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Damon’s Steal: instant history

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.