frog fictions 2
we are all love Chorby Short
I want to do something a little different today. I want to tell you a story. It's a sports story, which means it involves loss, and getting attached when you maybe didn't plan on it. This is about a magical frog-girl named Chorby Short, who played for the Yellowstone Magic and disappeared.
If you haven't been following blaseball recently, all you need to know is that players have been quietly disappearing off their teams' rosters. They get hit by a Debted player, they get Observed, and sometimes they vanish. You can still find them by going to their player page, but you have to dig, and they have the modification Redacted. That's the brief version. This isn't going to be the brief version.
In Blaseball's Discipline Era, the Yellowstone Magic weren't a great team. They weren't a consistently bad team like the Dale, or a hilariously broken team like the Tacos; they just had a steady middle of the road record, which suited the balance of the team's slogan, "As Above, So Below". Partially this was because they'd been a very good team that had been just completely shellacked by peanut allergies after Season 2. Other than that terrible run of luck, the most standout thing about the Magic was their welcoming vibe and the fact that they went the longest of any team in the entire Internet Blaseball League without a blessing.
Specifically, the Magic got the blessing "Hitting Boost" in Season 1, and then nothing for seven straight seasons. It became a bit of a meme, with "we would like to see it" and "this is a threat" becoming joke slogans in round after round of ineffective propaganda. That's what brought me to Yellowstone National Parkpark initially, but I kept coming back because of the vibes, and the Magic became my secondary team, and my home away from Hades. I wanted a nice thing to happen to the team I'd come to cherish and their fans that had made me feel welcome.
In Season 8, their drought was finally ended when they were blessed with Lottery Pick, which was meant to steal the 14th most Idolized player in the League. We'd just recently used that blessing to resurrect Jaylen Hotdogfingers, and while no one was exactly eager to repeat that particular choice, "fuck around and find out" proved too tempting. In season 7, people had tried to see what would happen if Lottery Pick was won by a test Shadows player named McBlaseball Clembons; this plan might have broken the game and lost the Tacos yet another player from their already-depleted roster—which fans of that team understandably weren't thrilled about. Keepers on the Discord intervened to talk interested parties out of that particular misadventure, but the overall interest in shenanigans hadn't vanished. In season 8, evidently with the Garages' blessing, the eye of chaos landed on a Seattle Garages' Shadows player named Chorby Short.
I'm speaking only for myself here, but I was quietly disappointed. After all this time, the Magic had been hoping for a blessing, and they got a one-star player that fans had put up as a goof? It didn't seem fair. But the Magic took it in stride, as they tend to, and emerged from the one-week siesta that followed the elections with the sense that she was a magical girl, or maybe a frog, or a frog that can sometimes transform into a human, and isn't very good at humaning yet. (For what it's worth, my sense has always been that she's a frog when she screws around during an at-bat, and a human when she slugs it out of the park. Your mileage, as with every player impression in blaseball, may vary.)
Chorby was terrible, sure, but lots of blaseball players were terrible back then, and the Magic wasn't a team that rejected their lousy players. (It probably helped that they'd had several seasons of peanut allergies to get used to that perspective.) But the Magic weren't done with their string of eccentric luck, and captured the 0 No blessing in Season 10.
0 No changed everything. We thought it was "O no", like "oh no", the sound we all constantly make while watching blaseball, and in that sense it's a good pun on the actual blood type O negative, but it was a zero as well. Magic players could no longer strike out if there were 0 balls in the count: the third strike would instead count as a foul ball. This made a minor difference for several members of the team, but it was huge for Chorby.
Part of the reason Chorby Short was terrible is that she had absolutely zero plate discipline, represented in blaseball by the "moxie" stat. Prior to 0 No blood, she'd swing at absolutely everything—and in both baseball and blaseball, if you swing at a pitch then it can't count as a ball. After 0 No...well, she was exactly the same. Add in a pitcher like Polkadot Patterson, who has the lowest career walks-per-9-innings-pitched of any player in blaseball, and the effect was—well, Magic.
On the first day of Season 12, Chorby Short and Polkadot Patterson faced off in a historic 116-pitch showdown. Polkadot Patterson could not throw a ball. Chorby Short swung at every pitch, fouling them off, one after one. The count kept reading "Foul 0-2". Even with the new Feed, it was impossible to keep up. The image of an ace pitcher just destroying their arm as a tiny happy frog happily plinked out hopeless fouls was just too funny to ignore, and it jived really nicely with everyone's impressions of the Magic, or at least how we'd like to think of the Magic. Chants of "Chorby Short, Chorby strong, Chorby make the inning long" were born.
And Chorby kept doing this in subsequent games, particularly against stronger pitchers, and getting on base because of it. Take a look at this chart by SIBR contributor Ith Biff: the number of foul balls per player in Season 12. That green wedge? Chorby Short.
This remarkable ability got enshrined in a Garages song called "won't strike out", from the perspective of their team of origin. Chorby feels so powerfully a Magic player that it's easy to forget whose Shadows they emerged from sometimes. And the lines "we miss them lots, we'll want them back" have a particular and very different poignancy now.
The "O No Chorby" era began to fade during the Season 12 election, when the Magic won Summoning Circle and rerolled their three worst hitters. Wyatt Glover, the league's cash cow, unfortunately got worse, but at least Chorby finally learned plate discipline. Gone were the days of 50+ pitch plate appearances, but Chorby was actually hitting...pretty well. Everyone loved the silly frog who made their pitchers cry, everyone loved a Chorby chant, and I assume I wasn't the only one who found it deeply vindicating to watch this fun player slowly evolve into a good player, via Summoning Circle and Infusion. The Magic scored Precognition in Season 14 on top of that, which boosted Chorby's hitting to 4.3 stars. We suddenly had a very powerful frog on our hands. They'd also chosen her to receive a Trust, which gives a player an unknown modification. It's a way to hopefully gain an advantage, but in practice it's also a way to imbue a particularly beloved player with some narrative and mechanical specificity. Chorby received the mod Homebody, which meant she'd overperform in the Parkpark and underperform elsewhere, and this builds on the sense of the character a lot: a tiny fearless frog who is simply happiest in her familiar natural surroundings.
Chorby Short, one-star batter from Seattle's Shadows, had a .340 batting average thus far in Season 15, was on the Idols board, and had more chants than I could keep track of. (And I tried.) Their team adored them, and the rest of the league fell in love with them. It felt a bit like your kid brother sneaking into the Major Leagues on a technicality and subsequently turning into Cody Bellinger. And then York Silk, raised from the dead and bearing a Debt, hit them with a pitch. They were Observed, like so many players that had disappeared this season already. Observed doesn't correlate 1:1 with disappearing and becoming Redacted; it only seems to trigger during Coffee weather, and even then not all the time. Rodriguez Internet and Andrew Solis, among others, have made it through. So when Day 33 dawned for the Magic with Coffee 2 weather, fans held their breaths.
It wasn't to be. Chorby Short disappeared at the end of the game. But not before, on the second to last play of a game the Magic were losing, hitting a 2-run home run. Not enough to win the game—they lost 9.7 to 8, to the league-bottom Garages—but enough to make a statement. You can't write a better story than that.
Both that 2-run home run and the final trace of her Homebody modification, which fired at the beginning of her last game, are currently still on the main feed. "Chorby Short is happy to be home" is peak blaseball: a mechanical effect that becomes a gut punch once tragedy strikes. But when we lose our favorites we look for grace notes, and it feels right that the plucky little frog who faced down a legendary pitcher and refused to stop swinging would, with the curtain already falling, face the unknown and swing for the stands.
I don't know if Chorby Short is gone forever. My gut says no. But that ambiguous space makes it difficult to grieve. We've experienced a loss, for sure, but we don't and can't know the shape and texture of that loss until later, when it hurts all over again. The next time we see them, whenever that is, it won't be the same. Blaseball doesn't let us get out easy. Part of that complex grieving process is telling the stories that matter about the person that's gone, and in blaseball, we have a way to do that now. Unsurprisingly, it's peanuts. Always has been.