Monday, July 25, 2011

Sunday's Win Enough To Drive T-Jax To Hallucinations

In all seriousness, this was a pretty good piece by's Tony Jackson, on how one uncommon series victory can spurn irrational hope even in the most depressing of seasons:

LOS ANGELES -- The psychology of sport has always fascinated me, at least since youth baseball when every time I would strike out I would wonder if it meant I couldn't play this game.

It actually did mean that, but for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, everything felt a little different. In an odd way, after a 3-1 victory over the Washington Nationals before 36,458 at Dodger Stadium, everything suddenly felt OK. The Dodgers took two of three to win a series for the first time in the second half of this season and are now face with a chance to move into third place in the National League West with the slumping Colorado Rockies coming to town.

Suddenly, it didn't seem to matter that the Dodgers are still heading into the tank, remain 11 games below .500, have lost five of nine since the All-Star break, and they have scored more than three runs in a game just five times this month. After all that, they actually have to sweep that three-game series with the Rockies in order to overtake them in the standings.

All of those things did still matter, of course. They mattered more, in fact, than any of the happy things that had just happened. But in a game in which they say momentum will carry you only as far as tomorrow's starting pitcher will, Chad Billingsley carried the Dodgers to this momentary euphoric state with one of his strongest performances of the season, overcoming first-inning trouble to retire 21 of 22 batters and no-hit the Nationals from the second through the seventh innings.

This is an example of how the psychology of sport can be a godsend when your season is going nowhere and you still are 61 games from the end. If the Dodgers lose to the Rockies on Monday night, they will revert just as quickly to the gloom and despair that has followed them all season. But for the moment, all they can do is try to win each game, and so for the past two days, they did everything they could against the Nationals.

I may have been affected as well; I was at the game and perhaps the heatstroke got to me. But the Dodgers actually looked like a pretty decent team there against the Nationals Sunday. Wait a second, it was the Nationals. Okay, I'm snapping back to reality.

Damn reality.


Steve Sax said...

Dudes and dudettes:

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Josh S. said...

Weird, I felt the same way as T-Jax. It's completely inexplicable, but I still found myself looking at the standings, trying to figure out where we'd be if we swept the Rox and DBacks.

Steve K said...

Is he talking about "things feeling different" as in "We have a chance to win the NL West" or as in "Maybe we'll actually end up with a .500 record?"

Right now, my hope goes as far as trying to "respectably" end at .500.