by Tyler (Inferno390)
As a Flowers fan, it is disheartening to see my team carry a lot of potential and yet come just short of the Postseason. Boston was looking good going into Season 16; Partying had brought a notable rise in the strength of the players. Parker Parra had been traded off to the Crabs in exchange for long-timer Brock Forbes, filling a gaping hole in the rotation. Many modifications had been made to help play up the Flower’s biggest strength, their Home Runs, and there were some real powerhouses sitting in the lineup; Scores Baserunner, Margarito Nava, and Jacob Hanes forming an excellent core around the other good-but-not-great hitters on the team. And somehow, despite all of this, it wasn’t enough. Boston fell short of the Postseason in, ironically, what was one of the best weeks ever for the Wild Low with three teams clinching the playoffs. Flowers fans were met with disappointment and discouragement as the season wore on, and at first glance, it was unclear why.
A Good Team, Struggling
There were several hardships for the Flowers in Season 16: the loss of Moses Mason to incineration and the complete wimdy that threw their entire election plans out of whack. But at the end of the day neither of these were the cause of the issues seen by the team. While Moses was a hard loss in terms of lore, he had also been playing well below average for seasons now, and his replacement for Salih Underbass was not as much a downgrade as it first appeared. And while wimdys are frustrating, especially when they revolve around Chorby Soul, that wasn’t an issue for the main season itself. In fact, the Flowers, for the most part, hit and played exceptionally well, with the lineup’s average stats being comparable to many of the other teams in the Postseason. Take, for example, the Season 16 league champions, the Dallas Steaks.
- The batting average of the Steaks was only 0.38 points higher than the Flowers, 0.249-0.211.
- The Steaks had only 11 more home runs than the Flowers, 177-166.
- The Steaks scored only 36 more runs than the Flowers, 460-424.
While it’s not up for debate that the Steaks are better than the Flowers, it’s not by much.
A better measuring stick might even be the holder of the best record for Season 16 in the Wild Low, the LA Unlimited Tacos, who rocked a 65-34 record.
- The batting average of the Tacos was only 0.08 points higher than the Flowers, 0.219-0.211.
- The Tacos had 1 fewer home run than the Flowers, 165-166.
- The Tacos scored 86 fewer total runs than the Flowers, 338-424.
And yet the Tacos played significantly better than Flowers across the season despite having a harder schedule and even made it to the playoffs. (The Flowers played a lot of games against the Wild Wings, who had an even lousier season at 40-59.) The Chicago Firefighters tell a similar story:
- The batting average of the Firefighters was only 0.05 higher than the Flowers, 0.216-0.211.
- The Firefighters had 37 fewer home runs than the Flowers, 129-166.
- The Firefighters scored 79 fewer total runs than the Flowers, 345-424.
And the Firefighters only had 1 more Win for the season than the Flowers did!
Now, this is not an argument that the Flowers wouldn’t be struggling; their stats do also show that while they were good, they were not going to be the underdog champions of Season 16 by any stretch of the imagination. But the evidence suggests that the Flowers’ stats, at least in the lineup, should be enough to get the Flowers at the very least in the running for the Playoffs, and it’s not. The problem, once again, seems to be coming from the pitching.
The Pitching Plague
When Parker Parra was traded off to the Crabs at the end of Season 15, it was assumed that the rotation struggles would be over for the Flowers. The rotation had been an issue for the Flowers for a few seasons now, starting with Owen Picklestien playing poorly Season 14, and then Parra filling that role in Season 15 with an abysmal 0-20 record on the mound. Parra was never meant to be a pitcher; once upon a time, they were a star hitter for Crabs, though that too trickled off in later years. So the Flowers did the smart thing and sent Parra back to the Crabs in exchange for Brock Forbes, a veteran on the mound who has been performing consistently since the start of Season 3. Things were looking better. And then the pitching curse decided to strike again.
The fact of the mater is that Dunn Keyes pitched abysmally last season, with a 2-19 record and allowing the second-most number of runs in her career, only beaten out by Season 11. At least then, she was still able to win games. This time, for some unknown reason, Keyes was not, and it really showed. Not that this is anything against Keyes; in fact, what makes it even more bizarre is that this is by far and away unusual for her. Her stats might not be something you write home about, but they’re not bad either, and she hasn’t had this bad of a season in her entire history in the league.
Furthermore, these pitching problems can be traced to a slow decline starting all the way back in Season 11, only just now rearing its ugly head. Keyes is the successor to a long line of pitchers that are inexplicably dragging the team down. Zeboriah Wilson, with his consistent but poor 7-13 records, and Owen Picklestein, whose returns on the mound diminishing over time, are both now hanging around in the Flowers Shadows now, waiting to return to the field to get a second chance, and Keyes might just be the next to follow down that path.
Room To Grow
With Season 17 well underway, it seems that whatever momentum the Flowers were trying to put together has completely fallen apart. The elections were particularly devastating for the team; Margarito Nava was sent to the Shadows thanks to a wimdy that brought Chorby Soul back into the league for exactly one game, and Schneider Bendie was traded away for Glade Moon on a second one. And that’s not to say that the outcomes were all bad: a third wimdy (for the Crabs) resulted in a trade of Chorby for Silvaire Roadhouse. In addition, Glabe Moon’s high defense will help shore up that part of the team. But defense is not what’s holding the team back right now, pitching is. The elections were bad because not only did the Flowers not get what they needed, they lost some of the best things they had going for them in the process.
The more recent mixup of the roster thanks to Reverb has been more of a mixed bag. Sure, Keyes and Chambers Simmons, the other weak link in the pitching rotation right now, have been brought into the lineup, where maybe their fortune will turn. But this is at the cost of the Flowers’ breakout player from the beginning of the era, Scores Baserunner, moving from lineup to the rotation. Scores is not good at pitching whatsoever and is one of the best hitters the lineup had. Things like this make every step forward at this point feels like two steps back. The Flowers have watched the Ohio Worms and the LA Unlimited Tacos pass them by to league dominance in a matter of weeks, while they are struggling to break even in their win-loss record season after season, and it’s hard to watch. They’re a good team, with great potential they are failing to live up to, leaving each season feeling like they could have done better.
This isn’t an issue that is going to go away anytime soon. Or maybe it is; Baseball is as fickle as the gods who made it. What the Flowers are experiencing right now is really just a slump, and more than anything they need time to get out of it. Eventually, these pitching issues will rectify themselves, whether it be some clever trades to get the rotation on their feet again or simply by Keyes figuring out their place on the mound. It may be hard to watch, but wouldn’t Flowers know better than anyone what it means to be a late bloomer, or how plants hibernate in the winter? This is our winter, and spring isn’t too far away. All we have to do is stick together and weather a few more snowy storms.