Losing clubs bicker, and you think maybe if they pulled together they would win. No. That’s not it. If they won, they would pull together. – Jim Bouton
Ahh. The annual argument of clubhouse chemistry. Which come first…the chicken or the egg? Is life like a Disney movie? If everyone is having fun, will it make them winners? I think I’m with Mr. Bouton on this one. In baseball, it just doesn’t matter.
Baseball is rather unlike other sports in that it really is a collection of individuals, as opposed to a team. Maybe defensively, there’s some give and take between teammates. Who’s covering what when? How much should one player shade to the left if another player is shading to the right? But, on offense, it’s all about the individual. If a player gets his three hits every time at bat, it doesn’t matter what’s going on around him. He just needs to play his game. If everyone is playing their game, the team is winning, and everyone is happy. If everyone isn’t playing their game, and slumping, than they’re not winning, and nobody is happy.
I’m reminded of Darryl Strawberry. I don’t remember if it was in 1998, or 1999, but he was upset about his playing time. He thought he should be playing more than he was. It’s that sort of attitude that creates bad clubhouse chemistry. But, as Strawberry himself pointed out, the team was winning. How could he complain about his playing time if the team was on a roll? So, he kept his mouth, mostly, shut. Isn’t that exactly what Bouton was talking about? The team was winning, so they pulled together. Now, if the Yankees were in last place, I bet you Strawberry would be telling everyone he could see that he should be playing more. Losing clubs bicker.
I think it’s pretty clear that winning leads to everything else. Why can Jeter inspire his teammates to play well? Because the team is winning. Why was Milton Bradley such trouble in Chicago? Because the Cubs stunk. Players do what they do, and teams win or lose. No rah-rah cheers will change that. No Grumbling will change it.
Which is why Manny should still be in a Boston uniform.