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Killing Two Myths
2007-09-16 23:36
by Jon Weisman

The last thing I expected to read in the Ned Colletti cure-all era was that the Dodger clubhouse has poor chemistry, but Paul Oberjuerge of the San Bernadino Sun levies the charge:

Watch this team interact. On the field and off. Ask people who spend time with them on a daily basis. And the analysis is pretty much the same.

The Dodgers have an unhappy clubhouse.

They are a team in only one sense: They wear the same uniform. (At least until the next clubhouse-churning trade.)

The Dodgers' 2007 motto might as well be "All for one and none for all." It's every man for himself.

All you need do is spend a few hours in the dismal and dreary cellblock that is the Dodgers clubhouse to pick up the energy-sapping vibe. ...

And if they all wanted to talk about it, not that they really do, serious issues of language arise in a clubhouse where English, Spanish, Japanese and Cantonese are native tongues.

And, anyway, perhaps all they might agree on is this: They have little respect for management.

Oberjuerge moves on from this to question whether team chemistry actually leads to more victories, which of course, is eminently worth questioning. It's one of the oldest axioms of Dodger Thoughts: Winning breeds chemistry.

Despite Colletti's reputation for emphasizing chemistry and character, we've all seen him bring in players who strike you as something less than Mother Theresa - yet, he's gotten about a hundredth of the attention in this area that his predecessor received. Still, I can't say I'm not surprised by the piece - a pretty broad broadside it be. Widespread animus, widespread disrespect for the bosses? We'll see if denials or confirmations follow.

Update: Diamond Leung of the Press-Enterprise disagrees with the notion that the Dodger clubhouse is unhappy:

A recent article claiming the Dodgers have an unhappy clubhouse has come to my attention. That same article also claims that Cantonese is one of the numerous languages spoken in that unhappy clubhouse. Since I'm the only Cantonese speaker in that unhappy clubhouse, I wonder if I've said something to myself out loud that would lead someone to believe that the clubhouse would be unhappy. Probably not because I don't believe it to be true. Then again, what do I know? I'm a writer who actually walks through that unhappy clubhouse and talks to the players nearly every day.

I hear Spanish-speaking players unhappily joking around with English-speaking players. Some of them even speak both languages! I see Mandarin-speaking Taiwanese players unhappily playing cards and speaking English with Dominican players and American players. I've seen a Japanese closer communicate through the universal language of showing off a sword. I've seen Spanish-speaking players try their hand at the Japanese puzzle Sudoku.

* * *

Meanwhile, Sam Anderson in New York Magazine has had enough of Brooklynites mourning the departure of the Dodgers to Los Angeles:

The story of the Brooklyn Dodgers is very likely the most mythologized nostalgia bath in the entire 400-year history of New York. The official version—a legend you've probably fallen asleep to during late-night documentaries or wondered vaguely about while barreling down the Jackie Robinson Parkway—goes roughly like this. A hundred years ago, Brooklyn was the meltiest part of the New York melting pot. In Bay Ridge and Crown Heights and Midwood, mustachioed fathers with giant Old-World biceps gratefully worked themselves to death so their newly American kids could play stickball and mainline egg creams. The only force strong enough to unite all of the fractured cultures was baseball ...

This is the origin myth of modern Brooklyn, a story hammered as deep into the borough's collective psyche as the Odyssey to the ancient Greeks': The Dodgers united a multicultural Eden, but O'Money ate Southern California's forbidden fruit, and the borough fell into darkness.

My first instinct as a skeptical modern inheritor of this legend is to punch it full of revisionist holes. The Dodger myth strikes me as one of the more self-indulgent stories a generation has ever cooked up in ahistorical homage to itself—an evergreen excuse for Manhattan's power elite to wax nostalgic about the colorful poverty of their Brooklyn childhoods. The Dodgers have been so persistently overinvested with meaning—so puffed up on lofty flights of jock metaphysics—that they're not even a baseball team anymore. They're every big idea you've ever heard of: Equality, Democracy, Community, America.

Fortunately, revisionism turns out to be fairly easy. ...

Comments (89)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-09-16 23:57:54
1.   screwballin
Thanks for the late post, Jon.

I used to work with Paul O, and he's a real pro. Not the type to write this unless it really stood out, FWIW.

2007-09-17 00:09:50
2.   Jon Weisman
1 - Paul was one of the few people in the local press willing to give DePo a fair shake, so even though he didn't mention DePo by name, I wondered whether this was an attempt at a blow for fairness. But I agree, I don't recall seeing him exaggerate details for effect in print.
2007-09-17 00:16:27
3.   screwballin
I've often thought the LAT should have put Paul in Plaschke's spot.

It's late; maybe I'm already dreaming.

