[Editor’s Note: This article references Advanced Stats, which some fans may consider Forbidden Knowledge (FK)]
It’s Season 10. Discipline Era. Magic’s out of the running for the Postseason, again. Magic’s competing with Chaotic Good comrade #1, the Hawai’i Fridays, for PARTYTIME speedrun. Again. Unfortunately, they’re a bit late, and instead, it’s a double knockout for the Fridays and Hellmouth Sunbeams. But it’s OK, Magic’s not far behind, as tragedy had befallen them. Earlier that season, beloved slugger Annie Roland was incinerated, Day 39, to be replaced by future fan favorite, Bonk Jokes. Bonk’s pretty good. But they’re not Annie.
You can’t replace Annie.
Annie Roland was special. It’s Season 7, when Jaylen Hotdogfingers had first Returned, and their Debted pitches led to the incineration of twelve players. Annie Roland is hit-by-pitch and made Unstable. Twice. They played through three Solar Eclipses— five if you count the two half-games where they had been marked Unstable in the first place. Oscar Dollie also took one on the chin but never played while endangered. Annie Roland defies all expectations following Ruby Tuesday and survives Season 7. Drinks some blood along the way, too.
We flash forward back to Season 10, after Annie’s incineration. We mourn the loss of our blood-hungry, ump-defying superstar. Annie Roland was a four-star batter. Annie Roland had hit one hundred and eighteen (118) home runs in the five seasons they played— competing with fellow dinger hitter, Oscar Dollie. Annie Roland’s pregame ritual was molting. Annie Roland’s preferred coffee style was Espresso.
Annie Roland’s blood type was O No.
I would consider that providence, but it wasn’t Annie that made Magic aim for O No Blood. It was a combination of many things. For instance, we knew blood Blessings were remarkable. Electric Blood, Grass Blood, Love Blood— they were all unique ways to interact with the game. We also knew we hadn’t gotten a Blessing (that we actually aimed for) since Season 1, but experts are pretty certain we didn’t even get that one. Yet ultimately, the reason Magic went for O No Blood was that… well…
It’s called ‘O No’ Blood, are you kidding? It’s hilarious!
Sure enough at the end of Season 10, with the Shelled One defeated, the Crabs Ascending, and the Sun exploded, Election time comes around to reveal…
Blood Transfusion. All of the Yellowstone Magic players now have O No Blood Type!
And we were ecstatic. But what does this mean? At first, our only explanation was that “Players with O No Blood are Good.” And yeah, we could have told you that. But what gives? With that preamble out of the way, it’s time to ask:
What is O No Blood, and how does it make the Yellowstone Magic ‘Good?’
Whatever it does, we can immediately tell the difference with only a cursory glance at our Season 10 and 11 statistics. Yellowstone Magic was the second-worst team in the League in Season 10, second only to Chaotic Good comrade #2, the Charleston Shoe Thieves. Magic has a team-wide Batting Average (BA) of .223. On-Base Percentage (OBP) of .249, just inching ahead of the Fridays (at the bottom of the League). We counted 710 strikeouts— the second highest. The recently cursed Thieves were hitting a .211 BA with 914 Strikeouts. It was stiff competition, but not counting Charleston, we really were the worst.
Season 10 rolls past, Season 11 starts. All of a sudden, Magic’s hitting at .279 BA with a .301 OBP. Big gains. Well, big whoop you might say. Magic partied, didn’t they? Plus, Siphons stole a lot of defense last season, that probably accounts for easier hits. And that’s fair! It’s a fair point of view to take. But there’s a reason why this bump is attributed specifically to O No blood. The actual text of the blood blessing reads:
A player with O No Blood cannot be struck out as long as there are 0 Balls in the count.
As long as there are three goose eggs in the ball count, a Magic player is not done batting. Consecutive ‘strikes’ past the second appear as Foul Balls. So while that batter keeps swinging, they’re not leaving the plate until they ground out or get on-base. But one Ball in the count ruins the ‘streak’, and the player will strike out properly soon after.
O No Blood was (and still is) the foundation for Magic’s offense. It completely changed what Magic wanted in its batters. Normally you’d want some plate discipline so that even if they can’t hit the pitch, they can maybe squeeze out a Walk to first base. This stat is known as a player’s ‘Moxie’, and it’s all about being able to maintain a cool head under pressure. Like, say, when a wild pitch is hurtling towards you just out of the strike zone. A high-Moxie player can keep their calm, and won’t swing. A low-Moxie player will swing with abandon, and most likely strike out swinging at pitches they can’t even hit.
