The New York Yankees dynasty in the 1990s wouldn’t have existed without these forgotten heroes.
You can’t win a World Series without a few lucky breaks along the way — something Yankees fans of the ’00s know all too well.
Even if your lineup contains nine All-Stars, and your rotation includes the three best options to hit the free agent market the previous winter, there’s a solid chance a 5-7 infielder nicknamed “Scrap Iron” can find a hole and sink you.
It only gets more remarkable with time that the Yankees of the 1990s and early 2000s could win four out of five World Series, with the amount of phenomenal competition they faced, and the wild fluctuations of their regular season success. Hell, they even parlayed the worst September you can imagine into a seamless Subway Series victory in 2000.
The team had plenty of star power, but no MVPs and never the game’s unquestioned greatest player. Most importantly, everyone knew their role, and we’d never be having this discussion today without a few very specific role players.
5. Graeme Lloyd
Remember when Graeme Lloyd saved the 1996 World Series for the Yankees?
There was really no more improbable comeback than this one, any way you slice it.
Graeme Lloyd, the monstrous Australian, had an incredible 1996 season in Milwaukee, posting a 2.82 ERA in 51.0 innings, though he pitched to contact and struck out only 24 men. In 13 games after arriving in New York, though, Lloyd cratered — he had an insane 17.47 ERA in 5.2 innings’ worth of abbreviated outings.
So what happened in October? Lloyd was excommunicated from the postseason roster? Out of the circle of trust? Hardly. He threw 5.1 innings across eight postseason games, 2.2 of them coming in the World Series. He allowed one singular hit. He did not let a run cross, while striking out five men, four of them Braves in the WS. Lloyd’s spotless inning even got him the win in Game 4, and he also earned a pair of holds.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Oi, oi, oi.
New York’s World Series history looks remarkably different without one of their worst regular-season performers ever stepping up in a big way. Lloyd brought the thunder from Down Under in 1997 and 1998, too, performing during the regular season and, yes, NEVER ALLOWING AN EARNED RUN IN THE PLAYOFFS AS A YANKEE. Unbelievable. You earned your two rings with precision, you wacko.
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