Dr. Strangeglove: On Game 5 and Irrational Fear

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, October 07, 2011 06:30 AM | Comments: 33
Dr. Strangeglove, Opinion, Posts

Tonight, we witness an event as rare as a Phillies World Series title–a Phillies playoff series that goes the distance. It’s happened only twice: the 1980 NLCS, a best-of-five series that was won in five, and the 1981 NLDS, a special best-of-five series that was necessitated by the strike that split the 1981 regular season in half. The Phillies lost that one to the Montreal Expos. That’s it, in 129 seasons, only two playoff series that went the distance–the same number that the Boston Red Sox had in 1986 alone.

So if we’re not exactly in uncharted territory here, we’re close. And like most unfamiliar things, the immediate reaction is fear. And so I find myself of two minds the morning of the biggest game of the season: on the one hand, cognizant of who is taking the mound in red pinstripes, and that he was brought to Philadelphia for precisely this moment. On the other hand, fearful of the possibility–no matter who’s pitching, it’s more likely than we’d like to think–that the best team might not win. Space is not, in fact, the final frontier–Game 5 is.
When you’re looking into the great abyss, you start to go a little nuts. I, for one, have been unusually itchy these past two days.

I’ve started tabulating bizarre and non-predictive stats in the hope that somehow I’ll be able to game chaos theory enough to give Roy Halladay another couple inches of drop on his change-up. For instance: I’ve tried to decide where I’m going to watch the game by tabulating the Phillies’ record in playoff games, since 2007, based on where I watched the game. But they’re best–with a two-game minimum–when I don’t watch the game at all. After that, at my college campus, where they were 11-6, but that’s 550 miles away. After that, a bar in South Jersey that’s close…but just burned down. So that didn’t make me feel any better. What about the Phillies in elimination games? Maybe I’ll feel better then…except the Phillies are only 3-4 in elimination games in my lifetime.

For those of you who think that I don’t experience baseball the way many of you do, just because I pay attention to advanced stats, the playoffs are the time I drop the pretense of being a rational observer and descend, in case you couldn’t tell, into unbridled, weeping, knee-hugging, maniacally-laughing hysterics. Sure, I still pay attention to in-game strategy, but the playoffs are not a time for rationality.

So in a sense, tonight’s game is what we all asked for when this season started. And Halladay, at home, against Carpenter on short rest. We shouldn’t be nervous. Right? Okay, that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself. No need to be nervous.

Avatar of Michael Baumann

About Michael Baumann

Michael Baumann has written 229 articles on Phillies Nation.

Michael is a graduate student at Temple University who lost his childlike innocence when, at the age of 6, his dad let him stay up for the end of Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Unsettled by the Phillies' recent success, he has threatened over the years to leave the team he loves if they don't start losing again, but has so far been unable to follow through. Michael spent 4 years as an undercover agent in Braves territory at the University of South Carolina, where he covered football and soccer for The Daily Gamecock before moving back up north. He began writing for The Phrontiersman in June 2009 before moving to Phillies Nation in January 2010.

  • Posts: 0 Phillies fan from Germany

    Carpenter is not on short rest… Anyway, Phillies will win behind Doc!!!

    • Posts: 33 Michael Baumann

      Avatar of Michael Baumann

      You’re right. I did the math wrong. And by “did the math wrong” I mean “can’t do basic single-digit arithmetic.” Thanks for the catch.

      • Posts: 81 Tom

        Avatar of Tom

        Thanks for showing that fanatical, maniacal, irrational, human side that all of us are feeling right now!! Have Phaith in Doc and the Phils!! (Please don’t blow this!) See, that’s what I mean!!

    • Posts: 0 adam

      Great read! Still unbelievably nervous, though!!!! GO PHILS!!!!!!!

  • Posts: 0 Ray

    Very funny. Great write=great read. I’ve often wondered what others feel like at times like these. Given how much numbers can tell you about a circumstance, they aren’t ever concrete. So I’m always looking for the xfactor. Especially when the numbers don’t give comfort. But also mindful of the potential for being blindsided when they do.

  • Posts: 0 SavannahPhilliesPhan

    I am not sure I can watch…..my bp may explode. If I take my bp pills during the game, I will be asleep in my chair. So I will wait until my husband tells me they are winning before I watch. I find when they lose I can not listen to all the analysis on mlb….it’s too upsetting. By the next day I am a bit more rational and able to read about it more calmly.

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Whether man admits it or not, his greatest desire is bring order from chaos. And to get laid. Can’t game plan variables in a Game 5 or 7. Men face their demons in deciding games and conquer them or are defeated by them. Game plan that. Just kick back and bite your nails to the quick like I’ll be doing a pray for Roy.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 GoPhilliesGirl

    Thank you! I feel the same way! I cried twice yesterday (Thursday) and will burst into tears again today if anyone looks at me sideways. I feel like I’ve dated the Phillies all season, (watched 150+ games at home instead of going out with friends or on dates) and they’re getting ready to break up with me. If all else fails, I will drag out my DVD set of the 2008 series and pretend the last few seasons didn’t happen. I did that in 2009 and 2010….

