Of the many questions posed by Saturday’s 20 inning encounter between the Mets and Cards (eg. “is Kyle Lohse a better or worse left fielder than Manny Ramirez?”), the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman successfully identified the most crucial. To wit, how were Fox’s commentators coping without a bathroom break?

In the 17th inning, Kenny Albert (above), Fox’s play-by-play voice, informed viewers that his partner, Tim McCarver, had left the booth in the seventh inning. Albert did not specify if T-Mac took a pause for the cause, but those familiar with the situation say he did. Albert also reported: “I have not left the booth in 17 innings.”

At that very moment, all chances of Albert landing that big-bucks Flomax endorsement deal went down the tubes. What was not known at the time is that Albert is practiced in the “art” of retention. In July 1998, he worked a 17-inning Indians-Mariners game and did not once visit a Kingdome bathroom.

“And I did not go during the entire game (Saturday),” Albert said yesterday.

How is he able to do (or not do) this?

“It’s all mental,” he proclaimed.

In the course of our investigation, it was also revealed that McCarver – still – is one of the fastest guys in the majors going booth-to-bathroom and back.

“Yes, I’ve seen McCarver fly out of the booth and get back with time to spare,” one well-embedded mole said.