Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Trade Deadline Anxieties

ESPN the Magazine has a column called "MLB Player X" that is written by anonymouse MLB All-Star. In his latest column (insider only; from the July 26 2010 issue), Player X talks about the trade deadline and the effects on individual and team performance...and references that "team chemistry" thing that people tende to reference so much:

Keeping the team together and focused when all the gossip begins to fly can be tricky. My job as a veteran is to rally everyone to make sure we all play together. I know that sounds hokey, but it's really true. If someone has put his individual interests ahead of what's best for the collective, he'll hear about it. From me. As long as you come to the clubhouse every day, I'll play for you. But I will also expect you to play for me. That's how winners go about their business, even when winning isn't the easiest thing to do.

When a guy does get traded, you might not even see him before he goes. The first time that happened, I was in shock. A couple of buddies I'd come up with were sent packing, and the reality hit me like a Mack truck. A big part of my life was going to be out of my control for a long time. I've been around long enough now to understand it's going to happen to me; it's just a matter of when. [...]

Soon enough, though, a new teammate shows up in the old one's place, and you have to integrate him into the group as fast as possible. You can't sit around and sulk. It's sort of like losing the family pet. Everybody has a long face until the new dog shows up. I hear a lot of commentators say chemistry in team sports is overblown, that guys don't need to like each other to play well. I couldn't disagree more. The closer you are to the dude next to you, the harder you may run to break up that double play. If you're having fun together, you refuse to let your teammates down. Similarly, a me-first guy might be too busy thinking about hearing his name on the trade winds to chase a ball into the stands. Anxiety will affect performance, if you let it.

I've never played professional baseball. But at the same time, I wake up every morning and think about "being traded" from my job for a new talent--and that fear is enough to keep me driving (or at least has been for most of my working life). What if someone buys my company or if management changes; would I still be employed? I don't think that sort of professional-level anxiety negatively impacts my ability to be a good team player. In fact, I think it makes me a better contributor, one that is more willing to chase that ball into the stands. Maybe that's not the same in baseball.


Kyle Baker said...

Waaay OT:

If I were forced at gunpoint to be a Gnats fan for just one day, it would be this one:

Nostradamus said...

OK, that's got to be a Torii Hunter quote.

rbnlaw said...

Ted Lilly Ted Lilly Ted Lilly

There I said his name 3 times. Now he has to appear on the Dodger roster, yes?

Nostradamus said...

Haven't heard one peep about potential bullpen acquisitions, interestingly enough.

Josh S. said...

I've only heard "long shot for Scott Downs."

We didn't hear anything about Sherrill before it happened, did we?