Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re saying hello to Mellow Yellow, a team that has appeared in all four Marble League seasons so far, as well as Marbula One. Here we go!
Perhaps it may come as no surprise, given their name, but the team members of Mellow Yellow all met while working for The Non-Descript Soda Company in Amalanta. Yellow, Yellah, Yelley, and Yellup had all been working at the company for about ten years each, and they were taste-testing their Non-Descript Yellow Soda when they first met each other. After a long night of meetings and a lot of empty cans of soda, the four realized that they were miserable at their corporate jobs, and decided to quit.
The four left the city and headed out west, where taxes were much cheaper. They moved into an apartment in Marblopolis, a city renowned for high-speed marble racing, and tried to find new jobs. They struggled to make ends meet for months.
“To say that we were worried is an understatement,” Yellow recalled. “We all kept trying to convince ourselves that we had made the right decision. I guess we were, excuse the pun, trying to keep it mellow. We truly didn’t have any idea what was going on.”
“We always enjoyed seeing the racers come through, though,” said Yellup. “There was always so much excitement in the town. They made us feel like everything was going to get better, at least in the moment.”
“It was maybe eight months after we moved in. We were already starting to conserve electricity, because we had to cut down the bills,” explained Yelley. “We got a knock on our door. The marble introduced himself as Greg Woods, and he said that he heard that we enjoyed racing. We said, “Well, yeah, of course we do.” And he asked us if we wanted to join his Fruit Circuit.”
The Fruit Circuit is a now-defunct series of untelevised marble races that was run by Greg Woods and held throughout North America until 2016, when the Marble League first began. It featured fruit-related teams from around the world, including the O’rangers, Raspberry Racers, and the Limers. The four marbles caught Woods’ attention due to their experience working for The Non-Descript Soda Company, which he found similar enough to fruit.
“It was a really tough situation. We needed more teams to get more funding, and thus, more racing. If those four marbles had declined us, I don’t think we would’ve been able to continue the Fruit Circuit,” Woods mused. “And with no explicit alternative, these marble athletes would’ve been stranded in their careers.”
“But if you think that we had any experience in marble sports…” Yellah chuckled. “Actually, I used to play dodge-marble. That was an extreme sport. Then they changed it to prison-marble in middle school and it got really boring.”
The Fruit Circuit deal involved minimal training for the four marbles, who donned the team name “Mellow Yellow” to avoid copyright-related issues while staying true to their origin story. After training was completed, the team entered the fray in the Fruit Circuit. Races were once per week and had a cumulative score throughout multiple seasons.
“Yeah, we didn’t do well during the first few months,” Yellup said. “We couldn’t break the top 25, let alone the top 20. The Yarble Yellers and the Strawberry Strudels really had it in for us. But with every race we did, the stronger we got. It wasn’t long before we got past the Grape Nuts and started staring down the O’rangers.”
As the years passed, Mellow Yellow became a consistent force in the top ten, usually placing in the top five. When the Fruit Circuit shut down for good in 2016, due to a sufficient lack of funding, Mellow Yellow ended the competition in second place overall. With that came a new beginning for the team.
Mellow Yellow prequalified for the 2016 Marble League due to their second place finish in the Fruit Circuit, joining the tournament with the Limers, O’rangers, and Greg Woods in tow to commentate. The team immediately started the season strong with a silver medal in Balancing, and earned their first gold medal in the Sand Rally. They rose to the top of the standings, tied with Rojo Rollers in both points and medals.
Yellow finished third in the Water Race, netting his team a bronze medal, their third medal of the season, and the entire team earned a gold medal in the Quartet Diving event, putting the team in a three-way tie for second place, with just one event to go.
“We never expected to get as far as we did,” Yelley said. “Both in marble sports and the Marble League. We were just, excuse the pun, keeping it mellow, and going as far as we could to the finish line.”
Mellow Yellow was barely a hundredth of a second away from winning the final event, not even half a length behind the Savage Speeders in the grand final of Hurdles. Had they won the event, they would have won the entirety of the 2016 Marble League.
The team still secured an impressive second place with 41 points and a prequalification for the 2017 Marble League, but even the team was surprised at how close they were, between their finish in the final event and the fact that they were tied with the Thunderbolts in points. They were in a daze.
“I realized halfway down the course that I could do it. If I just pushed a little further, and rolled quicker than I thought I could, I would win it all. I sped down the track, neck-and-neck with Speedy,” Yellup recounted. He shrugged. “I guess Speedy had a little more in her.”
The 2017 Marble League came up quickly for the team, but Mellow Yellow still earned a gold medal after a third of the events were complete, in the 5 Meter Sprint. This, combined with a fourth and fifth place finish, put the team at the top of the standings.
