This year’s team? No fun at all. Or so observes Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan.
This spring, the Twins clubhouse is almost as quiet as their lineup.
That might be irrelevant. It might be generational. This is certain: It feels familiar. Being around the clubhouse this spring was like watching reruns of a show you hate.
Not to preach about the old days, but in the old days the Twins clubhouse was part finishing school, part vaudeville act.
Souhan continues by wondering if the difference between then and now has to do with the advent of smartphones and social media sites. Closer and social media superstar Glen Perkins refuted this, suggesting that winning creates chemistry.
It’s an interesting topic, team chemistry. For long, statistician have denounced or avoided the subject, believing that the effects are immeasurable. Still, there are others who claim Rays’ manager Joe Maddon’s antics or Boston’s decision to load the roster with “character guys” help them milk out a few more wins. Last year, Sam Miller examined the subject in conjunction with the Oakland A’s and found that there were some academics were creating studies on the issue. According to the findings of professors from Rutgers, the clubhouse chemistry equates to a math problem:
“Central to her research is the idea of fault lines, the divisions that keep some employees isolated from others. Think about fault lines like cliques in high school: If five friends all love cheerleading and five other friends all love marching band, then those 10 people are divided into two groups that don't interact. But if girls from each group are also into, say, running the school's canned-food drive, there is now a third, overlapping group. And if there's a conflict between a cheerleader and a flutist, there are networks for resolving it.
Bezrukova and Spell tracked every MLB team's demographics: age, race and country of origin, along with salary and position. They found that teams with lots of overlap -- say, the three Venezuelans on the team who play different positions; the high-priced veterans who speak different languages -- outperformed teams with severe fault lines by about three wins per year.”
Are there clubhouses have tons of fun that are losing teams too? Probably. Are there winning clubhouses that are filled with silence and separatists? Maybe.
Are the Twins players a bunch of city-state warriors with little overlap? Possibly. Unlike the 1980s and 2000s guys, the core group did not come up together. That said, the Red Sox, Rays and A’s constantly pump in fresh blood from outside of the organization and still maintain the elite clubhouse chemistry vibe.
Similar to the Rutgers study and what Perkins alluded to, winning is a shared overlapping group. No one wants to share in losing.