By: Jade Townsend
The Lovers were going into Season 15 knowing that they were going to tank the season, and they were looking forward to it. After a failed Playoff run and Election results that stripped away everything that got them to the Playoffs at all, the team was ready to party. But, before we can get into the events of the season, it’s important to know those Election results and what they meant for the Lovers.
Season 14 Election Recap
The Lovers’ Season 14 Election was a disaster, but not one of their own doing, as previous aces Gabriel Griffith and Fitzgerald Blackburn were replaced on the Rotation with subpar pitchers NaN and Karato Bean of the Tigers and Spies, respectively. Additionally, co-captain Knight Triumphant found themselves on the Atlantis Georgias, leaving Parker Meng to lead the team in their stead. Despite these disadvantages, the Lovers set up to strengthen their team through their own Wills, taking Percival Wheeler out of the Shadows to bat and sending Helga Burton in her place to potentially pitch. Additionally, they Infused the already overperforming pitcher King Roland, and also benefitted from the Min-Maxing Blessing that caused fan-favorite Kichiro Guerra to overperform during Maximum Blaseball, and Parker Meng to do the opposite. Despite their newfound benefits, though, it was plain to see that the Lovers were set to tank.
The Loss of a Friend
This season was a dangerous one for the Mild League, with debt-holders Chorby Soul and York Silk running amok and players becoming Redacted left and right. This was especially alarming for the Lovers, whose stadium frequently exhibited Coffee 2 Weather, which increased the chance of Redactions occurring. Thankfully, San Francisco managed to stay away from potential Observation until Game 19, where private investigator and Lovers’ batter Liquid Friend, who’d been recruited to search for missing persons Tad Seeth and Brisket Friendo, was hit by a stray fly ball of York’s. Sure enough, Liquid Friend mysteriously disappeared from the team’s Lineup in a Day 21 Coffee 2 game within the same series. This loss left both the Lovers disheartened and fellow detective Uncle Plasma on his own to investigate the missing persons.
The Path to Party Time
To make the best of a bad situation, the loss of Friend did allow the Lovers to more effectively tank. This was shown by the fact that soon after their Redaction, the remaining roster would go on to lose eleven straight games, giving them an edge in the PARTYTIME race (barring the Seattle Garages’ near-guaranteed first-place run).
The Lovers would stabilize soon after, although they would continue having some smaller losing streaks along the way. Despite their terrible record, though, they were still no pushovers to the rest of the League, as was highlighted in the team’s sweeping of the Philly Pies and series wins over the New York Millennials and Miami Dale along the way. Regardless of their short bouts of victory, though, they were still competing with the Georgias to party second after the Garages and vying for a Free Will. Their run finally paid off when the Lovers finally entered PARTYTIME in Game 81, at the same time as the Georgias.
A NaN-Shaped Disaster
Though NaN was definitely credited with much of the Lovers’ tanking efforts over the course of the season, they also served as a way to terrify the entire League. Starting in Season 8, NaN had been made a Receiver, which initially seemed like little more than a change in their Pregame Ritual, but was later shown to have the ability to mimic Modifications picked up by Echo players. NaN’s use of this Modifier came to a peak when Wyatt Mason X of the Garages Echoed York Silk’s Debt, which was then absorbed by every single Receiver, bringing the total number of Debted players to 6. Cries for MaX to “Put down the knife” were heard leaguewide, though they seemed to have ignored the pleas of the fans.
This was not the end of fans’ worries, though, as NaN entered a Feedback game with the Garages on day 37. It was in this game that the fans had hoped MaX would be able to shake off their Debt Modification. While this did happen, MaX also managed to Echo NaN, turning NaN themselves into an Echo. This made the two insanely vulnerable to canceling each other out, potentially turning them into cosmic Static. The Lovers did not want to lose another player to the abyss; the team fearfully continued the game. Luckily, both NaN and MaX would remain unscathed, with neither having any remaining games in which they would be vulnerable. Both teams were safe.
Stadium Renovations: The Rundown (Skatedown?)
This season’s stadium Renovations were just about perfect for the Lovers, providing them with two new Modifications that helped the team immensely. The Lovers would install a Secret Base near second base where runners could stow away in between Innings, which would help greatly with the team’s habit of stranding runners on base. Aiding that problem even more was the Grind Rail, which would allow players to skip second base entirely, so long as they had the skills. The Grind Rail would be used frequently, most notably by resident base stealer Don Mitchell and former pitcher Percival Wheeler, who both found success in the new infrastructure.
A Well-Organized Disappointment
The Lovers would go into PARTYTIME with eighteen games to spare, hoping to maximize their stat boosts. Things looked up when the team got three party boosts in a single game, all on favorable players. A few games later Karato Bean would get a second party, and a couple of games after that Karato partied for the third time. And then…
The Lovers simply stopped partying. Perhaps Karato Bean drank all the punch, perhaps the team was simply burnt out after a long season of close calls. Regardless, the team would achieve only one more party in the last game of the season.
The Season 15 Election: Not Entirely a Disaster, at Least?
The Election was just as full of burdens for the Lovers as it was with blessings (Or Wills, the Lovers didn’t win any Blessings this season). The Lovers’ own voting went according to plan, Foreshadowing NaN for Helga Burton both as a measure to protect the now-Echoing player and improve the team’s pitching. Additionally, they would Transfuse Ortiz Lopez and Move Gita Biscuits to the Shadows in a 0% wimdy that ended up working out just fine.
Like the season before, though, the Lovers were not safe from other teams’ Wills. The Georgias wimdied an Exchange of Ortiz Lopez for Mint Shupe, and the Dale trading Parker Meng for significantly worse pitcher Cannonball Sports left the Lovers captainless. Despite this, the emergence of Knight Triumphant from the Georgias’ Shadows leaves an opportunity to return them to the team, and a newly shortened Lovers Lineup may increase the team’s consistency.
In the end, while the Lovers’ season was nowhere near good— but the presence of multiple close calls and tight situations kept the season interesting, and it showed that a bad season in San Francisco doesn’t really have to be horrible (especially compared to what happened in Seattle).