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Cole Hamels says something intelligent about team chemistry

Jan 28, 2014, 9:12 AM EDT

Cole Hamels AP

Cole Hamels sat for an interview with Jim Salisbury of There’s a lot of content and more installments will roll out all week, but for now there’s this: Hamels talking to Salisbury about team chemistry. Normally this is something that makes my eyes roll, but this time Hamels seems to nail it:

“You have a lot of guys coming in and out and we didn’t know how to handle it,” Hamels said. “I think that was kind of the case. A lot of us had been winning, a lot of us were new, and all we knew was winning, so it was a different sort of perspective for a lot of us that we had to deal with.”

Hamels was asked whether the chemistry issues were a matter of the players not liking each other or the players not liking losing.

“It was not liking losing,” he said.

No matter how much people like to credit good and bad chemistry for the results on the field, Hamels is right: bad chemistry is a product of losing, not a cause. Or, if it’s not an actual product — if there are odd relationships and troublesome personalities in the clubhouse to begin with — they’re ignored or tolerated if the team is winning and made a scapegoat if the team loses. No one ever credits a losing team with having great chemistry. Lots of winning teams are filled with combative jackwagons. It’s professional sports. Winning and losing is everything. The rest mere detail.

I hope people watching the Phillies this year keep that in mind if the team has another bad season. I fear, however, that the idea of having the wrong set of personalities, as opposed to an underperforming set of players, will get more press and air time.


  1. rje49 - Jan 28, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    That’s all well and good, but the pitchers still have to pitch well and the hitters still have to hit, etc. Chemistry may be important, but it’s not as important as how you perform. Is somebody going to say “I didn’t play as well as I used to because the team chemistry isn’t right?”. I hope not.

  2. nymets4ever - Jan 28, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    So it’s “intelligent” just because it happens to align with your narrowminded view of emotion having zero role in a 6-month, 162-game grind – got it. Good to know!

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jan 28, 2014 at 9:33 AM

      Yeah, that’s not even close to what I’ve ever said about the role of emotion. But go ahead thinking what you want to think.

    • paperlions - Jan 28, 2014 at 9:33 AM

      No, it is intelligent because it is consistent with casual observation, a passing familiarity with the nature of cause and effect, and the data.

    • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      Just wondering, muttsfever: have you ever had a pleasant thought about anyone or anything in your entire, irremediably jaundiced life? You just about never come on here except to puke bile into the discussion, no matter what the subject happens to be.

      • vivabear - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        Old Pederast: 1/3 of his posts inane babbling, 1/3 of his posts racist, hateful or homophobic tinged, the other 1/3 personal attacks against other commenters. And some are a combination of two or three of the categories.

      • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        And my responses to Vivabore are clear, simple and streamlined: you’re a complete moron.

      • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        And my responses to Vivabore are clear, simple and streamlined: you’re a complete moron.

      • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:44 AM

        Not to mention redundant.

      • frank35sox - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:46 AM

        I have a big vocabulary. What I’m saying must be important.

      • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:57 AM

        I have an atrophied vocabulary. I am consumed with jealousy and spite when confronted with anyone who has a developed one.

      • vivabear - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        Old Pederast – I’m not really bothered that you think I’m a moron. That’s a pretty relative term. On the other hand, it’s pretty clear cut that you are a self righteous @sshole. You wouldn’t even debate that.

      • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:27 PM

        Sure I would. But I’d need an interlocutor worth debating, and you ain’t it. Frankly, after two years of making yourself look like an idiot – I can’t take credit for that – on fairly benign issues like being in denial about whether or not the Feesh and Cubs discussed a Garza trade that involved Tweeter (they did), making claims about correct spelling or syntax and being presented with evidence that you were, as usual, wrong; claiming words I used didn’t exist and being presented with links to dictionary sites in which the same words could be found, I guess you just went off the deep end and resorted, instead, to gutter-trash or apocryphal accusations of “racism” and now “pederasty” at just about every opportunity. Then you aligned yourself with poor dim Harry – which was kinda like watching Mugabe aligning himself with Lukashenko, only funnier. And each successive post of yours gets more and more hysterical, histrionic and hateful. I dunno – I guess if I didn’t exist you would have had to invent me or else resort to writing “Kill!” in lipstick on your bathroom mirror.

        But just to show you there’s no hard feelings – I mean, if a flea bit me, I’d realize it was just being a flea – here’s a great recipe for baked apples:

        Wash and core six apples (tart ones like Granny Smiths work best. Be careful not to core through the bottom stem.

        Place a half tablespoon of butter and a full teaspoon of brown sugar mixed with equal parts cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice in each cavity.

        Place the apples standing upright in a baking dish and pour about 1/4 inch of apple juice with another tablespoon of butter and a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice into the dish. Cover with aluminum foil with some clearance above the apples.

        Bake at 425 degrees for one hour or, if needed, a little longer until the apples are soft and the whole kitchen is fragrant.

