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Team Clark
03-09-2007, 05:08 PM
There is a very good discussion taking place on another thread about Character and Chemistry and if/how it plays into a team's win/loss record. The thread is about the Reds youth and I would like to keep these two discussions separate if at all possible.

Redszone has always been an excellent forum for discussion on these types of subjective issues. It was pointed out in that thread that my definition of chemistry and your definition of chemistry may be entirely different. In that case, our expectations of the impact of chemistry on a team can be significantly different. Makes sense to me. :thumbup: There has been discussion to some degree on this issue before. IIRC, some like me, thought it was very important but does not always equal a championship. Others were of the opinion that chemistry played no role and pointed to the 70's A's. Although I believe the 70's A's did have chemistry just not what you may read about in the heroes tales of yester year.

The question I pose to those who wish to offer their opinion is this: How do YOU define Team Chemistry and do you believe positive team chemistry equates to wins? If you care to elaborate I am all ears. MANY on this board have shown me vastly different ways to view statistics, subjects, etc... I really would love to hear your take on this.

rotnoid
03-09-2007, 05:38 PM
As important as chemistry can seem, from time to time (see the "We Are Family" Pirates), all in all, talent wins baseball games. A group of guys can be the best of friends, but if they're no good, they're no good. The real question, I think, is does chemistry beget winning, or does winning beget chemistry?

BubbaFan
03-09-2007, 05:42 PM
I'll bite.

I do think chemistry matters. However, I don't believe chemistry means the players all love each other. Or that chemistry is some mystical thing that can't be intentionally created.

To me, chemistry is knowing your teammates well enough to work well with them...even if you don't like all of them.

I think poor chemistry did in the Yankees the past couple of years. I'll use 2005 as an example. Injuries put a revolving door on the clubhouse. IMO, that, along with Torre's aversion to using young players, resulted in the Yankees losing in the ALDS.

Randy Johnson, the Yanks' supposed ace, and Jorge Posada, their catcher, could not work together. Jorgie later said it was because he had over 20 different pitchers to work with that season, and he simply did not have time to give Johnson the attention he needed. Torre used Flaherty to catch Johnson, saying it would give him a chance to rest Posada. But Flaherty was a dead weight in the lineup compared to Posada. And then having to sit Posada in the postseason when Johnson was pitching...ugh.

Then there was the outfield situation. Torre only trusts veterans, so he kept trotting out the likes of Matt Lawton, Tony Womack, and Ruben Sierra. Womack wasn't even an outfielder, but Torre put him in the outfield 65 times. That year, the division race was so close that every game in September was like a playoff game. In desperation, Torre finally put Bubba in as a starter, because no one else was doing anything, on offense or defense.

With the regular playing time, Bubba came through, well enough to get the post-season start. But Sheff, who had been out most of September, wasn't used to his speed and aggressiveness. That resulted in a collision in center-right. IMO, it was Bubba's ball. He was the CFer, and the much better fielder. He was set up under the ball. Sheff ran into him. And the ball bounced off Sheff's wrist before he even came in contact with Bubba.

I think if they'd played together more often, Sheff would have at least looked for Bubba. But he was used to Bernie, and Bernie would never have gotten there.

That collision cost the Yanks the game and the series, and ended their post-season. And IMO, it wouldn't have happened if they'd played together more often.

Chip R
03-09-2007, 05:46 PM
That collision cost the Yanks the game and the series, and ended their post-season. And IMO, it wouldn't have happened if they'd played together more often.


So basically what you're saying is that it was Bubba's fault the Yankees tanked last year? ;)

M2
03-09-2007, 05:50 PM
To me, chemistry is knowing your teammates well enough to work well with them...even if you don't like all of them.

I think that's a big part of it.

When Minnesota finally bust out of its losing ways earlier this decade a big part of the reason why is because the team had finally played together enough to jell. I really like the talent in Milwaukee and thought that club might step up last year, but injuries and an inability to work as a unit caused them to backslide. If they come together, watch out.

