THE TRIBE HAS SPOKEN: A Multi-part Series (2)



A deep dive into the Season 2 Indians, and the franchise that turned a chaotic, ragtag, farcical group of memers into a Superteam.

A Multi-part series written by Kyle Corbett

Part II: The Ballad of G.H. Morello

December 24, 2017. Christmas Eve. Families everywhere around the nation are gathering, baking cookies, brewing hot cocoa, and awaiting the coming of Santa Claus (or Jesus, depending on your religion) the next morning. The Christmas season is drawing to a close, but the Fake Baseball season is in full swing. However, the Fake Baseball world is about to be shaken just hours before the 25th day of December. at 10:02PM EST, this message is sent to Game Discussion:

That's right. Just 118 minutes before Christmas Day 2017, I joined Major League Redditball. I was quickly contacted by a handful of GMs, and by the morning of Boxing Day, I had signed a deal with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. At this point in the season, Session 2 was wrapping up, and Session 3 was scheduled to begin in a little over 24 hours. After I was signed, the plan was for me to spend the session in the minors, playing for the Hudson Valley Renegades. Thus, I packed my fake bags and was headed to play in upstate New York, when I got a message from my general manager, Whitt Bass, that had me jumping for joy. Anatoli Smorin, the team's starting Center Fielder, was heading to the hiatus list for Session 3, which opened up a spot for me to make my MLR Debut. So, I stayed in Tampa, and prepared for what was to come in my MLR debut. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could prepare me for what I was about to experience that next day.

But this piece isn't about me. It's not about my experiences that day. This piece is about the Season 2 Cleveland Indians. And you cannot begin to tell the story of the Season 2 Indians without talking about G.H. Morello.

Allow me to make a disclaimer for those of you who are recent additions to our community: I will solely be discussing Morello's contributions to the Season 2 Indians. Yes, I am aware than from Season 4 onward, Morello became a controversial player that has since been banned from the game. However, this is a story that must be told, and the controversy surrounding Morello had nothing to do with meta-related things at the time. The only thing that mattered for Morello at the time was what was happening on the field. And in Morello's mind, he needed his next game to be a good one. Morello was hitless in his first 2 games in his MLR career with Cleveland, and he really needed Game 3 to be worth something. And there's no better place for him to make a name for himself than on the national stage against one of the most popular teams in the league at the time: the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Wednesday. December 27, 2017. At 2:52AM EST, a game thread is posted to the /r/fakebaseball subreddit. The visiting team is the Cleveland Indians, and the home team is the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Nobody knows it yet, but this game thread is about to be home to quite possibly the wackiest, most insane, and most memorable game of fake baseball ever to be played. This game, somehow, was my MLR Debut. But surprisingly, I was not the only new Devil Ray in Whitt Bass' lineup. Batting right ahead of me, playing 3rd Base, is former Devil Rays GM Robin Reynolds.

"Considering it was my first game, I was nervous and excited. The practices had gone well, and I really felt in place with the team. I was ready, but nothing, whether it be scouting sessions, training, or pep talks, nothing could have prepared me for what we were about to experience that game." -Robin Reynolds

The Indians were coming into this game looking for their 3rd straight win, but that didn't mean anything to Tampa Bay GM Whitt Bass. "Going into the game we had literally never thought about the Indians", said Bass. "We were just out to beat teams and make a name for ourselves. Little did we know that the Indians game would do that in unintended ways."

11:05AM EST. Whitt Bass has turned in his lineup to the umpires, as has B.B. Bambino Jr. That's right. In case you forgot, Dorn is gone from Cleveland, and Bambino is acting as manager for the time being. Bambino's tune-up for his permanent managerial stint is about to be a wild one, but he doesn't mind. He speaks his mind always, and this game is about to be the perfect vessel to evolve into one of the most controversial GM's in the sport's history.
11:10AM EST. Ed Turner finishes his warm-up tosses and fires the first pitch. Stig Bond, Cleveland's leadoff hitter, quickly responds and gets aboard with a walk. The first couple frames go by without much action. Let's fast forward to the Top of the 2nd inning. Turner is readying himself to go here in a new frame, and his first opponent at the plate is none other than our man, G.H. Morello. Morello is stepping in for his 5th plate appearance on the season. Turner just wants to K up the rookie and be done, but Morello is seeking so much more. I'll let the game thread tell the story...