2007-09-17 00:17:33
4.   bhsportsguy
Last time I checked, the Dodgers had one Japanese speaking player and three players originally from Taiwan, though only one on the active roster, so if they are speaking their native tongue, I am not sure who they are talking with.

I think the vast majority of the players speak English, in fact I don't think there is a big Spanish speaking component on the team.

Now could there be some disagreement over playing time and both veterans and young kids siding with each other on the team, sure, why wouldn't 23-24 year olds hang out with each other then with the older guys on the team.

Of the regular players, there are three types, young players in their first and second years and seasoned veterans who have just passed their first free agent period and older players, who have really good career numbers but are on the back side of their careers.

The biggest dynamic is going to be between the first and third groups, especially as these older guys have memories of biding their time and how they watched and learned how to major league players from those who were there before them while the younger players just want to play now, these kids who have been built up as the future of the club, so in their minds, the future is now.

But in the end, they don't get paid to go out to lunch together, they get paid to play baseball so you can write a piece with no named sources only observations from the limited time this writer spent in the clubhouse and claim there is no chemistry but I just think what you saw is what you would expect of the makeup of this roster.

2007-09-17 00:22:44
5.   Improbable88
I rather enjoy the fact that the kids are disappointed with their current situation in the standings.

I like thinking that Matt Kemp is angry with his two day line-up snuff.

I'm OK with James Loney's big head. I don't mind if Ethier is cocky.

If they are winners, and are upset with anything less -- What else could you ask for?

Gonzo and Nomar may have winning smiles, but the last thing I want to see from a Dodger team is a bunch of grinning losers. I'll take a winning swagger, however intimidating, any day.

As for this chemistry issue, I think these kids will keep each other in check for years to come. I have seen pictures of Loney and Kemp and Martin on the town, and my guess is that the young guys who came up through the system together are probably very fond of each other.

I think tension between the rookies and the veterans is understandable, especially on a team where, one could argue, 8 of the 9 spots could be filled everyday by someone 25 or younger -- The comments made by Gonzo recently are filled with this tension.

The journey into obsolescence is not a happy one I'd imagine.

2007-09-17 00:27:11
6.   bhsportsguy
4 My point on the Asian languages is this, if this team is suffering because Takeshi Saito can't have beers with his teammates then I can see a problem. Also I don't see Tsao, Kuo and especially Hu raising any issues about chemistry.

And really, the people he would be referring to, all speak English, of the key players on the team, only Furcal, who does speak English well enough to do post-game interviews on the radio. The other Spanish speakers are primarily relievers (aside from maybe Loiaza) and maybe some guys on the bench.

Could it be that two of the more visible players, Luis Gonzalez and Nomar Garciaparra voice their thoughts about this more freely with the media, that's possible, they should have a pretty good idea at this stage of their careers of how to work the media.

Anyways, maybe I am too sensitive about the language issue but I thought that was a not a correct reason for this perceived discord.

2007-09-17 00:30:07
7.   Jon Weisman
4 - I don't judge the Dodgers for having bad chemistry. I just don't like the idea that Colletti keeps getting sold - and, I believe, done a little bit of selling himself - as a chemistry guy, as a way to justify his moves, when it isn't really justifiable for a couple of reasons. The chemistry isn't there, and it wouldn't matter much if it were.

If Paul had written the Dodgers have bad chemistry and that's why they're losing, that would have bothered me. Certainly, if he has made the whole thing up, that would bother me for different reasons. But if ultimately what his article does is cripple Colletti's chemistry credentials, I'm for it.

I expect that the Dodgers will deny this, though.

2007-09-17 00:30:37
8.   screwballin
I'm wouldn't assume that the writer hasn't spent much time in the clubhouse. If you're getting that from his "you only need to spend a few hours" line, I read that only to mean it's an obvious situation.

Anyway, g'night all.

2007-09-17 00:35:51
9.   Jon Weisman
For what it's worth, there was this: "Ask people who spend time with them on a daily basis."
2007-09-17 00:40:25
10.   bhsportsguy
7 But I do think his point is that a team should pull for each other, get along, enjoy each other and the game and if they don't they shouldn't succeed.

And unless he feels that Wilson Betemit was the lynchpin that held the clubhouse together, the last "clubhouse churning trade" I can think of is the Lo Duca deal so I don't why he inserted that little phrase in his piece.

2007-09-17 00:43:28
11.   KG16
What stands out to me is the lack of confidence in management. That does not bode well for the free agent market. You know that all the guys on the team have friends and former teammates in other organizations who will give them a call when they are looking for a new home. One wonders if the answer would be, "California is great, but if you're looking for a job look at Anaheim or San Diego." It also indicates that the guys may be too interested in looking at other locations when their contracts come up.

As far as chemistry goes, I think it works both ways, but mainly in baseball (really an individual sport played in a team environment) it is meaningless.

