By Mark Haines
Scraping through some of the most nail-biting series seen in the Internet League, the Dallas Steaks are your Season 16 champions. But how did they get there? The only way you can succeed in Internet League Blaseball— clever planning by the fanbase plus a huge amount of luck.
The Discipline Era
The Steaks were an early powerhouse in the ILB, winning 72 games in Season 2. But that team stumbled and lost in the first round of the Playoffs, setting up a curse that would hang over Dallas for fourteen seasons. Year after year, the team would be strong enough to threaten or make the Playoffs, but could never surpass that first round. Simultaneously, Dallas wasn’t weak enough to earn the Enhanced PARTYTIME that would be needed to really improve. As one of the smallest fanbases, the Steaks were also unable to rely on Blessings to improve the roster. A few key wimdy Blessings did help the team in those early seasons (notably the move of all-star Conner Haley from pitching to hitting in the Season 5 Election), but the Steaks largely stayed Medium, never really threatening, until the end of the Discipline Era. The start of Season 12 is where the story of the modern Dallas Steaks franchise begins…
The Steaks started Season 12 with a lot of weaknesses – Gallup Crueller (batting 2nd) and Cory Ross were weak points in a mostly power-hitting Lineup, and the pitching staff averaged only 2.1 stars – the worst in the League. These weaknesses, however, were the perfect recipe for the team to finally Party Hard: Dallas won only 37 games, and ended up with 15 Parties in 17 Days. Most of these were by the offense, which saw several players Party multiple times. Patel Beyonce was able to Party back from an Allergic Reaction, but Crueller also ate a peanut and ended the season at zero batting stars. Notably for the future, Sam Scandal Partied twice and Ronan Jaylee once… but more about them later.
The Grand Siesta’s completion brought with it a new mechanic in Wills – guaranteed improvements coordinated within the team, which even a small fanbase could use to improve. The Steaks had long wanted Sam Scandal to pitch – they had all the ingredients to be an absolute ace (shown off in a single Coffee Cup shutout), and hoped to win The Best Offense Blessing, since no Will would allow a direct move from the Lineup to the Rotation.
While hoping for that wimdy Blessing, the team community chose to use the Steaks’ two Wills to Alternate zero-star Gallup Crueller (getting a small improvement to 1.2 stars) and to Infuse Leach Herman (gaining 1.25 pitching stars). Both Wills were among the things the fanbase had agreed to try for— small team cooperation in action.
In the end, no Blessings came the Steaks way— including the Tag Team Pitching Blessing, which by all rights should have boosted the earned-last-place Steaks if not for the arrival of the technically-last-place Crabs.
After 17 Days of Partying, the Steaks headed into Season 13 much more optimistic about their chances. And they were right! The team posted a 58-41 record, much improved over Season 12. Leach Herman made good use of their Infuse, winning 15 games, while Orville Manco managed 17 Wins. Unfortunately, Kit Adamses had a rough season with a 7.52 ERA and only 4 wins.
On the offensive side of the ball, Cory Ross and Gallup Crueller had rough seasons— Ross batted only 0.150, and Crueller posted 131 strikeouts. By season’s end, the Steaks finished 2nd in the Mild High, but two Black Holes dropped them to only 56 Wins, and the Canada Moist Talkers took the 4th and final Mild League Playoff slot.
Having lost two previous Blessings that would let Sam pitch, the Steaks fanbase decided to stop waiting for a better Will and set into motion a plan that would lead directly to success in future seasons: in the Season 13 Election, the Steaks used Foreshadow to bring rookie Zephyr McCloud into the Lineup and move Sam Scandal— a 6-star hitter!— to the Shadows. McCloud was an extremely talented naturally-rolled hitter who had joined the Steaks as their Season 11 Playoff Birth; this move gave the Steaks a 6-star pitcher on the bench without really hurting the team’s overall hitting. The Steaks second Will Infused Cory Ross— as a 6-star defender and 4-star baserunner, Cory needed to stay in the Lineup and Infuse gave them a much-needed boost in batting ability. Once again, both Wills were things the fanbase had agreed were reasonable, even if the numbers looked somewhat wimdy.
