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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. Old Gator - Nov 2, 2009 at 9:08 AM

    I still like the Feelies tonight with Lee going against the Borg’s resident head case. But you know what really tells you that the momentum has shifted? I haven’t seen one featurette on those horrible horsemeat and velveeta sandwiches they “specialize” in in the city of brotherly love – as though clogging your sibling’s arteries were evidence of abundant agape – in about two days. There was one about A-Rod growing up down here in Miami with a glancing shot of a rotund Cuban mamacita in a dirty apron piecing together a media noche, though – and THAT’s a sandwich.

  2. Gabriel M . Bodosca - Nov 2, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    Did anybody in the entire world saw in the Sunday’s Yankee- Phillies game that the HOME plate Umpire missed to call the 3rd. strike on Johnny Damon after Johnny hit one on the right stand , one on the left stand and he swung and missed another one , yet the Umpire called strike 2 ??? How is that possible , how come nobody saw it ? THE MLB SHOULD INVESTIGATE . PHILLIES SHOULD FILE A COPMLAINT AND HAVE THE GAME RESULT CANCELLED OR DISMISSED OR REVERSE THE VICTORY AND MLB SHOULD SUSPEND THE UMPIRES FOR LIFE ! IT’S NOT ONLY UNFAIR IT’S CRIMINAL TOO.

  3. dcfan - Nov 2, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    That play is the reason the Yankees won. Brad Lidge did not break under pressure in my opinion. He was beat by a great hitter. And he was beat because Damon was on third, making sure Lidge could not throw his vicious slider low. So instead he threw a fast ball inside and Arod crushed it. Yankees carry their momentum and win tonight, unfortunately…

  4. The Umps are Awful - Nov 2, 2009 at 9:51 AM

    Tim McCarver and Joe Buck represent the worst elements of bad broadcasters. They are obtuse, pompous, uninformed, and biased. McCarver frequently will make a point, watch it directly refuted by the replay, and either ignore it, or continue to promote his side regardless of how wrong it is. Last night, he continued to pine about how it was preposterous to think the Phillies were throwing at ARod. After looking at the video, was their any debate that instead of just working around him and not letting him beat them, they decided to try to intimidate him and save the pitches? Then McCarver thought that a team would never retaliate in a World Series game because of the magnitude of the game. The half inning after ARod was plunked, Werth had a 3-1 count and the Yankees decided to put him on intentionally. Doesn’t it make perfect sense that instead of throwing one 2 feet outside, ball 4 would have been planted in his back? The whole dumb feud would have been squashed. Instead because of the incompetence of the umps and their unfair warning, this thing lingers and someone will be drilled tonight in the next game.

  5. Maggio - Nov 2, 2009 at 9:54 AM

    I do hope you’re kidding. First of all, the pitch was called a foul tip, and Ruiz was unable to hold onto it, extending the at-bat. It was arguably the most important pitch of the at-bat. Second of all, and more importantly, that reaction is just ridiculous to a blown call. Remember that Howard never touched the plate when scoring earlier in the game, and was kind of reluctantly called safe when Sabathia threw to second and Howard trotted to the dugout, essentially killing the play? You don’t see anybody screaming that Posada should have run into the dugout and tagged Howard, otherwise we should just cancel the remainder of the World Series because the runs don’t really count. Sheesh. Why does baseball make people crazy? If you want challenges and instant replay, watch football. The NFL also has collective mediocrity, so parity purists should be thrilled.

  6. Yankeegirl - Nov 2, 2009 at 9:55 AM

    Yes, Johnny swung and missed, but the catcher could not hold on to the ball which essentially gave him new life. Rules of the game, bro. These guys are professionals, they’re supposed to hang onto the ball. Example, the White Sox 2005 WS where AJ Pierzynski swung and missed and the ball hit the dirt and catcher thinking the ump saw a clean catch threw the ball toward the dugout and AJ ran toward 1st – SAFE!! BTW, you’re right that MLB should investigate- that piss-poor call at home plate when Howard slid and TOTALLY missed!!! HTF do you completely miss home plate when you slide on top of it??!! To make it even worse, the home ump blew the call!! Look at the replay!!! No part of him came close in touching. So, essentially the Yanks fronted the Phils a run!! Now that’s criminal! If anything the Yanks should file a complaint. BAAAAAAA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!