2007-09-17 00:43:48
12.   King of the Hobos
Ethier's and Gonzo's comments over the last few days help validate the article, at least as I interpret them.

In Bill Shaikin's lineup article, he mentions "This makes for an intriguing clubhouse dynamic." Throwaway comment or a hint of trouble? Either way, I have a feeling Gonzo's presence is at least partly responsible for some clubhouse troubles (though I believe the current record is easily the biggest factor).

2007-09-17 00:46:52
13.   bhsportsguy
If he wants to make it old guys vs. young guys, fine.

If certain outfielders and third base rotaters are frustrated by the daily roulette wheel of seeing if they are in the line up, so be it.

And I would say that I could sense this in my living room without ever stepping into the clubhouse.

And I could also imagine that there are not a lot of fun guys to get quotes from on thise team which makes it even less fun to be around. Probably the only person the writers like to deal with is Grady.

Does all of this shape perception? Yes it does. Should it cause them to win or lose a game? No it should not.

2007-09-17 00:50:50
14.   bhsportsguy
Which free agent didn't get a fair shot this season, Luis Gonzalez?

Free agents will come to the team for one reason, money. Occasionally, they may want to live somewhere but that is rarely an issue. How management perceives to treat players is not something that enters the equation.

Again, I think the lack of respect for management (which is a pretty strong statement) is something to come from outside sources (think agents) than from any player directly.

2007-09-17 00:53:59
15.   Eric Enders
Oberjuerge's main beef seems to be that the Dodgers lack a single, definable veteran leader who brings the team together. That's probably true. Nomar is reserved to the point of aloofness. Kent hates everybody and everything. Gonzalez, while he has the reputation of being a nice guy to reporters, has always struck me as something of a snake. He seems to dislike younger players and has made veiled comments to that effect both when he was with Arizona and here.

Martin has the personality and performance to be a leader, but I would imagine some of the old guys find it hard to look up to a guy who's been around for a year and a half as a team leader.

The ethnic divides, the language barrier, that stuff goes on in every major league clubhouse and I don't see the Dodgers being any different. Basically every major league clubhouse is divided into cliques along ethnic and linguistic lines. If anything, the Dodgers are probably less cliquish than most because they have biracial guys like Ethier and Martin.

2007-09-17 00:55:41
16.   KG16
Ok, I've been thinking about it, there are only a couple of places I can think of where chemistry might matter in baseball.

1. Turning the double play

2. calling for a ball in play

The double play is really about the second baseman and short stop being on the same page.

But calling off another fielder to make a play does matter. Say the right fielder doesn't trust the center fielder's range, route, or throwing ability on a fly ball to right-center. Traditionally, the center fielder has the right of way when it comes to making these plays. But there's a runner on second and the right fielder has a gun (as opposed to our hypothetical noodle-armed center fielder), so he doesn't yield to the center fielder. Lots of bad things could happen (outfield collision, dropped ball for a hit, errors, etc).

It might just be a selective memory, but I do recall seeing a few too many plays recently where there seemed to be some miscommunication between guys as to who was going to make the play on a ball.

Still, I can't be surprised that young talented guys are frustrated by being blocked. And guys who have borderline hall of fame credentials are frustrated by having to share time.

2007-09-17 00:56:29
17.   regfairfield
11 I don't have too much faith in that comment since it contains both the words "might" and "perhaps".
2007-09-17 00:56:32
18.   King of the Hobos
10 I think the phrase was used primarily as a comment about Ned's frequent transactions. A player isn't in the uniform very long, as the whole line was "They wear the same uniform. (At least until the next clubhouse-churning trade.)" Nonetheless...

Betemit and Furcal were good friends from their Atlanta days. It's possible that his trade alienated Furcal.

And while they weren't trades per se, the Wells and Loaiza acquisitions probably didn't make the Born in '79 gang too happy (Stults, Houlton, and Hull).

But put it all together, and numerous players currently on the team were members of other major league teams one or two months ago (Wells, Loaiza, Sweeney, Hillenbrand, Hernandez, Procotr). None of those guys are likely well established members of the club house, and each one took another player's roster spot. Certainly "clubhouse churning trade" doesn't seem correct, but Ned's overzealous tinkering probably hasn't helped.

2007-09-17 01:01:51
19.   Jon Weisman
10 - I think I see what you're saying, now. I didn't read the ending to the column carefully enough.
2007-09-17 01:01:53
20.   KG16
14 - if that was directed at my comment, I'm not saying that guys pick where they play based on where they want to live. But I can bet that it gets factored into the equation - if you're going to get 10 mil a year and you're choices are LA, Kansas City, and Cleveland? More of what I mean is that these guys talk to each other, and you can bet when a free agent narrows the list down to three or four teams, he's going to talk to guys that he knows on those teams to find out what it's really like. Kind of like when you are looking for a new job and you call a friend's girlfriend who works at a place that's hiring to find out what it's really like.
2007-09-17 01:01:58
21.   Eric Enders
16 I think chemistry matters in the sense that a happy worker is a more productive worker. This is true in every profession, baseball presumably included. However, that only brings us back to the "winning breeds chemistry" philosophy, which I think is absolutely true. We wouldn't be reading this article if the Dodgers were 4.5 games ahead rather than 4.5 behind.

