Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I’ve thinking about this. First I thought it was because they were so top heavy in hitting talent it unbalanced the team. That makes no sense. It wasn’t the pitching that failed, it was the hitting. Even when the pitching gave up 8 runs in a game, those hitters should have scored 6 to 9 off of opposing pitchers who averaged giving up 4 or 5. That would have kept them in that last game. But it didn’t happen and they were never in the game.

Why not?

I figured it out.

The chemistry of the team had changed. The team in the playoffs was not the team that got them to the playoffs. Matsui and Sheffield did not belong there. They had no part in winning them the division. They were strangers to the team in the field even if they had been in the dugout all the time. Players who had got them there, like Melky Cabrera and Bernie Williams, were sent to the bench. Of course Sheffield and Matsui are better players at this time but team chemistry is hard to explain and harder to predict. Torre had no choice but to play the two all stars. It gave the Yankees, on paper, the best hitting lineup in baseball history. Jim Leyland called it “Murderer’s row and Cano.” (Robinson Cano, who hit .342 in the regular season, batted ninth.) That’s the way it looked to everyone.

But sometimes adding better players disrupts a team’s chemistry

A classic example was Shea Hillenbrand going to the Giants. On paper, he was better than anyone the Giants had at first base at the time. But after he arrived the Giants collapsed.

They got him from Toronto after Hillenbrand wrote on the team blackboard, “This ship is sinking.” Hillenbrand was complaining about playing time. Toronto had 5 guys to play 3 positions. Right then Hillenbrand was the poorest of the five. Toronto should have improved after he left but they also collapsed.

Hillenbrand sank two ships.

Go figure.


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