In four simple words, Morello has introduced the world to their identity. "You. [redacted]. Like. That." And the Devil Rays were angry, but also...confused?

"Who is this guy and why hasn't he shut up the whole game?" said Reynolds, when asked what was going through his mind in this moment.

"Up until that point it seemed like a normal game, but that really put our team on edge, him trying to show us up like that," said Bass. "We had a chat in the dugout about it, and the consensus was that we would retaliate later in the game".

And retaliate they did. Let's move ahead to the 4th inning now. After some dramatic fake baseball from both sides, including back-to-back homers from Cleveland but also a 3-run bomb from Tampa's Dominus Nominus, the score is now 3-3, and Morello returns to the plate. Ed Turner is fuming. Whitt Bass is smiling. I don't think you have to be a baseball expert to know what is going to happen next. Still though, I'll let the game thread be the one to tell you:

"It was planned," said Bass. "I believe the statute of limitations has run out so I can say that."

Meanwhile, rookie Robin Reynolds is in awe. All of a sudden, Whitt Bass has become his hero. "I have tons of respect for Whitt Bass," he said. "He's responsible for the player I am today, and the first real lesson he gave me was about respect. In that very game, not only was Morello disrespecting Ed Turner, our team, our staff, etc., they just kept on going at it in the main Discord, so Whitt decided to teach him a lesson, and in the process, he taught me as well."

Quite a few other shenanigans took place in this affair. A second brawl would soon follow, and at one point Whitt Bass returned to the Devil Rays dugout wearing a fake mustache and tophat, trying to manage the team in disguise. Everything that could have happened in this game, it happened.

The Devil Rays spend the next inning or so completely raking at the plate, extending their run total to 8, making the score now 8-3. At this point, the game is more than likely out of reach for the Indians. The Devil Rays can probably pump the breaks, and send the Indians home knowing that they taught Morello a lesson. The easy thing to do here is just let the game ride out, and leave the score alone. But no. That is not what would happen.

"J.D. De Las Rosas was a great captain," said Reynolds. "He wanted blood, and after we took the lead, he wanted to disrespect the Indians the same way we felt disrespected, so he stole home."
That's right. Juan Diego De Las Rosas, the team's every day second baseman at the time, was about to do the unthinkable. While standing on 3rd with catcher Isaac Saffron at the plate, De Las Rosas took off for home. The team had an 8-3 lead at this point. They didn't need this to happen. Except, according to Whitt Bass, they did.
De Las Rosas took off. Somehow, he managed to slide in, safe at home. The Devil Rays' lead is now 9-3. Interestingly enough, the catcher awaiting De Las Rosas at home plate is none other than Bambino. Despite serving as Interim GM, the Indians still needed a catcher, and at the time, he's all they had. Just like they had all game, once again, the sneaky Devil Rays had slid past Bambino, except this time, it wasn't a metaphor.

"Me and him came up with a number, I believe he suggested it, and it was just a pure guess cause we figured he'd be out anyways," said Bass. "When he was safe we felt like we were unstoppable".

Here's the Discord reactions to the "steal heard around the world":

Meanwhile, G.H. Morello had two brief reactions to the steal:

Morello is sad. They thought this game would be all about themselves and their accomplishments. Now, the tables have turned, and this game is about what the Devil Rays did in response to what Morello did.

