From Paul White in USA Today, a story about teams wanting good chemistry. To the point where, just maybe, they’re willing to sacrifice production to get it. Whatever “it” is:
The code words for this quality can vary by clubhouse.
Indians manager Terry Francona uses “atmosphere” to describe what he wants Giambi to help establish. The Arizona Diamondbacks re-made their roster this offseason and the buzzword around the team is “grit.”
It also goes by “chemistry” and “culture.” And it’s sought by organizations as varied as the Tampa Bay Rays, who see their no-rules clubhouse as a crucial piece of their formula , and the New York Yankees, who depend on the Derek Jeter and others to foster nearly a century of tradition the franchise values as a distinct advantage.
Whatever “it’ is requires an all-in approach from clubhouse inhabitants.
I don’t quibble at all with the notion that, all things being equal, people work better in good environments with people they like than they would in a bad environment with those people. All things aren’t equal, of course, and even though no one is claiming you can quantify that good team mojo, I hope that everyone would agree that a significant talent discrepancy between clubs with bad and good chemistry is more than made up for with the talent.
I think this article itself bears that out, using as it does Jason Giambi’s travels as an example. He played for winning teams in Oakland, which had no rules in the clubhouse and “a frat house atmosphere.” He played for winning teams in New York that were all business and no nonsense. He played for a winning Colorado team that likely fell in between. So too is it the case across baseball. There have probably been just as many “25 players/25 cabs” kinds of teams that have won as there have been teams with “good chemistry,” however that’s defined.
None of which means that wanting that good chemistry is wrong. Jeez, think about anywhere you’ve ever worked and ask yourself whether you would have preferred it if everyone got along really well. It’s just that I think, always and forever, there will be a much stronger correlation between teams with talent and winning than there will be with teams with “good chemistry” and winning, and that’s the case no matter how defines that term.