I'll add what I said about "chemistry" in the other thread:


My take is that culture is more important than "chemistry," which is code for "things are going generally right for the ballclub." I'm a strong believer in a team developing a positive culture in which players understand expectations and are given the right instruction to help them reach those expectations. I also think a team culture can embrace a never-say-die attitude, which is an unadulterated good thing. In fact, that last one is something, IMO, that helped make the Reds an early season contender in seasons like 2002, 2003 and 2004. The Reds had some bad teams that played hard (if sloppy).

Mind you, this is all separate from a player's individual character, which I think everyone agrees can play a huge role in how well player realizes his talents.

Red Leader
03-09-2007, 05:54 PM
I might have to shoot Boss a PM and have him change my user name to Team Chemistry. That's kewwwl.

BubbaFan
03-09-2007, 05:58 PM
So basically what you're saying is that it was Bubba's fault the Yankees tanked last year? ;)

:P No. Though some Yankees fans do. Since Sheff's the big name star, it can't be his fault, right?

They may not even have made it to the post-season without Bubba. The division race ended in a tie, and Bubba won at least one game almost single-handedly, going 3 for 4, scoring two of the Yanks' three runs (including a walkoff homer), and helping get the other run in.

I can't help thinking that if Torre had given Bubba those 65 games he gave Womack in the outfield, things might have ended very differently. The division race came down the last day of the season, which meant the team was exhausted, and Torre could not set up his rotation. Bubba outhit Womack easily, and would have saved some games with his glove, too. That would have made a big difference, given how the season turned out.

BRM
03-09-2007, 06:04 PM
Bubba outhit Womack easily, and would have saved some games with his glove, too. That would have made a big difference, given how the season turned out.

Well, claiming Bubba outhit Womack is definitely damning him with faint praise. Neither player hit much in 2005 but Bubba did indeed "outhit" Womack. Bubba OPS'ed .630 to Tony's .556.

jimbo
03-09-2007, 06:12 PM
I think team chemistry is important to any team. I don't consider it more or less important than any other piece of the puzzle when it comes to team success, but I think it's a vital component.

To me, team chemistry first and foremost involves a group of players who share a common goal. You don't have to be best friends with each other or hang out with each other outside of the clubhouse, but you have to have a level of respect for your teammates. I think if you mix in players into a team who value personal goals over team goals for example, it becomes a problem.

I always think back to my senior year high school team when I think of this topic. We had a tremendous group of talent, but we also had a group of players who never really took our team goals very seriously. Our talent alone allowed us to breeze through the regular season with only one loss. We had an all-state pitcher and some big sticks. In the divisional finals, we played a team that when considering everything, we had no business losing to. The unfortunate part was that a group of of players (including the pitcher) went out the night before and got wasted, even though we had a 11 am game the next morning. Our all-state pitcher had his worst game of the year, and it was obvious the other guilty players were not at their "best." Suffice to say, we lost. I to this day feel that the lack of "team chemistry" we had on our team prevented us from going deep into the tournament. We all did not share the same goals.

BubbaFan
03-09-2007, 06:23 PM
Well, claiming Bubba outhit Womack is definitely damning him with faint praise. Neither player hit much in 2005 but Bubba did indeed "outhit" Womack. Bubba OPS'ed .630 to Tony's .556.

Bubba would have hit better with regular playing time. Look at his September 2005 stats, when he finally got a chance to play regularly. And he was light-years better than Womack on D.

IMO, that's something that always comes back to bite Torre. He says pitching and defense wins championships, but it's only lip service. Yes, Bernie Williams may score three runs for you...but if he gives up four or five with his glove, he's still a liability.

Johnny Footstool
03-09-2007, 06:23 PM
Chemistry...meh. Team physics are more important.

The Reds had great team chemistry when Sean Casey, Aaron Boone, Dunn, Griffey, and Kearns were around in the early 00's. But all that chemistry couldn't conjure up a decent pitching staff.

Chemistry is useless without talent (which is innate), confidence (which springs from getting positive results), and luck (things beyond your control).

vaticanplum
03-09-2007, 06:45 PM
Chemistry...meh. Team physics are more important.

