Author: Twinkle the Wonder Horse
Blaseball is, by its very definition, a splort whose relationship to the concept of strict rules is untenable at best. Decrees, Blessings, and Wills change the fates of the players at the whims of the fans. Rosters and even lives are thrown topsy-turvy by the weather, and we’re constantly trying to decipher the hidden malevolent meanings behind the words of a floating coin.
However, there are a number of rules that are typically presumed to be immutable. Many of the general rules that govern the splort are assumed to be intact and unchangeable. When it comes to those rules, it takes a special team to stare them in the face and defy them outright. And when they do take this stand and rally against the basic tenets of Blaseball, it’s rarely on purpose.
The San Francisco Lovers might occasionally fly under the radar of a portion of the splort’s fans. They’ve yet to win a single Internet Series Championship, despite being no strangers to the postseason. They’re not the biggest team, nor do they demand the most attention with their election strategies. One aspect in which they do excel is the ability to mess with our expectations, and perhaps with the sanity of some who may be keeping track of stats as well.
The Lovers’ strenuous relationship with the basic rules of the game really began in Season 5. During a Day 45 game against the Hawai’i Fridays– keep them in mind, as we’re far from done with the tropical team– the Lovers were hit by the effects of Reverb. Fans were used to the new weather, having seen it in action a few times earlier in the season. Typically, Reverb would involve a team’s lineup or rotation being shuffled around, sometimes swapping players from one into the other as well. Reverb, however, had other plans for the Lovers.
“Don Mitchell is now Reverberating wildly!”
The fans were flabbergasted and worried for their beloved crime don. Was he in danger? Would the Lovers have to fear the loss of one of their top stars? It only took three days to find out. On Day 48, Mitchell hit a ground out to end the third inning. When the bottom of the fourth began, Mitchell was up to bat once more. Was it a mistake? Not in the slightest. Mitchell’s new reverberation gave him the ability to find himself up to bat again after finishing a plate appearance.
This new ability extended past instances where his at-bat resulted in being called out. Even when Mitchell made it on base, he could follow that successful appearance up with ANOTHER at-bat. The pressure of needing to get a good hit to help a previous instance of himself make it home is a regular occurrence for Mitchell. We’re yet to see an all-Don Mitchell grand slam, and with Mitchell’s propensity for stealing bases we may never see one, but it will be a momentous occasion if it does happen. Mitchell spent an entire seven seasons as the only player ever to Reverberate, although the Repeating caused by debted pitcher Jaylen Hotdogfingers’ beans in season 9 was similar. It wasn’t until day 26 of Season 12 when Baby Triumphant began to Reverberate as well that anyone was able to match Mitchell’s situation.
Mitchell’s new ability would cause a lot of stir, but it was much later, all the way in Season 13, when it would lead to one of the most surprising possible results. Season 12 introduced Flooding to the ILB: a weather in which waves of Immateria could wash over the field. The waves would typically wash players off the bases but also had the ability to take a batter out of play completely, sending them Elsewhere for a variable amount of time. Some returned within the same game. Some took weeks to come back. Only one managed to pull off an incredible feat.
In a day 9 game against the Core Mechanics, Mitchell was up to bat in the top of the seventh inning. His first attempt resulted in a flyout. His second drew a walk. As he stepped up to the plate for his third consecutive appearance, a surge of Immateria washed onto the field, and Don Mitchell was swept Elsewhere. The problem, however? Mitchell was also still up to bat.
This third instance of Mitchell drew a walk as well, taking his double’s place on first base. Mitchell had managed to get on base after being swept away, a feat that would be impossible for any non-Reverberating player. Even then, he attempted to Reverberate back AGAIN, but this would be denied by the fact that he, for all intents and purposes, was Elsewhere. Not satisfied with his improbable feats, Mitchell proceeded to steal second base. Then he stole third. And then- he stole home.
Don Mitchell, having been swept Elsewhere, still managed to score a run for his team, putting him in a special category with Workman Gloom as the only players ever to score after an in-game event that should have taken them out of play.
Another occurrence of the Lovers looking at the rules of Blaseball and saying “no” was in Season 8. By this point in the trials and tribulations of the Internet Blaseball League, fans had grown accustomed to the idea of Enhanced Shame. Seeing a team begin a game with a negative score due to being shamed in the previous game was no unique experience for the fans, so seeing a Day 16 game between the Lovers and the Chicago Firefighters begin with the team from Chicago looking at a one-run deficit didn’t exactly turn heads. Heading into the game, the Lovers had been looking at a fairly middling early season, but their narrow victory over the Firefighters in the previous game set them up for what they were hoping would be another victory. The Lovers received their victory, but not quite in the way they were expecting.