If there is actually a big rift in the clubhouse, I'm guessing it'd be between the very young players and the very old ones. The former group could be (justifiably) peeved at not getting enough playing time and not being trusted, while the latter group is probably, like all aging athletes, having trouble accepting the fact that they're not as good as they used to be.

2007-09-17 01:03:33
22.   LAT
Its not suprising that the club house lacks chemestry. Look at some of these folks

Kent. Surley just because.
LuGo. Unhappy about playing time.
Nomar. Same.
Pierre. Under performing and bla,ed for Global Warming.
LaRoche. Made about being sent down two months ago.
Furcal. Career lows in everything.
Abrau. Service Time/injury grudge.
Ethier. Has to put up with Gonzo in his way.
Kemp. Has to put up with Gonzo in his way.
DJ Hulton. His starts went to Wells and Loaiza
Stultz. See above.
Hull. See above.
Hendrickson. See above and thinks he should start.
Broxton. Rough patch.
Tomato. Career over.
R. Sanez. See Tomato
R. Hernandez. Wants career to be over.

Unless you are named Russell or James why would you be happy.

2007-09-17 01:05:00
23.   Eric Enders
"Unless you are named Russell or James why would you be happy."

Or Sammy?

2007-09-17 01:09:07
24.   bhsportsguy
18 His friendship with Wilson didn't make him re-up with Atlanta when the Dodgers gave him 39 million dollars to play here. If Stults, et. al. are making a stink about their pitching opportunities, I think the Dodgers can survive that.

15 Funny how A-Rod has an MVP type year and no one is asking him about his relationship with Derek Jeter.

2007-09-17 01:11:09
25.   LAT
22. Wow that was some seriously bad spelling and more than a few typos. Sorry.
2007-09-17 01:11:25
26.   Chiron Brown
Not only is Colletti not a chemistry guy, he's responsible for the most noted point of tension on the team, that being Gonzo's playing time. Gonzalez would have been happy to re-sign with Arizona but they told him he would not be an every day player. He came to L.A. because he thought he would be the every day left fielder. When Colletti signed Gonzo I took that to mean that Ned didn't think Kemp was ready. But Kemp made the team. I'd rather see Kemp and Ethier every day but I also think Gonzo has a legitimate complaint. Basically, Colletti lied to him. Not much of a character guy. It's been discussed before but Colletti is just too cautious. This is evidenced by other moves as well. Having a backup plan is nice but sometimes a backup plan is just a straightjacket.
2007-09-17 01:16:45
27.   LAT
Bad chemestry? What about all the cute little stories on Why just yesterday Lugo brought in his human calculator friend. Surely that lifted everyone's spirits.
2007-09-17 01:17:27
28.   KG16
21 - this is entirely personal experience, but... I played team sports most of my life, even spent a few years coaching them (mainly water polo on both points). I've been on and around teams that had horrid chemistry that still managed to play fairly well together. I've also been around teams that got along great that simply didn't work out in the pool. As an example, I saw a team where there were literal fights in the locker room that ended up one goal away from winning a title.

My point is only that winning breeds chemistry only to a point, if guys don't like each other, it won't matter. And I think in other sports chemistry can breed winning in one regard - if guys get along they may spend a little extra time training together, and thus learning from each other. So maybe a lack of chatter around the batting cage could be hurting the Bums - but what do I know, I'm just a guy who gets to one or two games a year.

2007-09-17 01:18:39
29.   regfairfield
I think Ned just needs to understand that this isn't fantasy baseball, and he can't just focus on the numbers.
2007-09-17 01:19:57
30.   sporky
The club has never been stable in recent years. If I'm not mistaken, the longest tenured Dodger is Olmedo Saenz (2004).

All this tension and lack of chemistry (oh how I hate using that word to describe non-physicial science events) stems from the fact that this is a transition year that's also trying to be a contender. There are too many bodies in the clubhouse, too many platoons and 1-2year bridge deals. I remember reading somewhere that Kent/Gonzo et. al. resented the fact that the management didn't move the kids in a blockbuster trade that could boost their playoff chances.

On an semi-unrelated note, Gonzo seems to be a very entertaining/'nice' but passive aggressive fellow. Almost like a teenage girl. And Loaiza comes off as very standoffish and sour-grapey.