The Reds had great team chemistry when Sean Casey, Aaron Boone, Dunn, Griffey, and Kearns were around in the early 00's. But all that chemistry couldn't conjure up a decent pitching staff.

Chemistry is useless without talent (which is innate), confidence (which springs from getting positive results), and luck (things beyond your control).

I agree with what you say, but I think you then have to flip the coin.

Chemistry can't save an untalented team. But a lack of chemistry can severely hamper a talented one.

texasdave
03-09-2007, 06:55 PM
I think team chemistry is important because there are very few teams that can crush every other team talent-wise. That type of team does not come around very often. The talent gap between the top and bottom teams may be unbridgable by chemistry alone. But the talent-level among contending teams is often-times negligible. I believe that is where team chemistry can really make a difference and push a team to the top.

Eric_Davis
03-09-2007, 07:20 PM
As important as chemistry can seem, from time to time (see the "We Are Family" Pirates), all in all, talent wins baseball games. A group of guys can be the best of friends, but if they're no good, they're no good. The real question, I think, is does chemistry beget winning, or does winning beget chemistry?


He who snorts together wins together.

Johnny Footstool
03-11-2007, 12:11 AM
Chemistry is nothing more than a combination of confidence and good luck. If good things keep happening, then "chemistry" is great. When things go bad, suddenly "chemistry" disappears.

The Anaheim Angels are a great example. During their World Series run in 2002, all you heard about was how they had mediocre talent and a lot of chemistry. Then in 2003, with virtually the same roster, they went into the tank. Did the chemistry go sour, or did their luck just run out? Then 2004 rolls around, they bring in Vlad Guerrero, Jose Guillen, Bartolo Colon, and Kelvim Escobar and return to the top, and once again you hear about their great team chemistry. Then Jose Guillen takes a whiz on Mike Sciocia's desk and you realize that maybe team chemistry isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

If chemistry so fickle -- here one minute, gone the next -- then it doesn't make sense to worry about it. Instead, focus on the things you can control -- namely the talent level on your team.

edabbs44
03-11-2007, 12:27 AM
Chemistry in baseball doesn't mean as much as it does in football or hoops

Johnny Footstool
03-11-2007, 12:29 AM
Chemistry in baseball doesn't mean as much as it does in football or hoops

Or hockey, soccer, volleyball, or any number of sports that rely more heavily on team interaction than baseball.

Good point, ed.

Cedric
03-11-2007, 12:35 AM
Well if you can't slap a pretty number on it than it doesn't exist.

That's just my take though.

RedsManRick
03-11-2007, 12:39 AM
Rather than go on for paragraphs on end as I am wont to do, I'll just say:

Chemistry is wanting your teammates to do well.

IslandRed
03-11-2007, 12:39 AM
Which leads to the point upthread -- maybe the place where it truly matters is pitcher-catcher interaction.

Otherwise, I tend to agree with most of the posts here. Chemistry, to me, means the players work well together and are focused on winning rather than themselves. A good example in another sport is Manning and Harrison of the Colts. By most accounts they hardly even speak off the field. But between the lines? As good as it gets, with the bond being formed by hard work and the common cause.

Falls City Beer
03-11-2007, 12:46 AM
My guess is that the vast majority of clubhouses the vast majority of the time are pretty harmonious places--bunch of rich dudes playing a ball game for 6 months out of the year, chasing tail and getting drunk after the game night after night. Terrible life.

I'd wager that "good chemistry" depends upon whether or not there are too few or too many players who care about winning.

Yachtzee
03-11-2007, 12:49 AM
I might have to shoot Boss a PM and have him change my user name to Team Chemistry. That's kewwwl.

You can have the user name if I can have my new sig.

Dracodave
03-11-2007, 12:51 AM
I think there are two kinds of team chemistry.

The first easier to see side of team chemistry is the friendship level, getting along and playing well as team. (See David Wright and Jose Reyes. Bronson Arroyo and David Ross, etc.) This is the side we saw with Casey, Kearns etc that has already been said.

The second one is abit more difficult to see, it's the blending of talent levels. It's the "talent chemistry", it's knowing you have to utilize your talent to help win games. It's the side of the coin that rarely gets spoken about. That chemistry level on a talented/talentless team that leads them to the top.

