Chemically Reactive

by Ross Friedman

How important is clubhouse chemistry? How many wins can it add to a team? How many wins can bad clubhouse chemistry take away from a team?

It's a much-debated topic and one that nobody really knows the answer to. You have arguments such as current Yankee teams that get along great and win. However a strong counter argument is that late 70s Yankees that fought constantly but won anyway.

But if clubhouse chemistry means something, and I think it does, here is the list of the five players I least want to see on my team.

Number 5: Roberto Alomar

First, let me say, this has little to do with the spitting incident. That was stupid, but he's never done anything that stupid before or since, so we'll let that go. John Hirshcbeck did so we can too. I don't think that in his personal life he's a bad guy. He made this list because as talented as he is he doesn't try when he doesn't feel like it.

When he was in Baltimore and they were losing, Alomar never ran hard for anything. These days in Cleveland he still doesn't get down to second base to try to break up double plays. He doesn't run out pop-ups or groundballs if he doesn't think he can make it. Unless he sees that he can pad his statistics with a hit, he doesn't run hard at all.

That is where it becomes a problem for a team. First, you can lose games that way. Second, it's horrible influence on younger players. They come up and see All-Star Roberto Alomar not legging out plays, then they think that's how things work in the big leagues.

Number 4: Rickey Henderson

Rickey definitely gets the career achievement award in this category. He's been a horrible teammate for his entire career. However, he used to be one of the best players to ever play the game of baseball so teams would tolerate it. Well, now that he is just a serviceable leadoff man as compared to the best leadoff man ever as he used to be, teams aren't so tolerant anymore.

Just ask the Mets. The Mets didn't even have a decent replacement and they got rid of him anyway. How is a guy so fast such a horrible fielder? It's because he walks after balls. He only runs when it can get him a stolen base or a run scored. George Brett has more career triples than Rickey (I need to check if that's true or not). That's inexcusable.

Number 3: Juan Gonzalez

I've never seen a guy who cares more about his numbers than this guy. I still remember a game in 1998 when the Rangers were in the middle of what was almost a great comeback against the Yankees. Gonzalez lost an RBI because the official scorekeeper correctly called the play an error and no RBI. Gonzalez was yelling and screaming at the scorer from the dugout and completely ignoring the fact that his team was trying to comeback and win a baseball game.

The day he saw how far the outfield walls are in the new Comerica Park he wanted out of Detroit. And since that day he hasn't tried once to make sure they won't want him back anyway. He's so obsessed with his statistics and trying to make the Hall of Fame that he completely forgot about the essence of the game is still about trying to win.

Number 2: Albert Belle

This guy is just mean. He's flat out scary. When he's not hitting trick-or-treaters with his car, he's scaring his teammates instead. He's taken baseball bats to clubhouses (even in spring training), once took a bat to a teammate's cell phone when he was in Cleveland.

The guy can flat out hit. He always could. However, it's not a great thing when your Albert Belle's teammate and aren't sure if you'll be the next thing he decides to hit. He had an out-clause in his contract with the White Sox. The White Sox organization was never happier than the day he took it. The Orioles would love nothing more now than for somebody to take Belle of their hands. Nobody seems to want to do that for them.

Number 1: John Rocker

Big surprise, huh? I hate being predictable but there really was no other choice. When his own teammates call him a cancer, when the veterans on the team won't even talk to him, you know there's a problem. The fact is the entire baseball establishment hates John Rocker. He never got along with teammates even before his comments in Sports Illustrated.

He would blame teammates (like Ozzie Guillen) for his own loss if the player wasn't able to get to a ball. He never cared about giving up inherited runs, just as long as they don't go on his ERA. And except for a few redneck fans in Atlanta, and his cheering section in the Klan, nobody likes this guy. His teammates and coaches all dislike him and have said so, just like most of America did as well.

Send Ross your opinions, comments or verbal abuse at ross@JBaseball.

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