So let’s revisit that jump in batting average and on-base percentage. .223 to .279 boost in BA alone, meaning the team was hitting about 5% better, which is huge in the splort. And as for OBP – We still had some batters with good enough moxie to account for some truly awful pitchers hanging around, leading to a jump from .249 to .301. Sure, we weren’t the best in the League, but jumping halfway up the rankings with one blessing does make a fair argument for it. Sproutella made an excellent paper showing the impact O No Blood had between Seasons 10 and 11 for our worst batters — It is a phenomenal difference. While it is an older piece, it still provides an excellent breakdown explaining how much Magic improved, which you can find here.
Note: Some content in the paper mentions Forbidden Knowledge (FK).
So Magic’s batters got better and more consistent at hitting— and on paper, should the League continue and incinerations, Feedbacks, and Reverbs refresh and change the makeup of each team, Magic would at least be consistently middling despite the lack of super sluggers and powerful bats. It’s a great cushion.
And yet, by the end of Season 11, Magic was still bottom of Mild Low. Just because you have good bats doesn’t mean you’re going to win. It was around now that the general fanbase started realizing that a strong Rotation could make or break a team. With three pitchers who honestly shouldn’t have been pitching, Magic wasn’t able to hold back the other teams’ offense.
Realizing you need good, strong pitchers to make it far in the Postseason was when things started to change for Magic. There wasn’t a way to address pitching yet, but it wouldn’t be long until things changed after the Grand Siesta. As it turns out, there’s a very funny correlation between Magic’s O No Blood and strong pitchers. Or to be more precise, ‘Ruthless’ pitchers. We’ll get to that in a moment though. For now, we continue our story time.
So it’s Season 11. Peace & Prosperity. Magic’s out of the running for the Postseason. Again. Not speedrunning PARTYTIME but we are ambling our way towards it. Again. We reach Day 99 and everyone’s relaxing, and suddenly we’re told that Magic was the Wild Card for the Mild League— The Mild Card, we’ll call it. We play against the Dallas Steaks. Yeong-Ho Garcia takes first pitch, and remarkably, defying all expectations, YHG takes a win off them. Logan Rodriguez plays the second game, with a 9-3 loss more in line with our expectations.
And then Inky Rutledge wins 7-6 in Game 3. Magic advances. It’s now that we realize that Logan’s loss lined up Curry Aliciakeyes, our best pitcher on the team, to play against PolkaDot Patterson, the best pitcher in the League. We spent all season flabbergasted by PolkaDot managing to dismantle O No, though. We had yet to win against them.
We’re down one to nothing, top of the third. A string of surprises soon follows. Eizabeth gets on first, Oscar reaches on fielder’s choice. Washer Barajas goes up to bat, reaches “strike five” with O No, then a Ball. Then another Ball. A natural Foul. A third Ball. Washer Barajas draws a Walk off of PolkaDot Patterson. The only Postseason Walk that Dot has ever given up.
After this, PolkaDot falls apart at the seams. Sutton hits the single, bases loaded. Oscar scores on Francisco’s sacrifice, tying the game. Bevan hits a triple, sending the others home. Bonk bats them in. The top of the third inning ends with Magic ahead. And it doesn’t stop there. By the end of this game, Magic wins 7-3, and proceeds to “sweep” the Moist Talkers through “Mod 10” (Sun 2 / Black Hole) weather shenanigans.
Anyone watching this game soon discovered what exactly O No can do. PolkaDot Patterson is (well, was) an extremely good pitcher, and a lot of that dominant performance is due to a stat called ‘Ruthlessness’. Ruthless pitchers are better at hitting the strike zone, throwing so fast that it makes it easier to strike batters out. They don’t throw Balls, and rarely Walk batters. Against any other team, a highly ruthless pitcher would be a genuine threat. And a ruthless pitcher is a good pitcher. Remember this now. This is where we REALLY get into the thick of it.
How does O No Blood interact with strong pitchers?
When I mentioned an odd correlation between O No batters and strong pitching earlier, I’m referring to a very specific trend through Seasons 12 to 18 that revealed a steady decline in League-wide batting average. With the introduction of Wills, a team’s priority to contend would be to spend those wills infusing and improving their rotation. Some teams had other problems to deal with, other fires to put out, but every nearly-dominant team was seeing Infusions and Transfusions and Foreshadows (if necessary) to bolster their pitching. The League’s pitching got better. Everyone got strong pitchers. And as we know from earlier, a strong pitcher is invariably a ruthless pitcher.
And a ruthless pitcher alone cannot stop Magic.
The only team’s batting to trend positively throughout Seasons 12 to 18 was the Magic. Magic hovered close to or pretty much at the top of the Team BAs. Magic’s base offense was unmatched, until the introduction of its sister bloods, H2O and O Blood, snatched by its Mild Low cellmates, the Canada Moist Talkers and Baltimore Crabs. The “Blood TriO” became three of the most considerable threats in Mild Low, until each of these teams was dismantled through Exchanges, Plunders, and necromancy. However, while Crabs and Talkers saw themselves dip in the standings, Magic hovered near the middle and top of the Mild Low Division anyway. Even after losing five of their batters (which to be fair, arguably helped their offense AND fielding)! Even with Logan Rodriguez on the Lineup, they persevered. Because O No doesn’t require you to be a great batter to prevail. All it needs you to do is have the willpower to keep swinging.
