The Problem with Blaseball

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The Problem with Blaseball

Baseball’s in trouble, with COVID-19 rippling through multiple clubhouses and forcing the postponement of several games in an already-shortened season. MLB’s mad rush to eke out something resembling a season has reinforced how little owners care about players, fans, the game itself, and anything other than making money. The failures of this season are even more apparent when compared to the NBA’s seemingly successful attempt to create a bubble within the pandemic; not only is basketball younger, faster and cooler than baseball, it’s smarter and healthier, too. It’s a bad time to be a baseball fan.

Still, I’m not going to play blaseball. Ain’t got no time for it, and its blatant disrespect for the best city in the world.

I have no idea how widespread the blaseball craze is. It’s taken over games journalist Twitter this week—which, frankly, is an improvement on the stuff that normally dominates games journalist Twitter. If it wasn’t for pretty much every games writer I know on there talking about it, I’d never have heard of it, so here’s a quick explainer.

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Blaseball is basically a magical realist baseball simulator. It lets you follow along and bet on fictional teams that play a game based on baseball but full of absurd fantasy elements, like players with real cannons for arms, fan sacrifices before games, an occasional hellmouth or two—nothing as genuinely absurd as Randy Johnson exploding a bird with a fastball, or as unbelievable as the end of the 1992 National League Championship Series. Games are simulated constantly throughout the day, with a full season of 99 games taking a week. Players can bet on any and all games (with fake computer money, not real dollars), and at the end of each week rule changes are voted on by everybody. That egalitarian approach to regular rule updates would have made blaseball seem like a far more flexible and forward-thinking version of the game, if Major League Baseball wasn’t currently changing almost every thing about the game’s structure to force this misguided season through.

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Blaseball sounds like good, absurd fun that riffs on my favorite sport, and seems like a safer bet to last throughout the summer than fantasy baseball, one of my great passions in life. (Yes, I realize how harshly you’ll judge me for that, but dammit, I’ve worked hard to become proud of who I am.) I was all for signing up and rooting my favorite team of 12-fingered pitchers and enchanted outfielders on their way to whatever the blaseball version of the World Series is. But when I did sign up, what I saw immediately turned me off to the entire idea.

Here’s the major, foundational problem with blaseball: It doesn’t have an Atlanta team. When you sign up you pick a favorite team from 20 choices. Those include the Dallas Steaks, the Charleston Shoe Thieves, the New York Millennials, the Seattle Garages—but nothing from Atlanta, objectively the coolest, hottest, hippest, most exciting and most happening town around. As a native Atlantan, and a proud supporter of all its sports teams (except for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, those nerds can get bent), I simply can’t bring myself to support any sport that would exclude the clear-cut capital of the South. That includes the NHL—the greatest cadre of thieves and criminals to ever enter the world of sports, even worse than FIFA or the Florida Gators—and even something that seems as perfectly suited for me as blaseball.

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I don’t make this decision lightly. I would love to see what baseball was like with ritualistic human sacrifice. I, too, would like to open the Forbidden Book. But I can’t stand by and support a league that would have teams in Houston, of all places, instead of Atlanta. Some insults can’t be ignored.

I wish only the best for blaseball, but I have to abstain. You have to show respect to get respect. Instead I’ll devote all my attention to my fantasy team, where I’ll hopefully repeat as champion when the MLB season grinds to a sudden halt early next week.


Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, music, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.

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