Philadelphia far from a happy family

The Phillies are not anybody's idea of an overly happy group, but will it prevent them from winning?

Updated: September 10, 2003, 11:53 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
It's time for another chemistry debate, but don't go reaching for your periodic table. There are two schools of thought in the baseball world: one is that "chemistry" is instrumental to a winning ballclub and the other is that chemistry is an illusion, the natural byproduct of winning. Cause and effect or effect and cause?

Teams often make moves based on the perception that chemistry is important. Players of questionable talent are brought in because they have "veteran presence" or are "proven winners." Moves of opposite action are also frequent. Malcontents and bellyachers are often shipped out in the belief that it will improve team performance. It is an indisputable fact that getting rid of a clubhouse cancer type of player improves the mood around the workplace. Most of us have been witness to that ourselves in our own job environments. Does it actually have a bearing on performance, however? That is not so easily proved.

Pat Burrell
The Phillies have not been the happiest bunch this season.
There are two teams from the 1970s that serve as poster children for each school of thought. For the chemistry crowd, there are the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates of "We Are Family" fame. So strong was the notion that the team was succeeding on a cult of personality that first baseman Willie Stargell was voted a share of the league Most Valuable Player Award in spite of missing significant amounts of playing time and not being among the league leaders in any significant categories other than fifth in homers. For the anti-chemistry set, the go-to team is the A's of the 1972-74 period. Much is made of how poorly they got along although it is hard to imagine that chaos reigned supreme 24/7 through three World Championships.
Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ALSO SEE

MORE MLB HEADLINES

MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM