While talent will always be paramount in professional sports, you can’t discount the impact chemistry has on a team’s ability to win games.
In no sport is that more true than baseball, where grown men spend upwards of 200+ days a year together. In a row. More if they make the playoffs. Twenty-six players, a dozen coaches, and a slew of other staff members are elbow-to-elbow, day-in and day-out, dealing with the rigors and challenges of playing Major League Baseball.
If y’all don’t like each other, that can be a real drag.
After exorcizing the demons of a decade-long playoff drought, the 2022 Phillies went on a magical joyride to the World Series, buoyed by skill but also a togetherness borne from the fire of trials during the seasons before. As the Phils “danced on their own” through a blissful October, they developed a fondness for each other that’s different from any other team I’ve ever seen — including the storied 1993 Phillies.
Sure,good chemistry generally occurs when a team is playing well and, with a 15-10 August and 5 of 6 games on this homestand, most of them comeback victories, the Phils are playing very well.
They are exceedingly talented and everyone on the team is playing up to their capabilities. That said, chemistry holds a team together during tough times.
On June 2, the Phils were 25-32 and the season could have slipped away. At the time the Mets had a better record than the Phillies, while the Padres were experiencing similar struggles. Fast forward nearly three months: the Mets and Padres, two teams that have higher payrolls than the Phils, are out of the playoff picture and the Phillies are surging.
It’s not a coincidence.
There are plenty of examples from just this past weekend. While the Phillies were pounding the St. Louis Cardinals into oblivion, here are a few ways their love for one another was on full display.
Last season, after the managerial change from Joe Girardi to Rob Thomson, the younger members of the Phillies were allowed to find their voices in the clubhouse. Ever since then, Bryson Stott, Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh have not only emerged as extremely good and important players for a winning team, they’ve developed a unique bond.
One of the best running gags of the season is the trio (gently) assaulting teammates as they’re being interviewed by the television crew after victories.
If you’re going to be a hero, you’ve got to pay for it, apparently.
In Saturday night’s 12-1 slaughter of St. Louis, Brandon Marsh hit a 3-run home run with his fellow Daycare members on base. Their celebration at home plate is pretty much everything.
This isn’t the greeting of “too cool for school” baseball players. These are three friends celebrating a fun moment together. It’s just too cute.
Nick Castellanos tutoring Johan Rojas
Earlier this summer, the Inquirer’s Alex Coffey wrote about the mentor/mentee relationship that has developed between veteran star Nick Castellano and young, exciting center fielder Johan Rojas. While it’s great to see Nick is sharing the inner workings of playing at the big league level, he’s also helping the rookie in other ways.
Well known for his Burt Reynolds-like approach to button usage, Nick clearly thought Rojas’s upper-chest fashion needed a little fine-tuning.
Garrett Stubbs, vibes master
If there is one Phillie I’m confident will be a media presence in a city for at least 30 years after he retires, it’s back-up catcher Garrett Stubbs, probably the most personable and fun player on the roster.
It was Stubbs who made “Dancing on My Own” the team’s anthem last season, but it’s not just that he’s the team’s official DJ. Take his engagement with the Little League World Series participants last weekend, or his post-game choice of apparel. (Overalls are big this year.)
It’s clear that Stubbs’ value goes beyond two-run doubles, or giving J.T. Realmuto a much needed day off once in a while.
Speaking of Stubbs, he appears to be trying to bring some European culture to Major League Baseball. Check out the double-check pecks he exchanged with Bryce Harper.
The Phillies have always celebrated big hits, but this year, they’ve taken to using a new celebration that, to the uninitiated, looks a little weird.
You need to have watched Major League 2, specifically this particular scene, in order to know what’s going on.
Having fun and winning games. What’s not to love?