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11/01/09 3:17 AM EST

November baseball: Championship time

As calendar flips to new month , season nears its climax

PHILADELPHIA -- This is November baseball:

Yankees at Phillies for Game 4 on Sunday night at 8:20 ET amid the twirling towels of Citizens Bank Park.

All four North American pro sports leagues playing on this same Sunday, only the second time it has happened (also 2001). On top of that, NASCAR is at Talladega, and you have some college football with Central Florida vs. Marshall. It is a sports fan's paradise.

Hideki Matsui saying through an interpreter after his second home run of the World Series: "The longer I can play baseball, I'm just happy about that."

Jimmy Rollins changing his "Jay Leno" prediction on the fly after "Phillies in five" went down the tubes Saturday night with an 8-5 loss. "Well, it'll be Phillies in six," he amended.

CC Sabathia against Joe Blanton, a mismatch to some, but not to a Phillies club that will try to beat him for the third consecutive time in postseason play.

Looking up This Date In Baseball History and finding only 2001.

"Long season. It's a long season." Derek Jeter's matter-of-fact response when you ask him about playing in November again, as he did that night when he was dubbed "Mr. November."

Giants at Eagles during the afternoon at Lincoln Financial Stadium, and then many fans of both teams switching into their baseball garb and walking across the Philadelphia Sports Complex to watch New York's active baseball team play at night against Philadelphia's baseball team.

A Tiffany-made Commissioner's Trophy at a undisclosed nearby location. It could be awarded to the Yankees on Monday night if they win two in a row. It could go to either the Phillies or Yankees back in the Bronx should the series return for a Game 6 (Wednesday) and maybe a Game 7 (Thursday).

"It's just another game," Rollins said of still playing into November. "You don't think about the time frame when you're playing. On the outside looking in, it's probably crazy, but when you're inside the bubble, as long as there's games to be played, I'm gonna play 'em. I figure we got a week left before we have to watch football and college basketball, right?"

Chase Utley's MLB-record postseason streak of games reaching base finally ending at 27.

The Yankees trying to reach 27 as well, in the number of World Series rings.

Sabathia standing in front of his locker before what may or may not be the final start of a Cy Young-contender season, and saying about playing into this month: "It feels good. It does. This is what you play for. It just feels good to be in this situation. I just have to go out and keep executing and try to get it done."

In the past 20 years, 12 teams had a 2-1 lead in the World Series. All but two went on to win it all.
Year Up 2-1 Opp. Series result
2008 PHI TB Won in five
2006 STL DET Won in five
2003 NYY FLA Lost in six
2002 ANA SF Won in seven
2001 ARI NYY Won in seven
2000 NYY NYM Won in five
1997 FLA CLE Won in seven
1996 ATL NYY Lost in six
1995 ATL CLE Won in six
1993 TOR PHI Won in six
1992 TOR ATL Won in six
1991 MIN ATL Won in seven

Scribbling on a marker board in the middle of the Phillies' clubhouse that reminded the home team's players to: "SET YOUR CLOCKS BACK ONE HOUR." Major League Baseball players keep time just like everyone else does. Be sure to do the same.

The eighth month on the calendar in which real Major League games have been played in 2009. It would end on Nov. 5 if this series goes to the full seven games, making it the latest -- and making it exactly eight months after that Sunday night opener. The 2001 season ended on Nov. 4.

"Obviously, you want to be playing at this time of year. It means you're in the World Series," Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino said. "It's no different than anything else, you just have to keep playing. I don't look at it like it's November. I know it is today, but you just have to keep playing. We're in the World Series. When you're playing doesn't matter, you just have to go out and win."

Thinking that Nick Swisher probably made the right decision by playing in Game 3 instead of going through with those earlier plans of dressing with his girlfriend as "inflatable Sumo wrestlers" at a Halloween costume party. Swisher doubled and homered to lead the Bombers.

People talking about how good Swisher's swing looks, and Jeter amused by it all. "You get a couple hits, people say you look relaxed. You don't, they say you're pressing. That's the bottom line."

People talking about how quiet Ryan Howard is in this World Series. His first two games were almost identical to his first two of last year's series against Tampa Bay. The difference so far is that he homered and broke out in the 2008 World Series Game 3, whereas on Saturday he went 0-for-4 with three more strikeouts, making him 2-for-13 with nine strikeouts.

Rollins expecting to see his friend across the infield at first base break out at the plate any day now. "It could be mental," he said. "He always finds a way. He does at this time of year. We're looking forward to it [in Game 4]. Maybe a nice line drive to left-center gets him right back to where he needs to be. And if that happens, we're looking at some fireworks."

Everyone watching the national pastime and wondering how much longer they would keep it up this year. There are only two more possible chances for Yankees radio announcer John Sterling to tell his widespread listeners: "Theeeeeeeeee Yankees win." There are only so many more days that you can come out to a ballpark and buy a hot dog and think along with a manager in all those strategic game situations.

"That one's outta here!" is the call you hear one more time during the game on a scoreboard tribute to Harry Kalas, the legendary Phillies broadcaster who died a couple of weeks into this season. The Phillies have to win three of four more possible games in order to win another one for Harry the K.

The 2009 Major League Baseball season is still going, and now it is time for Game 4 of the World Series. There won't be a sweep this year, and Game 5 is assured for Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. Whether this Fall Classic returns to Yankee Stadium remains to be seen, and here in November it is time to decide all that.

November. It is a baseball month again, with Thanksgiving not too far behind.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.