A Smudge in The Book of Blaseball: Recounting the Season 2 Semi-Final Shuffle: Recounting the Season 2 Semi-Final Shuffle
If you’re like us, you were confused by the schedule of the Blaseball Season CE2 Postseason. When you figured out the gaffe, you may have been amused, thrilled, or even a little hurt. It’s worth a recounting; the leadup, the mis-schedule, and the consequences, good and bad, of what is arguably the first major meaningful malfunction of this era of Blaseball.
The Book is full of redactions but it’s clear enough on a few things:
Section 2. The League. Assorted Sub-Sections
- b. A League of Blaseball should be composed of two Conferences. In the Internet League, the two Conferences shall be named Good and Evil.
- c. A Conference should be composed of two Divisions. In the Internet League, the Divisions shall be split between Chaotic and Awful.
- d. A Division of Blaseball should be composed of six Teams.
Conference = Good and Evil. Division = Awful and Chaotic. Got it.
There are rules for the Regular season, and that went, well, not “smoothly,” but it went Blaseball-y. No major gaffes, we ended with 90 games and some teams who did better than others. Let’s talk about the Postseason.
Section 3. The Seasons. Assorted subsections
- j. In the Postseason, Teams compete for a Championship.
- k. Each Postseason of Blaseball shall consist of 8 Teams.
8 Teams, check. Who played?
- l. The 2 Division Winners from each Conference shall secure a spot in the Postseason Tournament.
Put another way: Each division (there are 4 total) will have a winner, the team that had the most wins in that division (there were no ties, thank the Suns and Black Holes). Your Division winners for Season 2:
CHAOTIC GOOD (60-30)
Moab Hellmouth Sunbeams:
AWFUL GOOD (71-19)
CHAOTIC EVIL (52-38)
AWFUL EVIL (61-29)
- m. The next 2 Runnerups from each Conference shall secure a spot in the Postseason Tournament, based on Standings, regardless of Division.
In a conference, 2 teams are already decided, the winner of each division within them. The other 2 teams will be chosen based on their win-loss record, so conceivably, three teams from one division could play in their post-season Conference. This did happen in the Evil Conference; the Chaotic Evil Wild Wings and Hawai’i Fridays had more wins than the 1st runner up in the Awful division (sorry Jazz Hands). It was a very close race in the good conference, the Lovers were only 1 win above the Dale, and we don’t know how tiebreakers are handled in the Coronation Era.
Your remaining teams for the S2 Post-season:
San Francisco Lovers:
CHAOTIC GOOD (49-41)
Charleston Shoe Thieves:
AWFUL GOOD (59-31)
Mexico City Wild Wings:
CHAOTIC EVIL (59-31)
CHAOTIC EVIL (59-31)
Back to the book:
- n. All Postseason Rounds shall be decided by best 3 of 5 Series.
- o. Seeds are distributed to Teams based on their position in the Standings. [REDACTED]
A bit of examination can suss out this redaction: Within a conference, the seeds were matched on Win-Loss Record, with 1st playing 4th and 2nd playing 3rd.
- The Home Team in each Postseason Game shall be [REDACTED]
We would love to know what this rule is – why Boston got home-team advantage throughout the post-season and if it provided any form of advantage – but that’s a query for another article.
Post-Season: A Story With Pictures
(all images from Blaseball Commissioner Alternate on Twitter, edits by author where noted)
p. The Quarterfinal Round should begin shortly after the end of the Regular Season.
And this is what it looked like:
- q. The Semifinal Round, the Conference Championships, should begin early on the following [REDACTED] day.
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS. As in, the winner of the GOOD Conference and the winner of the EVIL Conference. It looked like this:
That’s not just anyones’ blue arrow. That’s the Commish trying to explain what happened here. I didn’t do much better but at least I corrected the lines:
The semi-finals were mis-matched. Instead of the Beams playing the Flowers for the GOOD Conference Championships, and the Magic facing the Fridays for the EVIL Conference, the games went-cross conference.
On the one hand, this is quintessential Blaseball, a wacky glitch, a comedy of errors, and an entertaining outcome. Play Must Continue, after all.
But to editorialize a bit, this one feels particularly wrong.
Dasilodavi’s Editorial (Sunbeams and Flowers fan):
I like rules. When properly designed and implemented, they exist to increase fun, to balance, and to disambiguate. We hold The Book as sacrosanct (I treat The Book as synonymous with The Forbidden Book, which may not be the case). It’s the Rules. It’s a cursed and frightening tome. Every time we open it someone is incinerated. SO, what to do if we find its rules are suddenly fallible?
Section 2 subsection Q of The Book clearly states that the semi-final round is for the Conference Championships. It does not state the specific nature of that matchup, but one can reasonably assume it will be between teams within a conference. As much as I like rules, I dislike rules-lawyering, that specific brand of logic gymnastics used to twist a rule’s purpose or justify an ambiguity. I’d accept it if it was backed with an interesting narrative: if The Commissioner gravely informed us, “The Black Hole twisted the very fabric of the bracket at the center and the corners merged into an unforeseen and irreversible mutation of the League. Play Must Continue,” I’d eat it up.
That’s not what happened here. It was clearly, succinctly, and blandly stated: Internal Error. I still prefer the idea that an intern named Al screwed it up.