More ejections took place, and the game quickly reached it's 11th hour. Let's fast forward once again to the Top of the 6th inning, with 2 outs. Bambino Jr. stands in at the plate against Tampa Bay pitcher Dougie McElroy. Bambino, the team's interim GM, is holding the entire team on his shoulders. It's highly unlikely the team overcomes a 6-run deficit, but Bambino's going to give it his best shot. However, right before he takes his first swing, the Tampa Bay dugout does something odd. They pull off two of their players from the field, one of which is myself. I wouldn't get to see the final out of this game unfold. I was sent to go pack my locker. I had just been traded to the Boston Red Sox.

"I negotiated that trade while I was at Disney in Orlando," said Bass. "Honestly I don't think the trade ties into the game, they were separate issues".

During the game, Bass had been quietly working on a trade with Boston GM Eric Lindros. Lindros had made a surprising offer to the Devil Rays, offering a package centered around the MLR's best player at the time, Basebally McBaseballface, in exchange for a package of players, in which I was part of. Amidst all of the craziness that this game provided, it provided an extra layer for me as a player. I was about to go play for Lindros.

If anything, this trade is what really ties it all together. From its genesis to its conclusion, nobody could have predicted anything that happened. I had no idea that I would even be playing in the game, let alone be traded by the end of it. Nothing could have prepared anyone from the statement of justice they watched Whitt Bass' Devil Rays perform...with Lindros.

Of course, as well all know, one session later Eric Lindros, as well as three of his "buddies" were banned from Fake Baseball due to suspected use of alternate accounts to compromise the integrity of the game. In Session 5, a young Jordan Peppers would be called upon by the OOTC to take over the team. We'll get back to that Session 5 in a little while, but for now, let's head back to Tampa Bay, and let's see the conclusion of Bambino's at bat.

2 Outs. Nobody on. McElroy winds up his pitch and fires at Bambino. Bambino swings and hits a bloop single into right field. Bambino stands on 1st base now as MacKenzie comes to the plate, but MacKenzie will not be swinging the bat here. Bambino refuses to let some nobody like MacKenzie dictate the end of this game. In order to truly set this game in the history books, Bambino must take matters into his own hands. As MacKenzie steps into the box, McElroy winds up his pitch. Suddenly, this happens...

Of all possible endings to this game, this is by far the most satisfying one. As Bambino attempts to repay the favor from De Las Rosas earlier in the game, he fails miserably, and it costs his team the game. Bambino has been caught stealing and the game is now complete. Tampa Bay beats Cleveland 9-3, and teaches Bambino and Morello a lesson on respect and justice.

Entering Session 4, the OOTC made the decision to elevate B.B. Bambino Jr. to full-time GM. Bambino accepted, and got right to work, and the first person willing to work with him was none other than his older brother, the Detroit Tigers. But the Tigers aren't looking for a fair trade here. They're looking to completely bamboozle their youthful sibling. The Tigers offer Bambino what seems like a reasonable pitcher swap, with the Tigers receiving Dick Woolridge and the Indians receiving Big Tuna. Bambino, seeing Tuna appearing to be a better pitcher than Woolridge at the time, accepts. But Zum knows what he is doing. Woolridge would go on to become a staple for the Tigers franchise. Four seasons later, he will likely be called upon to be the Tigers' Opening Day starter once again. Big Tuna, on the other hand, would retire from fake sports in just a matter of months. The Tigers have done it again. Bambino can't even make a simple transaction without their brother proving who's superior.

Bambino does begin to make some moves that will matter though. He claims Conor McRedgor off waivers from the Devil Rays, he signs catcher Xavier Quinn Jr. to replace himself at home plate, and he also signs some scrub named Ethan, who we'll talk a lot about later. But he does make one fun move I want to highlight real fast, and I'm sure 99% of you do not remember this person. In Session 4, Bambino signs 2B/SS Ox Bullhorn.

Bullhorn has a fun, menacing name, and he sounds perfect for the culture Bambino is trying to create. He wants to create a culture of annoyance, pestering, and downright villainousness. Bullhorn is perfect for that. Because of this, Bambino named this rookie, who had never appeared in a game, to be the team's PA rep (currently known as Committee Rep).

