It’s been a debate in sports for years.
Does team chemistry matter? Does having a group of players that genuinely like each other help win games or is it an idea created by the media/fans to explain a team that is exceeding expectations? What comes first, winning or chemistry?
Jake Peavy thinks it is important and says the White Sox have great chemistry. The righty was on the Hit and Run show on the Score on Sunday and talked about how this group likes being around each other and is a big reason why the Sox are in first place.
Peavy mentioned he would have a group of seven or eight guys in his suite to watch Sunday Night Baseball before the Baltimore series and said he was having more fun than he ever has before. He referenced Kevin Youkilis apologizing to Jose Quintana about not getting to a ball that would have given him a quality start and a chance at a win. Peavy said this was a tight knit group who were all pulling for each other.
It’s a debate because team chemistry is not quantifiable. There is no formula for how a team full of guys who like each other perform. In this day and age of sabermetrics, some people have to have a number for something to be “real”. They will tell you if it can’t be measured in the stat book then isn’t a factor.
I am a bit of a stat guy. I think there is a lot of times in baseball where people make things up because of perception when it isn’t real. Sox fans have lamented for years that if another team throws a guy that they have never seen before the Sox would have no chance, but in reality they fair just about as well as any other team in the same position. Whatever the case may be, in today’s game there is usually numbers to back up a claim.
But not with chemistry. There is no Pythagorean Theorem to indicate how team chemistry affects the standings. And that’s OK. Not everything needs to be plugged into a calculator. I believe in chemistry. I think a team that is enjoys being around each other will perform better than an equal counterpart that does not. It’s only natural for people that like each other to do their job better than an environment where they don’t.
It may not be the reason Alex Rios and Adam Dunn are bouncing back this season, but something is different about this White Sox team in 2012. Whether it was simply moving on from Ozzie Guillen, the culture has changed this season for the better. Did Robin Ventura create that? I have no idea, but things are different this year. It’s not just Peavy either, plenty of guys on this team will make mention of this being a great clubhouse. Whether it is Dunn being a goof in the locker room or Gordon Beckham doing a Peavy impersonation, this is a loose group who want to play for one another.
That doesn’t mean teams that don’t have great chemistry can’t win. Obviously sometimes talent wins over anything, but when all things are close to equal, chemistry is real and can be an important factor. Jake Peavy and the White Sox have it. Is it going to be the reason they hold off the Tigers? That can’t be answered, but I will trust the guys in the clubhouse who say they believe in one another.
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