Mitch Williams: “I would rather have chemistry than talent”

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The purpose of this post is not merely to mock that silly statement from Mitch Williams. Lots of people say silly things about team chemistry and we’ve reached the point where pointing and laughing at it brings diminishing-to-the-point-of-non-existant returns.

No, it’s the run-up to that line that is worth considering:

Many people think you can build a team from a stat sheet. I don’t. I believe you have to have guys who fit together and have talent. Hence the success of the Orioles and Athletics. They ain’t even in the ballpark talent-wise with any of these teams who spent big. But none of these big-spending teams come across as having as much fun or trusting in their teammates like the O’s and A’s do.

Given the choice, I would rather have chemistry than talent.

Mitch Williams is paid to analyze baseball by a television network owned and operated by Major League Baseball. And yet he believes that the Orioles and Athletics “ain’t even in the ballpark talent-wise” with many other teams. Think about that for a minute.

Williams’ transgression isn’t his belief in team chemistry. It’s his utter inability, as a paid analyst, to recognize baseball talent in two teams — the A’s and O’s — that are absolutely loaded with it. And his apparent belief that high salaries famous names are the sine qua non of talented players.

It’s Mitch Williams’ job description to explain to MLB Network viewers how and why baseball teams win. To explain to fans who may not realize it that Players A, B and C are better than you think and Players X, Y and Z are not as good anymore as they are famous and why that is. The problem isn’t that Williams chooses to value team chemistry. Indeed, one can totally believe in the power of team chemistry if one chooses and still explain the A, B, C and X, Y Zs of it adequately. But Williams has either lazily or ignorantly chooses to make it an either/or proposition. To wave his hand and attribute success to magic while failing to see or simply choosing to ignore the baseball reasons behind successful teams.

I understand that sports networks like to employ ex-athletes, but what’s the point of having analysts who either can’t or won’t analyze? What end is being served by having a quasi-famous person actively promote ignorance on national television?

David DeJesus retires

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Outfielder David DeJesus announced his retirement from Major League Baseball on Twitter Wednesday afternoon. He’ll be joining CSN Chicago for Cubs coverage.

DeJesus, 37, spent 13 seasons in the big leagues from 2003-15 with the Royals, Athletics, Cubs, Nationals, Rays, and Angels. He hit a composite .275/.349/.512 with 99 home runs and 573 RBI across 5,916 plate appearances.

We wish the best of luck to DeJesus as he begins a new career in sports media.

Dallas Green: 1934-2017

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Former major league pitcher, manager, and front office executive Dallas Green has died at the age of 82, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports.

Green pitched for the Phillies for the first five years of his career from 1960-64, then went to the Washington Sentators, the Mets, and back to the Phillies before retiring after the ’67 season. He managed the Phillies from 1979-81, leading them to the organization’s first ever championship in ’80. The Cubs hired Green after the 1981 season to serve as executive vice president and general manager. He quit after the ’87 season. Green briefly managed the Yankees in ’89, then took the helm of the Mets from ’93-96.

Green was a controversial figure during his managing and GM days as he was not afraid to say exactly what he was thinking. He got into many conflicts with his players and coaches, but some think it helped the Phillies in the World Series in 1980. The Phillies inducted him into their Wall of Fame in 2006.