When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
We cannot keep talking about how O No Blood helps bad batters against strong pitchers without mentioning Chorby Short’s opening day. A Season 12, Day 1 Moist Talkers game against PolkaDot Patterson opened up with a 111 Foul Ball streak. With absolutely no plate discipline, Chorby Short hit 113 strikes in a row, without a single Ball pitched from PolkaDot Patterson. Or maybe there were some; Dot is capable of throwing outside of the strike zone every now and then, as we saw back in Season 11. However, Chorby’s unwillingness to stop swinging meant that as long as Chorby at least tried to hit the ball, they would get another try. Two players in particular upheld long Foul streaks before— Chorby and Wyatt Glover were both below average players at best— but this meant an unprecedented amount of Fouls for both of them. They ended up grounding out by the end. But despite grounding out, the threat was obvious; the longer a player can sustain a streak like that, the more opportunities they get to hit the ball and get on base.
Research by Erin (seen below) revealed an equally interesting correlation within Seasons 12 to 14, ESPECIALLY Season 14. Yellowstone Magic’s performance had little to no correlation with any of the pitching stars of other teams. As in, they were just as capable of being nearly shut out by the Dot as they were capable of blowing out the Dot, 14-2, in a Home Game (Season 14, Day 85). But all the same, pitching improved. And still, due to stronger pitchers giving Magic more opportunities to hit the ball, Magic improved as well.
[Author’s Note: I could go on a rant about how small sets of data can be misleading, or should always be taken with a grain of salt, but frankly this article’s already a bit long in the tooth. Someone should write that. ;)]
Just because you’re good at striking out a batter, doesn’t mean you’ll always strike out a batter. And the more time you give them to hit the ball, the more likely they will.
Magic Hit Ball Good.
How has O No Blood changed in Season 19, and what can we expect from Magic going forward?
…To be honest, it kind of hasn’t. People immediately noticing the spike in Balls thrown compared to Strikes in Season 19 might assume, fairly might I add, that this ruins Magic’s offense. And we thought the same thing as well. Without the ability to string together Foul streaks to squeeze off hits, it feels like Magic’s sub-optimal batting stars might finally have met their demise. Can you really expect Logan Rodriguez to continue hitting the League’s BA? Could a Chorby Short style player ever string together Fouls like that ever again?
…I mean, yeah. Probably.
Our initial gut reaction is to presume that because strong pitchers can throw balls again, that means they can strike out Magic batters exclusively, which is acting under the assumption that this change only means they throw Balls more often, and still maintain the difficulty of getting hits off of them. This is not the case. League-wide raw strikeout count dropped considerably between Seasons 18 and 19.
I’ll use the Philly Pies pitchers as a litmus test here: In Season 18, the Philly Pies struck out 1169 batters and had a WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched) of .634 teamwide. In addition, Season 18’s best performing pitcher was Elvis Figueroa (also of the Pies), at .522 WHIP, meaning he averaged near enough to one hit or one walk per inning. And that’s a top-performing pitcher.
But then we compare that to Season 19’s Pie pitching performance, and we see a monumental leap in WHIP. Their pitching staff allowed a Walk or Hit each inning about 85% of the time. Their WHIP was .859, a huge difference compared to their .634 last season. Additionally, Elvis had a WHIP of .756. So yes, former star pitchers were in fact giving up more hits and walks, that’s true. And sure, your immediate reaction might be that Magic is ruined since they can’t Foul streak.
But if you make the ball easier to hit… you know Magic also gets to hit those balls, right?
All the same, Magic’s batting average hits a new low of .242 by the end of Season 19. That’s not great. But our main bats are striking out less often than before. Our on-base percentage dips due to the drop in batting average but is buoyed by our batters remembering how to Walk. All in all, we’re still striking out less than most other teams, but now the strongest offenses have caught up with our performance. We’re not a freakish monster that doesn’t know what striking out means. We’re now on par with our Blood brothers, the Moist Talkers and Crabs, and the strongest team in the League, the Pies.
TL;DR: Magic is still managing to hit the ball, we’re just not getting on base as often after the fact. Pitching being scaled down doesn’t hurt us too badly because it ultimately helps us just as much as the rest of the League. Our blood is still pretty damn good, it’s just not busted anymore.
