Mariners VS fans in virtual tournament

an image of a baseball stadium
Safeco Field, renamed T Mobile Park, has been empty for almost all of 2020.

Making light of the delay of the baseball season, the Seattle Mariners put together a tournament in the “MLB the Show” video game from May 5-15, pitting 16 Mariner players against 16 Mariner fans, who were selected in a presentation hosted by broadcaster Dave Sims. The rules were simple: a single-elimination tournament where every game was three innings and both teams were the Mariners.

The fans held their own in the first round as the two “factions” of the tournament came out with exactly eight wins and eight losses each. Notably, MLB the Show Players Tournament representative Carl Edwards Jr. took a 1-0 victory over fan representative Ryan Kidwell. The star of the fans was Matt Powers, who took a commanding 6-1 victory over second baseman Dee Gordon.

Round two was substantially more skewed, as only two of the eight remaining fans took victories over their opposing players, those being Rory L.’s 6-1 victory over former top prospect Taijuan Walker and Allen Avery’s 4-3 unseating of pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. Cal Raleigh and Zac Grotz looked the best out of the players, scoring seven and six runs respectively.

The quarterfinals kicked off with a match between pitchers Zac Grotz and Art Warren. Warren struck first in the bottom of the second to take a 1-0 lead, but Grotz tied it and forced extra innings. Fourth inning heroics by shortstop J.P. Crawford gave Warren the lead in the bottom of the fourth en route to a 3-1 victory. Rory L. took to the stage against catcher Cal Raleigh to represent the fans, but fell short after a five-run second inning by Raleigh. The first of two remaining fans fell 5-4.  Second baseman Tim Lopes faced off against outfielder Julio Rodriguez in a low-scoring contest that was still scoreless heading into extra innings. Lopes got on the board in the fourth thanks to an RBI single by Daniel Vogelbach for the only score of the game. Lopes took it 1-0. To end the day, Allen Avery represented the final hope for the fans as he took on pitcher Justin Dunn. Allen held a 2-0 lead heading into the third when Dunn stepped on the gas, driving in three runs in a performance capped by a Vogelbach two-run homer. Dunn eliminated Allen in a 3-2 victory.

The semifinals and beyond were to be nine-inning games, and Cal Raleigh faced off against Justin Dunn to start. Dunn took an early 1-0 lead in the second until Raleigh tied it off a Daniel Vogelbach RBI groundout. Dunn regained the lead with a Mallex Smith double in the fifth and then with a Vogelbach solo homer in the sixth. Raleigh fought back, tying the game on a two-run double by Jake Fraley in the bottom of the inning. Nobody scored as the game went to extras. With J.P. Crawford on first, a home run by Shed Long walked off the game in the tenth.

Warren and Lopes followed in the second match of the semi-finals. First blood was drawn by Warren in the second, with a sacrifice fly by Jake Fraley putting him on the board 1-0. He didn’t wait long to score again, hitting a solo home run with Kyle Seager in the third. Lopes closed the gap with an RBI groundout by Tom Murphy in the bottom of the fourth. Lopes then eventually tied it in the sixth by sneaking across a run on a Fraley groundout. It was Daniel Vogelbach that put across the final run for Warren on a double that allowed him to win 3-2 and advance to the finals.

Raleigh wasted no time taking an early 2-0 lead off a Vogelbach homer in the second, and then extending it on a Mallex Smith double later that inning. Dee Gordon also doubled that inning, putting across the fourth and final run that inning. In the top of the third, Vogelbach pulled his second home run, extending Raleigh’s lead to 5-0. Raleigh eventually grabbed his sixth and final run off a Kyle Lewis single in the top of the sixth. Warren did chip across two runs over the final two innings but it wasn’t enough to stop Raleigh in claiming his championship via a 6-2 victory.