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Baseball Fans Rule In An Online Game Made For Pandemic Times


So Major League Baseball is being played in mostly empty ballparks these days. And if that is not surreal enough for you, well, try playing Blaseball. Think fantasy baseball but a whole lot weirder. This game is played online.

SAM ROSENTHAL: Blaseball is an absurdist, kind of whimsical simulation of baseball.


This is Sam Rosenthal, one of the creators of Blaseball.

ROSENTHAL: It's a game that is about building community and organizing against malevolent forces beyond your control.

MARTIN: You start by picking a favorite fictional team, among the choices the Kansas City Breath Mints, the Breckenridge Jazz Hands and the Canda Moist Talkers.

ROSENTHAL: Then you bet fake currency on fake teams that play each other 24/7.

GREENE: Now, funny thing - you actually don't watch any baseball in Blaseball. There are no fancy graphics, just a bunch of miniature scoreboards showing balls, strikes, outs and a short play-by-play that is spelled out in text.

ROSENTHAL: And you'll also see, like, any odd events that might happen.

GREENE: For example, you might see an announcement that an umpire incinerated a player with his eyes or a pitcher has grown an extra finger.

MARTIN: Sometimes a game will be interrupted by unusual weather.

ROSENTHAL: Sometimes it does rain peanuts. And some of our players are allergic to peanuts, which means that if they swallow one while it's raining peanuts, they get a little bit worse.

MARTIN: Meaning their baseball skills decline - they can't hit, run or throw as well.

GREENE: After a little while, you do realize that Blaseball really isn't a game. No kidding - it's more of a virtual interactive story. And fans actually determine what happens next.

ROSENTHAL: A really good example of this is the fans decided that they wanted to bring a player back from the dead.

MARTIN: Sam Rosenthal says Blaseball was invented in April as a way of helping people stay connected during the pandemic.

ROSENTHAL: What we've seen fans do so far is unbelievable. They've been making incredible artwork. The fans of the Seattle Garages have made full albums with music about what's happening in the game. And the fans themselves, they add so much color to the world.

MARTIN: So play at your own risk, and beware of falling peanuts. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Barry Gordemer is an award-winning producer, editor, and director for NPR's Morning Edition. He's helped produce and direct NPR coverage of two Persian Gulf wars, eight presidential elections, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and hurricanes Katrina and Harvey. He's also produced numerous profiles of actors, musicians, and writers.