During the Phillies Caravan stop in Reading on Wednesday, Aaron Rowand spoke about his experience with team chemistry on the World Champion White Sox. A lot of what he talked about reminded me of the Phillies clubhouse during the ’93 team.
”I think when you see a lot of guys staying after, hanging out, whether it be working out or sitting in the hot tub, hanging out off the field, I think a lot of the bonding and camaraderie you get as a team comes from times like that."
I’m sure you’ve heard Dykstra and Krukker remenice about the cans of beer and overflowing spittoons that riddled the clubhouse after post game sessions in 1993. With the amount of young players on this year’s team hopefully they will be looking to learn more about the game and thus have the potential to adopt this useful practice. Who exactly will be giving the lessons however is another question. It could be mostly Rowand unless Bell or Abreu start becoming active. Very few Phillies players have significant, if any, playoff experience. It will be interesting to see how Abraham Nunez fits in knowing he is on contract for at least 2 years. Though as we noted last week, some players are looking for Jimmy Rollins to step up and be a leader in the clubouse.
Elsewhere recently we’ve seen the team bonding issue come up, this time straight from the mouth of a ’93 Phil. In Bill Simmons’ interview with Curt Schilling, Schill discussed the team approach in the context of Red Sox World Series in 2004. Keep in mind he’s been a part of three different teams which went to the World Series, and won it twice.
Simmons: How would you approach it if you ran a baseball team — would you keep tinkering and tinkering to find the perfect team on paper, or would you value chemistry and continuity over everything else?
Schilling: They go together. Chemistry starts from Day One in spring training, which is where I think Tito [Francona] has an enormous impact, but it never truly develops until you win and win often.
That brings up a good point, one which is used by people who think team chemistry is overrated. In most cases, a team will naturally gel together if they are winning. And even if they hate each other and they are winning, the media and fans will think there is good chemistry or just not care. The current Phils squad parties together and generally gets along well, but that certainly does not mean that winning will come much easier.