On Tuesday, Peter Botte of the The Daily News had some quotes from Darryl Strawberry regarding the Mets offseason and whether he felt they could do more, and while his remarks set off a mild ripple effect in the Mets blogosphere, Steve Popper of The Record tells us that there’s even more to the story.
Strawberry didn’t mince words while describing the Mets apparent lack of toughness and chemistry.
“Teams come over here and drill hitters and stuff like that, and you don’t do nothing, you don’t retaliate? We (86 Mets) didn’t allow that to happen. They have the capability. It’s just a matter of, ‘Are we confident enough? Do we believe in ourselves?’ Because, when you look across town, those boys over there…they play together, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about individual stats. It’s about team effort.’’
Kudos to Strawberry for telling it like it is and not holding back. He could have easily punted, but instead he nailed a 55 yard field goal.
Speaking of chemistry, former Mets outfielder Cliff Floyd, had plenty to say about the subject while a guest on WFAN and went so far as saying that the current Mets have none. Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog has a nice recap of the interview and transcribes the following,
“I think they’re missing chemistry. These guys are just not coming together… I have some friends there who say it is just not a good mix… It’s not a good locker room… I mean, you need that… It should never be that way. Having played this long, having been on winning teams, losing teams, no matter what you say about chemistry you need guys on the same page. They need to believe in what they’re trying to do day in and day out, and if you don’t have that you’re gonna find yourself in the situation the Mets have been in, and it’s a shame because their teams have been good enough to go to the World Series.”
Here’s the thing about team chemistry, it’s real.
I hear and read all the long-winded rants whenever a player talks about chemistry. I’m fully aware of the many baseball fans that not only downplay it, but say there’s no such thing. For some, the mere mention of the word will incite a tirade of epic proportions.
Here’s the thing though… If the players themselves believe in chemistry who are all these self professed intellects to say that “chemistry” is not real?
I recently read a great piece on the subject of team chemistry by Patrick Dobel,
“Chemistry” presents a good metaphor because it suggests that players react to each other. Chemistry depends upon relations and reactions can, break or diffuse bonds among team members. Reactions can explode, go passive or create dynamic equilibriums. Reactions can disrupt and disorganize a system or bring it coherence and new levels. Relations altered by chemistry can form strong or negative bond, push people apart or bring them together into coherent entities. We’ve all experienced teams that fall apart with players recriminating and blaming each other; teams that lose heart, go inert and players “go through the motions.” We’ve also experienced teams where players challenge each other to perform to their highest levels; where struggling or injured players get help and support from each other; where team bonds and relations help players accept roles and perform with competence while supporting and rooting for their starting teammates even as they compete with them.
It amazes me how so many can speak out against something so emphatically, when they themselves have never even experienced what guys like Vladimir Guerrero, Chase Utley, Paul O’Neill and Darryl Strawberry have in their careers?
Why take the side of a couch potato or desk jockey over players who have reached the absolute pinnacle of baseball achievement and won a World Series?
Good chemistry builds resilience into a team. No plan survives contact with reality. The best put together teams encounter injuries, accidents, off field distractions and tragedies. They go through slumps and sometimes fall apart or have “one of those days” where nothing goes right. Emotional resilience involves the capacity for members of a team to sustain each other through the insults of time and season. It means that players do not go rogue or solo or give up under the stress of losing or injury. This resilience enables players to still believe in themselves and their talents and to bounce back from setbacks. This resilience depends heavily upon the leadership and example of emotional leaders and experienced players or coaches who have lived through it and can offer the hope that this will end.
Do yourselves a favor my friends… If you want to learn about the game and all its wonderful and intricate nuances, watch the games with eyes wide open, listen to the sounds of the game and especially what the players have to say. You can’t get that stuff out of $10 dollar paperback.
Oh and please spare me the “winning breeds chemistry” line… A bad clubhouse is still a bad clubhouse win or lose…. From 1997 to 2004, the San Francisco Giants came in first or second place eight times in eight years and went to four post seasons including a trip to the World Series. It was well documented that throughout that run it was a cantankerous clubhouse with much in-fighting among the players. (Aurilia, Bonds, Kent, Snow, Beck)
Good job by Cliff Floyd and Darryl Strawberry for stating the obvious fact that the Mets have lacked chemistry. The Mets have had the most talent laden team in the National League since 2007 and all they have to show for it is two chokes and a joke. They don’t lack quality players, just the chemistry that would enable them to cohesively and collectively achieve their maximum potential.
Luckily, the additions of Jason Bay, Henry Blanco and Frank Catalanotto, coupled with a full season of Jeff Francoeur, can help to change the dynamic of the clubhouse this year. Of course, another arm in the rotation would do wonders as well.