You might have missed it if The Fridays beat the Sunbeams XOR the Magic defeated the Flowers. That didn’t happen; both GOOD teams beat both EVIL teams, leaving no Evil Conference Champ.
So, they “gave” it to the Beams:
Why? Was there something that guided this decision? My guess is, since the Magic were a more Evil team (better record within the Evil Conference), the Beams were granted dominion over that Conference by defeating them. It’s silly and arbitrary, which makes it peak Blaseball.
ILB Finals: Boston Flowers vs. Moab Hellmouth Sunbeams
Hell of a final though, eh? Games 1-3 were decided by a single run, with no shortage of scoring between the teams. The Big Bat Beams primarily scored on Home Runs and big plays, while the fast-growing and agile Vine Wall that is the Flowers put the legs to work with numerous triples, doubles, double plays, and solid fielding. Game 4 was a can-opener to be sure (final score 12 to 2, Beams), but an action-packed series worthy of an ILB Final.
There have been cracks in the crust of reality before but The Book has always been enforced. That it might in any way be disobeyed without consequence is the most horrifying twist for me in this horror splort. My greatest hope is that we see something deeper come from this. Will the Crew Chief be pressured to make reprimands? Will all Evil Conference Teams have Vendetta status against the interloping Beams (tell me this wouldn’t rock, regardless of how arbitrarily unfair it would be)? Unstable players are one thing, but what of a game with Unstable Rules…
From a fandom perspective, it’s justifiably frustrating with how all this went down – Magic and Fridays fans are discouraged to see their chances of cinching a Conference championship dashed by interlopers, but more than that, a bond between two rival teams was twisted, and the payoff, if there is one, is yet to be seen.
I hope to cherish it. For all my gripes, to me this was something deeply special.
The Beams are my favorite team, the Flowers are my second. To see a Sunflowers matchup in an ILB final isn’t just improbable, it’s forbidden, and yet it happened! Baseball has been punctuated, if not defined, by its gaffes and rule-stretching – NaN is a beloved player, Wyatt Mason VII is the star of a beautiful animatic that always makes me cry, and Jaylen Hotdogfingers’ necromantic rise is the best example of the impossible becoming Legendary.. A bad mistake can make a great story, and this one is an even greater treat for its rarity. I would guess it will never happen again, but it’s like they say in the Solarium; Never Estimate.
Dan’s Editorial (Magic and Flowers Fan):
Ever since the glitch in the sim was noticed Friday evening, well before gameplay started on Saturday afternoon, I’ve been struggling with how to handle how this would affect the postseason. However, before I get into the postmortem on this, a few bullet points:
- Immense appreciation to Dasilodavi for doing the bulk of the work on this piece, and being okay with me adding my own editorial. This would have been overall a much less constructive and more aggressive without their major contributions.
- The Magic and the Fridays have a special name for when they get together for a series called Friday Night Magic. A Semifinals Friday Night Magic was something everyone was immensely excited for. On the Yellowstone side at least, over a dozen different pieces of propaganda were made, and we were organizing with the Fridays for a big watch party in the ParkPark for it.
- Blaseball didn’t communicate about the nature or issue of the glitch in the Sim until after the beginning of the first game of the Semifinals. This is despite nudges on Twitter, as well as with support staff on the official Blaseball discord closer to game time on Saturday.
These help set up a coherent timeline for how things played out. Both Magic and Fridays fans were stoked to see a Semifinals Friday Night Magic based on Blaseballs initial announcement of the semifinal bracket, as well as our knowledge of the rules of Blaseball and how it functions. The vibes were immaculate and energizing, then came game time.
Don’t get me wrong, reader, I love the Flowers, and getting a semifinals with them was great, a tight five game series that saw some explosive bats. However, seeing the Fridays forced to try and fight through the near unstoppable Sunbeams was more than a little disheartening. Hopes of a FNM Finals were dashed, and alongside the half hearted post from Blaseball, the positive vibes and energy for the postseason that week were crushed.
To clarify, what I feel is the first major error with this glitch was not the glitch itself. I understand that sometimes, these things simply CANNOT be fixed in time. Instead, my complaint is how poorly communications were handled about this. A quick “Hey, we see there’s something wrong, we’re working on it.” on Twitter or Discord would have been more than enough.
The second part of where I really struggle with this is how they did end up handling things after they recognized there was a problem, which felt akin to pulling the curtain back on it all. Sure, making sure the games happened *IS* important, but this was at the expense of showing that all the buildup from the season and quarterfinals suddenly didn’t matter. It broke the kayfabe that the whole enterprise is based on, though I understand pointing this out makes me just as guilty of the same faux pas.
My final point in all this, is that the glitch, alongside Blaseball’s handling of it, detracted from what was supposed to be an exceptionally positive vibes-filled postseason. We all knew the Beams were going to take it, but instead of enjoying their climb to victory and the stories that were going to come out of it, discourse on the glitch has detracted from it. That may be the biggest issue at hand, that if Blaseball had been proactive on this, the vibes and kayfabe would have been perfectly preserved.
My hope is that criticism on this is respected, and Blaseball learns from how this was mishandled, and do a bit more to communicate and preserve the relationship with the fans.
The analysis section of this piece, as well as the first editorial, was written by Dasilodavi. You can find more of him, as well as our own Joey T Badger, over at Magic Laughs at https://www.facebook.com/MagicLaughs/