Mojo and March Madness

Most people, when talking about the Padres and their struggles last season, mention that elusive word: Chemistry.

Chemistry, like mixing two liquids in science class and getting a gas. Chemistry, like that thing I hear two people have sometimes when they are on a date. Or DON’T have (See: “Woman fakes illness and exits date during middle of dinner”).

Chemistry is an intangible, and you either got it or you don’t. Clubhouse swag, if you will. Mojo.

We don’t know if the Padres will find it or not this season, but any manager will tell you it helps. A lot. It’s usually paired with winning, and I think it’s a chicken or egg situation … Does the chemistry come first, then the winning? Or vice versa?

In the short time I’ve been at Spring Training, I’ve felt it. Swag. It’s not loud or egotistical or pretentious. It’s quiet, comfortable in its own skin.

Buddy Black does a lot during the club’s time in Peoria to encourage camaraderie. During the team’s morning meetings, he introduces new players by sharing something that most teammates wouldn’t know (like the fact that the player used to dress up for rodeos or be on his high school dance team or WHATEVER). He also is part of the annual basketball shoot-out, a tournament-style competition (a la “March Madness) between coaches and players.

Lest any of you tweet or Facebook me and say something silly like, “These players should be in the batting cages instead of on the basketball court,” … Sit down, take a deep breath, hit yourself in the head once and RELAX. This happens before practice starts and doesn’t cripple the team — it builds it.

Today, the tournament came down to two teams: The starting pitchers against the coaching staff. To see who won, scroll to the bottom.

Enjoy the pics!

Okay, so this one was taken yesterday, when the teams were still being whittled down. I love this shot. Remember — Will Venable played basketball for Princeton University. Cory Luebke was a hoops star in high school (along with baseball and football).

The players don’t really “defend” … they sorta stand there and raise their arms (c’mon, no one wants to get hurt). What they DO do is distract. Mark Kotsay is mostly in charge of this. Here he is with a leaf blower, which he aims at players as they take their shot.

Then there’s the bullhorn. Self-explanatory.

But nothing compares to the truck. I don’t know who the truck belongs to, but I can tell you it has a horn on it that is unlike any horn I’ve ever heard. My ears are STILL ringing from it 10 hours later. Big Truck Must Have Loud Noise, I guess. Anyways, it gets blasted whenever a player is about to shoot.

The only time there is silence is when Buddy has the ball. If the Skipper is shooting, there are no horns, no leaf blowers, nothing. Just respect.

Teammates watching the game held face signs, just like this Dave Roberts one.

So who won? The starting pitchers. Cheers to Joe Wieland, Tim Stauffer, Corey Luebke, and Dustin Moseley!

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