200 Miles From the Citi

April 13, 2010 6:20 AM

Character And Clubhouse Chemistry

Holmes_SB_TD.JPGThe Jets - a Super Bowl contender - keep adding "questionable" characters.

The Mets - struggling to keep their heads above water - have a "quality" clubhouse.

Does one have to do with the other?

Let's tackle the age-old question - just what makes team chemistry?

And does good chemistry equal success?

A lot of the talk around the Mets is how much better the clubhouse is this year.  How much better the guys seem to be getting along.

And that makes me wonder, what's the big difference between this year and last year?  Why couldn't the team get along last year?

Jeff Francoeur was there for the second half of last season - he's supposed to be a big reason there has been a clubhouse turnaround - why didn't it happen when he first arrived?  Jason Bay, another supposed character guy,  couldn't have made that much difference in just his first month and a half with the team, could he?

So I'm thinking a lot about 'addition by subtraction' - there are quite a few people no longer present in the clubhouse who could have negatively affected the clubhouse - Brian Schneider?  Gary Sheffield?  Carlos Delgado?

Sheffield has a track record, but was never said to be anything but good with the Mets last year.  I know nothing about Schneider, and I always felt Delgado was a positive influence, but something telling happened last week.  Remember the big flap about the Spanish-speaking Mets avoiding the media in the 2006, 2007 seasons?  On a TV broadcast, Keith Hernandez commented about how great it was to see all the Mets after a game taking questions from the media for a while after the game.  Was that a shot at Delgado?  (I'm not sure he was involved in the media piece - I don't think he spoke with anyone - English or Spanish.)  Did Delgado have a more negative influence than I thought?

Still, good clubhouse or bad clubhouse, the result doesn't look to be much different for the 2010 Mets than the 2009 Mets.  A .500 team at best, I'd say.

Now the Jets.  They've just added Santonio Holmes, to go along with Antonio Cromartie as high-profile additions with low-level league reputations. 

Both have plenty of off-field issues to deal with.

Are they good moves by the Jets, supplementing a team that was a win away from the Super Bowl last year?  Or is it 'subtraction by addition'?

Holmes starts the season with a four-game suspension - some kind of substance abuse violation, though it has not been announced yet why he is being suspended.  He also enters the 2010 season off an off-season involving assault allegations.

He has a dicey past as well, which include a domestic assault incident as well as a drug arrest.

Coming on the heels of the Antonio Cromartie trade, who has paternity issues across the country, the Jets are definitely ignoring personalities for players they feel can help them win.

And the fact that these two have had such off-field issues doesn't necessarily make them bad guys to have in the clubhouse.

But maybe, just in case, it's why the Jets added LaDainian Tomlinson, who will be a solid clubhouse presence.  Maybe it's another reason they want a veteran leader like Jason Taylor to be on the team.

Worse people have done far more in life than win Super Bowls or World Series.  In many walks of life, character counts.  Maybe not so much on the football field.

And as for a solid clubhouse - check back in September and see if the Mets are still getting along when their disappointing season comes to an end.

At that point the Jets will just be starting a season that will go a long way in helping us understand just what kind of clubhouse makeup results in a Super Bowl win.

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