SEATTLE -- How might the Mariners have fared in 2001 if they had another crack at a postseason run with their record-tying 116-win team? Or what would the chances be for the 1995 Mariners to keep their magic going if given another shot?
Thanks to the world of simulation, we’re about to find out, as those two Mariners teams have been selected to take part in MLB Dream Bracket 2, a virtual 64-team tournament featuring two of the best squads from every Major League franchise’s history, with three Negro Leagues teams and the 1994 Montreal Expos filling out the final four spots. Each round will be a best-of-seven series.
The 1995 Mariners will face the 1970 Orioles in the first round on the American League side of the bracket, while the 2001 Mariners open up against the 2015 Royals. Each franchise’s two teams are placed in opposite regions so they can’t face each other unless both advance to the Final 4.
Fans can make their picks in the MLB Dream Bracket 2: Dream Seasons Challenge and compete to win an MLB prize pack featuring a $500 Fanatics gift card and more. Game simulations will begin with 16 round-of-64 matchups being played on Thursday, followed by the remaining 16 round-of-64 matchups on Friday. The finals, which will feature the top teams from the American League and National League squaring off, will take place on Monday, June 8, and Tuesday, June 9.
The 1995 Mariners remain one of MLB’s best Cinderella stories as the club that came from 13 games back in the final two months to win the first AL West title in franchise history with a 79-66 record. Lou Piniella’s group then upset the Yankees in the ALDS with a dramatic 11th-inning walk-off win in Game 5 before losing to the Indians in the ALCS.
The 1970 Orioles were managed by Earl Weaver and had a trio of 20-game winners atop the rotation with Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally in chorus with a lineup that included Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell.
Seattle’s 2001 club also faces a World Series champ as the '15 Royals went 95-67 and kept finding ways to win -- all the way to a five-game triumph over the Mets for the title.
But while the 2001 Mariners don’t have any World Series rings to flash after losing to the Yankees in the ALCS, they do bring a formidable lineup and balanced pitching staff that tied the MLB record with 116 wins and ran away with the AL West title, beating the Indians in the ALDS after a stunning rookie campaign by Ichiro Suzuki and big seasons by Martinez, Bret Boone, John Olerud and others.
The tournament is the second MLB Dream Bracket run in conjunction with Out of the Park Baseball 21, MLB‘s most realistic strategy game (PC and Mac). The first featured each franchise’s best all-time rosters in a 32-team tournament that was ultimately won by the Yankees, who beat the Mariners in six games in the first round and then advanced all the way to a championship victory over the Reds.