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Chemistry: 'J'Accuse'
2006-01-21 14:28
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

More from Giants-land and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle: You might not have heard it above the clang of mismatched beakers in Los Angeles, but absent chemistry has been demonized in the Bay Area as well.

... Could it be these 2006 Giants want to hang out together?

That would be a plus, because the lack of team chemistry in 2005 was an issue. Was it the biggest reason for the Giants having a losing record (75-87) for the first time in nine years? Hardly. (Barry) Bonds' five-month absence, the loss of closer Armando Benitez and an awful start by the rotation rank much higher.

Nevertheless, a lack of cohesion inside the clubhouse and on the field did not help. A month into the season, newcomer (Omar) Vizquel publicly bemoaned what he viewed as a shortage of team play. In mid-June, (Moises) Alou highlighted the off-field polarization by revealing he had not gone to dinner with a single teammate.

Management took notice, and it was no accident the new players for 2006 -- (Steve) Finley, (Matt) Morris, Tim Worrell, Mark Sweeney, Steve Kline and Jose Vizcaino -- have plenty of experience on playoff teams, reputations as solid teammates and, in some cases, the will to bust on anyone who strays from the common purpose -- winning. ...

I'm hoping Alou at least ate with his manager.

I can live with the idea that good chemistry doesn't hurt and bad chemistry doesn't help. But as far as wins and losses go, well, old friends Jose and Steve still need to be able to get a hit - and old nemesis Barry still needs to play.

By the way, did the Giants have good chemistry in 2004, when they went to the final weekend before losing the National League West? I assume that for his part, a certain ballplayer with the initials A.J.P. is laughing at the Giants right now.

Comments
2006-01-21 14:40:12
1.   Bob Timmermann
Steve Kline is a good clubhouse guy. In 2004, the Cardinals suspended him for flipping off Tony La Russa during a game from the bullpen. Then in 2005, Kline spent much of the year telling people how much he hated Baltimore and would like to be back in St. Louis.

As for Moises Alou, I would only go to dinner with him if he promised not to touch my silverware.

2006-01-21 14:41:17
2.   trainwreck
Honestly, who wants to go to dinner with a guy who pees on his hands? That is not proper dinner etiquette.
2006-01-21 14:42:31
3.   trainwreck
Aww Bob beat me to it, I should not have stalled.
2006-01-21 14:44:25
4.   Bob Timmermann
Don't use a stall, just use the urinal.
2006-01-21 14:46:18
5.   trainwreck
Dang English language.
2006-01-21 14:56:31
6.   Bob Timmermann
Now that UCLA has lost its 4th game of the season, my coworker who attended UCLA during a stretch when they lost just 3 games overall will tell me how bad the team is.
2006-01-21 14:56:42
7.   Steve
It's true that the Giants were missing chemistry, but I expect I have something different in mind.
2006-01-21 15:02:25
8.   Vishal
that was a great game. i like wvu a lot, and i'm kind of glad they won, though i'm glad it was close. i honestly think the mountaineers are a top-5-or-so team.
2006-01-21 15:13:39
9.   Andrew Shimmin
Maybe if only somebody had busted on Steve Finley, last year, he would have OPSed better than .645. Better batting through nagging. It's worth a shot.
2006-01-21 15:43:56
10.   deadteddy8
Giants fan here... I got the feeling, just from watching on-field demeanor and reading what I could, that the players knew it was a hopeless situation unless they had Bonds playing. And, with a crusty old school to a fault manager like Felipe, I'd bet all the younger guys muted their personalities in order to avoid giving the impression that they didn't care about losing. Why take the chance of going in the doghouse just because you're joking around when the team's lost three straight?
2006-01-21 15:47:15
11.   Jon Weisman
10 - Thanks for that. It sounds like the Giants needed to sign John Blutarski.
2006-01-21 20:13:37
12.   das411
11 - I've heard rumors he was born on 12/7/1941, so he would fit right in!
2006-01-21 22:00:13
13.   Robert Fiore
Remember that thing Bill James once wrote about Garry Templeton, that you have to be careful who your leaders are? That is, when your clubhouse chemistry depends on an underachieving player the advantage in morale is canceled out by the deficiencies on the field.
2006-01-21 22:23:50
14.   deadteddy8
12 - ZING! Although, seriously, the team does need someone who's crazy in a good way. Ideally, it would be the baseball equivalent of Clinton Portis, but I'd take a Kevin Millar circa 2003. I mean, poor Todd Linden absolutely rakes in the PCL, but when he's up with the big club, he hits like Hee Seop Choi after gulping a bottle of NyQuil; passive beyond belief, yet somehow managing to hack at slop at the same time. It carries over to the field, where he takes terrible routes to fly balls, but also seems to be pressing so much that he doesn't just play off instinct. He probably needs someone to poke him in the ribs and kid him about how he'll always be a AAAA player. Instead, he gets Felipe refusing to look at him when he comes in to the dugout, and Pee Hands shaking his head in disgust, and Matheny being the Quiet Professional (like Jeff Kent, only with 1/3 the offense and 1/89 the Jerk Factor), and so on and so on.

Linden
Baseball Reference - http://tinyurl.com/bbb9y
Baseball Cube - http://tinyurl.com/c3sq6

As for the Dodgers... who serves as the resident Tension Breaker? Who will make fun of Grady's accent behind his back? Who will make up witty nicknames for everyone?

--David

2006-01-21 22:39:33
15.   Curtis Lowe
14- Steve.
2006-01-22 02:38:55
16.   Uncle Miltie
Todd Linden=a less hyped Jack Cust
2006-01-22 13:12:14
17.   Scanman33
I heard Yhency is an absolute cut-up in the clubhouse.

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