No Blessings blessed the Steaks in this Election, but the Breckenridge Jazz Hands did Exchange to grab August Sky, giving back Holden Stanton. Stanton was a downgrade as a batter but did have the Perk modification improving their performance in Coffee Weather. The Steaks ended Season 13 without much obvious change— but the ‘Let Sam Pitch’ plan was in action and would soon pay off.
As expected, not much changed in Season 14 for the Steaks— the fanbase was being patient as the team went 52-47 and missed the Playoffs again. George Fourman Stadium, newly built in Season 13, was Renovated for the first time. The dinger-loving Steaks fanbase immediately built the Grandiosity- Renovation, moving the outfield walls in for more home runs, and was sad to find no available Buckets Renovation to pair with it. After much debate, the fanbase decided to fund Coffee 3s+ weather as their second Renovation, a decision that would ultimately be quite useful to the Steaks championship run (and one that helped Holden Stanton outperform their stars).
After an uneventful season and again winning no Blessings, it was time for the next phase of the ‘Let Sam Pitch’ plan: The Steaks used Foreshadow to move long-struggling pitcher Kit Adamses to the bullpen, and let Sam Scandal finally stretch out their arm as a full-time pitcher. To really amp up the pitching improvement, the team used Infuse to grant Ronan Jaylee an additional 1.4 pitching stars. These two Wills combined to improve the average pitching stars for the Steaks from 2.6 to 3.8 in a single Election. Again, the fanbase was happy to see a very united Will result— both choices were ones that the Discord community had promoted and championed.
Steaks fans were excited to see Season 15 coming up – several seasons of machinations had finally drastically improved the team’s pitching, while the batters were as good as ever.
The Steaks started strong in Season 15, with Zephyr McCloud really coming into their own as a 3rd best power hitter behind Conner Haley and Rai Spliff. Unfortunately McCloud went Elsewhere for 40 days in the middle of the season, and while Sam Scandal was as good as hoped on the mound, winning 16 games, Sixpack Dogwalker (now the Steaks weakest pitcher) regressed from previous seasons and won only 3, leaving the Steaks to finish the season at 54-45.
Painfully, the Steaks again missed the Playoffs on a last-minute tiebreaker and only had 3 days of Parties; but the team capitalized hugely on those 3 days, with Conner Haley, Zephyr McCloud, Kline Greenlemon, and Ronan Jaylee all improving. The fans also took the opportunity to add Buckets and Ominousness- to the stadium during the Latesiesta.
Dogwalker had been a thorn in the side of Steaks strategy for several seasons at this point— due to their Flickering Mod, they might leave the team at any point in Feedback Weather, which made it difficult to invest one of the team’s precious Wills into improving them. Other roster moves had taken priority over worrying about Dogwalker for a while, but after 7 games of Feedback weather without leaving, they were clearly now a weak spot to worry about.
On the offensive side, Gallup Crueller’s #2 Lineup position was continuing to be a liability. The new Move Will offered an easy way to get McCloud into the #2 spot while also shortening the Lineup to get more at-bats for the best hitters. The fanbase also mostly agreed that more moves needed to be made to improve pitching, and prepared a sequel to ‘Let Sam Pitch—’ Allison Abbott had struggled in the Lineup and had middling pitching stars, but better Ruthlessness than anyone but Scandal, so the team prepared to Foreshadow Kit Adamses into the Lineup and take Abbott to the bench to let her pitch in Season 17 instead of Dogwalker.
