August 4, 2010
It is no secret that having a team with players who work well together will succeed. Whether it be in sports or life in general, groups of people work well if they can get along well. For years, people in the baseball business have been talking about how important it is to have a clubhouse full of players who can work well together and get along.
In the past two years, the Seattle Mariners have put a big emphasis on acquiring players that will help bring good camaraderie and a little bit of leadership to the clubhouse. Two big examples of this were the acquisitions of Mike Sweeney and Ken Griffey Junior. Everyone knew that the chances of these guys making major contributions on the field were slim, but GM Jack Zduriencik and manager Don Wakamatsu kept them around because they were major contributors in the clubhouse. Sweeney and Griffey couldn't ever seem to get their batting averages above .230, but they played anyway because of their good vibes and leadership in the clubhouse. Since Sweeney and Griffey left the Mariners a couple months ago, some people are blaming the Mariners recent woes on the fact that the clubhouse lacks stability.
It is correct that the Mariners don't have leaders. However, I think that most baseball fans in Seattle are missing the point. I once saw a quote by Jim Leyland about clubhouse camaraderie. He said something like, "You don't need to have a bunch of nice guys to have good clubhouse camaraderie, all you have to do is win." I don't think it gets much more true than that, folks. If the Mariners would stop worrying about acquiring a bunch of nice guys to keep the clubhouse intact, they would probably be able to put more skill on the field every game which would lead to more wins.
Most people think that an NFL team full of players like Terrell Owens would not succeed. Yes it is tough to keep that guy happy, but the one thing that will always make him happy is winning. He has the talent to help teams win. I can guarantee you that Terrell Owens won't complain about not being thrown the ball if the Bengals win a lot of games this year. The same thing applies to all sports. As long as a team has talented athletes that are capable of winning games, no Mike Sweeney's are needed.
Hopefully the Mariners will move away from the strategy of having "nice guys" on the team. The fact that the Mariners had some nice guys that couldn?t produce on the field isn?t the reason they?re 22 games out of first place. I think that manager Don Wakamatsu should be fired so GM Jack Z. can get someone who will light a fire under his players and inspire them to work hard and win games. However, that?s another story for another day.
Max Van Hollebeke is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.