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      • Are you gellin'?

        Do you bristle at the thought of chemistry in today's sports? When the word chemistry is thrown about, we're reduced to thinking about an extremely difficult science class in school, something preached on e-Harmony, or something Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the Joker excelled in. But not team sports. With that, we have a debate amongst figure heads and so called expert analysts and journalists waging a never ending battle on whether chemistry matters. Or it doesn't?

        Let's just assume that with such large teams, NFL and NHL, it may not matter as much. With basketball, it's essential. When Kobe and Shaq managed to get along, the Lakers were not losing in the finals. When it began melting down, they lost to the Detroit Pistons (without question one of the worst NBA champions of the last 2-3 decades). How else do you explain the frequently bore-fest Spurs winning all of those titles? Or Boston and L.A. winning the last two seasons? The chemistry oozes. I mean, Kobe thinks Pau Gasol is one of the best post players in the league. Awwwh, the overwhelming love is noted. So does it matter in baseball? Should it matter in baseball?

        We can first look at our World Series participants, the champion also known as the Evil Empire, and the runner up Phillies. Uncharacteristically, the yankees showed a lot of emotion and I think even ARod smiled during the season. Hey, everyone received a pie to the face at some point, even Sergio Mitre. The phillies? A good portion of that team developed together in the minors and now are producing all-star years on a consistent basis. Teams that were dysfunctional? The cubs were one of the biggest disappointments of 2009. Pretty sure no one likes each other on the mets. Toronto never had chemistry, as no one knew when they would be traded, when most of the team was in fact, available. For the 2-3 years before 2009, what did we think the yankees were? Besides an overpaid 1st round exist. A lifeless team with too many egos and not enough glue guys. Enter AJ Burnett and Nick Swisher. Enter a championship. Hey this things aren't coincidence. But who am I to say chemistry does or doesn't matter?

        Oh! Wait for it. Here it comes. Keep waiting... keep waiting..

        A major league baseball team has 1 manager and 25 players on the active roster, and can balloon up to 40 for September. This of course, doesn't include assistant coaches for hitting, pitching, benches, and annoying General Managers that think they're coaches. It's complex, maybe not as complex as a football team, but it's more than the average fan would expect. Again, where I am going with this? I am essentially a manager in my professional field. I am a supervisor for a mental health facility. What does this mean? I have a boss (comparable to a GM) who I have to agree with even if I don't always, another boss (assistant GM) that is much more down to earth and is closer to the front line, registered nurses, LPNs, case managers, and psychologists (your mish mash of assistant coaches), and the direct care workers which I employ (the players). I have a little over 30 employees under my watch. And our goal is to provide the best care possible.

        Guess what?

        Shit always happens, that shouldn't happen, causing a lot of difficult situations with a client. And how does this always happen? When the team is not on the same page. For example, let's compare to Milton Bradley. Bradley does his own thing, says what he wants, he's his own agenda. When I have a direct care worker who feels they follow their own set of rules and care for the client on their own terms, everything blows up. The client begins to have issues, the cohesiveness with employees falters, and ultimately I am the one that has to fix things in order to maintain the integrity of the client's needs. When it doesn't happen, who's fault is it? Mine. When a baseball team performs badly and there's ill-mannered rebels on the team, who's blamed? The manager. Which typically ends in unemployment and a future gig in coaching the Pittsburgh Pirates. For me? I have to walk down the hall and report to the principal's office, aka, my boss (the GM). It's an uneasy moment. Now this would not happen if, again, the team was on the same page. Communication is essential in my field. What happens when players don't talk to each other or coaches, shield themselves, and don't interact? Tension builds, quarrels and fights happen and wind up on Youtube or Sportscenter, coaches get the blame. Unless you're Ron Artest or Terrell Owens. Let's look at the Los Angeles Dodgers. I am purely an outsider, but let's be honest, The McCourts + Manny Ramirez has been nothing but an adventure for two seasons, that have only produced disappointing playoff runs. You could easily argue that they aren't a very good team, or have too many deficiencies to be a contender, or anything Realmofotalk suggests. But the phillies have made back to back world series appearances, and their rotation has featured Jamie Moyer, Pedro Martinez, Joe Blanton, and the Brad Lidge experiment at closer. How is that any better than some of LA's problems? Consider that Tampa Bay made the world series, and their pen featured cast offs Troy Percival, Dan Wheeler, and Grant Balfour. They extensively used defensive replacement outfielder Gabe Gross for at bats, and Carl Crawford played with one hand. The sense-odometer just broke.

        Through my experiences in my current career, I completely vouch for the importance of chemistry. It has to happen, to a certain degree. This is not a memo for everyone to become best friends who go bowling weekly. But something manageable, with no hint of hostility or distracting extremes. This means no punching out fans, racial and prejudicial outbursts that would cause Mel Gibson to blush, or a GM firing his wife and then filing for divorce. They just can't happen. I know this, I deal with it Mondays through Fridays. Except for the divorce thing. But I did have an employee quit the night I typed all of this up. She pulled an Allen Iverson, I fully expect her to sign in a few weeks to start a failed comeback. Waiting..
        This article was originally published in forum thread: Are you gellin'? started by Kingdom_of_Zito View original post