The pitching duel between Sandford Garner and Caleb Alvarado was fierce; so fierce that neither team managed to earn a single run by the end of the ninth inning. In a typical case, this kind of result would lead to extra innings. However, given that the Firefighters had begun the game with a score of -1, the game of defenses found itself in the history books as the first game to end with a double shutout. Not a run was to be had throughout the entire game, and yet the Lovers walked away victorious.
Season 13 saw another huge game-breaking play by the Lovers, with a special assist from our friends from earlier, the Hawai’i Fridays. The Lovers, unsurprisingly, are a very close-knit team. Having been through many trials and tribulations together, the Lovers have seldom been the target of roster-toppling events. Lucky enough to only lose a couple of players to incinerations and feedbacks, they worked as a strong unit. On day 79, that changed, hitting them with their first major change to their original roster since Kennedy Meh was feedbacked with NaN at the end of Season 9. It all happened so quickly. The Lovers were at two outs at the bottom of the first inning, and star pitcher Gabriel Griffith was prepping his next pitch to Liquid Friend.
“Reality flickers. Things look different…Gabriel Griffith and Yosh Carpenter switch teams in the Feedback! Yosh Carpenter is now pitching.”
The ripples of this event were felt instantly. Carpenter, a pitcher with the Lovers since Season 1, was now a Friday. Lovers players and fans cried out in unison, but there was nothing that could be done. Blaseball does what Blaseball does, and Carpenter now had a new home. He would pitch for the Lovers no longer.
Or so we thought.
In every instance of a pitcher being targeted by Feedback thus far, that pitcher swapped with a pitcher on the other team who was not playing in the current game. This time, however? Yosh Carpenter and Gabriel Griffith were the active pitchers for the Lovers and Fridays. A strange situation for sure, but the result seemed obvious. Carpenter would finish the game for the Fridays, and Griffith would finish for the Lovers.
So it was quite the surprise when the bottom of the first inning began and Carpenter remained on the mound.
Perhaps Griffith had seen the look of sorrow in Carpenter’s eyes and allowed him the floor. It was very possible that he was simply refusing to relinquish the mound, knowing that this was his last chance to pitch for the Lovers and not wanting it to end. Whatever the situation was, the top of the first inning would be the only inning that Griffith would play in this game. When all was said and done, Carpenter had thrown an astonishing 169 pitches, with the Fridays winning 5-2. The winning pitcher: Yosh Carpenter. The losing pitcher: Yosh Carpenter. Carpenter left the Lovers on that day, but it’s fair to say that he knew how to make an exit.
But it was in Season 9 when the Lovers really bent the rules to their whim, in what might be the most famous instance of their inability to abide by the laws of the splort. The opening day game between the Lovers and the Breckenridge Jazz Hands started off innocently enough as the birds circled overhead, seeing some impressive plays from both teams to sate the fans’ need for the excitement that could only come from Day 1 Blaseball. The end of the ninth inning saw the teams tied at 5-5, leading into a series of extra innings. It wouldn’t be until the twelfth inning that either team increased the game’s score, and it happened in spectacular fashion.
Season 9 saw a change in the way that bird weather worked. Bird weather had initially done nothing but make the players uneasy as the avians stared them down. Once shellings came into play, the birds could also free a shelled player from their legume prisons. In Season 9, the birds got more aggressive. In a Day 1 game between the Fridays and the Seattle Garages, a flock of crows had attacked batter Summers Pony in the top of the ninth inning, resulting in an out as the equine ran to safety.
Coming back to the Lovers/Jazz Hands game, the same thing would happen to Alexander Horne in the top of the twelfth inning, resulting in a third out for the team. However, instead of moving to the bottom of the inning, play…simply continued. Were the umps confused? Had the birds taken control of the game? To this day, no one is quite sure exactly why the top of the twelfth inning refused to end.
Ortiz Lopez would hit a grounder for the fourth out of the inning. Helga Moreno struck out looking for the fifth. The outs kept coming, accompanied by a series of successful runs as well. In all, the Lovers earned an additional seven runs and played to a whopping 16 outs before a thwarted attempt at stealing second base by Moreno finally brought the half-inning to a close. The Jazz Hands attempted to fight back, scoring one more run to bring their score to 6, but it was for naught.
The 12-6 game came to be known by many names amongst the splort’s fans, but the prevailing name for it was “Crowvertime.” No one could explain just what led the umpires to allow the half-inning to stretch on beyond any reasonable limit, but whatever it was, the game will live on forever in the history books. Not a single bird-related occurrence happened throughout the rest of the Season, possibly out of fear of having to live up to this event.
The San Francisco Lovers, regardless of how their win/loss record ends up looking, certainly know how to make Blaseball even more interesting than it already was. This author is sure they’re not alone in wondering just what other tricks the team has up their armored sleeves.