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THAT JOHNNY DAMON PLAY yesterday during the 6-4 loss against Boston at Yankee Stadium -- the one I excoriated play-by-play man John Sterling for getting wrong on the radio broadcast -- was more than just a little freakish. Damon went back to the wall, leapt for the ball hit by Kevin Youkilis, had it in his glove, snowcone style, only to lose it when he hit the wall. What Sterling and really almost everyone else didn't know, including Michael Kay on the TV side, was that the ball was somehow resting for a few seconds on the ledge of the wall, which can't be more than a few inches across.

I got on Sterling for first saying Damon made the catch, then, seeing Kevin Youkilis standing on 3rd base, changing his call to a triple. Sterling had blown so many calls the last few seasons, one or two a game it seems, that I thought this was just another case of his bad eyesight. But Sterling would've needed Superman-type vision to see the ball resting on the wall hundreds of feet from the Lowe's Broadcast Booth, one of about 7,000 sponsors name-checked into the radio broadcast of every game.

Damon crashed to the ground on his back, dazed, not knowing where the ball was, until a fan yelled at him and pointed to the baseball atop the wall, which was poised to either fall back in play or fall over to the other side of the fence for a home run.

In the Times story headlined Ball Sits on Wall, and Yanks Have Great Fall, Tyler Kepner wrote how: > > "...everything changed with one play in the third inning — one bizarre, painful, and possibly season-turning moment. Damon crashed into the left-field wall as he gloved a high drive from Kevin Youkilis. The ball popped out, resting perilously atop the fence before dropping back onto the field. > > The Yankees had lost the lead on the tying triple, and soon enough, they lost the game to the Boston Red Sox, 6-4, at a soggy Yankee Stadium. More significantly, they might have lost the engine of their lineup for a while."

When you see the play, you realize it's a once-in-a-lifetime, defying-all-laws-of-physics kind of play. The baseball gods seems to save this kind of stuff for Red Sox-Yankees games, knowing these miracles will thereby get the biggest exposure. Even gods like good ratings for their miracles.

After this latest feeble loss, Yankees are now 2-35 when trailing after 7 innings. You can hardly do worse. But then again, Yankees are gonna be without their 2nd best overall hitter, Hideki Matsui, with Madonna's newest boy toy, A-Rod, being their best hitter... when his head isn't up his own ass. Or up Madonna's no-talent, Kabullah preaching, washed-up old ass, I guess.

Matsui ain't coming back any time soon, not soon enough to save the season at least. You only miss his kind of consistent excellence when it's missing from the lineup. The guy is such a serious, professional hitter that he would probably commit hari-kari if he ever failed to hit .300 or drive in 100 runs for a season. I can think of a few Yankees I'd like to see follow suit and do likewise.

Yanks are now fully 9 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays, 6 behind the 2nd-place Boston Red Sox, and technically behind even the Baltimore Orioles, also known as the perennial laughing stocks of the AL East. Yet I still get the feeling this isn't the lowest your Yankees will be sinking this season. I wish I was wrong, but I see more humiliation ahead. Maybe the curse of the new stadium. Call it a hunch...