Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 138: How Important is Chemistry in Sports?

When I say "chemistry in sports," I'm not talking about PEDs or blood spinning or special kinds of polycarbonate plastics used in equipment. I'm talking about the relationship between the players on a team and how it contributes to that team's success.

A lot has been said this season about the Red Sox having chemistry. Some waive it off as trivial, while others see it as the most significant reason as to why the team is having success this year. There's a big difference when the members of a team actually like each other. Then they actually want to win not only for themselves, but for the rest of the lineup. Over the past couple of years, it seemed like the Sox sought after big names for big contracts and those big names were mainly interested in their big paycheck.

I believe chemistry makes a huge impact. Why else would the Sox front office go out and overpay for guys like Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes and Ryan Dempster? None of these players has had real superstar seasons, but they're all considered great clubhouse guys and that seems to be really working. And none of them is having the best season, even this year, but they've come through in the clutch when needed, and, more importantly, have helped to greatly improve morale.

The same holds true in professional football. We have seen time and time again the "star" players that have come into the Patriots' system and failed. Some say it's because the New England playbook is extremely difficult to learn and often times too complicated for players who are used to having teams cater to their strengths. (I'm looking at you, Ochocinco!) That may be the case, but don't you think it also has a wee bit to do with chemistry?

Within the Patriots' system, it's vital that new players are capable of connecting with Tom Brady if they want to be successful. This is key. Remember Randy Moss in the 2007 season? He came into New England under significant scrutiny. Could he stop thinking about himself long enough to adopt the Patriot Way? Apparently, he could and he ended up leading the NFL in receiving touchdowns during the Patriots' 16-0 season. In 2011, the Patriot Way had the complete opposite effect on Ochocinco who could never seem to get on the same page as Brady and had his worst season ever.

So how important is chemistry in sports? Call me crazy, but I say it's crucial.

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