Baltimore Orioles: Chemistry matters
The Baltimore Orioles have always had some of the best team chemistry in the league (during the Showalter era, that is). Not one guy who’s come through the Orioles’ clubhouse in the last few years has ever said anything to the contrary. And there’s a reason for that; the Birds vet every player from the bottom up. They look at their skill set and how that fits in with the roster, however they also look at the player’s personality and how he’ll fit in the clubhouse.
And I can tell you on pretty good authority that I know of at least one instance where a trade for a pretty darned good player was nixed because the guy’s personality wouldn’t have fit in with the current team. Some fans would say that’s incredibly foolish. However if someone’s going to be a locker room cancer, or one of those dreaded anonymous sources of which we hear in sports and in the news, he isn’t worth the commitment.
In looking at the news that came out about the NFL’s New England Patriots this week, you see the beginnings of a locker room coming apart. Coach Bill Belichek has done a masterful job of keeping that organization tight-lipped and professional during his tenure. And that’s honestly just a different way of doing the same thing, as compared to what the Orioles do. The O’s literally won’t add someone to the team that won’t fit in properly. The Patriots will add anyone who can help them win regardless of their character – the only caveat being that if you have a personal qualm with someone, you put it aside for the good of the team.
But again if you read the news this week, is that starting to come apart? According to what has been reported, apparently you have quarterback Tom Brady who’s all but mandated that every potential replacement to him be shipped out via trade. That’s hardly being a team player. That’s looking out for oneself. Joe Montana wasn’t exactly comfortable with Steve Young nipping at his heels, but he didn’t work behind the scenes to get him traded.
If someone pulled that on the Orioles’ roster you can bet they’d be in trouble. That type of approach or attitude is inconsistent with the type of character guys the Orioles have, however I digress. All we’d hear about and thus all writers like me would be able to report would be that the matter was being handled internally. However first off in my view part of being a truly great athlete who goes down in history is knowing when to step away…
…and if Tom Brady thinks he can and should play until he’s 45 (as he’s said in the media), he’s crazy. But another part of it is helping to mentor people behind you. Yes, someone that at some point will probably take your job – ideally after you retire as opposed to after an injury or after you get benched. But when that guy takes the helm, would it not be a great tribute to you, the great player, if neither he nor the team skipped a beat?
That aside, team chemistry is very important. Perhaps just as important if not more so than skill. If you have guys at people’s throats, even the best teams can come unraveled at their cores very quickly.