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Blaseball: An Introduction and the Wonderful and Woeful Tale of Jaylen Hotdogfingers

An intro to everyone’s favorite cultural phenomenon

dedication of safeco field
the siesta’s been good but the seasons are better
Photo credit should read DAN LEVINE/AFP via Getty Images

Blaseball is simple. It’s an online sports betting simulator where players bet virtual currency (called coins) on the outcome of fake baseball games. The 24 teams make up Internet League Blaseball, and all teams play every hour on the hour, with every pitch being simulated based on the fictional pitcher’s and hitter’s stats. Its a sort of online OOTP game, with everyone watching and betting on the same games. The regular season runs from Monday to Friday, with the postseason played on Saturday. On Sunday, the league rests.

Using the coins won from betting, players can buy a variety of items, such as votes and peanuts. Using votes, players can influence the league in the weekly elections, with the results being posted every Sunday. Past elections have included adding a fourth strike to struggling teams, or adding a fourth base that overperforming teams have to run past, working out trades, or opening the forbidden book, ushering in a new age of violence as players are randomly incinerated in the middle of a game.

Oh, yeah. Things are a little weird over here.

What I described above is how most people interact with Blaseball. It’s possible to interact with Blaseball on many different levels. Simply watching the website and betting on games is a totally valid way to be a part of it. But to truly understand and get at what makes blaseball such a magnificent cultural phenomenon, we have to go a little deeper.

To demonstrate, I’d like to tell you a story from the early days of Blaseball.

At the end of the first season, one of the three Decrees the players could vote for was “Open The Forbidden Book.” Like Pandora herself, they could not contain their curiosity. They opened the book.

As a penance, Seattle Garages star pitcher and manager, Jaylen Hotdogfingers, was incinerated, reduced to ashes. From this moment forwards, whenever a game was played under a solar eclipse, there was a chance that a rogue umpire could decide to incinerate a player. Death became a part of blaseball.

After the loss of their star pitcher, the Garages turned to Mike Townsend to be their new ace. He disappointed them. Posting an ERA of 5.71 in his first season, while giving up 31 dingers in 20 starts, Townsend was not the hero Seattle needed. But he took his job seriously, and his devotion to his city, teammates, and craft made him into a true credit to the Garages, and fans came to love him.

Meanwhile, Blaseball introduced a new system. Human players could idolize blaseball players, earning coins when their idol got a hit or struck someone out. A popularity board on the website showed the most popular idols so that casual fans could easily pick the best player to idolize. But some people started noticing a familiar, but long forgotten, name creeping up the idol list. Jaylen Hotdogfingers.

The good people at the Blaseball wiki had preserved the link to Jaylen’s player page, where the “idolize” button had been added. Even though she was dead and not playing any games, fans still idolized her. Because it could bring her back.

One of the options players could vote for was to add whoever was in 14th place on the Idol leaderboard to their team. There was a theory that if Jaylen was in 14th place, and the Garages won that vote, then Jaylen would come back to them.

At the end of voting on Sunday, that’s exactly what happened. But it didn’t work out perfectly. A blaseball team’s rotation is limited to only five pitchers, and someone had to go. That someone was Mike Townsend, who willingly entered the shadows to save his friend.

When Jaylen came back, she was enraged at the loss of Townsend, and she had a debt to pay off for returning to life. In a fury, Jaylen start hitting batters, making it far more likely for them to be incinerated. On one especially brutal day, dubbed “Ruby Tuesday,” four players were incinerated and replaced. Jaylen eventually paid off her debt with the lives of her victims, and was a key part of the game that killed blaseball’s god, The Shelled One. But that’s a story for another time.

The story of Jaylen Hotdogfingers and Mike Townsend is one of my favorites, and I think it serves as a great example of the narratives that come out of this wonderful game. It is not just a baseball betting simulator. The Blaseball community is an incredibly talented group, who pool their writing, art, music, and, most importantly, souls together to create fascinating stories.

If you’d like to be a part of blaseball, then you’re in luck. Blaseball returns on January 9th with a brand new, revamped system. No one really knows what to expect which means its a perfect time to join. New stories are about to be written, and we all get to be a part of it.

Right now, blaseball is in a sort of draft phase where the teams are being reorganized. It’s a bit confusing, but Seattle just got a player named “SHEEV SHRIFFLE” so it can’t all be bad. If you’re looking for some more information about blaseball, I recommend perusing the blaseball wiki, or watching the more in-depth recap videos on blaseball’s YouTube channel. And last but not least, always remember that The Commissioner is Doing a Great Job.