By: Jakob Cordes
There’s one thing that has to be acknowledged: the Team from Mexico City did not have a good Season 16. Not as uniformly disastrous as the Millennials’ run with the unfortunate Chorby Soul (RIV) or the de-rigueur continuation of the Garages’ three-season slide. But that middling-ness has been its own source of angst for fans of the Team from Mexico City.
As it became clear in Midseason that the Team from Mexico City was more or less out of contention, an unusual celebratory cheer could be frequently heard from Wings watchers: “Wings Bad!” Unusual, perhaps, but not unreasonable for fans eager to see the beginning of PARTYTIME, and potentially the redemption of such roster-fillers as Roscoe Sundae.
PARTYTIME did not come easy for the Team from Mexico City. The Millennials and Garages, neighbors in the Mild League, started Partying after Day 76 and Day 77, respectively. As the Team from Mexico City skated along the line between mathematical improbability and impossibility, the cry was a despairing, if somewhat perplexed, “Wings Good?”
Blaseball is, of course, fundamentally a team splort, so take this next observation with a grain of salt, but it must be said: the main culprit in the Team from Mexico City’s refusal of irrelevancy was the indomitable Burke Gonzales. Gonzales is arguably the second-best pitcher in the League, behind only the Firefighters’ Gabriel Griffith. After Partying late in the season, I fully expect them to set the League on fire in Season 17 (metaphorically, though one should never rule out a literal interpretation).
Setting aside their 2nd-in-the-League .413 strike percentage and .650 per 9 home-run rate (lowest in the League), Gonzales’ simplest statistic is the most telling: 14 season Wins to 6 Losses, a differential of 8 games. Let’s pretend for a moment that Gonzales is replaced by a perfectly average pitcher – one who “pitches with the team” for a Win/Loss of 8/12 (I know this isn’t really an average performance, but in my defense, I’m bad at statistics). With 6 fewer season Wins, the Team from Mexico would fall to a record of 34-65, placing them just above the Garages.
In other words, without Gonzales (who, it should be noted, pitched 7 shutouts out of 20 appearances) PARTYTIME would’ve come much sooner.
The Team from Mexico City did make it to PARTYTIME eventually, at a respectable 84 games. But there is something beautiful— something fundamentally Blaseball— about fans desperate for a run of Losses, cheering for their team by cheering against its star pitcher.
This is a small story in the grander context of Blaseball’s sixteenth season, but it resonates with the prevailing themes of this and all seasons. From the brilliant final(?) season of Chorby Soul to the perennial threat of Incineration, Blaseball’s best stories grow out of loss and disappointment. Leave it to the Team from Mexico City to draw such a story out of a string of odds-defying, unexpected victories.