2007-09-17 01:26:52
31.   LAT
26. Colletti didn't lie to him. LuGo lost the job. Kemp and Ethier have earned the right to play most days. Lugo looked good the first third of the season and deserved his playing time but since then he has been marginal. He knew or should have known there were two very talented OFs waiting in the wings. He had no reasonable expection to believe he would play everyday if he was not the best player, even if Ned promised him a rose garden.

Assuming the story is accurate, the other irony is I think Ned has caused a lot of the bad chemestry. Imagine if you are DJ, Stultz or Hull. You think you are going to get your shot and Ned goes out and gets a fat 43 year old and broken Loaiza. I'd be bitter too.

2007-09-17 01:30:35
32.   overkill94
When reading the article, only one name came to my head - Gonzo. He's the guy losing the most playing time to younger guys and also has enough of a track record to feel slighted at even the mention of "part-time player".

I don't necessarily blame Ned for his signing though, considering not only was Kemp still questionable in his ability to contribute at the major-league level but Ethier was coming off a poor September that only solidified the claims that he was only a 4th outfielder. The fact that both players proved to be ready should be a good problem to have - and will be for the upcoming years. It's not like this current roster was the last chance for the Dodgers to make the World Series, so I'm okay with having a little poor chemistry for now since I figure it will be better in the future now that more players will have defined roles.

2007-09-17 01:32:26
33.   overkill94
30 That's pretty close to what I was trying to say here. While Gonzo seems like a personable guy, you can just sense the arrogance in his comments where he feels like he should play every day even though the numbers prove otherwise.
2007-09-17 01:36:51
34.   Eric Enders
26 "I'd rather see Kemp and Ethier every day but I also think Gonzo has a legitimate complaint. Basically, Colletti lied to him."

I don't think any baseball contract (save perhaps that of Juan Pierre) comes with a guarantee that you'll keep an everyday job indefinitely regardless of your performance. Gonzo was handed the starting job. He held onto it for a while; then his performance became so bad that he lost the job. Even after that, he still got more starts than a player of his caliber merited. I think Gonzalez got more than a fair shake from Colletti, and I don't buy the notion that he was lied to.

2007-09-17 01:36:56
35.   Jon Weisman
It was clear a year ago, when Gonzalez spoke out against losing playing time in Arizona, that there was going to be a potential problem with him in Los Angeles. But he sure is nice to the press.
2007-09-17 01:41:13
36.   Eric Enders
One of my pet peeves with the media is their constant extrapolation of a player's personality based on their own interactions with him. Luis Gonzalez is a nice guy to reporters; therefore, he's a nice guy to everybody. Barry Bonds is a jerk to reporters; therefore, he's a jerk to everybody. (OK, that one might actually be true.)

It's a reaction of human nature -- judging the whole of something based solely on the small portion you know about -- but the vehemence and certainty with which their judgments get handed down is kind of annoying.

2007-09-17 01:42:31
37.   LAT
32. The problem I have with Ganzo complaining is that he knew there were two semi-ready guys here and that it was a possibility that his playing time would get cut if they stepped up or he faltered. None of this should come as a suprise to him. Maybe he really believes JP should sit and Kemp should play center and Ethier RF :-p
2007-09-17 01:47:00
38.   LAT
I give Gonzo a lot of credit for his off the field commitments. He apparently gives away a ton of money and has really extended himself to the AZ community. But none of that should effect playing time.
2007-09-17 01:47:26
39.   Eric Enders
So what the Dodgers really need, when it all comes down to it, is some much improved Gonzo journalism. Where is Hunter Thompson when we need him?

Fear, Loathing, Las Vegas: The Story of the 2007 Dodgers.

2007-09-17 01:49:44
40.   overkill94
37 He can complain all he wants, but I doubt it affects the team as a whole. I hope Ned at least semi-foresaw this being a problem if he truly wants a harmonious clubhouse though.
2007-09-17 04:57:19
41.   Xeifrank
I'm curious as to which Dodger players are speaking Cantonese in the clubhouse. I could see Mandarin or Taiwanese, but am curious as to who is speaking Cantonese.
vr, Xei
2007-09-17 05:00:44
42.   D4P
Regarding Jim Tracy losing to the Padres on purpose:

The irony is that his team would probably have a better chance of winning if he did try to lose. No more bunting, no more Ja(y)son Phillipses, etc.

2007-09-17 05:13:43
43.   D4P
The Dodgers's Prospectus playoff probability took a huge hit with yesterday's loss. Their 15.9% drop is the largest one-day change I've seen thus far.
2007-09-17 05:18:34
44.   D4P
In other news, it looks like the racists are after OJ again. The longer he stays in custody, the longer his search for The Real Killer™ gets delayed.
2007-09-17 06:09:18
45.   Xeifrank
Dodgers lost to D-Backs 1-6, odds of making the playoffs down 12.3% to 11.8%
Today's Big Games
Games the Dodgers care about today.

