in three straight games, Season 9 once again looks to be another season that the Garages will challenge for the Mild League crown and a championship with their ace, Jaylen Hotdogfingers leading the way.
Both teams are in the same division in Season 9, thanks to the Mills and Wild Wings swapping divisions. The Mills have faced Jaylen a handful of times this season. How did they respond to the pitcher who fated their captain to the void? We would like to this with bravery.
That fated pitch on that one night in Seattle still reverberates in the Mills club house and the league today. And it will play a part in the future of the Mills – Seattle match up for seasons to come.
Two franchises headed in opposite directions. Two players with one fateful interaction.