I could say that after five games, the Fox network broadcasts of the 2009 World Series are really getting on my nerves -- but that would be dishonest. That's mainly because they reached this goal somewhere around the fifth inning of Game Four when, by my admittedly non-SABRmetric count, Joe Buck established a new career-best mark when he said the word "post-season" for the 237th time, thus beating the 236 mark it took him some five games to reach during last year's Phils-Rays Fall Classic. And unless someone gets me a quick prescription for that anti-depressant drug they keep advertising midway through every game, I may have to shoot my TV, or myself, for truly long-lasting relief from Mr. Buck's incessant yammering. (I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but why are they pitching an anti-suicide med during baseball games broadcast by Joe Buck, anyway? Does it go with Budweiser?)
In any event, records do seem to be falling by the wayside during this year's Series, which is now shifting back to the Bronx after the Philadelphians staved off the grim reaper (otherwise known as Mariano Rivera) by actually holding onto the lead in the ninth inning of Game Five and beating the Yankees 8-6, forcing at least one more contest in the year's Fall Classic. For one thing, Chase Utley has tied the record for home runs in a Series with five, and he has a legitimate shot at breaking the record held by Yankees Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson, especially given the Yankee pitching staff's overall difficulties in dealing with him. That's in stark contrast, of course, to his teammate Ryan Howard, who has also tied a record by striking out for the 12th time, thus equaling the number of whiffs the Royals' Willie Wilson had in the 1980 World Series. And as it took Wilson a full seven games to do that, and with his last strikeout having been the very last out of the game, the smart money right now is on Howard regarding which Phillie breaks which record faster.
One record that's already been set is Johnny Damon's spectacular achievement of stealing two bases on one pitch in a World Series, a feet-generated feat that happened in Game Four and is one of the absolutely rarest occurrences ever to happen in a baseball game, post-season or no post-season (did I just write that? Hope I'm not infected!) The Damon Dash, which proved to be the pivotal play in the Yankees' 3-run rally in the ninth inning on the way to their dramatic 7-4 win, was one of those plays that underscore the great bromide about seeing something in any given baseball game that you haven't seen before. If you'll recall, the Phillies had an infield shift on again lefty batter Mark Teixeira, so when Damon took off for second, over-shifted third baseman Pedro Feliz had to take the throw, allowing Damon to continue safely on to the uncovered third base. Now, clearly, pitcher Brad Lidge had never seen that play before, or else he would have been running over to cover third, which was his responsibility on the play. And since no one reminded him of that responsibility, you'd think no one had ever seen that play before. And guess what? You'd be wrong.
Baseball being the wonderfully improbable game it is, there actually was someone in the ballpark who had seen it before and might have, maybe should have, forewarned Lidge -- especially since this person was sitting in their very own dugout. Just two years ago in August 2007, Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips pulled the exact same heads-up play against Washington: with slugger Adam Dunn up at the plate and the Nationals infield pulled all the way over, Phillips took off for second, and when the Washington catcher didn't throw through, he just kept going and beat everyone to third for a double base steal. His manager at the time? None other Pete Mackanin, who's now the Philadelphia Phillies bench coach. Oops. Put that in your post-season pipe and smoke it.