Game 4: The Eddie Collins of 2009

Even if Johnny Damon had gone oh-for-the-first-four years of the 52-million dollart contract he signed with the Yankees after the 2005 season, he might have earned most of the cash with one of the most heads-up plays in World Series history.

As the potential winning run with two out in the top of the ninth inning of a game New York had nearly blown, he not only got a great jump on Brad Lidge to cleanly steal second base, but because the Phillies had employed the shift on Mark Teixeira, Damon had the presence of mind to realize Carlos Ruiz’s throw to second might be handled by a fielder unaccustomed to the role, who was also leaving third base unoccupied. Thus Damon utilized the pop-up slide, and when Feliz went to the wrong side of the bag, Damon accelerated past him and cruised into third as the Phillies watched helplessly. Lidge’s inning immediately cascaded into chaos and Mariano Rivera suddenly had a three-run lead in a game the Phils had just tied.
In the broad sense, at least, Damon’s dash was reminiscent of the famous Eddie Collins-Heinie Zimmerman play that decided the 1917 Series. Scoreless in the fourth inning of the finale, the White Sox cringed as Collins was trapped in a rundown. Giants’ catcher Bill Rariden correctly ran Collins back towards third, presuming that either his first baseman Walter Holke or his pitcher Rube Benton would cover the plate. But neither did, and as Rariden tossed to Giants third baseman Zimmerman, Collins burst past him, leaving Zimmerman to define futility to chase Collins towards the dish.
Though Ring Lardner actually made up the quote, Zimmerman was long credited with one of the most telling of acerbic explanations for a pivotal Series play: “Who the hell was I supposed to throw it to? The umpire?” It will be fascinating to hear if Feliz says anything similar.

5 Comments

I loved that play. Talk about paying attention!

Small “b” baseball takes the day. :)

Thanks for that Mr O, I really have a semblance of hope we will end the drought!

All I can say is thank you Mr Damon, thank you Mr. Lidge.

I think Joba owes both of them a hardy handshake at least!

Oh, I’d say Joba owes Damon a Rolex!

I’d say Damon motoring on over to third is right up there with Jeter’s “flip” in the 2001 ALDS. Incredible play!

Is this more of the Phillies “playing their game”, that we’ve heard their fans boasting so much about? This is what happens when the Phillies encounter a team that has actually shown up to play, unlike the Rockies, et. al. Joking aside, the Phillies fans should have put their brooms away at the end of Game 1, because there are few things in life so uncertain as the outcome of a top series or game, in any sport. The Arizona Cardinals came close to winning the most recent Super Bowl. Need I say more?

As for the rest of your post, Keith…you must be a walking encyclopedia of baseball knowledge. Are you plugged into an external USB hard drive, or something? LOL!

Watching on television, I didn’t realize who was covering the throw at second, so when Damon popped up and started toward third I thought he’d simply over-slid the bag and was in a rundown…then when the camera pulled back I saw how great a play that was. It changed the entire inning.
Keith, I have to tell you, you were spot on in your pre-Series prediction about Ryan Howard’s struggle against lefties…it seems to have extended to Ibanez and Utley as well and is, to me, the biggest difference in the Series.

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