But then, with only a few hours until the Season 16 Election, Steaks fans with the Team Vote Analysis Apple noticed a huge jump in votes for the Plunder Will. Traditionally the Steaks fanbase on Discord had largely agreed that Plunder was too dangerous to be a mainline/promoted strategy for the team— the risk that one of the best or most-beloved players would leave was judged to be not worth the gain of Plunder. But now some mystery voters, untracked in the fanbase spreadsheets, had put a ton of votes into Plundering… who? The fanbase had no way to know who the team would gain and who they would lose— it could be someone nefarious trying to put Chorby Soul onto a small team’s roster to turn them into Consumer-bait; it could be OG Steaks fans trying to bring Jessica Telephone back to Dallas; it could be almost anything.
Astonishingly, the Season 15 Election resolved in the luckiest possible way for Dallas. Those Plunder votes turned out to be unanimously for grabbing PolkaDot Patterson, probably the greatest pitcher in the history of the ILB, from the Moist Talkers. And in an amazing stroke of luck, the player randomly selected to send back was Sixpack Dogwalker, the weakest spot in the Steaks rotation. This move brought the Steaks from an average of 3.8 pitching stars to 4.5 – the best in the league, after being the worst in Season 12.
In another stroke of luck, the Foreshadow Will for Allison Abbott was not chosen, and she was lucky enough to get a 2% wimdy Clutch Up Blessing, granting her High Pressure for the following season. This amazing luck with Wills put the Steaks into the best position they’d ever seen— in the top 5 in the league in all 4-star categories, and the consensus #1 Power Rankings pick from BNN.
The Steaks fanbase was electrified from the start of Season 16. The team was winning games, and scoring big, with the one-two punch of Conner Haley & Zephyr McCloud frequently getting Dallas out to a first-Inning lead. The Steaks cruised comfortably to an ILB second-best-ever 74-25 record, including a 35-4 run from Day 53 to Day 92, finally clinching the #1 seed in the Playoffs after a dozen seasons of pain.
Conner Haley put up his best season ever, batting .340 with 44 HRs, 25 triples, and 33 stolen bases. Rai Spliff also made the leaderboards, with the second-best batting average and on-base percentage on the team. And meanwhile, PolkaDot Patterson quietly destroyed every opposing team, posting a perfect 19-0 record in the regular season with a 1.63 ERA and 8 shutouts. The Steaks would end the regular season with 475.5 runs scored and only 239.2 allowed— the 3rd most scored and 2nd least allowed, for a massive differential of 236.3 runs, far and away the best in the ILB.
The luck of the Season 15 election continued to bless Dallas through this run – despite dropping below C Level on Day 85 (put off as long as possible by a stadium Clean Up renovation), no Consumers Attacked during the regular season. The only negative Weather effect all season was a Reverb on Day 80— with the potential to shuffle the team’s painstakingly assembled Rotation into the Lineup, this could have been a disaster. But Dallas’s luck held, and in the end, only the Lineup was touched. The new order was a slight downgrade, with Zephyr McCloud leading off but several lower-star batters following up. The bright spot was Rai Spliff and Conner Haley batting back-to-back in the 6 and 7 slots. While not as explosive at the start of games, this Lineup still had enough power to finish out the season strong.
One other lucky thing had happened in the regular season that would pay off handsomely— with the addition of Sweetener to the stadium, the Steaks pitchers had an even greater chance of hanging onto their Coffee 3s Triple Threat buff. And in fact, this had already happened— as the Postseason started, Leach Herman had kept Triple Threat since Day 71, and Orville Manco had held onto the buff since Day 52!
The Steaks’ first opportunity to finally win a Playoff series started against the Mild Card Charleston Shoe Thieves. Leach Herman made good use of Triple Threat early, racking up 0.9 Unruns to keep the game close. Starting in the bottom of the 7th, the teams traded the lead every half-Inning, with clutch home runs by both teams leading to the top of the 9th where the Steaks led 4 to 2.1. Herman let a runner on base and, with 2 outs, slipped up and allowed Oliver Loofah a 2-run home run, setting the Shoe Thieves ahead 4.1 to 4. As the offense prepared to come out and try for the win in the bottom of the 9th, Herman grimly decided to finish what they’d started. As José Haley came to bat Inhabiting Esme Ramsey, Herman pitched 3 straight balls (the first time all game they’d put 3 balls on the count), then 3 straight strikes which Haley just watched pass by. This 3-ball strikeout activated Triple Threat for a walk-off 0.3 Unruns, giving the Steaks the Win!
