The Rundown: Importance (?) of Team Chemistry, Roy Halladay’s Passing, Yadi Molina Conspiracy

If there is one thing the last three World Series champions have in common it is arguably team chemistry. Being a bit older, I’ve heard about the importance of team chemistry going back to the early 1970’s Oakland Athletics, but it goes back much further than that. Though not quantifiable, is it necessary to win?

The New York Yankees had a divided clubhouse from 1927-32 because Babe Ruth didn’t like Lou Gehrig, but that didn’t stop them from winning championships in 1927, ’28, and ’32. Likewise, the 70’s version of the Yankees, aka “The Bronx Zoo,” had little (if any) chemistry as they cruised to championships in 1977 and ’78. I mean, Billy Martin refused to talk to some of his own players.

Most analytics guys will tell you that team chemistry means nothing. Their argument is that if a team is winning, the players will get along and if a team is losing, there’s no chemistry. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg issue, but winning will usually beget chemistry. I cannot dismiss that notion completely.

“I think production ultimately creates chemistry,” said A’s GM Billy Beane, the godfather of modern baseball analytics, in 2014.

But the Royals, Cubs, and Astros seemed to have had that spark during the formative years leading up to their championships. For each of those teams, their core groups had played together for years going all the way back to Class-A baseball. Going through the trials and tribulations of learning the nuances of the game likely played a key role in developing those bonds. Indeed, all three teams championed an “us against the world” attitude in their ascensions to the crown.

Two teams sure to exhibit that attitude next season will be the Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Indians. Of course, they’re already very good teams. Cleveland was stunned in the ALDS by the Yankees this year and the BBWAA has made it clear that the 2017 Rockies simply didn’t matter. Those incidents will surely stoke the teams’ respective fires.The Dodgers may be motivated in 2018, though that clubhouse doesn’t seem to have a similar mentality.

Maybe the Cubs lost a little of their mojo when David Ross retired. Yesterday, Evan talked about a potential trade of Jason Heyward to the San Francisco Giants. Heyward is one of the team’s clubhouse leaders. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see the Cubs lose some of the obligation of that contract, but you can’t underestimate the value of the $184M pep talk that allegedly played a big part in the Cubs first championship since 1908. Though not quantifiable, that is arguably the best check the Cubs have ever endorsed.

Roy Halladay Dies In Plane Crash

I’m sure you’ve all heard the terrible news about Roy Halladay by now. The two-time Cy Young Award winner was a model of hard work and a true throwback to previous generations of baseball. Halladay, an eight-time All-Star who went 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA in his 16-year career with the Blue Jays and Phillies, became only the second pitcher to throw a postseason no-hitter in 2010.

Halladay was 40 years old.

Tuesday Stove

Velcro-Gate: Yadier Molina makes the list of baseball’s all-time biggest conspiracies.  Here’s the clip from Wrigley of the time Yadi had a baseball bounce up and stick to his chest protector.

Gold Gloves were handed out yesterday. Jason Heyward earned his fifth overall (and fourth straight) and was the lone Cubs winner. 

Phil Rogers lists the ten players who had breakout seasons in 2017. 

Tyler Chatwood and Trevor Cahill could be poised for breakout seasons in 2018. I’d include Yoan Moncada of the Chicago White Sox as a potential breakout candidate next season too.

The Baltimore Orioles have interest in Andrew Cashner and Jason Vargas. 

The Yankees’ search for a new manager continues. General manager Brian Cashman is looking for a “fresh voice to lead the team. 

A study shows that MLB batters prefer hip-hop walk up songs while relief pitchers prefer to enter the game accompanied by classic rock music. Though definitely not quantifiable,you’ll likely see more success as a hitter as a hitter with something by Taylor Swift (Anthony Rizzo, Bryce Harper).

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Welcome to Jamrock by Damian Marley

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