  7. TB - Nov 2, 2009 at 9:55 AM

    That strike you reffered to was actually a fowl ball.
    The instant replay showed Damon just barely made contact.

  8. dcfan - Nov 2, 2009 at 9:56 AM

    Dude, pay attention more. Damon Foul tipped that ball. Hence why he didn’t strike out. You can tell on any replay even the one on cuz they show it, and the ump clearly calls foul ball, and even the catcher ruiz pads his glove upset cuz he didnt hang onto strike 3 on the foul tip.

  9. Feech - Nov 2, 2009 at 9:59 AM

    It’s called a foul tip.

  10. comeonman - Nov 2, 2009 at 10:00 AM

    We’ve talked about it throughout the year because of the shift,” Damon said. “I was trying to be aggressive, and I kind of had to see all that stuff develop. I had to see where Pedro caught the ball, and I saw it dragged him off the bag some.
    “I know that I still have some decent speed left in the tank but I was just hoping … well, I knew Pedro’s speed also. I mean, if it was Chone Figgins, that might have been tough.”
    Still, it’s a daring play because, as Joe Girardi said, “You better be sure there because Tex and A-Rod are up behind you. It was just great instinct by Johnny.”
    “What were you doing going to third?” Damon was asked in the Yankee clubhouse.
    Johnny Damon smiled and said, “Trying to keep (Lidge) from throwing a slider
    Read more:
    Read more:

  11. dcfan - Nov 2, 2009 at 10:09 AM

    Wow, your an idiot. Speaking of knowing the rules. If you strike out and the catcher drops the ball, you have to be tagged out or the ball gets thrown to first if the player runs. If the player retreats to his dugout he is out automatically. In this call, it was a foul ball. So your whole speach about AJ Pyrzenski is irrelevant. Pay attention, it was clear it was a foul by the umpires reaction, damons reaction, the catcher ruiz’s reaction and when those idiots mcarver and joe buck said it was a foul ball, oh and of course the instant replay SHOWING the foul tip…

  12. comeonman - Nov 2, 2009 at 10:09 AM

    I agree, I’m glad Tim didn’t pull out the Gibson stories, Joe would have fallen in LOVE like a teenage boy.

  13. Dave - Nov 2, 2009 at 10:10 AM

    He fouled tipped the ball. It ended up right between the catchers legs. He did not miss the ball. I thaught he missed it too, but the replay does show he hit the ball.

  14. comeonman - Nov 2, 2009 at 10:12 AM

    “That’s the first time we’ve had it happen to us this year, but at the same time, somebody has got to be covering third base,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “Usually it’s the catcher who tries to get down there.”
    Said Feliz: “I went to cover (second) base. (Damon) saw nobody on the other side, so he took it. That’s a play, we never got anybody to say, ‘Okay, you’ve got to go there. You’ve got to go here.’ I had the bag at that time, so J-Roll (Rollins) was backing me up and nobody was on the other side.”
    Read more:

  15. hop - Nov 2, 2009 at 10:28 AM

    hey Gabriel when you file that compliant make sure you send in the video of Howard MISSING HOME PLATE!!! Funny how cry baby philly scum only remember the plays they want to!