        Allow to cool. Serve warm with heavy cream or whipped cream.

        This will help you calm down and get a grip on yourself.

      • vivabear - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:38 PM

        Old Pederast – that’s a lot you remember about me, too bad half of it never happened. Sounds like you’re making things up to fit your narrative. As far as racism – your Frito Bandito schtick gets old. You’re constantly making veiled derogatory comments about Latinos.

      • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        If you were even remotely worth the effort, I’d dredge up the posts in question, but you know as well as I do that not only did all of that happen but that there were other episodes where you schmucked out as well that I probably have forgotten.

        As far as Latinos, I live in the midst of one of the most Latinized communities on this continent and visibly glory in it. I speak Spanish almost fluently, read it better than that, and was born appreciating and knowing more about Latin American culture than you will by the time you rot yourself out from the inside with contumely and incomprehension. That you seem to think writing things out with phonetic accuracy is “racist” – never mind that the Frito Bandito is supposed to be Mexican and you’re too dimwitted to distinguish that from a Cuban patois – is just more evidence of how hatefully obsessed you are with me, and how ridiculously you have to stretch to concoct even the most limping and juvenile of insults.

        I mean, really, it wasn’t me who made you look like such an idiot. You did it to yourself, and every time you put up another one of your teeth-gritting little spasms of hysteria here you make yourself look like a bigger one. Get over it, before you overcook your apples.

      • vivabear - Jan 28, 2014 at 2:37 PM

        Old Pederast – you go ahead and keep talking in circles, trying to confuse the issues. Hatefully obsessed? Not hardly; more accurately, I’m disgusted by you and your pathetc attempts at humor.

      • Gamera the Brave - Jan 28, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        If a post on a Baseball blog site is causing you actual disgust, reading it might not be the best use of your time. Life’s too short, dude – and frankly calling someone a pederast is beyond the pale.

      • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2014 at 4:02 PM

        No, it is Vivabore’s pale. Lowlife is as lowlife does.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 29, 2014 at 7:42 AM

        You can calculate the worth of a man by the number of his enemies…
        Guatave Flaubert, 1853

        I do not think I’ve seen anyone with more dimwitted idiots chasing them around than Mr. Calcaterra and Old Gator. If you two gentlemen ever get a truly intelligent detractor you might afford us all the spectacle of debate. As it stands, the sheer volume of the trolls nattering away at you is spectacle enough for now.

        I’m going to give that baked apple recipe a try, I think. In the fall. I have an apple tree and am always giving away the apples. Its about time I made something out of them.

  3. scotttheskeptic - Jan 28, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    Its the roster, not the chemistry in the clubhouse. The chemistry needs to change in the executive suites.

  4. frank35sox - Jan 28, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    I’ll take team sports for $1,000.

    This man has obviously never played a team sport.

    Who is Craig Calcaterra?

    • CJ - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:45 AM

      Name one team with crappy chemistry that won a WS.

      Name one team with awesome chemistry lost 100 games.

      • jwbiii - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        The late ’70s Bronx Zoo Yankees hated each other and won two WS.

      • billybawl - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:02 PM

        The 1972-74 Oakland A’s won three series in a row even while brawling with each other in the clubhouse.

      • billybawl - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:06 PM

        It seems like the 1969 Seattle Pilots were a fun bunch to be around. But they lost only 98 games so never mind.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        What’s awesome chemistry in the face if kissing 100+ games? Fans would likely be outraged if their team was laughing, joking, etc during games (other than the few wins) for a team that bad. There are some who still like to talk about the Red Sox’ having beer and chicken in the dugout–something that would have been ignored if they were winning (or even lauded as an example of being loose/having good chemistry). There are plenty of examples of 100-game losers that did not fight each other or back-bite in the media at least.

    • alexo0 - Jan 28, 2014 at 4:19 PM

      Frank, based on your comment, I’m more inclined to say that you are the one who has never been involved in team sports, as you seem to not quite grasp what it is that truly makes teams successful.

      The answer: beards!

      • nbjays - Jan 29, 2014 at 12:17 AM

        If that were true, then every NHL playoff team would win the Stanley Cup… every year.

  5. nymets4ever - Jan 28, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    As someone who actually plays the game (albeit at the collegiate level), I bristle at this idea that players are nothing but robots with no heart, no soul, no minds, and none of the unpredictable, unquanfiable quirks of being human.

    Maybe that’s convenient for you to believe when you’re crunching SABR stats in your Excel spreadsheets…but it doesn’t reflect the reality of the blood, sweat, and tears that are part of any baseball season, or any endeavor that brings 25+ human beings close together for 6 months and 162 hard-fought competitive games. Take it from me, someone who doesn’t play at anywhere near the level of the pros, but has still been through that grind and has seen things that no statistical whizkid could ever dream up.

    • zzalapski - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:24 AM

      If your OBP isn’t higher than your weight, or if your ERA resembles the national debt, people will care when you’ll be dumped for someone who can produce at the major league level, not whether you organize team outings on off days.