Sports Club Stats dot com slash, has the Dodgers chances of making the playoffs down from 24.1% to 11.8%. They must have a slightly different methodology than BP. Today's games that effect the odds are...
vr, Xei

Monday 9/17
Padres -2.3 Pirates 2.3
Cardinals 1.1 Phillies -1.1
D-Backs -1.0 Giants 0.8

2007-09-17 06:31:26
46.   Paul Scott
Chemistry is a three game winning streak away. Let's check back on Wednesday.
2007-09-17 07:09:49
47.   bearlurker
I'm not a pro-chemistry person--I guess I fall in line with most DT posters in that winning breeds chemistry. 70's A's and Yankees are pretty good examples.

But I also agree that if you're going to talk chemistry Colletti's gotten a huge pass. Having lived in the Bay Area for some time, I observed that Jeff Kent is a negative for team chemistry. I don't think Nomar is a bonus on this front either, nor is Wells.

It is debatable as to whether Ned is better than Depo as a GM (I think each has separate strengths and weaknesses), but Ned certainly is a better spinmeister and politician.

2007-09-17 07:12:31
48.   bearlurker
I don't fault Ned for signing LuGo to a low-risk short term deal, but if I gave a hoot about chemistry I might.
2007-09-17 07:28:23
49.   Bob Timmermann
So I'm guessing that no one has made it through the second article about the borough of Brooklyn.

It's very interesting, although it is relatively lengthy. But I found it to be an interesting look at what Brooklyn is today, what people THOUGHT it was like in he past, and what it TRULY was in the past.

2007-09-17 07:53:10
50.   worz
Diamond Leung seems to be disputing this "bad chemistry" article in his blog today.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-09-17 08:09:20
51.   JoeyP
Free agents will come to the team for one reason, money.

I agree.
But I remember one of the reasons given for DePo's firing, was that McCourt wanted "credibility" back. The critics said that free agents wouldnt sign with the Dodgers after the 2005 season unless a GM change took place. That was such ridiculousness.

Ironic how the bad chemistry articles are written about the Dodgers, and not the Padres---given how the "Milton Bradley will ruin the Padres clubhouse" vibe was sent out prior.

2007-09-17 08:10:38
52.   Disabled List
I don't want to interrupt Chemistry Thoughts, but the Sam Anderson piece is worth a comment. It's an outstanding article, even though he still dips into sentimentality while he's trying to rip into the legend of the Heart and Soul™ of Old Brooklyn. I rode my bike around Crown Heights earlier this summer, and tried to get a sense of what it was like in that neighborhood 50 years ago. I even took the same photo that appears on p. 2 of the article. The picture is taken from the parking lot of a McDonald's, btw.

Anderson nails a lot of points though, especially on the Atlantic Yards project. It's using the legend of Old Brooklyn to justify its existence, when in reality it's sole purpose is to be a profit engine for developers. The Brooklyn Nets will cater to the displaced Manhattan-ites that are gentrifying the borough, and will in no way bond the community together like the Dodgers did. They'll be the New York Knicks South.

I wish he touched more on something that's been annoying me somewhat, which is the way the Mets have been appropriating the Brooklyn Dodgers history and legacy as their own. Their new park, Citi Field, is basically a modern remake of Ebbets Field, right down to the "Jackie Robinson Rotunda." Ten years later, it still irritates me that the Dodgers allowed the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Jackie's first game to occur at Shea Stadium. It should have been at Dodger Stadium, hosted by the team that he came up with. The Mets have no more claim to Jackie's legacy than the White Sox or Mariners or Astros.

Anyway, sorry for the long post. Thanks for the link, Jon. That was terrific reading.

2007-09-17 08:22:39
53.   Xeifrank
50. Yeah, he caught the same error that I did. vr, Xei
2007-09-17 08:26:21
54.   Jon Weisman
50 - Thanks.
2007-09-17 08:35:10
55.   MollyKnight
As someone who has spent time in half the clubhouses in MLB this year, I respectfully disagree with the bad chemistry tag. In fact, I really don't see anything here except a columnist trying to write something to get attention, which worked.

If he wants to talk surly, he should spend some time in the St. Louis Cardinals locker room. Those guys make the Dodgers look like merry little elves.

It would be nice to have a Raul Ibanez or a Mark Sweeney to provide excellent, supportive, and friendly leadership to younger players, but the Dodgers benefit from not having to deal with enigmatic, prickly stars like Bonds, Griffey Jr, Randy Johnson, Manny "I'm not talking to media this year" Ramirez, Mike "I have no problems throwing my teammates under the bus" Mussina, and Alex "Guys don't like me because I'm just so pretty" Rodriguez. Shoot, Carlos Delgado often pouts after losses and refuses to talk to the press, leaving that burden on Wright and Lo Duca.

Of course, winning is the cure for all that ails...