They’d need it, too— things looked good after Orville Manco won Game 2 by a score of 5 to 2, but then came Game 3. Sam Scandal pitched their heart out, holding the Shoe Thieves to a single Run on 4 hits for 13 Innings, but the offense failed to materialize and the Shoe Thieves took the win. They followed this with a Snyder Briggs 1-hitter shutout victory over Ronan Jaylee, and suddenly the Steaks were on the precipice of failing in the first round of the Playoffs again.
But this time was different; this time the Steaks had an all-time great on duty for the all-important Game 5. PolkaDot Patterson pitched a 1-hitter and the offense came up with just enough juice against Bright Zimmerman for Dallas to walk away with a 4 to 0.7 victory and advance deeper into the Playoffs for the first time.
The Core Mechanics, on their own first-ever run into the Playoffs, weren’t likely to be an easy target for the Steaks, with an extremely strong Rotation (allowing the least Runs in the ILB) right as the Dallas Reverb-shuffled Lineup was coming up anemic. But once again, the Steaks Season 16 Luck held out – the pitching matchups for this series meant that the Mechanics best pitcher, Zoey Kirchner, wouldn’t face the Steaks until Game 4.
Game 1 was decided when Leach Herman once again used Triple Threat to break a 2-2 tie, giving the Steaks the 2 to 1.7 win two Innings later. Game 2 saw Zephyr McCloud hit two homers as the Steaks won 4 to 2.7 (with another Triple Threat proc). And in Game 3, Sam Scandal managed to pick up their first Postseason Win by holding the Mechanics to 2 Runs in the first Inning while the offense scored 6. Amazingly, the Steaks would not have to face Kirchner and would go into the finals with Sam Scandal set to pitch any necessary Game 5 of the Finals.
The Chicago Firefighters had defied all expectations to reach the Internet Series, and they’d done it while scoring – a lot. Their first two Playoff rounds had multiple high-scoring games— would the Steaks’ best-ever Rotation be able to cope, and would their shuffled offense be able to keep up?
The pitcher matchups for this series were particularly interesting— the opening game had Ronan Jaylee up against Kennedy Rodgers. Both middling pitchers for their teams, this game had enormous implications – Game 2 would see The Dot overmatch Caleb Alvarado from Chicago, but Game 3 would see Gabriel Griffith mismatched against Leach Herman of the Steaks. With those 2 games likely decided, Game 1 and Game 4 would be the key, and the final game, if needed, would see Sam Scandal against Lou Roseheart in an epic pitching duel.
The Steaks started out slow, losing Game 1 badly, scoring only 2 useless Runs in the 8th after trailing 6-0 for most of the game. Game 2 was the expected Win for Patterson, racking up another 0.6 Unruns with their own Triple Threat buff. And Game 3 was likewise the expected Win for former Steak Gabe Griffith, winning 5.1 to 1 despite 3 Triple Threat procs from Leach Herman. The Firefighters now needed only a single Win to take home the series, making Game 4 a must-win for Dallas. Orville Manco, the Steaks’ weakest pitcher, would pitch against Agan Harrison, Chicago’s weakest pitcher – Manco had more stars, but it was hardly the lopsided matchup of Games 2 and 3.
Interestingly, Game 4 would take place in Sun 2 Weather— but with the Steaks having scored 6 Runs in the first 3 games compared to 12.5 for Chicago, that was hardly a guaranteed route to success. As Game 4 started, one thing about the Steaks’ new lineup became clear: those workaday Steaks hitters not at the top of the leaderboards might not always hit the dingers, but they had Moxie. Finally facing a pitcher that threw some balls, the Steaks would draw 9 walks this game, putting Cory Ross, Holden Stanton, and Allison Abbott on base at the perfect times for the more-storied power hitters to bring them home.
