Author: Luc “The Riff” Arpeggio
Coming off a surprising post-Grand Siesta playoff run and buoyed by solid election results, it’s safe to say Jazz Hands fans had high expectations for the team going into Season 13.
What a difference a week makes.
The Jazz Hands roster that limped to the finish line on Friday was not the same one that took the Hellmouth Sunbeams to a Game 5 in the Season 12 playoffs. In one of the most chaotic seasons for a single team in recent memory, the Jazz Hands were beset by a whirlwind of unfortunate events that ushered in a sudden rebuilding period.
Things were certainly looked up following the Season 12 elections – Tamara Crankit’s offseason workouts had a clear impact, transforming her into a formidable leadoff hitter. The team also received a somewhat surprising Fourth Strike modification, as a treat.
The Season 13 Jazz Hands got off to a slow start, tied for the league’s worst record through the first seven games. But they soon steadied, finishing 14-13 by Earlsiesta.
The team hit its first bump during Game 13 when Elijah Valenzeula was swept off the basepath to Elsewhere. Crankit and Conrad Vaughan were swept away in Game 24, followed by Collins Melon in Game 31. Jazz Hands players spent a total of 62 days Elsewhere in Season 13.
A shocking blow came during Game 64, when the Jazz Hands’ once-steady lineup was shuffled by Reverb. The event sent pitchers Lowe Forbes, Combs Estes, and Campos Arias to the lineup while Conrad Vaughan, Kathy Matthew, and Holden Stanton joined the rotation.
Vaughan isn’t a bad pitcher, but the rotation took a hit with the loss of Arias (owner of a 3.10 ERA at the time of the swap), who was replaced with the below-average Mathews and the frankly terrible Holden Stanton.
The lineup was put in an arguably worse position. Combs Estes was a poor batter before the swap and having their blood drained during Game 72 only exacerbated the problem. After experiencing the joy of a red-hot Tamara Crankit hitting first for most of the season, the Jazz Hands started the Lateseason with Valenzuela (another Blooddrain victim) batting in the leadoff spot. The team’s best hitter, actual infant Baby Doyle, was also pushed down the lineup by Reverb shenanigans.
Even Wyatt Pothos, the Jazz Hands’ ace pitcher, was not immune. On the precipice of a potentially record-breaking season, Pothos had an allergic reaction in game 68, cutting short her quest for a sub-1.00 ERA.
As fans scrambled to put together a plan for the Elections, Estes was incinerated on day 98 and replaced with rookie Dervin Gorczyca.
Most of the damage to the team had already been done by Day 72 when the Jazz Hands broke ground on Breckenridge Community Field (aka The Pocket) with the Loge prefab. While the new open-air stadium will be an excellent event space for Jazz Hands productions, there are indications it could expose teams to more inclement weather in the future.
Despite all of that, Season 13 wasn’t entirely bad.
Tamara Crankit proved to be a force at the top of the lineup, finishing with a .317/.366/.563 slash line and 17 home runs. Post-peanut Pothos was still one of the league’s best pitchers, finishing with a 1.35 ERA and 211 strikeouts. Pothos finished in the top 10 in seven different pitching categories, struck out nearly 13 batters per nine innings, and threw a perfect game on Day 36.
Conrad Vaughan (2.95 ERA, 57 strikeouts) and Campos Arias (.829 OPS, 5 home runs) settled nicely into their new roles after the Reverb event. A few late-season parties also helped boost the stats of Crankit, Lightner, Steph Weeks, and Walton Sports.
The team showed grit in the face of superior pitching, too, with underdog wins against Hiroto Wilcox (pitching against Edric Tosser) on Day 34 and Alexandria Rosales (pitching against Stanton) on Day 96. On Day 76, a beaten and bruised Jazz Hands team beat the heavily favored Wild Wings and their ace Burke Gonzalez by 0.3 un-runs.
Season 13, unfortunately, kicked off a sudden rebuilding mode for the Jazz Hands, just after things were looking up. The Season 13 elections went kind of according to plan – the Jazz Hands successfully traded for old friend August Sky, who will be a significant improvement over Holden Stanton in the rotation.
But the second part of the team’s rebuild didn’t come to fruition. Instead of sending Stephens Lightner to the shadows in exchange for Bauer Zimmerman, the Jazz Hands tripped backward into an Earlybirds modification on accident. On top of that, the Jazz Hands didn’t receive any blessings and all three of Flotation Buble Blessings were won by the Wild Low division.
The Jazz Hands’ pitching may have been stabilized, but the team still has significant holes in their lineup and have the misfortune of playing in the highly competitive Wild League. Season 14 promises to be another tough season for Breckenridge.