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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Good team chemistry can go a long way

    There is one thing that the world of sports just doesn’t understand.

    All the teams with the best overall talent simply cannot win a championship. It just doesn’t happen, and the history is there to prove it.

    Every year, the majority of baseball publications pick the Yankees to win the World Series. After 26 world championships, it’s by far the safest, easiest way to predict a champion.

    The Bronx Bombers could very well be the next champions of Major League Baseball, but if it happens, it won’t be because they have the best talent, because they don’t (see White Sox, Chicago).

    General Managers and scouts should start taking heed. Last year, the Houston Astros appeared in their first World Series ever after tanking throughout the first half of the season. In 2004, the Red Sox came back from the depths of defeat to snatch four victories from the hated Yankees, and in 2003 the (mighty?) Marlins beat the Yankees to win a championship.

    If everything was measured by talent, the baseball publications would indeed be correct every year, but they’re not.

    There is one thing that goes beyond talent, something that is immeasurable for the commonwealth of all sports teams, and that is team chemistry.

    Take last year’s softball national champions, for example. The Arizona softball team probably was not the best team in the College World Series.

    In the course of the season, the Wildcats played UCLA three times and lost all three times. It was bad; borderline ridiculous for such a storied program like Arizona.

    UA head coach Mike Candrea went on a rampage after the second loss, and from around that point on, the team simply was not the same.

    Could it have been that Candrea is just that good of a coach? He is in legendary company, but let’s face it: One man alone, especially someone who doesn’t even play in the field, cannot change the outcome of a season so drastically.

    What we do know, however, is that one bad seed can ruin it for everybody. (See Owens, Terrell).

    Maybe last year’s team simply was the best team in the NCAAs, but if they were, all those midseason losses just don’t make sense.

    “”At the beginning of the season, we weren’t the best team,”” said catcher Callista Balko. “”But we worked hard and had the best chemistry. We were always best friends off the field. I think that was what got us where we had to be.””

    Let’s take nothing away from the champions, though. Last year’s team was the best in Arizona’s recent past, and that’s saying a lot for a team that now has seven titles.

    Perhaps the person to best explain Arizona’s case from last year was shortstop Kristie Fox.

    “”It was a little bit of everything,”” she said. “”We had some good fortune. We had a good draw, but we took the teams down together, and we stuck together through the hard times so we could end out on top.””

    Anybody who came down to Hillenbrand Stadium last year or watched the Women’s College World Series on ESPN saw just how much all the women on the team liked each other.

    They are basically a sorority without the hassle of the greek system. The entire team is with each other all the time.

    They are so close that several of them share living spaces. They celebrate victories together and mourn together. Simply put, they are all on the same page.

    On the other hand, ex-basketball players Hassan Adams and Chris Rodgers were not on the same page as coach Lute Olson last year. Adams was arrested for driving under the influence and Rodgers was booted from the team at one point for attitude problems. Both players came back, but the team appeared to lack a major leader.

    There is obviously much margin for error in this theory, however. Sometimes teams are just so good that it doesn’t matter what type of personality anybody on the team has, but that is rarely the case, as sports are a lot more psychological than what people normally understand.

    The easiest way to explain any sports prediction is to find the team with the best raw talent, but maybe now we can look outside that box and try to find the team with the best chemistry, because the previous science hasn’t worked in years.

    Mike Ritter is a journalism junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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