2007-09-17 08:37:51
56.   MollyKnight
Ha. I meant Mike Sweeney not Mark!
2007-09-17 08:47:30
57.   Bob Timmermann
The Dodgers have the advantage over the Cardinals of playing better, having fewer teammates die, and fewer people with substance abuse problems.
2007-09-17 08:47:34
58.   LogikReader
The Cardinals?
2007-09-17 08:48:21
59.   LogikReader
Didn't these guys win the World Series last year?
2007-09-17 08:48:42
60.   Bob Timmermann
The SF Chronicle reports that Bonds will miss at least a week with his toe injury.

This leads me to believe that he just may sit out all the remaining games of the year except for a last hurrah at home.

2007-09-17 08:49:31
61.   Bob Timmermann
The Cardinals honeymoon with the fans in St. Louis lasted about 10 minutes after the first pitch of the season.
2007-09-17 08:50:09
62.   MollyKnight
Does this look like a team with clubhouse chemistry issues??

2007-09-17 08:50:52
63.   ImprobableImpossible
I'm with you, 55.

But I'm not sure it was written just for attention. It reads to me like a columnist spent all day Friday and Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska, and had to crank something out for Monday's paper.

It's pretty thin, with no one on the record and only a hint that he might have talked with a beat writer (obviously not Diamond) about this supposed lack of chemistry.

I've spent lots of time in both the Angels and Dodgers clubhouses and it's comparing apples and oranges. The Angels clubhouse is spacious and inviting, with couches and tables in the middle of the room, allowing guys to kick back and socialize in comfort. The Dodgers clubhouse is a "cell block" by design. It's cramped, hot and uncomfortable. The players have no choice but to hide in their locker or retreat to the training room or dining lounge (where no media is allowed, FWIW).

There are certainly issues just because of the makeup of this team -- a majority of guys either at the beginning or end of their career. But I have a hard time believing chemistry issues are more significant on this team than on any other.

If someone knows best, it's the Dodger beat writer, not the general columnist. I'd take PaulO's commentary with a large grain of salt.

2007-09-17 08:53:24
64.   D4P
the St. Louis Cardinals locker room. Those guys make the Dodgers look like merry little elves

Excluding this Cardinal, of course.

2007-09-17 08:54:16
65.   MollyKnight
57- No! This has gone on forever. The Cardinals are notoriously the worst clubhouse in baseball, and have been for years, as far as treatment of the media goes. Whenever any national writer I know has to go do something on the Cardinals, it's not a happy situation. The Cardinals' disdain for writers stems from La Russa's paranoia. It's a trickle-down situation. He treats baseball like a business. Fun has no place. It's like walking into a military barracks.
2007-09-17 08:54:21
66.   D4P
Does this look like a team with clubhouse chemistry issues??

Does "imbalance" count as a "chemistry issue"...?

2007-09-17 08:55:03
67.   MollyKnight
64--I knew it would either be a picture of Eckstein or Spezio and his red goatee.
2007-09-17 08:57:17
68.   LogikReader
I always did find it hilarious that the Cardinals tried to nab former Angels and "recreate the magic!"
2007-09-17 08:57:34
69.   Kevin Lewis

Did anyone else have problems with their signal on the PRIME HD feed yesterday? I have had consistent problems with that HD channel, and only that channel.

2007-09-17 08:59:35
70.   D4P
I just finished scrolling through a million archived pages on Molly's website. The pictures are great, but no way I'm reading it all.

I did, however, happen to see this nugget that emanated from Molly's fingers:

Here's something that needs to be discussed right here and right now - Arrested Development. One of the funniest and smartest shows on television in recent memory and not enough people are watching. "Why are not enough people watching a hilarious comedy?" you ask? Because Fox has NO idea how to promote a brilliant show like this... they'd rather put on Ice Skating With The Stars and fill your TV with commercials of Pamela Anderson. AD is in its third season on Fox right now, and Fox has reduced the amount of episodes for this season from 22 down to 13. Never a good sign for a show, but they're still on the air and haven't been officially cancelled. Although, word around the TV network water coolers is that ABC and Showtime would be more than happy to pick up this show should Fox decide to drop it. And I think most of the fans would be completely happy with this show being on a network that wants it. But until then, you should all definitely check out this show tonight (Monday) at 8PM on Fox. It has a great ensemble cast that includes Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi and David Cross and is about a high society dysfunctional family who have to deal with the fact that they're now bankrupt and are struggling to save the family company. Well, one of them is struggling anyways. It's shot in a very quick and fast-paced way with witty and dark jokes around every corner. Don't worry about jumping on in the middle of something, they have a narrator (Ron Howard) who keeps you informed on what's going on.

Te amo, Molly. Te amo...

