Legends and Lore
We remember Hall of Famer Joe Morgan and his impact on baseball, then we shift to taking a peek inside the fascinating online world of Blaseball.
IBWAA members love to write about baseball. So much so, we've decided to create our own newsletter about it! Subscribe to Here's the Pitch to expand your love of baseball, discover new voices, and support independent writing. Original content six days a week, straight to your inbox and straight from the hearts of baseball fans.
Losing another legend.
In the last month, baseball has lost legends Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, Tom Seaver, and now Joe Morgan. Widely regarded as one of the greatest second basemen of all-time, Morgan played in the MLB for over two decades and won back-to-back World Series championships with the Cincinnati Reds “Big Red Machine” in 1975 and 1976 and was named the NL MVP in both of those seasons. He was a 10-time All-Star, 5-time Gold Glove winner, and a Silver Slugger winner. He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, inducted in 1990.
His 1976 season alone is worthy of a lengthy conversation all on its own. He ended the year with a .320 batting average, 27 HR, 111 RBI, 113 runs scored, and 114 base on balls and led the NL in OBP and slugging percentage.
After he retired in 1984, baseball continued to run through Morgan’s veins as much as it did when he wore the uniform. He was a staple of the baseball broadcasting scene after his retirement, taking to broadcast booth for the Giants, Reds, ESPN, and NBC. He also served as a member of the Baseball Assistance Team, an organization dedicated to helping former Major League, Minor League, and Negro League players dealing with medical and financial hardships and also was on the Baseball Hall of Fame board of directors, serving as Vice-Chairman from 2000 until his death.
He may have been nicknamed “Little Joe,” but anyone who knows even a little bit about Joe Morgan would agree that he was absolutely a giant of baseball who will be remembered for all time.
By Brad Johnson
I need to prepare you for something. This is not a normal article. To capture the glory of today’s subject, I must abandon the familiar forms of writing. You will walk away with more questions than answers. If my words inspire you to investigate on your own, you will discover a rabbit hole of infinite depth. Will you tether yourself to a deeply rooted tree and crawl over the edge, carefully grasping firm handholds? No. Leap, I say. Abandon your id and ego to freefall. And above all else, remember: The Commissioner is Doing a Great Job.
In early August, a cultural phenomenon was hatched – the bewildering splort of blaseball. You, a reader accustomed to articles that answer questions, might wish to ask something like “What is Blaseball?” Blaseball is wonderful. Blaseball is life. Blaseball is All You Ever Wanted. Blaseball is not baseball with an extra “l.”
A more specific answer to a more specific question like “How do I play Blaseball?” feels almost like sacrilege. Besides, I provided the answer. Drop yourself feet first into the rabbit hole. There is no bottom to fear. The fall itself will sustain you.
Not satisfied? Fine. Like more mundane sports, Blaseball is a league with teams. Internet League Blaseball is divided into four divisions of five teams. Existing franchises have names like the Canada Moist Talkers and Unlimited Tacos. Teams have fans (or, if you will, “flans”). This is how you “play” Blaseball. I support the Philly Pies, a team led by manager Hoagie Schuylkill and GM Sam Hinkie. Our home games are played at Tastykake Stadium aka “The Oven.”
(Season 10 standings as of this publication)
Once you have selected a team, it’s time to join the relevant Discord channel where you can participate with others. This is not a quiet Discord community; you’ll find dozens of extremely active channels with a cacophony of stimuli.
A new game is played every hour with the results of each pitch displayed in real-time. You have the opportunity to bet in-game currency on the outcome of individual games. You can also shop for various pendants and trinkets which may increase your earnings when your preferred team wins or your idolized player performs certain tasks.
Earnings are important because they help you to purchase votes. In conjunction with your fellow fans, your votes can trigger favorable (or unfavorable) blessings and decrees. You’ll have to use a group strategy to win the blessings most helpful to your club. It is often necessary to negotiate with other fanbases.
Players have star ratings for various categories that affect their performance in games. Pay attention to status effects, items, and armor. You may (and should!) choose to idolize a player. This is the easiest way to earn income.
It is the job of fans to create lore and artwork based on what happens in the game. Unlike boring old-timey baseball, Blaseball isn’t only played by men. Or humans. One of the best pitchers in the league is Pitching Machine. It currently plays for the 21st team, THE SHELLED ONE’S PODS. The Shelled One is a peanut-like god who has plagued Blaseball flans with its inscrutable demands and capricious actions.
Pitching Machine, after joining the PODS
Perhaps no series of events is more illustrative of the Blaseball experience than the history of star pitcher Jaylen Hotdogfingers. After the first season, fans voted to open The Forbidden Book.
Incineration seems like the end, right? It was…until Season 6 when an audacious plan was hatched to resurrect Hotdogfingers. A blessing was available to steal the 14th-most idolized player. Incinerated players were eligible because they play for the Null Team. A massive community effort was coordinated, nicknamed Necronut. And it succeeded! Hotdogfingers joined the Seattle Garages with the modifications “Returned” and “Debted.” Ominous!
Even more ominously, any batter hit by a Hotdogfingers pitch became “Unstable.” Before long, it was revealed that unstable players are at increased risk of incineration during Solar Eclipse weather (presently, there are six types of weather).
During Season 8, Hotdogfingers refinanced her debt. Batters plunked by her gained a Flickering modifier. Flickering players could spontaneously swap teams during Feedback weather. Prior to Season 9, she consolidated her debt. Hit batters gained the Repeating modifier which could cause them to bat multiple times in a row during Reverb weather.
Hotdogfingers has now paid her debt. We think. But her return has additional fallout. For example, a cephalopod god named The Monitor followed her from the beyond. It appears to be interested in eating The Shelled One. Something will certainly happen. The shape of that something is very much unknown and unknowable.
So, what’s next? Maybe we’ll watch a squid eat a giant peanut. Maybe we’ll form a player’s union. Maybe Pitching Machine will become a real boy. Join us in our journey of discovery at Blaseball.com.
Since his debut in May of 2010, Brad Johnson has written over 4,000 articles about baseball with the bulk of his work appearing on FanGraphs, Rotoworld, MLB Trade Rumors, and The Hardball Times. You can find him on Twitter @BaseballATeam
“(Joe Morgan) wasn’t just the best second baseman in baseball history, he was the best player I ever saw and one of the best people I’ve ever known.” - Johnny Bench
“I was one of the guys that did all they could to win.” - Joe Morgan