Unfortunately since the original Player's Association chat logs are all gone, I can't get you screenshots of what all I am about to share, so I simply need you all to trust me on this. When Bullhorn entered, the PA was in the process of putting forward a proposal that would be the dawn of "overnight hours" in the league, where players would not be penalized if they missed an at bat because they were asleep. The original time listed as "overnight" was to be 1:00AM-9:00AM Eastern Standard Time, but this made Bullhorn unhappy. Bullhorn demanded that the proposal be re-worded to "Eastern Prevailing Time", because standard time was not enough for him. He's an Indian. He must prevail.

After he was laughed away for that suggestion, Bullhorn came back to the PA Floor a week later with another concern. His teammate, Morello, was completely distraught over what happened in Tampa Bay. Bullhorn knew he needed to take this up with important people. Thus, he drafted a proposal that would ban beanings and HBPs entirely from Fake Baseball. The other PA Reps completely mocked Bullhorn, and in doing so, mocked what our friend Morello went through. Out of anger for himself and his team, Bullhorn immediately retired from Fake Baseball and deleted his Discord. No one has heard from him since. Most people do not remember Bullhorn, but many suspect he could have been an alt of someone trying to gain insight as to what on earth was going on in Cleveland. But those rumors meant nothing to Bambino. Bambino was building an army, readying to seize on any conversation or game available for destruction. The culture in Cleveland famously led to the creation of this meme, which still sits atop the "top of all time" list on the subreddit:

Session 4 soon gets underway and the Indians bounce right back, defeating the defending Paper Cup champion Philadelphia Phillies by a score of 9-0. Morello had a solid game at the plate too, reaching base twice and also picking up an RBI off a sac fly. Morello was finding his groove again. However, the statline doesn't tell the full story once again. In the 5th inning, Morello heads to the plate to face off against Phillies reliever Oliver Yu. Yu is disgusted with Morello's actions in Tampa, even though he had no part in it. Yu feels like he too needs to give Morello a lesson. Yu readies, and fires a pitch right into Morello's ribs. Morello limps his way to first base. For the second time in two games, Morello has been beaned, but this time, it wasn't premeditated. Yu simply beaned Morello because he didn't like him. Morello might be doing okay at the plate, but his morale could not get much worse. You can't make this stuff up.

Morello and the Indians now head into Session 5, where they will be taking on the Boston Red Sox. Seems like a game that's easy enough for the Indians. They're 3-1, they just took down the defending Paper Cup champions, and the Red Sox are not looking great right now. Their team consists of inactive rookies, quiet veterans, a GM that doesn't know what he's doing, and me. Yep, remember me? I got traded to Boston. I didn't think I would intersect with the Indians for yet another historic moment, and yet, here we are.

I didn't play in Session 4 due to bad matchups, meaning this game would be my MLR debut. This means that my first two games in fake baseball were both against this Indians team. No wonder that these two games stand out in my mind as the most memorable from my career.

Sunday. January 28, 2018. 3:22PM. The game thread is posted for Indians-Red Sox. Bambino readies his lineup with his normal starters, including Big Tuna, who isn't scared by anything. He's big, and he's a tuna. Nothing can topple him. His pitching opponent, Moritz Steifel, is making his MLR debut. Everyone is projecting the kid to have a rough game. The kid was originally supposed to be on another team, but never showed up to pitch. Peppers took a flyer on him since he didn't have anywhere else to turn. As we all know, Steifel certainly showed up.

On Tuesday, February 6, 2016, the post-game thread is posted. I don't even need to say anything about the game. I'll let the post-game thread title do the talking:

You read that right. In his first appearance in the MLR, rookie Moritz Steifel threw the first ever no-hitter in the history of the game. Following this game, Steifel would be traded to the Diamondbacks. Arizona tried starting him in their next game. Steifel never showed up. Steifel would be passed around to a couple other teams throughout his career, but his arm was never the same. Most people remember Steifel simply for the no-hitter, but that's not what I remember him for. His calling in the league was to do one thing and one thing only: defeat the Indians. And he did that in the most skilled and most perfect way possible. At this point in my two-game MLR career, I have been part of one game that featured multiple ejections and bench clearing brawls, and another that included a no-hitter. And yet, both were against the same team. A team that quite possibly deserved everything that came to them.