Mellow Yellow slipped in the standings until the eighth event, when Yellah earned a gold medal in the High Jump and set a new Marble League Record, reaching a height of 38cm. The team rose into second place overall when they earned a silver medal in the next event, Steeplechase, but the team ultimately lost its focus, picking up just six points over the last three events. Thankfully for Mellow Yellow, their one-point lead over the Midnight Wisps in fourth place allowed the team to finish the 2017 Marble League in third place, and prequalify a second time for the next season.
The team acquired Yellim in time for the 2018 Marble League Friendly Round, which saw the four prequalified teams compete in an exhibition tournament prior to the 2018 Marble League championship. Mellow Yellow placed second in all three events and finished second overall. Things were looking good for the team in yellow.
It could go without saying (but it’s not going to) that the Mellow Yellow we saw in the 2018 Marble League was so jarring that it almost looked like a different team competing. The team earned no medals throughout the entire tournament, and the closest it came was in the final event, when Yellow placed fourth in the Sand Mogul Race. The team began their season in ninth place, and jumped up briefly to eighth after a sixth place by Yellah in the Ski Jump before falling to ninth, then twelfth, then fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth.
Yes, Mellow Yellow was in sixteenth place at the end of the eighth event, having placed last in the Snowboard Cross as well as in Speed Skating three events earlier. The team began battling with the Minty Maniacs and the Pinkies to “stay out of the basement” of the standings, for at this point, the team had nary a path to victory. Luckily for Mellow Yellow, they secured double-digits in three of the four final events and finished the 2018 Marble League in fifteenth place, well above the Pinkies and tied with the Limers in points, but behind them in medal count.
“A lot of fans attribute our bad performance to the ‘third place curse’, where the team that places third at the end of a Marble League tanks in the following season,” Yellah pondered. “It’s an interesting concept, and so far, there’s no evidence against it…other than the fact that there is no logic or physical evidence for it, either. Besides that, it’s not fair to the hard work that us athletes put in every year. You can’t always win.”
Mellow Yellow had an extremely busy offseason, much of it spent rebuilding the team. The team returned home not to Marbopolis, but to Amalanta, where they visited their families and began working on a stadium and training facility in coordination with their new coach, Mellow.
“It was a change we needed,” Yellow confessed. “We finally had the money to return home, and we were welcomed not only by our families, but by our fans. I’ve never seen a more yellow city in my life, and it made me so, excuse the pun, mellow.”
The team was not entirely sure whether it could afford the time off from training to go to the two offseason practice events, but their coach insisted that they show their faces. Yellup finished fifteenth in the 100 Meter Water Race, an unfortunately familiar position for the team, but in fact a better finish, considering it was out of twenty-seven competitors. Mellow Yellow did not advance from their initial heat of the Amazing Maze Marble Race, and returned home to Amalanta on the next flight out of Knikkegen. Additionally, the team had submitted a hosting bid for the next season, but its bid was denied in favor of the Oceanics’ Seven Seas Stadium.
Coach Mellow worked hard on restoring the confidence of his team, despite any bleak outlooks. This mindset was key in the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers, when Yellup placed dead last in the first event, Funnel Spinning. The team rose from his performance, earning eight points in Block Pushing and twenty points in the Relay Race with a silver medal. Yellah maintained the team’s standing in eleventh place by placing tenth in the Underwater Race, and Mellow Yellow qualified for the 2019 Marble League in a decisive transfer position, with thirty-eight points to their name. They would live to see another day after all.
The Mellow Yellow we saw from the beginning of 2019 was beginning to return to form, itching to reclaim relevance in a tournament that was looking to newer competitors to win. Mellow Yellow had one goal, and it was not to win: it was to earn the fans’ respect. Yellow, now the captain of the team, began the season by placing in eleventh in the Underwater Race, but each event, the team improved, ticking further and further up the standings until it was Yellow’s turn again: this time in the 5 Meter Sprint.
Yellow had earned the team’s first Marble League medal in over a year, and it was a gold medal. The team rose to sixth in the standings, and remained there during the next two events, including at the end of Block Pushing, when the team’s finish of 65,1 centimeters earned them a bronze medal. Mellow Yellow rose to fourth place in the standings after the Summer Biathlon, where Yelley placed seventh. They jumped ahead of the Savage Speeders for the first time in two years and, of the original Marble League teams competing, was only tracking Team Galactic in third. For the first time since the 2017 Marble League, Mellow Yellow was actually competing.