  • Posts: 5392 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    There is a rational stat, but you folks may not like it. Historically the home team is more likely to lose game 5 of an LDS as to win it.

    Prior to this year, there were only 16 LDS that went 5 games. In those 16 game fives, the home team has only 6 wins and 10 losses. Until last night, when the Yankees piled on to make it 6-11.

    The silver lining is,- – - – well, I can’t find one. We just have to bite our nails and hope to beat the odds.

    Go Phils!

  • Posts: 2896 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Lefty, that Yankee game was good. And not just because the Yankees lost .. at home….but because the Tigers and Jim Leyland (Detroit’s version of Charlie Manuel) won. Would love a Tigers – Phillies Series. But first things first.

    Actually, when the Tigers won last last night …. on the road…. a 3-2 nailbiter…..I thought “oh no..is this a bad sign, an omen” Gotta somehow erase that thought from my mind and think positively all day. And thank God I got plenty to do to keep me busy and m mind from getting the best of me….I hope.

    • Posts: 5392 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      There was only one other season where three game 5′s in LDS were played. (2001) All three home teams won that year, no idea what the significance of that is. But, it’s meaningless to us anyway. We just got to win it, so we can all say- good game, lets go eat!

  • Posts: 0 sportsphan

    About the short rest thing: Yes, Carpenter will not be on short rest tonight. But, did you notice that the analysts said that Halladay says that starting on short rest doesn’t make that much difference until you get to the NEXTstart after the short rest. So, that is tonight! Not much to hang our hopes on, but it’s basically all we’ve got. I can’t believe that everyone is magically going to remember how to hit tonight after these last 3 games. If we lose tonight, tomorrow is a shopping spree!

    • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

      actually, it’s alot to hang your hopes on. its a big deal. the stats are eyepopping in these situations. I expect carpenter to get banged around. I picture his line like5 innings 5 runs 8 hits.

  • Posts: 1106 betasigmadeltashag

    Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

    Made the drive again from VT for this game and I am very nervous, like most of you I live and die with this team. I do not want to make the drive back home if they lose it will be a long 6 plus hours. I have faith that Doc will be on his game and I hope that the offense shows up befor the 6thinng. What I want most is a very rowdy loud crowd from the opening pitch until the last out. We need to get the Cards off their game and be the loudest crowd ever at THe Bank. Even if they get behind keep the faith and wave the rally towels. Score runs early and often and finally get to this average pen of the Cards. GO PHILLIES

  • Posts: 0 Jaxen

    Michael, you hit my attitude since Game 4 ended (right about when Freese homered) square on the head. Will we win? It’s more than 50/50 yes because Doc’s on the mound and we’re at home … but the possibility exists that after 166 games of being the best team in the land, the outcome of 1 game determines whether the Phillies live for another fight or die on the field tonight.

    Oh, and I have to work until about 10 tonight. Hoping that our local ESPN station carries (they didn’t Tuesday, not sure Wednesday I got home in time). I have about a 40minute ride home.

  • Posts: 71 RatBastardNJ

    Avatar of RatBastardNJ

    Funny how you question where you will watch the game. I have no idea myself! I could stay at home again with the widescreen, HD TV…but I yell much more at home and drive the neighbors crazy. I live in central NJ, so I can take a drive to a Phillies bar, like Chickie and Petes, but sometimes the lack of interest in those bars drives me crazy too.

    Where is everyone else watching the game? Is there a bar is South Jersey or Northeast Philly that is a great place for a game like this? Wish I had tix, but I was lucky enough to have had game 2…yay!

  • Posts: 2896 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Someone else made that point about pitchers on short rest….that it’s the start AFTER the one made on short rest that seems to give them fits. Anyone have any stats on that?

    The flip side of that is that Carpenter will make adjustments …. and that not only does he have regular rest but an extra day, too. I’m still looking at a nail-biting pitcher’s duel possibly decided by the bullpens and the benches.

  • Posts: 5392 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    I am not certain, maybe someone can help with this, but wasn’t it Roy Halladay that said that it’s the start after the one on short rest that is the problem? I thought he answered a question before the game when Carpenter had to go on short rest. Anyone?

    • Posts: 2896 Chuck A.

      Avatar of Chuck A.

      Ha! Lefty, great minds think alike! Others, too!

  • Posts: 2 Justin Vincible

    Avatar of Justin Vincible

    I have the same damn super nervous feeling I had before game 3. I hope that translates to another Phillies win. It’s so insane that this team I put so much energy into can possibly just be done tonight at midnight.

    Well, at least the Yankees lost.