At this point, Morello is fed up. Morello simply cannot believe what has transpired in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Bambino is tired of what is happening on the field, and he feels as though Morello is the curse that needs to be lifted from his team. He doesn't know where to start. But of course, like always in life, the people around us most know what we need in hard times. And once again, the person who comes to Bambino first with help is his older brother. The Detroit Tigers.

"To be frank our team just kinda existed and with so much talk about (much like advanced statistics IRL) active Discorders making or breaking a team, I think I had wanted a "character" to spice things up." -Zum Boehner

Boehner gets in contact with the Indians, offering two seemingly nobodies in exchange for Morello and infielder Packer Jacker, who the Indians had just signed. This was exactly what Bambino needed. He was going to lift the curse and make his older brother suffer. This was his underdog moment. Morello was no longer an Indian. He was now a tiger.

But this, frankly, was not what Morello wanted. Because the Indians next opponent was scheduled to be the Texas Rangers. The Tigers at this point had already played Texas, so there was no way Morello was going to play against his favorite team now. Morello is devastated. He felt like the MLR had taken away his dream, which is all he wanted in the first place. He's simply here to chase the dream. Zum feels bad now. Zum wants to make it up to him. So what does he do?

"So the way I'm remembering it going down, and being two years removed from it now obviously it might be somewhat fuzzy, but there were some negative feelings that Morello had brought up when he learned about the trade. Basically immediately requested a trade. Being a nice guy and trying to keep the game itself more or less silly at the time, I acquiesced and got Rabbi on the horn to see if he'd take him, since Morello is a Rangers fan in real life. Rabbi wanted nothing to do with him but came up with the idea to grant him his wish but flip him back after a game. Bottom line our thought process was basically "this would make a good in-universe Jon Bois video", much to the displeasure of the OOTC at the time" -Zum Boehner

That's right. Right at the end of Session 5, G.H. Morello was traded from the Tigers to the Texas Rangers, where he would get to suit up against his former squad for just one game. However, in the trade, it was agreed to that at the conclusion of Session 6, Morello would simply be traded back to the Tigers. And that is exactly what happened. A few games later, Morello would be released by the Detroit Tigers after consistent annoyance in the team server as well as the main server. But that's not all Morello. There's still a bit of Cleveland in him that will never go away. Everyone on that team shared in it. It was their culture. They were going to stop at nothing to make sure everyone knew they were the best. That's not just a Morello thing. That was every single member of the Cleveland Indians.

So when we look back at Morello's short 5 session tenure with the Cleveland Indians, we can't simply say that all of his antics were rooted in himself. His antics were rooted in his team. He may not have liked his team, but Morello was committed to the culture set before him. He was as good of a teammate as anyone could have asked. He was bought into the system, so much so that he paid the ultimate price: his career in the MLR. Morello's story does not end here, but the legacy from Cleveland carries with him. So when we look at what came of Morello in recent seasons, I hope everyone can begin to look closer and see that, even today, there's still a bit of Cleveland in him. This tribe will never die. They have spoken, and they still speak to us today, phantoming over us.

With Morello gone, the Indians have lost their face, but that doesn't mean B.B. Bambino Jr. is done making moves. With just 5 games down and 13 to go in the season, Bambino is going to get serious. He's about to drive the train to places people never thought possible. Amazingly, every single Indian was willing to ride on this never-ending ride of chaos and unexpectancy. It was worth the risk to them. It's time, ladies and gentlemen, to hop aboard the BB Friendship Express.


(Special thanks to Whitt Bass, Robin Reynolds, and Zum Saparilla for participating in interviews. Part III coming soon!)

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