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Damon's Steal: instant history

Nov 2, 2009, 8:20 AM EDT

On the one hand, the double steal by Damon in the 9th doesn’t really
matter, right? He’d be on second base before the A-Rod hit and still
would have scored, even if someone had thought to cover third.

On the
other hand, Brad Lidge was on the mound, and that guy is something less
than grace under pressure. You know he was worked up about that play
when he hit Teixeira, and you have to figure he was still thinking
about it when he threw the pitch to A-Rod. Heck, he may have still been thinking about the Pujols homer in the 2005 NLCS or that time he got the wedgie during 7th grade gym. Fine pitcher all things considered, but an ice man he is not.

But who cares about the cold analysis here: as it happened, were you thinking anything but “WOW!” or, if you’re a Phillies fan, at least a hearty “WTF?!!”  I personally have no horse in this race, but I’ll admit that I stood up and shouted at
my TV when Damon took off from second, just as amazed at the steal itself as I was at how quickly he reacted, realizing that
there was no one at third and that he had the edge in the footrace. My
next thought was “man, they’ve been playing baseball for more than 150
years, so you’d think everything that has happened could happen, and
then something like THIS happens.” I’m guessing some guy will dig deep
somewhere today and find an account of this happening before, but the
fact that he’ll have to dig is testament enough to that play.

But maybe it hasn’t happened. Think about the perfect storm of
weirdness that had to occur for Damon to be able to swipe two: (1) the overshift
had to be on with the third baseman covering the play, just like they did for Teixeira; (2) someone had to be stealing with an overshift
on, which by definition means that someone is attempting a steal when a
fierce pull hitting lefty is at the plate, which is usually a dumb play — you let your slugger slug; and (3) a defensive brain fart had to occur, at least to the extent that the
pitcher not covering third on a stolen base — something which doesn’t
come up too often — can be considered a brain fart.

If I had to guess,
I’d say that someone got a double steal awarded to them on a bad
scorer’s call at some point, when an error really should have been
recorded. My guess is that it happening exactly like Damon did it has never
happened before.

I also have to guess that with Cliff Lee going next, my pick of the Yankees in six is looking pretty safe. Although, if shell shock and momentum and all of that enters into it, they may just wrap it up tonight.

  1. Pilothawkeye - Nov 2, 2009 at 1:54 PM

    “Yes, he missed the plate. But once Sabatthia threw to 2B, they abandoned the attempt to put him out. Just like if the runner abandons the basepath, he’s out”
    Sorry Ron, you are wrong on this. As long as play is live, or before the next pitch (legal or otherwise) an appeal can be made. Once Ryan goes into the dugout, he cannot come out and touch the plate before the appeal is made. So, Sabatthia can throw to 2nd for a subsequent play, and THEN come back an make an appeal. Problem is that in all probability no one (not even Jorge) saw Ryan miss home plate. (Although, it is awfully tough to miss it when you are sliding over it, but again, with the advantage of ‘super-slo-mo’ we all saw that he did).

  2. Gary - Nov 2, 2009 at 2:05 PM

    What Damon did was heads up baseball and all the more special because it was the World Series.
    Put me down as one who agrees that McCarver needs to be put out to pasture. He sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, but he doesn’t really have any useful baseball insight and the more he insists that his position is right, the more off base he is. Of course they plunked A-Rod intentionally and the umpires were wrong to issue a warning at that point. Pitchers need to understand that there are two sides to the coin and that there are risks to that kind of behavior. If the umpires are going to issue a warning on the first instance of a player being hit, than the star player is always going to get hit in the top of the first because the other team can’t retaliate. And McCarver’s statement is that spring training is when players are hit deliberately???? What game is he watching and has he never seen Pedro Martinez pitch before!!??

  3. GBS - Nov 2, 2009 at 3:12 PM

    Proper umpire mechanics would be not to make a call at all, indicating to both the runner and fielder that the play is unresolved and still live. The ump shouldn’t call the runner safe if he isn’t.

