Who needs talent when you have teamwork?

Sitcom impresario Jerry Seinfeld paid a recent visit to the New York Mets broadcasting booth to
Jerry_seinfeld discuss everything from Keith Hernandez's legendary guest appearance on 'Seinfeld' to Lady Gaga's typically gross behavior at a recent Mets game.

Jerry told the viewing audience that he was really impressed with the 2010 Mets. In fact, he predicted they had what it takes to go all the way to the World Series this year. Jerry turned to Keith, and asked Hernandez what he thought. “Well,” Keith stammered. “They have a lot of heart, but the 2006 team had more talent.” To which Seinfeld responded, “Who needs talent when you have teamwork?"

As it turns out, you need both. And, as recent weeks have painfully shown, the Mets are mighty short on talent. To wit:

– They have an over achieving pitching corps that is now being chewed up by competitors.
– They have a less than formidable closer who is now being chewed up by competitors.
– They have an injury-prone shortstop/lead-off man who always seems to spend more time on the injury list than on the field.
– They have two outfielders who, in the grand tradition of Jim Fregosi, George Foster, Bobby Bonilla and Mo Vaughn, are clearly past their prime (read: over-the-hill).
– They have a general manager who makes all the wrong moves and should have been fired last season.

That said, the 2010 Mets do seem to pull together and support one another when the chips are down. But, that's not enough.

Teamwork alone isn't enough in business either. We need talented people who can strategize, write well, doggedly pursue the media and be creative when they hit stone walls. It's important that they get along and be supportive, but 'team' without talent gets you only so far.

The Mets are finding that out as we speak. They've lost four straight series and were crucified last night by the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks. Jerry Seinfeld knows humor, but he doesn't know baseball. Talent is just as important as teamwork.

15 thoughts on “Who needs talent when you have teamwork?

  1. And, getting back to your main thesis here regarding talent vs. teamwork, is it merely coincidental that the team has tanked once the non-productive, but immensely popular, Francoeur was replaced with Beltran? I mean, if we’re playing rotisserie baseball on paper, this move is a no-brainer; but, in the real world of humanity and interpersonal chemistry, you have to wonder.

  2. I’d agree that hindsight is always 20-20. That said, the Mets seem unique in their ability to offload rising talent (from Ryan to Kazmir) and pick up dogs a la Fregosi, Foster, Bonilla, Vaughn and, I hate to say it, Francoeur and Bay.

  3. Actually, you could make the case — and prepare yourself for the distasteful information that follows — that Oliver Perez was a more accomplished pitcher at age 25 than was Ryan. That we doubt this trade now is more of a testament to Ryan overcoming the odds than to a bad move by management.
    The 1971 Mets were long on pitching and short on offense; hence, the acquisitions of Staub and Fregosi, when coupled with mainstays like Seaver, Koosman and Gentry, were meant to provide greater balance in 1972. To be sure, they were in first place and threatening to run away with the division when Staub went down with that hand injury.

  4. I actually checked on Fregosi. He was already on the downswing statistically, was 32 at the time of the trade and was anything but a long-term solution. Ryan, on the other hand, was on his way to the Hall of Fame.

  5. No, that was Bob Scheffing who made that infamous deal. But, that said, I’d argue that trade made sense at the time: Ryan figured to be, at best, their fourth starter (he’d been unseated by rookie Jon Matlack) while Fregosi, one year removed from an All-Star selection, looked to be a middle-of-the-order solution to their third-base problem.

  6. You clearly know your stuff, ghostofprpast. It may in fact be an ownership issue and not Minaya’s fault, but I doubt that. As for Frank Cashen, he was a great GM with both Baltimore and the Mets. But, he’s also the guy who traded Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi.

  7. I don’t think Omar turned the Expos into a respectable outfit; rather, I think he was tasked with keeping them from being contracted by MLB. To this end, he did curious things like trade Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore _and_ Cliff Lee for an aging Bartolo Colon.
    It’s worth noting that Omar was an Asst GM with the Mets when he left to take that job in Montreal. After Jim Duquette dealt Kazmir for the immortal Victor Zambrano, the Wilpons started begging Omar to come back. And, if you remember the press conference announcing his return, the key phrase, repeated over and over again, was “complete autonomy.” From there, the Wilpons did what any good family business would do: They signed Omar to a long-term deal and then, little by little, stripped away his power from him until he became nothing but their front man.
    As for Bay, he’s suffering from that same first-year-in-New-York syndrome that has befallen people like Foster, Beltran and Bonilla before him. I’d bet the ranch he’ll be fine next year.

  8. Let’s agree to disagree on this one, ghosgtofprpast. Mets ownership bought into the myth of Omar Minaya that was created when the latter served as general manager of the then Montreal Expos and turned them into a respectable outfit. As the Mets’ GM, Minaya has not made moves when moves should have been made (i.e. frontline, free agent pitching) and made others that are totally stupefying (i.e. of course Jason Bay would hit 30-plus home runs in Fenway Park and, as sure as rain, he’d struggle in the cavernous confines of CitiField. Can’t blame that miscue (and others) on ownership.

  9. If you think the problem is Omar, you’re not seeing the forest for the trees. It’s the ownership. They run a dysfunctional family business (kind of reminds one of a certain PR firm, eh?) and only hire GMs who can operate within that dysfunction, which includes, notably, allowing the owner’s son to have an influential voice in all decisions. You ever wonder why the Mets have failed to attract a top-notch GM since Frank Cashen? Wonder no more.

  10. As far as the Mets go, we’re getting worried here in Philly. Look for a Roy Oswalt trade to happen soon. It seems to be a possibility…

  11. Thanks, Milin. Success does hinge on blending just the right talent with teamwork. If it were easy, more businesses and sports teams would be winners. Teamwork can be taught and coached. Talent is god-given. So, I guess the answer is to surround oneself with as much talent as possible and then do one’s best to make them work together as one. And, for the record, you’re my favorite Drew alumnus.

  12. In your opinion, as an accomplished business leader and the GM of Peppercom Softball – what takes an organization further? Teamwork without talent or talent without teamwork? Understanding that at the end of the day, every organization strives for talent and team work.
    As a basketball coach, during the years where we lack substantial talent, we always preach team work. But, during the years we have all the talent needed, we find ourselves still preaching teamwork. In sports, talent will take you far, but can you win it all without teamwork? Five Kentucky basketball players went in the first round of the NBA draft, but they couldn’t win the title together.
    In business, I agree having talent in your organization is important – but how far can talent alone take you? How often does a clash occur when surrounding talent with more talent in the corporate environment? My opinion, finding exceptional management is most important for managing the talent you have both in corporate and athletic organizations. That’s why Phil Jackson has more rings than fingers, and John Calipari can’t seem to ever win it all even when surrounded by all the talent in the world.
    Another great post, even if it did come from a Northeastern alum.

  13. I’d agree there are exceptions to the rule, Carl. Vince Lombardi instilled teamwork and leadership with the then moribund Green Bay Packers and turned them into the best NFL team of the 1960s. That said, managers such as Clough and Lombardi are few and far between.

  14. I agree with you, RepMan, but after watching ‘Brian Clough: The Greatest Manager England Never Had?’ last night it’s clear that teamwork can be the most important factor, in some sports at least.
    Clough took unfashionable regional football teams and absolutely dominated them, creating such a sense of unity in the team that the players would walk through walls for each other. Even now it seems ridiculous to think that Nottingham Forest won the European Cup two years on the trot. They did; and it was all because of Cloughie.