RIV, Blaseball

If you were very online in 2020, which a lot of us were, especially because we couldn’t go anywhere and we were glued to our laptop screens, you might have heard of Blaseball.

I signed up for Blaseball after hearing about it on the Waypoint podcast, which I don’t often listen to, but my wife does, and we were listening to it in the car while our carpets were being cleaned. Spring of 2020 was, if you’ve forgotten, weird.

I pulled the site up on my phone: “I love fake internet sports!” Hmmm, but which team to choose? The Hellmouth Sunbeams sounded intriguing, and The Seattle Garages were the close-ish-to-Portland team, but I grew up in Southern California, so the Los Angeles Tacos it was.

I watched games and bets fervently on my second monitor during the day, trying to game the odds. Weird things happened, including the repeated appearance of a giant peanut who spoke to the fans and the teams as one. That is, when the server wasn’t crashed from the traffic, forcing the Internet Blaseball League Commissioner (and the devs) to declare a Siesta.

On Twitter, I started seeing #Blaseball tweets: You are participating in the cultural event of Blaseball. We are all love Blaseball. The commissioner is doing a great job.

RP player accounts—actual players being autogenerated names run through the Blaseball sim—started appearing on Twitter. Jessica Telephone. Whit Steakknife. Landry Violence. I joined the Blaseball Discord, and started a Twitter account for Patel Beyoncé, the Tacos’ best player. Turns out someone else in the Discord really had their heart set on Patel, so I gave them the account and started an account for Wyatt (née Wanda) Pothos.

The community grew quickly, crazily—it was full of earnest, kind, and impassioned Zoomers and Millennials (Let’s Go Mills, Baby, Love the Mills) who created storylines, strategies, team propaganda, art, and music. A fan-run merch store, Blaseball Cares, sprung up, with proceeds going to various charities. Teams worked together on lore and voting strategies. The first time someone created art of Pothos, I practically danced. Together, the community developed deep player backstories, romances, friendships, and rivalries, playing them out on Twitter. It was exhilarating and exactly what so many of us needed that summer, this active and kind creative community.

I was not there the day the Forbidden Book was opened, but I was there when Landry Violence was incinerated by a rogue umpire. I was there when the first players were shelled. I was there for the Snackrifice, in which the Tacos colluded with the entire Blaseball community to get our entire pitching team—including Pothos—shelled, and thus unable to pitch, a move of union, of solidarity. I was there when Mike Townsend, noted disappointment, made the ultimate sacrifice to save Jaylen Hotdogfingers, becoming a credit to his team.

In my memory of that summer, Blaseball stands out as a weird, wild, obsessive, and beautiful time. I have such a sweet, soft spot in my heart for all of it, but especially for the creative, supportive, radical, queer Blaseball community. I’m deeply grateful to the Game Band for bringing us this wonderful unique time, for not just creating a game for us to play, but for playing the game with us.

The Game Band recently came to the difficult conclusion that despite their best efforts, Blaseball just isn’t fiscally viable—while sad, it’s understandable. Now the ball parks are empty, the birds have dispersed, and the players can rest. Rest in Violence, Blaseball.

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