But first, the game started with something the Steaks hadn’t seen all season— a Consumer Attack! While warming up in the top of the 1st inning, Orville Manco managed to use their Bat to defend— an incredible stroke of luck. If the Steaks starting pitcher had lost multiple stars here, it could have easily been a quick loss for Dallas.
The Steaks started strong with 3 Runs in the top of the 1st. Manco gave up a solo HR to Justice Spoon in the 2nd, but Dallas scored 3 more in the 4th. At this point, Sun 2 Weather started to be a possible factor— but there was a problem: if Dallas could score 10 runs and loop, they’d grab an extra Win, tying the series at 2-2. But if that loop back to zero caused them to lose Game 4, the Firefighters would get the 3rd win they needed and be ILB Champs, without playing Game 5. On the other hand, if the Steaks could loop for the extra Win and still win Game 4 afterwards, they would grab the 3rd Win and the ILB title. Could it be done? The Steaks had already scored as many Runs this game as they had in the 3 prior, so the Lineup did seem to have Harrison’s number.
In the top of the 7th, the score was still only 6-1 and a loop seemed unlikely. But Allison Abbott walked and Rai Spliff homered to get the Steaks to 8, and Conner Haley followed up with a solo homer for a 9-1 lead. But then, disaster: in the bottom of the 7th, Rai Spliff was Attacked by Consumers while fielding a foul ball and lost more than 3 stars— a huge loss for the Steaks offense.
In the top of the 8th, Patel Beyonce doubled to score Holden Stanton and Allison Abbott, triggering Sun 2, granting the Steaks that much-needed Win, and re-tying the game at a score of 1 to 1. Could the Steaks get ahead again to secure the second Win they needed? At this point, Rai Spliff, still limping and bleeding from the terrible attack just a half-Inning ago, stepped to the plate and crushed a 2-run home run to put the Steaks ahead 3-1 and the title squarely in sight.
With two half-innings to pitch, Orville Manco managed to get out of a jam in the 8th after giving up 2 hits, then gave up a single Run in the 9th. The score stood at 3-2, with Wesley Poole on first base. But Manco, a Third Wave of Coffee still running through their blood after 65 days, saw the end in sight. They ignored Poole, who stole second and then third while Manco threw 3 straight balls to Goobie Ballson. And then, after a swinging strike and a foul ball, Orville Manco ended the game in true Steaks Season 16 style, striking out Ballson and scoring 0.6 Unruns to win the game, and the ILB title, by a score of 3 to 1.4.
The Steaks fanbase doesn’t expect this amazing team to stay together for long— PolkaDot Patterson has already been traded to the Core Mechanics for Zoey Kirchner in the Season 16 Election. And with a shuffled Lineup and some lost stars, the core of the Steaks roster isn’t quite the same group that started this incredible season.
There are no guarantees in Internet League Blaseball, and Elections can bring all manner of change. But for the small but loyal group that has cheered the Steaks through many seasons of painstaking improvement, we will always remember this magical team.
Conner, Zephyr, Holden, Allison, Cory, Rai, Kline, Dickerson, Patel, Leach, Orville, Sam, Ronan, and PolkaDot— you all came through when it mattered, and you all earned this magnificent championship. And to Gallup and Kit on the bench, as well as the other Shadows players yet to play: we appreciate you as well. It’s not always fun to wait on the bench and let others get the glory. Thank you for putting the team first.
To all the Blaseball fans that cheered for the Steaks in Season 16, and who dropped words of encouragement, as well as votes and coins to help a small fanbase: Thank you.
And to The Game Band, the rest of the league, and all those involved in creating this epic season and helping to shape the Steaks story: