Redditball Pioneers : The Man Who Hated Fake Baseball
Season 1 saw six total people leave the game. Only six; looking at the retirement logs for future seasons, that is a mind-boggling number. There was something special about the league from the get-go that many saw in those first seven games. They are considered the wild west days of the community, where so much changed for the good and it really became something bigger than we ever imagined.
But still, six people left. Ricky Steele, a classic Pirates player, left after a dispute in the Discord. Hashcoin Shitstorm, an early pick and superstar for the Minnesota Twins, ghosted his team and the game abruptly before being declared retired without another word. And for the case of Baltimore outfielder Aaron Range, he just really hated fake baseball.
He is not the first to become disenchanted by the game. It is a slow-burner, something that commands community interaction to get the most out of it. Range didn't want to do that. We didn't see him around much; he was a reddit-only player who was late to a lot of his swings. Somehow, he stuck around for 5 games. That fifth game, however, would become one of the strangest tidbits of fake baseball lore out there.
If there was any team to be soured by, it was the Baltimore Orioles. No one lost as many games as them in that first season, long removed from the Los Angeles relocation and the Paper Cup title that followed with Season 3. They went 1-6, cursed from the start by an inactive GM Don Dunquette who made little to no deals to improve his roster. They were woefully inactive, and it showed on the field. In Session 3, they were pummeled 9-4 by the Philadelphia Phillies. In Session 4, the offense only scored 1 run and were trounced late by the Washington Nationals.
Range played in every single one of their first four games. He was hitless through 6 at-bats, garnering 2 strikeouts in his short time with the club; it wasn't an entirely unsalvageable season, but Range's heart just wasn't in it. By his fifth game, Session 5 against the Toronto Blue Jays, he had discussed with his family the idea of retirement. He had all but made up his mind, but went to the field anyway.
The early stages of the game had gone rocky for Baltimore. Toronto was doing well against the 0-4 Orioles, leaving them without a run through 3.5 and commanding a 4-0 lead thanks to RBI hits from Graham Grams and Lane Drew. Baltimore's Clipper Charge took one back with a solo-shot in the O's half of the 4th, but the team wasn't known for their offensive prowess. A three run deficit was extremely difficult for them to crawl back from.
Range's first at-bat was emblematic of his tenure as a Major League Redditball player. He auto-struck out, in the bathroom when he should have been at the plate. The Orioles manager was fuming, yet somehow kept him in the game. He was due to take another at-bat sometime before the final out, but during the fifth inning he was seen reclining on the team bench, seemingly unworried that he would need to swing before the half was over. Some say he was drafting his retirement letter in his head right there.
But the Orioles' offense came alive against the new Blue Jays pitcher Levi Pyram. Bernie Petrol drew a leadoff walk. Johnny Dickshot (yes, that one) split the middle infield with a rolling single up the middle. Ludd van Shark dumped another single into shallow center. Suddenly, the bases were loaded, and who was up but Aaron Range?
The audience groaned. Rarely does somebody show up after an auto-strikeout. Yet, out of the dugout came the Orioles outfielder, pushing his helmet down onto his head.
It was bound to be his final at-bat no matter what. Orioles captain Johnny Dickshot reportedly shook his head from where he stood on second, knowing that the team could squander this with Range at the plate. Pyram spun the ball casually in his fingers, ready for the easy out. But fake baseball is a fantastic little game. In times like these, the unexpected should almost be the expected.
Pyram's first pitch was a fastball. And Aaron Range swung.
He had swung so hard he ripped a muscle in his leg. The fake baseball gods really did hate him. But the contact was crisp, and the result was a no-doubter. A grand slam for Aaron Range's first ever hit. But as he limped across home plate, he kept going all the way to the dugout, never to appear again. It would also be his last hit as well.
The Orioles would go on to win that game 6-5. It would be the only game they won all season. Things wouldn't get better for some time for the ballclub, and they wouldn't find themselves competitive until long after Aaron Range left the team.
But fake baseball, as any sport, has a funny way of creating chain reactions. With the departure of Aaron Range and a hole in the Baltimore outfield, the team was awarded a new free agent by the Office of the Commissioner, an Australian outfielder named Meerkat Timmons. Timmons would become the Orioles general manager after Dom Dunquette was relieved by the club, rebrand it to the Angels, and--well, you know the rest.
Without Range's grand slam, the Orioles probably wouldn't have won that game. And without his timely exit, the Orioles probably wouldn't some day bring home a championship.
Fake baseball is a fantastic little game.