  16. Pilothawkeye - Nov 2, 2009 at 10:31 AM

    Yes, Ryan Howard did miss the plate, but folks, that is an APPEAL PLAY. Proper umpire mechanics is to call the runner safe, and let the defense appeal that he missed home plate. If the ump does not make a call, then that would tip off the defense that ‘something funky’ happened. Jorge does not have to go into the dugout and tag Ryan. All they have to do is when the next batter comes to the plate, the pitcher steps back off the mound, tells the ump that he thinks the runner missed home plate, throw to the catcher, who then steps on the plate. If the ump felt that Ryan did indeed miss the plate, then he makes the out call.
    As far as Damon getting an ‘extra’ stike, it was a foul tip that was not held onto by the catcher. In fact, the replay shows the catcher’s fustration on having dropped the foul tip.

  17. Bernard Farktward - Nov 2, 2009 at 10:37 AM

    Arod was drilled. Case closed. McCarver is an idiot. First base was open and they were going to walk Arod anyway. Pedro does this all the time. Why through 4 balls when you can through one purpose pitch? Timmy needs to be replaced. I hope this is his last year. He’s always pontificating AFTER a play happens, not before.

  18. John - Nov 2, 2009 at 11:29 AM


  19. Shely - Nov 2, 2009 at 12:00 PM

    This was a smart baseball move, but hardly outstanding. It is not even a record. If he didn’t take a FREE base, then he would have been incredibly stupid. However, I am amazed that year after year, it seems that everything the Yankees do is so damned special. We get tired of it here in the vast interior of the country. First, lets give a RECORD to Enos Slaughter, who scored from first base on a single in 1946, (which was never done before or since in a W-S). Then we can talk about more plaudits for the Yankees.
    By the way John, go see a doctor, I feel you are seriously ill.

  20. Shely - Nov 2, 2009 at 12:08 PM

    Stop moaning. Damon was not out on strike 3 (it was a tipped ball) and the announcers have nothing to do with the outcome of the game. Keep in mind, that the Phillthys would have never made the playoffs if they didn’t pick up Lee mid season. So you are way ahead of the game anyway, just by being in this series. My feeling is that Joe Buck is the best at what he does along with Al Michaels. He isn’t always right either. And as far as McCarver is concerned, he forgot more baseball than you and I will e very know. As far as the umps missing the call, how about missing the play at home, calling Howard safe when he didn’t even touch the plate? It all evens out.

  21. bernard farktward - Nov 2, 2009 at 12:26 PM

    I’ve seen the grainy re-play of Slaughter scoring from first base on a single in 1946. It should have been a double but the guy who hit it was slower than Jose Molina (If that’s even possible).
    Still, a great hustle play and it was a single.

  22. Ditto - Nov 2, 2009 at 12:48 PM

    IT WAS A FOUL TIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Ron - Nov 2, 2009 at 12:49 PM

    The umpires made the right call on Howard. 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.
    It was the exact right call. If Posada or Sabathia had tagged him (instead of making a different play) then Howard would have been out. That’s why the umpire hesitated before signaling safe. THE CORRECT CALL.
    See, instant replay still doesn’t trump the knowledge and experience of a live umpire. Maybe some of you people need to read the rulebook and actually understand what is going on before you make comments about things like this.
    The umpire got the call correct. Bet the instant replay advocates won’t say a word about that.

  24. Shely - Nov 2, 2009 at 12:49 PM

    You are right, the runner was a little slow, but her took second on the throw to the plate, so it was a single. I think the hitter was Harry Walker. I will guarantee that if a Yankee did the same thing, it would be talked about for at least 200 years. It may never be repeated again, and ole Enos is never going to get credit for this as it makes Pesky and the Red Sox look bad, very bad.

  25. Keith - Nov 2, 2009 at 1:38 PM

    I don’t think the umpire did see howard miss the plate. He shouldn’t have made the safe call at all. Yes, its an appeal play, but he shouldn’t have called him safe. He did it too soon. I think the ump thought howard touched the plate.
    I know McCarver has been around a long time and was a great player. But I side with those that think he’s a lousy annoucner. He’s a know it all second guessing jackass. I really want to see him manage a team…cuz I know he’d fail miserably.

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