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Great team chemistry gave the author of this column an excuse to post something related to 2004.
This season, team chemistry has been under the microscope before pitchers and catchers reported. There's supposed discord with the manager. Players continue to drink beer in the clubhouse. Josh Beckett played golf on an off day when he was supposed to be sick in bed.
Wait. Stop the presses. Beckett played golf when given a day off due to a malady? How dare he! Certainly, none of the golf enthusiasts reading this column would ever dare to try something like that.
One wonders if everybody reading this loves all of their co-workers, or if “twenty-five guys in twenty-five cabs” is a closer representation of their work environment. If one does not get along with their co-workers, does that necessarily mean that their work performance will fall off of a cliff?
This is not to say that clubhouse chemistry is overrated or underrated. Nobody knows what clubhouse chemistry means outside of that particular clubhouse. Certainly it appears to the fan that certain baseball teams have ridden an apparent love for one another to tremendous success. The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and 2004 Boston Red Sox come to mind. Then again, the Yankees of the late seventies and early eighties are infamous for their poor chemistry, yet they have some hardware from that Bronx Zoo era. Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds came one game from winning a championship together.
Clubhouse chemistry does not seem to be a universal force like gravity. It appears, by media reports, that the Red Sox currently do not get along very well. People have even gone so far as to call Josh Beckett a clubhouse “cancer,” as we all know so well that malignant tumors often have two championship rings. (Somehow it seems doubtful, however, that teammate Jon Lester or former teammate Mike Lowell would call Beckett that. Just a hunch.)
Chicken and beer were a problem in 2011 and beer is a problem in 2012. In 2007, Jonathan Papelbon was dancing on the field in his underwear, soaked in beer. After the 2004 season, Kevin Millar made some comments about lucky shots of bourbon before games. At the time, both things seemed to be indicators of good chemistry.
The fact is that nobody knows what goes on in clubhouses but the players. This includes the hard-working reporters who spend a portion of their time in those clubhouses. Citing chemistry as the Red Sox' biggest problem is like trying to guess as to the practical applications of CERN and their Large Hadron Collider without an advanced physics degree. Even if you're right, it's out of sheer luck.