I can guarantee that as soon as you read the name Mark Wohlers in the title of this post, you thought back to one thing: Jim Leyritz and Game Four of the 1996 World Series. The Yankees were down 6-3 in the game and 2-1 in the series when Leyritz’s three-run blast tied things up in the top of the eighth, and they eventually won the game in extra innings when Wade Boggs drove in the winning run with a bases loaded walk. The rest, as they say, is history.
That homer by Leyritz is hands down one of the biggest and best baseball memories I have. You can make a pretty strong argument that the homer changed the course of the franchise, because if they lose that game they probably would’ve lost the Series, and who knows what happens after that. Perhaps George Steinbrenner orders his front office to acquire the long coveted Randy Johnson at any cost, or maybe he steps in and swings the deal himself. That young singles-hitting shortstop and skinny setup man for the Big Unit? Yeah that works, take them. We could play this game all day, but if Leyritz doesn’t go deep in that spot, there’s a pretty good chance we’d be looking back at the late-90’s Yankees in very different way.
Today is Wohlers’ 42nd birthday, and it’s easy to forget that he actually ended up wearing pinstripes for a while long after Leyritz did his thing. The Yankees traded for the hard-throwing right-hander in July of 2001, but he allowed eleven runs in his first 6.1 IP with the team and Joe Torre buried him in mop-up duty. He did pitch to a 2.45 ERA in his final 29.1 IP of the season, and his only postseason appearance came in garbage time of the hideous 14-3 loss to the Mariners in Game Three of the ALCS. Wohlers was ridiculously good in 1996 — 100 strikeouts and 18 unintentional walks in 77.1 IP during the regular season — but when you look at his career from that World Series on, he was never really the same.
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Here’s your open thread for the night. The Islanders and Nets are the only local teams in action, which kinda sucks. Talk about those games and more here, it’s all fair game.