This is Part 1 of a series on everyone’s favorite underdogs, the Philly Pies.
Author: Jack Hall
This is not an endorsement of plagiarism.
Before we begin, I feel like I should make a few things clear. There’s this documentary. It’s called “The History of the Seattle Mariners”. It tells the story of a real life sports team, highlighting the goofy, heartbreaking, and intensely human stories of the people in and around it. Throughout the film, Jon Bois makes one thing very clear: this is not a story about winning or losing. This is not a story with a clean, happy ending. This is a story about people, real people, and the unrelenting assertion of their own identities. Bois’ work has been a huge influence on my own, as fans of him can probably tell.
But I don’t have real people. I don’t have a story about players with grudges, arsonists, or Jello pranks. What I do have is a website that spits out game scores and threatens me with a giant Peanut. I have a list of funny names and the numbers attached to them. I have experience with spreadsheets and charts, and I have a lot of free time.
So the story I’m about to tell isn’t going to be some high-concept exploration of the nature of humanity. It’s about a made up team with a frankly unsettling mascot. It’s about reaching for the stars and falling into perpetual limbo. This is the story of the Philadelphia Pies.
Part One: The Dark Age
The first season of Blaseball is difficult to talk about. Blaseball had just announced itself to the world, and none of the tools we have now existed yet. That means we don’t have access to most of the stats from back then. We did manage to salvage a few things, though. Here’s what we know.
This is how the pies did in their first season of existence. Here, you can see their total amount of wins minus their total amount of losses for each day. Not a bad start.
Among these 99 games is one that stands out. On day 74, we scored 21 runs against the Sunbeams, who scored 0. This is the highest scoring game in the entire first season. The Pies wouldn’t break this record for another 11 seasons. How did it happen? We don’t know. We probably never will. Before the rise of the Blaseball historians, we only had our memories to look back on. This game, along with the other 990 played in season one, is lost to time. But we do have one relic, one definitive piece of evidence for this historic event. I think it belongs in a museum.
By the end of the season, we had won 53 out of the 99 games played. This secured us a spot in the playoffs, third in the Evil division alongside the Houston Spies. We weren’t by any means the worst in the league, but the Tigers and Magic were miles above the rest at 63 wins each. When the playoffs started, they were expected to dominate like they did the rest of the season. Instead, they both lost in round 1. And the Pies? We won every single game.
In the regular season, we won 53.5% of our games. This gives us roughly a 50-50 shot to win each game we played. To grossly oversimplify, the Pies sweeping the playoffs would be equivalent to flipping a coin 9 times and landing on heads every time. That was a 1 in 512 chance of destroying the best teams in the league. And we did it.
After the opening of the Forbidden Book in the season 1 elections, our players became vulnerable to Incineration. On day 93 of season 2, we lost Cedric Gonzales to a Rogue Ump. We don’t have a lot of data on Cedric. We don’t even have the full play-by-play for the day they died. Cedric’s name was the last to be added to the Hall of Flame in season 2, along with 16 others.
Their replacement was Dan Holloway, who would become Peanut Holloway when The Shelled One arrived. Holloway would go on to be one of our most valuable batters, placing third overall in average OPS for the Pies. Whoever Cedric was, their sacrifice was worth it.
Our second season started off rough. By day 50, our record was 23 and 27. We probably weren’t going to make it to the playoffs at this rate. After an explosive run in the first postseason, we returned to mediocrity. But on day 56, we won 9 games in a row. And we kept winning.
Below we have the runs scored, runs allowed, and run differential for the Pies’ second season. Around the same time as the 9 win streak, we carved out a sizable gap in runs which held out for the rest of the season. By the end of day 99, we scored 101 more runs than we allowed.
What happened here? Why did we make a 50 game run to stand tall alongside the Hades Tigers? Why did we only lose one game when we went to the playoffs? I have no idea. There is no clear statistical data I can draw on, no graph I can make, no ham-fisted coin analogy that can explain this. It just happened. We ended the postseason as back-to-back champions, having lost 1 out of the 19 games we played in those two playoff runs. That legacy would be carried with us for the next 9 seasons. Just one more season, one more championship win, and we would be the first to Go Up. The Pies were destined to Ascend, whatever that meant. Then, in Season 3, everything fell apart.
On day 5, Juan Rangel hit a double. Overall, they were pretty average in terms of OPS. But they had been with us for three seasons. Then an umpire caught their eye. In an instant, Juan Rangel was gone. And Eduardo Woodman stood in their place.
Ed Wood is one of the Pies’ most beloved batters. Just three days after Woodman’s arrival, they ate a stray peanut that would improve their rating to four stars. They now take second place in average runs per season, standing alongside Peanut Holloway as our two star players born of fire and brimstone.
Rangel and Gonzales won’t be the last to be incinerated. That’s just how blaseball is. You lose two good players, and you get two great ones. You win two championships, and… well, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.
The incineration of Juan Rangel kicked off a losing record that would recover a third of the way through the season. We ended the season with just 53 wins, but it was enough to make the playoffs. Already, we knew something was different. There were no sweeps this time. We had a hard-fought 5 game series against the Moist Talkers. In the seventh inning of game 5, Ed Wood drew a walk that would load the bases for Beasley Day, who batted in 2 runs to clinch the lead. Right after that, Spears Taylor hit a single on their first pitch, securing our spot in the second round.
The second round was against the 70 win Hades Tigers, who were top ranked in the division for the third time in a row. In season 1, we swept them. Now, the script was different. An Elvis Figueroa home run won us the first game by a run. The next three games we fought hard, keeping the Tigers to a 1 run gap in each game. But we still lost. The Pies clawed their way to the top twice in a row, and then we lost our grip.
Sisyphus is most famous for his punishment, tasked with rolling a boulder up a hill just to watch it fall back to the start over and over again. The lesser told story is the one about how he got there. Sisyphus, blessed with cunning, managed to cheat death twice in a row. He had two moments of glorious, improbable victory before time caught up with him, and death had the last laugh.
As the Pies continue roll their boulder for the tenth time, I am forced to consider how to continue this story. This is no longer the story of the team that came out of nowhere to seize victory twice in a row. This is the story of what happened after that. For ten seasons, we watched as everyone else rose above us. By the end, we stood at the bottom as the crustaceans took what could have been ours. But Blaseball isn’t all about being the best, or Going Up, or Killing Gods. Blaseball can be about the smaller things too. The lost friends. The underdog favorites. The updog team. That story starts with Part Two.
“The History of the Philadelphia Pies” was made possible by the help of the SIBR and the Blaseball Wiki. Emotional support was provided by the Pies fanbase and the IBLWA.