    • Alex K - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      Say you’re a right fielder. Do you not try as hard to catch a ball hit your way because the 1st baseman is an asshole? When your hitting do you not focus on the at bat because one of the starting pitchers is annoying?

      • frank35sox - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:53 AM

        Say Wakefield feels more comfortable with Mirabelli catching, does he pitch better? Oh wait, yes he does.

      • jwbiii - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:28 AM

        So a knuckleball pitcher feels more comfortable and performs better when he pitches to a catcher who is good at catching knuckleballs. Is this is a team chemistry issue?

      • Alex K - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        That doesn’t have a thing to do with how they interact off the field.

        The basic point is that if people are playing well and the team is winning then no one really cares if the shortstop sucks as a person. But if the team is losing then it’s easier to have that just be one more thing wrong.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      I’m going to go ahead and guess you are failing reading comprehension in school. None of the things you are complaining about are in any way relevant to the topic at hand. Good job!

      Also, you are right. Math is hard! Stupid NERDS!

      • zzalapski - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:09 PM

        That’s turbo-nerds, around here.

    • billybawl - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      Please look up “straw man” on Wikipedia, then reread the original post, and your comment.

    • paperlions - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      You are completely missing the point. The point is not that performance varies or that luck does or doesn’t happen….the point is that talented teams win no matter how good or bad their chemistry is, that untalented teams lose no matter how good or bad their chemistry is, that good chemistry typically is associated with winning because winning is fun, and that bad chemistry is often associated with losing because losing sucks.

      Winning or losing affect team chemistry far more than the chemistry affects winning or losing.

    • thegreatstoneface - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      but it doesn’t reflect the reality of the blood, sweat, and tears that are part of any baseball season</i)

      uh. you do realize that there's no crying in baseball?

      • dcarroll73 - Jan 28, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        In the immortal words of Traffic, “but there are always exceptions.” There was the time my friend was catching and had a foul tip literally shatter his cup. As he put it later, “I was lying there screaming when my coach came up, kicked me, and said, ‘ Stop crying like a little girl!'” So yes, there were indeed tears that day.

  6. ochospantalones - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    I think what Cole is trying to say here is “Papelbon is a dick”.

  7. chasemutley - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    You can tell which venomous intellectual wrote this article just from the headline.

    • nbjays - Jan 29, 2014 at 12:20 AM

      Says the more venomous anti-intellectual.

  8. asimonetti88 - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    I couldn’t disagree more. Just like any other team, bad chemistry will likely cause bad results. It’s not fail proof, some teams that don’t get along still do fine (the early 2000s Lakers come to mind), and some teams who get along great are still terrible. But many times, teams with bad chemistry will do worse than expected for their talent level.

    You’re telling me you never did a group project in school or work where the members didn’t get along, and that it wasn’t more difficult than a group project where everyone was working on the same page?

    • km9000 - Jan 28, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      I can see how not liking a teammate might affect your play in something like basketball (eg, not getting a pass from the PG). But baseball’s more isolated. That bastard on second shouldn’t affect how I hit a pitch.

      And there are winning teams that mostly stayed intact (like the Giants recently) and had a completely different season. Unless a team is loaded with talent, you really need everyone to be productive at once to go far, and that can be hard to pull off.

    • billybawl - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      I think you’re making a different point than you may have intended. If you put the three braniacs on a group project, and they don’t work well together but are still talented, motivated and all the other things that make them successful students, they will likely get a good grade even if they hated the experience of working with each other. Bad chemistry definitely affects the subjective experience, but superior talent in the hands of highly competitive individuals will prevail.

  9. rjmarrella - Jan 28, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    What’s up with the headline?

  10. Jonny 5 - Jan 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    Of course it’s not the chemistry you PED apologist you!!!!!! ~sarc~

  11. missingdiz - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    This is one of those disagreements that can go on forever–maybe that’s why people get so snarky. I know I I’m happier on the way to work if I like the people I deal with. On the other hand, I’d probably be pretty happy going to work if I were making millions of dollars and not really worry about personality conflicts. One other thing–Ruth and Gehrig didn’t like each other at all:,

    • nymets4ever - Jan 28, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      Well, the argument doesn’t have to go on forever. All it takes is for the know-it-all pencilneck stat-crunchers who’ve never competed a day in their lives to do the unthinkable – to actually swallow their unfounded pride for two seconds and defer some knowledge to those of us who HAVE played.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 28, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        There are plenty of us who have played at some of the highest levels who disagree with you, and we’re also “stat nerds”.

        So try coming up with something other than an argument from authority.

      • simalex - Jan 28, 2014 at 8:21 PM

        So just because I’m an academic/writer means I’m not competitive or that I don’t know what it means to compete? Man you should see me on my adult kickball nights. I actually got ejected recently.

  12. moogro - Jan 28, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    Why are there no phans complaining that Craig suggested there’s a chance the Phils might possibly have a bad season?

    That’s not possible!

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