I haven't seen in it in decades and how about you?
I have been attending major league baseball games, thousands of them, for more than 50 years, but I don’t think I have ever seen a player do exactly what Johnny Damon did for the Yankees Sunday night. With two out and the score tied in the ninth inning of a pivotal World Series game, no less.
He singled and stole second base and, with the Phillies over-shifted toward right field for batter Mark Teixeira, he popped up from his slide and outsprinted third baseman Pedro Feliz to the uncovered third base. Feliz had caught a so-so throw from catcher Carlos Ruiz with his momentum taking him a step toward right field. Damon was gone just like that and neither pitcher Brad Lidge nor the catcher could react and get to the bag in time. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins later took the blame, saying he should have figured out the play and begun moving toward third base. Even a couple of steps by him would have shut down Damon.
You can bet Derek Jeter, if he had been out there, would have read the play correctly and begun hustling to the unoccupied bag. He did something similar on a play against the Angels in the last round of the playoffs.
This was dynamite stuff. It may have been seen before – hands up, all you who can remember the details – but not by these eyes. Because Lidge was unwilling to throw his good slider in the dirt now, with the winning run at third base, he threw consecutive fastballs to Alex Rodriguez, who tattooed the second one for the game-winning RBI.
For all the complaining about salaries and payroll and such, which is a separate issue entirely, it should be noted the Yankees have made a number of these heads-up plays this post-season at pivotal moments, while their opponents, respectively the Twins, Angels and Phlllies (so far), have not.
The Yankees pulled one real brick in the third game, refusing to field Cole Hamels’ sacrifice bunt when everybody in the park knew it was coming. The mistake cost them two runs. But they rallied to recover from that gaffe and after the game, the telling quote came from Hamels, who couldn’t hold a 3-0 lead and later said he couldn’t wait for the season to be over.
Really, Cole? You’ve already had enough? I can’t think of a single Yankee who would say such a thing out loud or even think it. They have been focused on winning 11 games since the playoffs began and nothing else.
Still with the World Series, it said here four days ago that Cliff Lee would have been my choice to start the fourth game on short rest, rather than Joe Blanton. Manager Charlie Manuel said he never considered it because Lee has never started on three days’ rest before. Well, that’s fine; you put it down to Manuel knowing his pitchers better than we do. Then Lee, who refused to even address the question after stiffing the Yankees in the first game, tells reporters after the Phillies get down 3-1 that sure, he would have liked to have pitched. Kind of hung out his manager there, didn’t he?
By the way, Lee is minus-$155 for the fifth game, with A.J. Burnett plus-$140. For those of you convinced you have this all figured out, as always, don’t bet more than you want to win.