Bay Area Sports Teams Succeed with Chemistry


The San Francisco Giants have discovered one of the key formulas for success in the modern era of sports: team chemistry.

Sure, it helps that Madison Bumgarner decided to strap a saddle on his own back and carry his team to the title. But let’s face it, the amount of pressure placed upon today’s athletes by fans, media and owners is tremendous. Learning to trust your teammates is a distraction that is best kept at a minimum.

Chemistry doesn’t necessarily mean that the team goes out and has dinner together after each game. It doesn’t mean that playing video games or having a dice game is necessary between players. But the simple fact that all the players on a given team are pulling in the same direction without any ulterior motives is important. For the Bay Area sports teams that I follow – the Giants, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Golden State Warriors – the unity from top to bottom is a major part of their success.

Next: Keys to the Game: Chargers at 49ers

Last season was supposed to be the year that the Los Angeles Dodgers won the whole thing, right? They had the payroll, the talent and the ability to obtain any available player.

So what happened?

Live Feed

MLB Rumors: Braves striking out, Ohtani spurned Giants, Soto-Yankees extension
MLB Rumors: Braves striking out, Ohtani spurned Giants, Soto-Yankees extension /


  • MLB Rumors: Cody Bellinger market takes shape after Jung Hoo Lee dealFanSided
  • Jung Hoo Lee contract details and grade: Giants finally land big fish with KBO starFanSided
  • SF Giants break free agent slump with massive 6-year deal for Korean starAround the Foghorn
  • 5 best free agents available after Shohei Ohtani deal and where they’ll signFanSided
  • SF Giants' quest for Yamamoto is a chance at redemption after losing out on Shohei OhtaniAround the Foghorn
  • I like to say that the baseball gods don’t like greed, but deep down, I realize that it’s more a product of the togetherness of the group. The teams that want to play with and for each other always take losses the hardest. They not only hate losing, but they also hate letting down their teammates. How many players on the Giants wanted to win the World Series specifically for Tim Hudson? Do you hear that type of attitude in many other clubhouses?

    Absolutely not! The word team has in many cases turned into “a collection of players playing for the contract that they signed or are eventually going to sign.” And until owners, general managers, coaches, players and fans figure out how to come together for one specific goal, there will be limited success.

    Oct 7, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw reacts in the 7th inning during game four of the 2014 NLDS baseball playoff game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

    The 49ers have shown what can happen on the other end of the spectrum. The year looked so promising entering this season. With most of the team coming back and a brand new stadium to perform in, the level of expectation was at its peak. But what looked like minor issues at the time, quickly mushroomed into chemistry killers.

    More from Golden Gate Sports

    Jim Harbaugh had his not-so-private clashes with the front office, Vernon Davis and Alex Boone had contract disputes and the team allowed several key team members to depart via free agency. Players like Anthony Dixon, C.J. Spillman, and especially Jonathan Goodwin were what I like to call “glue guys.” Goodwin held the offensive line together, with Dixon and Spillman both providing depth and premier special teams help.

    Contract disputes will always raise questions as to what the player’s motives are. I understand that it is not all on the individual player. The agents also play a role in this, but it is still up to the player to make a decision on who their agent is and where they want to play. All that is in addition to the problems off the field with Aldon Smith, Ray McDonald and, earlier in the year, Colin Kaepernick. So much dysfunction within the 49ers organization has led them to where they are now: 7-7 and out of the playoff race.

    In order to move forward in a positive way, the chemistry must return.

    Oct 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and head coach Jim Harbaugh during the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

    Over in the East Bay, a team that also has seen its fair share of dysfunction has finally begun to understand the importance of playing together.

    Stephen Curry, arguably the leading MVP candidate, makes less money this year than the team’s sixth man, Andre Iguodala. That is not only a testament to Curry’s composure and team-first-mentaility but also to Iguodala for not complaining about his new role.

    This is no small thing in the world of sports today. With players saying that they are going to get as much as they can, the successful ones are willing to sacrifice for the good of the team.

    And for the aforementioned “glue guys”, the very definition of that term lies squarely on Draymond Green. Green would start at point guard if Steve Kerr asked him to. The players who are talented and also have a team-first-attitude always wind up being winners. They can lay their head down at night knowing that they gave maximum effort – win, lose, or draw.

    I won’t speculate as to whether Mark Jackson was justifiably fired or not. But the success of this year’s team has shown that synergy throughout an organization does indeed play a key role.

    Chemistry in each sport is a different. Basketball requires precision on the court, knowing where each man will be at a given time. Football has passing and blocking schemes that require a player to rely on the person next to them. Baseball is about relying on your teammates to make that diving grab or get that timely hit.

    But all things considered, chemistry is still about playing for each other.

    Next: ICYMI: Giants Trade for Marlins' 3B Casey McGehee

    How many of the newly acquired San Diego Padres understand the culture of that franchise? Is it smart to risk trading for Justin Upton when he may only play there for one year? The Padres have to think that this is their year since they aren’t really building a house, but instead moving into a nice high-priced rental. Maybe they are just tired of the status quo and just want to give it one good shot.

    I know that before 2010, I was teetering on whether the Giants should be a team like the Miami Marlins, who were then known as the Florida Marlins. Did I want a team to win one and then have a fire sale and be out of contention for several years? I think the Giants and Warriors have done it the right way by cultivating talent from within and sprinkling in players that buy into the team’s culture.

    I will never wear a Giants jersey with a players’ name on it. As the saying goes, the name on the front is much more important than the name on the back. Can one argue with three Championships in five-years? I think not.