The inference there is the Dodgers have more talent, but the Giants, who have won two championships in the last three years, seem to have the right group of guys.
“I think it just comes down to your manager and coaching staff being able to identify what is needed on that team with that group of people to create good chemistry,” Giants GM Brian Sabean said. “There’s no magic formula except that if your people have been around long enough and they understand what it takes, you’re bound to get it right.”
And don’t forget, Sabean also oversaw successful Giants teams with Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, whose reputations weren’t exactly stellar. Some of Bonds’s self-absorbed antics and the all-consuming attention paid to his quest to break the home run record may have cost the Giants more chances at a championship.
The 2012 Red Sox simply had the wrong mix of players, not necessarily from a performance aspect but from a tone-setting one. Carl Crawford’s whining, Adrian Gonzalez’s clubhouse politics, Josh Beckett’s surliness.
The 2001 Red Sox team also had a toxic mix with Carl Everett, Jose Offerman, Ugueth Urbina, and Mike Lansing, resulting in one brush fire after another. Dan Duquette always said winning breeds good chemistry, but that team seemed doomed with too many distractions to overcome.
Garner has a very interesting take on team chemistry. He said it can start with middle relief.
“Good chemistry is built in those situations where you might be behind by three runs and you bring your middle relievers in and if they can hold things where they are and your team feels it can come back and win, that does so much for team chemistry you wouldn’t believe,” Garner said.
Garner also believes you have to have “alpha dogs” in the clubhouse. When he managed Houston he had Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, who set the young players straight. In Milwaukee he had Robin Yount.
“When there’s veteran leadership, chemistry develops,” Garner said. “When you don’t, it can go the other way quickly.”