  • Posts: 0 phil

    Are you referencing the nugget as the bar that burnt down? I grew up in Berlin and moved to philly 8 years ago but almost every time I went home I had to get their incredible wings. It’s so sad it burnt down. I had my first legal drink there with my dad on Christmas morning. My bday is on Xmas. It is so nostalgic to me and I can’t believe it is gone

  • Posts: 0 Philly Geoff

    I am a bundle of nerve…

    I have a horrible vision of Halladay leaving the game with the lead, only to have Lee blow it, with Howard, once again, ending the game with the bat on his shoulder.

    If the Cards get the lead early, I hope the place doesn’t turn into a morgue.

    Go Phillies!

  • Posts: 1110 Manny

    Avatar of Manny

    Nobody has mentioned this yet, but isn’t Roy on 5-days rest…? And isn’t he usually better with extra rest? I’m trying to think of ways to cling to hope and optimism. But deep down I know it’s really a crapshoot… any team can beat any other team, it’s just ONE freaking game. Agh. I’m driving myself crazy over here.

    LET’S GO PHILLIES! Our biggest game of the year is tonight.

  • Posts: 0 bostonkate

    My bp is already through the roof. I’m terrified for tonight. I’m afraid I may have jinxed it for laughing at the yankees misfortune last night

  • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

    not in the slight bit nervous. just gonna sit back and watch a master do his work tonight. this will be so special!

  • Posts: 0 BART SHART

    Tonight will be epic. The team needs its fans tonight to cheer and to add enthusiasm and adreneline…..So ask NOT what your Phillies can do for you, but WHAT you can do for your Phillies………………..Cheer loud and often and wave those white towels hard, hard, hard.
    And, of course, have fun. These are the good old days.

  • Posts: 19 tyROBasaurus

    Avatar of tyROBasaurus

    This is the #1 reason why I’m always tempted to avoid Phillies Nation. Condescending posts like this one that call out fans. I don’t think fear of losing this game is irrational at all, and anyone who is legitimately worried is no less a fan than anyone else.

    FACT: Halladay is on the mound, which is good.
    FACT: The offense is either red hot or ice cold — they’re either all hot at the same time or they all suck at the same time. There hasn’t been that one guy to carry us when everyone else takes a break in the freezer.
    CONCLUSION: Therefore Doc must go the distance and throw a shut out, with one run being the maximum he allows. I have all the confidence in the world in Halladay, and 10% faith in the offense to show up.

    I don’t think that’s irrational given this team’s track record. Actually, I find the phrase, “Don’t worry, the offense will be fine” to be more irrational than my concerns.

  • Posts: 100 buffy08210

    Avatar of buffy08210

    We must as a Phillies Nation do two things before our universe evolves tonight:
    First and foremost we are tasked with visualizing success, which is akin to prayer.
    Secondarily, I find it helpful to alieviate the insufferable anxiety by wracking my brain for the upside of an upset.
    1) Ticket sales may slow thier ascending prices and availabiltiy for 2012 may improve.
    2) St. Loius citizens are also in the US and should not be demonized.
    3) A series with the Brewers (most likely) would be fun no matter what.
    4) Our lives will be returned to us a little sooner than later, increasing productivity, job security and perhaps household harmony (relief of angst, return to chores). Can’t wait to do the dishes and tend the lawn, etc. Anybody got anything else?

  • Posts: 0 Scott in D.C.

    Carpenter is on regular rest, but there was nothing regular about the laborious three innings he threw on Sunday. Could be a carryover effect…

  • Posts: 0 Mazinman

    Scoring first will be huge in this game. In the Cards score first we will all start going into panic mode and the crowd will get silent. If they can get an early 3 run lead we might not be able to overcome that. This series has proven that just because they score first does not mean the Phillies will win but getting an early lead will definitely help everyone relax.

    At the end of the day, however, it is all in the hands of the good doctor and I trust those hands more than any other.

  • Posts: 120 Jay aka Phillyboy

    Avatar of Jay aka Phillyboy

    We will win…..BOOK IT!

  • Posts: 14 Lyndanne

    Avatar of Lyndanne

    I feel better now listening to others be nervous.

    I am actually a bigger flyers fan than Phillies but am a Homer all the way… I watch every phillies game on TV and make it to 8 or 9 a year hopefully one away… Flyers I go to 15 – 20 games a year and watch every game on TV… So I’m living under the hope that when Halliday pitched his perfect game the flyers were in the playoffs.. the flyers beat the bruins last night and Halliday is going to be on tonight!! I know it’s irrational I know there is no logic but after my stomach and need for new hair dye during game 3 I’m living and hoping this will be a blow out with Phillies winning by 5 (Coburn’s number)

  • Posts: 77 branderson925

    Avatar of branderson925

    If they’re better when you don’t watch, then don’t watch.

    That way you can’t write another crappy article about it.

    Hahaha. JK man


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