2007-09-17 09:01:34
71.   Bob Timmermann
2007-09-17 09:02:16
72.   Bob Timmermann
The weird thing is that there is only one newspaper in St. Louis. And not a lot of electronic media either.
2007-09-17 09:04:41
73.   MollyKnight
63- I agree with you re: the difference in clubhouses. Although, I've asked a few guys about this, and some vets actually think that bigger locker rooms detract from clubhouse chemistry, because you aren't forced to be so close to your teammates. The visiting locker room at RFK is like 200 square feet. At Citizen's Bank Park in Philly it's like 3,000-sf. In big clubhouses, guys often refrain from interacting. I think the happy balance is somewhere in between. It'd be nice if the Dodgers locker room had some couches and a flat screen. Last Friday at Shea, Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard sat on a couch and watched Pirates of the Carribean together before their game against the Mets, for instance.
2007-09-17 09:05:40
74.   Jon Weisman
62 - I'll take your word for it on what the clubhouse is like, but I can't say I'm on board with citing a hazing ritual as evidence of camaraderie.
2007-09-17 09:07:19
75.   D4P
As of April 2006, Molly had never been to Oregon.


2007-09-17 09:08:20
76.   kngoworld
Jon, will Fungoes get the NFL treatment and have new coverage (posts) all year long? Or will it cease to exist after the season is over? Covering baseball is a yearlong event, with free agency speculation and off season trades taking place.

By the way, I loved your analogy in your most recent entry, "Ever since they fell out of first place in August, the Dodgers have been pushing giant baseballs up a hill, getting close to the top, only to have them roll back down on them." This is exactly how I feel about the team over the past few weeks, only better expressed then I ever could have come up with.

2007-09-17 09:10:30
77.   Bob Timmermann
Oregon's official tourism slogan is: "Oregon: We Love Dreams."
2007-09-17 09:12:07
78.   Jon Weisman
76 - Thanks, and thanks for reminding me; I meant to ask that very question today :)
2007-09-17 09:12:35
79.   Ken Noe
Teams that aren't winning aren't happy teams. I played on a few bad teams when I was younger. I heard a lot of the same complaints, ie, "Why is he playing and I'm not," Coaches and players blamed each other. Players blamed each other. As LAT said way up above in 22 , why would those guys be happy.

Two other quick points: while chemistry is overrated, leadership isn't. It wasn't in my case, anyway. It can't help that LA's titular leaders, the vets, are either griping over playing time or are just surly in general. That goes for DePo and Kent, or NedCo and Gonzo/Nomar.

Finally, isn't this "too many languages" thing just a rehash of what got Piazza in trouble years ago?

2007-09-17 09:13:54
80.   Bob Timmermann
In other news, I've found the Northwest Passage!

I used Yahoo.

2007-09-17 09:14:14
81.   Bob Timmermann
Whoops, left out my link:

2007-09-17 09:14:59
82.   Kevin Lewis

I didn't think my loathing for FOX could get any more intense. Now I know where to direct my anger.

2007-09-17 09:17:46
83.   Kevin Lewis
I just noticed the LA Observed blog gives a link to our comments about the article
2007-09-17 09:18:28
84.   Kevin Lewis
Or, I should say, your comments. I just read them all, but didn't make any about the article.
2007-09-17 09:22:04
85.   D4P
The Google button on my Internet Machine tells me it's actually "We Love Dreamers". Not that it matters. No wonder no one goes to Oregon. Motto is everything.
2007-09-17 09:27:45
86.   underdog
39 Heh.

Fear and Loathing in the Dodgers' Clubhouse.

Seriously, I'm not sure what the story is here. The Dodgers' don't have one true leader? Check. Not a big deal nor a surprise, but check. Some players are unhappy about playing time? Check. That's not super unusual in any clubhouse. I also see a team that seems to support each other on the field, get enthused together when things go well. And that there are some dissenters and grousers doesn't surprise me either. Yeah, the story here is basically to counteract Colletti's portrayal of himself as a character guy when it didn't take too long for us to see he didn't really mean it (J Lugo, Hillenbrand, etc).

Anyway, while it won't mean that much to see how they officially spin a response to this, hearing from the players themselves on it will be interesting.

Chemistry will certain be better when - next year? - the majority of the roster consists of former Vegas and Jacksonville farmhands and teammates, no doubt about that.

2007-09-17 09:33:27
87.   Jon Weisman
Movin' on ... new post up top.
2007-09-17 09:42:07
88.   goofus
Here's a vote for The Designated Hitter. It would keep the older players like Kent and Gonzo in the game as an asset and not a liability; It opens playing time for the young and upwardly mobile; It makes the manager's job easier and is probably easier on the pitching staff; And it puts the American and National leagues in conformity.
2007-09-17 10:52:47
89.   Dane Bramage
Holy Moly!
Further evidence of global climate change to scare the excrement out of us! It just doesn't get much more visually evident than that...

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