1971 Pittsburgh Pirates
To qualify their Cinderella-hood, I must start by stating that the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates were plenty good. They won 97 regular season games and buzzed throughout the San Francisco Giants in a four-game NLCS.
But the Baltimore Oriole group they faced in that year’s World Series was another beast, a 101-win titan that featured four 20-game winners.
When the O’s took the first two matches, most folks penciled the defending champs to get a repeat.
Then the improbable, a three-game run that saw them beat Mike Cuellar, Pat Dobson and Dave McNally in order. After dropping Game 6, the Pirates responded with a Game 7 street win which could cement one of the excellent upsets in Series history.
1995 Seattle Mariners
Prior to 1995, the Seattle Mariners had completed over .500 just twice in their 18-year presence and never qualified for the playoffs.
With every losing campaign, the possibility of baseball in the Pacific Northwest grew dimmer and dimmer. This was, after all, the town that had dropped its initial franchise, the Seattle Pilots, after just 1 season.
Midway during that strike-shortened ???95 time, it looked like the same. On August 20, the Mariners were 53-53 and 12.5 games behind the first-place California Angels.
Then the improbable, a scorching encounter over the season’s final month and change together with an epic Angels collapse. The clubs finished the regular season tied, and Seattle capped the comeback by winning a one-game playoff.
In the franchise’s first playoff series they dropped the opening two games to the Yankees before lifting an additional mad comeback to force a decisive Game 5. Once there, Seattle place a cherry atop their unlikely season by walking-off against New York at the bottom of the 11th inning.
The Mariners would lose in the ALCS to the Cleveland Indians, but also much good came from the ???95 year to end on such a sour note.
Randy Johnson became a celebrity, Edgar Martinez struck the greatest high of his remarkable career, and the indelible image of Ken Griffey Jr. giggling beneath an onslaught of teammates signaled baseball salvation in Seattle.
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