  4. Cru11 - Nov 2, 2009 at 3:18 PM

    LMFAO!!! Priceless!

  5. shely - Nov 2, 2009 at 3:32 PM

    You are right on! The ump had no business calling him safe until the play is over and the next pitch is made. Look in the rule book, the play was continuing. Howard should have gone back and touched home plate or the catcher can go and tag him out, as long as the same play is continuing.

  6. Ditto - Nov 2, 2009 at 4:07 PM


  7. Ron - Nov 2, 2009 at 4:34 PM

    As I said, Howard was safe and the umpire made the right call. An appeal is not a live play. An entirely different situation. The Yankees could have appealed the play afterwards, and would have been right.
    But the umpire still made the right call.
    If a runner tags at 3rd on a fly ball and there is a play at the plate, the home plate umpire will make the call (safe or out).
    After the fact, it can be appealed at 3B to see if the runner left early. Perfectly legitmate. But the homeplate umpire rules on the play at hand.
    Howard missed the plate. The umpire did know it, that’s why he hesitated on making a call. If he hadn’t seen Howard miss the plate, he would have ruled him safe immediately.
    The Yankees abandoned the defensive play on Howard, so the umpire CORRECTLY ruled safe. If the Yankees appeal AFTER THE FACT, that is a different situation. On the PLAY, Howard was ruled safe. Correct call.

  8. Pilothawkeye - Nov 2, 2009 at 4:44 PM

    Are you an umpire? If so, is it baseball or softball? Reason why I ask is that I have been a softball umpire for over 30 years, and what we were taught in this situation is that not doing anything tips off the defense that something is wrong. One does wait a few seconds to see what happens, and if no one says anything, you make the safe call. I cannot speak for how baseball umps are instructed how to act in this situation.

  9. Pilothawkeye - Nov 2, 2009 at 4:49 PM

    I am in agreement with your clarification (Post #32). In softball, a rule change was made a few years ago that does allow for appeals to be made while the ball is dead. In fact in softball, one no longer has to throw to the base in question. All the pitcher has to do is to tell the umpire what they think happened. I do not believe such a rule change occurred in baseball, thus making an appeal a live play.
    I am speaking as a softball umpire. Just curious Ron, are you a baseball umpire?

  10. Ron - Nov 2, 2009 at 5:02 PM

    I’ve been umpiring baseball and softball for 30 years. From kids leagues to minor league ball in the UK.
    I get lots of plays like this. You’re right. Never tip the play. But once the defense abandons the attempt, some call has to be made safe (for the play at hand). Appeals can overrule any play. That’s why they’re appeals.
    Right call by the umpire. I’m still wondering where all the instant replay advocates are? How about admittiing that the umpire made the exact right call WITHOUT INSTANT REPLAY. Especially considering that play wouldn’t have been reviewable in the first place.

  11. Ron - Nov 2, 2009 at 5:07 PM

    Or is it possible that most of the people advocating instant replay don’t really know the rules in the first place, or can’t be bothered to make the effort to actually umpire a game one time in their life.
    So the overreact to every situation and demand a dummy-proof solutION?

  12. Corey Kendall - Nov 2, 2009 at 5:20 PM

    Gabriel, PIPE DOWN ALREADY! You think this is going to happen??? GET REAL. It’s NOT a “Criminal” offense, OK?? STOP overreacting already!!! They’re not cancelling the game, not reversing, not dismissing, not NOTHING. The game is FINAL. OK?? Deal with it! They’re NOT going to suspend the umpire for life either. Get over it!
    I’m tired of all these “casual” fans out there who don’t watch or care about baseball, yet think they should have instant replay or investigate EVERY crucial play in the game. Umpires make mistakes. We ALL make mistakes in life. Get over it & move on. Instant replay for HRs only & that’s it. OK?

  13. Ron - Nov 2, 2009 at 8:37 PM

    I vote for Corey for new commmissioner of baseball.

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