Nationals

Nationals

One of baseball’s ongoing debates will never take a break because there’s no way to prove who is right.

Does clubhouse chemistry matter? Probably not if you don’t have a bunch of talented players at the lockers.

So, let’s say the roster is expensive and filled with healthy talent. What then? Is there value? Are there tangible ways to influence play on the field because people get along after going up the ramp from the dugout?

The Nationals would unequivocally say, “yes,” if they were asked. The players, the manager, the general manager, the owner. They all -- at some point or another last year -- pointed out their perceived value of clubhouse chemistry.

One Hall-of-Fame player disagrees with them.

Tuesday, Cal Ripken Jr. was first asked on the Rich Eisen Show about the necessity of the traditional clubhouse to exist when, or if, baseball restarts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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“All those things can be worked around because the real competition starts when you are facing the pitcher on the mound, and you get in situations and try to win a game,” Ripken said. “I think all of the natural instincts of all the athletes kick in at such a high level. Where it’s not that they’re blocking out any fan participation -- there’s nothing like having that element, that environment. That’s the difference of playing in the minor leagues a lot of times in front of hardly anybody and then come to the big leagues, you’ve got to make an adjustment to that level. But, I think everyone will adjust.”

 

Ripken noted he rarely goes into the clubhouse postgame these days, but then pointed out many players are gone when he does, saying players in his generation tended to stay around longer after games. Then, he went on to mostly discount clubhouse camaraderie.

“I don’t know what clubhouse camaraderie is,” Ripken said. “To me, chemistry and camaraderie are built out there on the field. It is built on your successes out there in the eighth inning, executing a bunt play, holding a guy on, throwing a guy out stealing, preserving a win with a double play. I think all those confidences are made mostly out on the field.”

Ripken played for 21 years. He’s in the Hall of Fame, has an unbreakable streak and has lived around Major League Baseball for 40 years. His view is thoroughly informed. It’s also one the members of the Nationals’ postgame Conga line would strongly disagree with.

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