So after all that, how on earth does Magic hit such shocking lows? The drop in batting average, the strikeout count getting bumped up– Who could have done this? I’ll explain:
I despise Magic struggles with Evelton McBlase II (And Bad Batters In General)
Season 18 draws to a close and the Elections begin. I was running representative duty to help summarize the results of the Election for my team, the Yellowstone Magic. I’m pouring over our Will results, utterly thrilled to see our team’s success. Eizabeth Elliott practices their pitching arm and joins King Weatherman, Curry Aliciakeyes, and Cravel Gesundheit on our Rotation. They’re built like Inky Rutledge, lost in Feedback some time ago. Not quite the bones that Melton Telephone had, but a decent pitcher that could only get better. It’s not like Magic needs to work on their offense. With Bevan Wise back, we expected something akin to the season before.
…Except for two small problems.
Wyatt Pothos, star pitcher and not-so-amazing batter, had been exchanged for Logan Rodriguez, who was pulling their weight despite only having two batting stars. OK, fine. Pothos is still decent. And Evelton McBlase II had snuck his way onto the tail end of our Lineup after Roamin’ away from the Firefighters. Pothos got sorted in after Flex fired off, inhabiting a spot on our Lineup between Francisco Preston and Bonk Jokes, two batters who, in the past, have struggled to keep up with the changing meta. McBlase II came in after Bevan Wise, who needed a strong bat to turn his third base squat into a full run. Not a good sign.
We’ve had something similar before. Chorby Short was unreliable at best against decent fielding, and Wyatt Glover was quicksand that killed all momentum whenever they came to bat. Those two were right next to each other, smack dab in the middle of the Lineup. Even with O No, it was safe to say that Magic could never reach its full potential because of that yawning chasm that ate all RBIs (Runs Batted In) that came its way.
We spent many seasons dealing with it. Whether that was rerolling our worst batter three times (which improved Chorby a tad but made Glover worse), Foreshadowing for a consistent batter (worked, but Glover later came back to replace Washer), or just trying to pick up Blessings to reorganize our Lineup (we never could get one until Season 18), it seemed having a bad batter (or two) kill all momentum was due recompense for managing to snag such a powerful Blessing. For five seasons we couldn’t completely shake these Lineup issues, until Redactions happened.
And then we forgot what that was like to have irreparably bad batters; It was so many months ago. And then it reared its ugly head again in the form of Evelton McBlase II.
Season 19. Evelton is the only member of the team to hit triple digit strikeouts. Only member of the team to hit below .200 BA by the end of the season. Only member of the team that did not even reach .200 OBP. Bonk Jokes didn’t do much better at a glance, scraping over a BA of .208 that season, but at least Bonk could Walk. And having them surround Bevan Wise, who was having an average season at best? It meant that the latter half of our Lineup was a graveyard for Runs. Without Evelton McBlase II, Magic’s On-Base Percentage jumps from .265 to .281, on par with the Georgias and Lovers. Without Evelton McBlase II, our Batting Average jumps from .242 to .251, nestled between the Crabs and Tigers.
Without Evelton McBlase II, we’d still be second worst in Mild, but I wouldn’t be cursing this schmuck for making our season even more intolerable to watch.
There is a certain sweet spot for batting stats on the Magic, and Evelton McBlase II completely failed to hit any of them. They were too pathetic (Patheticism being a stat that indicates a natural ‘flinch’ for a batter. Makes you strike out more), didn’t have the Moxie to Walk, didn’t have the ‘Thwackability’ (hitting power, basically) to send the ball flying— They were, in every way, the second-worst tuned batter for Magic (or any team, judging by their performance statistics) we’ve ever seen. There was one player who was worse, but they’re in Mexico City now.
There is bad batting. And then there’s unsalvageable bad batting. And that kind of bad batting can’t be saved by special blood.
O No Blood and the Future of Pitching
But this terrible wound to Magic’s roster was necessary for the good of the League. Just comparing the pitching stats from Season 18 to Season 19 should explain as much. Pitching was reaching critical mass, to a point where the amassment of pitching stars was being referred to as a pitching arms race. Because that’s what it was. You were making unstoppable pitchers in order to take a Championship. You didn’t really need the best bats to take the big win. You just needed a strong Rotation, maybe a slugger or two, and a little bit of luck. With these changes, we’ll hopefully see teams lean more into improving their Lineup over their pitching, but we won’t know for certain until Season 20.
In the meantime, even with our sadly low batting average, Magic’s still doing what Magic does best— not striking out, which is a great baseline to work from. With a strong Mild League as of the end of Season 19, it’s the perfect time for Magic to recuperate, slip some Parties in for its batting, and maybe prioritize some fine-tuning to the roster. Without having the “permission” to Party given to it by O No Blood, Magic was slowly falling behind in Postseason performance despite its great regular seasons. Now that we’re average at best, it’s finally time to declare with utmost certainty:
It’s a rebuilding season.
And we couldn’t be happier.