The Savage Speeders were admittedly more interested in tracking down the newer teams, such as the Raspberry Racers and the Green Ducks, but they, too, wanted to be the best of the 2016 crew. While the Savage Speeders medaled in the Hubelino Maze and barely placed fourth in the Dirt Race, Mellow Yellow began to fall behind, not finishing in the Dirt Race and placing fifteenth, and falling apart in Rafting by earning two penalty points for two teammates lost, placing fourteenth. With a quarter of the 2019 Marble League remaining, Mellow Yellow was doing enough to stay in the top eight—but it wasn’t doing enough for what they wanted out of the season.
“They earned their fans’ support back…but they had yet to earn their respect back,” Mellow noted. “And they knew that.”
“I don’t know what it felt like to be on Mellow Yellow two years ago,” Yellim stated. “I only know what it felt like last year. It felt terrible, and I didn’t want to be there,” she admitted. “I want to be here now, and maybe we won’t win, but I want to be the best we possibly can. At least then, I’ll be able to respect myself as a marble sports athlete.”
Mellow Yellow began to rise in the standings again, coincidentally the same time as the Savage Speeders began to fall. The team’s most notable finishes were a fifth place finish by Yelley in Surfing and another bronze medal by way of the third place match in Collision, which put the team back in fourth place above the Savage Speeders. Every team but the top three—the Raspberry Racers, Green Ducks, and Hazers—was locked out of a podium finish, but Mellow Yellow, with a good enough finish in the final event, could remain where it was.
As it turned out, even with a fifth place to Mellow Yellow’s ninth place finish in the Sand Rally, the Savage Speeders were not going to surpass them. Mellow Yellow held on with 146 points and kept fourth place at the conclusion of the 2019 Marble League. For the first time in the team’s history, after four, long years, they had finally beaten the Savage Speeders by more than half a length, capping off one of the most impressive redemption seasons in Marble League history.
“Deep down, we knew we could always do it,” Yelley said. “Ever since I watched Yellup rush down the hurdles, and get so close…” She trailed off, beaming. “We’ve been waiting for this moment for four years. It’s just…so liberating.”
“We returned home and our logo was on graffiti, our favorite pizzeria had posters of us, we even had a headline in the Amalanta Press,” Yellah reminisced. “Years ago, we were miserable marbles, working jobs we never wanted, thinking that we’d never get anywhere in life. Now, we’re mellow as can be, we have the best jobs in the world, and we’re back home, but we love our lives. We’ve made it.”
Although the team’s hosting bid for the 2020 Marble League was turned down, Mellow Yellow was invited to compete in the first season of Marbula One in early 2020. The team accepted the invitation, and on 25 November 2019, they were confirmed as the eleventh team. On the same day, they announced that by Yellow, “The Big Cheese”, and Yellup, “The Golden Boy”, would represent Mellow Yellow in the tournament.
“Yellow is one of the most accomplished athletes in Marble League history,” Coach Mellow explained, “and has earned all of his medals in racing events. Yellup has also done well in racing events: especially the Hurdles event in 2016.”
Yellow debuted as a Marbula One racer in the Savage Speedway GP Qualifiers on 15 February 2020, where he set a time of 28,70 seconds and qualified in fourth. Yellow fell back during the race, still earning two points but finishing in ninth.
Yellup debuted as a Marbula One racer in the O’raceway GP Qualifiers on 22 February 2020, where he set a time of 32,07 seconds and qualified in eighth. During the race, Yellup was able to stay ahead of Orangin behind him but could not break into contention for the lead. He finished in seventh, gaining nine points.
Mellow Yellow did enough to stay in the top half during the first season of Marbula One. Yellup did well in the Hivedrive, qualifying in third and finishing in fifth after holding the lead for four laps. Yellup returned to race in the next Grand Prix at Greenstone, and after getting pole, he earned a bronze medal in the race. Yellow held his own during the Short Circuit, qualifying in third and placing fifth in the race. Yellow had difficulty following through, however. His penultimate finish at the Momotorway as well as his tenth place at the Razzway brought down the team. At the end of the seventh race, the team was eliminated from championship contention.
This is not to say that Yellup could not have done more—he certainly could have won any of the races he qualified strongly in. Regardless, Mellow Yellow still did well enough during their first season, even if they struggled with following through. The team finished in tenth overall after the Midnight Bay Circuit GP, where Yellup qualified in eighth and finished the race in a disheartening thirteenth place.
In RetRollSpective, Mellow Yellow is not only a staple of the Marble League, but one of its most decorated teams. The team placed in the top four of three of the four Marble Leagues thus far, and has earned eleven medals overall. Of the teams that have suffered from the “third-place curse”, Mellow Yellow has had the most successful rebound from its “cursed” season and truly has earned the respect of not only its fans, but of all Marble League fans—and “kept it mellow” through it all. Best of luck to Mellow Yellow in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on rolling!