Dracodave
03-11-2007, 12:54 AM
My guess is that the vast majority of clubhouses the vast majority of the time are pretty harmonious places--bunch of rich dudes playing a ball game for 6 months out of the year, chasing tail and getting drunk after the game night after night. Terrible life.


The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.
-Hunter S Thompson.

Yachtzee
03-11-2007, 01:12 AM
I think that having a good clubhouse atmosphere helps teams succeed. There are probably certain players out there who have a certain ability to motivate their teammates and help them take their play to the next level. However, I do think that sometimes the team chemistry issue misused by media types to praise a team that does better than expected and to criticize a talented team that fails to win the World Series. Rather than just say, "Hey, I didn't think these guys were going to do that great, but they've really proved me wrong," it seems like the fall-back position is, "they've really been able to raise their level of play because they've got great chemistry." Likewise, for a good team that fails, like the Yankees for example, there's a tendency to say that they failed because they lacked team chemistry rather than just say that they got beat in a short series by a hot team. I can only wonder what players think when they hear writers and commentators referring to their "team chemistry."

It would be interesting to see if, prior to 1975, sportswriters talked about the BRM not winning it all because of the egos of Rose, Bench, Morgan, and Perez and that the team lacked chemistry.

RedsBaron
03-11-2007, 07:27 AM
I think that having a good clubhouse atmosphere helps teams succeed. There are probably certain players out there who have a certain ability to motivate their teammates and help them take their play to the next level. However, I do think that sometimes the team chemistry issue misused by media types to praise a team that does better than expected and to criticize a talented team that fails to win the World Series. Rather than just say, "Hey, I didn't think these guys were going to do that great, but they've really proved me wrong," it seems like the fall-back position is, "they've really been able to raise their level of play because they've got great chemistry." Likewise, for a good team that fails, like the Yankees for example, there's a tendency to say that they failed because they lacked team chemistry rather than just say that they got beat in a short series by a hot team. I can only wonder what players think when they hear writers and commentators referring to their "team chemistry."

It would be interesting to see if, prior to 1975, sportswriters talked about the BRM not winning it all because of the egos of Rose, Bench, Morgan, and Perez and that the team lacked chemistry.

Good points, but I do not recall any articles about the BRM along the lines of your speculation. Even prior to 1975 the media at least wrote that the Reds had great chemistry. I do not know what they may have been saying in private.

BubbaFan
03-11-2007, 08:11 AM
In the case of the Yankees, at least right now, I think chemistry is a legitimate issue. In particular...A-Rod. Another player might not care if no one on the team likes him and the fans boo him. But A-Rod cares. It gets into his head and affects his game.

The Yankees were looking for a right-handed first baseman in the off-season. They signed lefty Doug Mientkiewicz instead, and I suspect one of the reasons is he's a boyhood friend of A-Rod's. The saddest part about that SI article last season was the part where they asked A-Rod who his friends in the clubhouse were, and he struggled to name anyone. Now he has Minky.

mth123
03-11-2007, 08:43 AM
Chemistry can't save an untalented team. But a lack of chemistry can severely hamper a talented one.

I think that the line above is the line of the thread.

These guys are together from mid-February until October and spend time together on the road, in the clubhouse and in the locker-room in addition to on the field. I would imagine spending so much time together could get a little draining and really drag the team down if they all hate each other. But I don't think being all happy all the time will elevate a team that doesn't have the talent.

I do believe that a team can get too comfortable with losing and some leadership is needed to keep in everyone's mind that it is not acceptable. Its easy to get comfortable when you are as FCB said:



bunch of rich dudes playing a ball game for 6 months out of the year, chasing tail and getting drunk after the game night after night.

This element of chemistry is probably more important than guys being best buddies IMO. Actually being too close can probably lead you into this "too comfortable" path.

So I suppose that I think that as long as a team falls somewhere on the spectrum between a tense acrimonious atmosphere and a "screwing around too much to care" atmosphere that chemistry probably isn't that important and only becomes a factor when it reaches one of the extremes.

Team Clark
03-11-2007, 01:34 PM
I think that the line above is the line of the thread.

These guys are together from mid-February until October and spend time together on the road, in the clubhouse and in the locker-room in addition to on the field. I would imagine spending so much time together could get a little draining and really drag the team down if they all hate each other. But I don't think being all happy all the time will elevate a team that doesn't have the talent.

This reminds me of Lou Piniella's famous ST speech. He demanded that they win and helped put a team on the field that played together. Billy Hatcher was one of the guys that really brought the team together.

I heard a quote yesterday that I thought was paramount: "You only get what you insist on". Pretty interesting.

Strikes Out Looking
03-11-2007, 05:29 PM
I believe Barry Bonds is all about chemistry--not just team chemistry.

I don't think team chemistry means everyone has to like each other. I think it means that the team is focused on its purpose and acts as one. It's awful hard for a group of 25 to all like each other--think about your time in school or work, or other situations. I've never liked everyone I've worked with, served on boards with or gone to school with. But whenever a group I've done something with has been focused, it has been successful--and its usually focused when there are people on it that get things done. For instance, there is a leader who may call the shots, a worker who gets things done, and someone who breaks the groups tension. I would bet you all successful baseball teams have those elements.

Now, some teams with those things may not win the WS or even get to the playoffs because they don't have enough talent. But that isn't to say they didn't have great team chemistry.

Just my two cents....

Johnny Footstool
03-12-2007, 11:48 AM
Which leads to the point upthread -- maybe the place where it truly matters is pitcher-catcher interaction.



That, and the middle infielders. No one else really interacts that much on the field.

Focusing on a purpose and acting as one is great, but really, how do baseball players "interact" in a game?

On defense, you've got the pitcher-catcher battery and the DP combo.

On offense, you can take pitches to allow a speedy guy to steal, and you can hit behind the runner. Both are pretty minor events in terms of scoring runs. In the end, it still comes down to one guy hitting the ball at the right time.

Baseball players don't run timing patterns, or rely on safety help on a corner blitz. They don't set up a dribble-drive kick-out to a shooter coming off a screen, or throw up a box-and-one zone. Those things require chemistry.

TRF
03-12-2007, 12:31 PM
Johnny, I'll take that a step further.

I think "Team Chemistry" is overrated, but in the micro, the chemistry between the infielders; 2B, SS, 3B is very important. The chemistry between pitchers and catchers is important. The chemistry between the OF's is important. The chemistry between coaches and players is important.

But the OF's getting along with the bullpen? who cares?

And I don't care if anyone gets along, as long as they instinctively know where their teammates are during a play. Getting along is a bonus, and I think overall most clubhouses get along. There is always that guy that's a jerk. Who cares? As long as he does his job, I certainly don't. I'm sure the other players would rather he weren't a jerk, but if he does his job, I doubt anyone loses sleep over it.

Now the one place where chemistry is vital, it's the team chemistry with the manager. Players will tank for a bad manager. Maybe not consciously, but it will happen.

MikeS21
03-12-2007, 01:13 PM
To step away from baseball for a moment, I do know that many corporations spend mucho dollars on building "teamwork" among employees. I have a friend who used to work for GM and his primary task was building this "teamwork."

It has been my observation that no one really gives a hoot about team chemistry as long as the team is winning. We hear about little incidents here and there, but if the team is winning, for the most part, unless it is extremely outrageous, the media downplays it and it gets winked at. But problems tend to get magnified when losses begin to pile up. Losing breeds frustration. Frustraion tends to bring out the worst in people. Things get said that normally wouldn't get said. Players become much less likely to "take one for the team." On a winning team, a scuffle between players is laughed off as competitiveness. On a losing team, a scuffle between players is magnified into a situation that suggests that the coach/manager has lost control and needs to be replaced. And, winning teams require very few closed door meetings where players can air out their frustrations.

I am a firm believer that winning cures a lot of team chemistry problems.

westofyou
03-12-2007, 01:17 PM
Sparky on Larry Shepard:


“In the nine years I was with him, he literally kept the pitching staff away from me and they hated me.”