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Why Intangibles Matter

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This doesn't have anything to do with the Cubs, but I have read two online columns today about the Johnny Damon signing by the Yankees.

At espn.com, Jim Caple says it's a dumb signing because:

It's about personality and spirit and being yourself instead of being forced into corporate pinstripes that don't suit you. Some players are meant for New York (Jeter) and some players aren't (Giambi). Damon is in a bad fit and his career will suffer (although maybe not as much as Bubba Crosby's).

Essentially, Caple is saying that Damon is too much the "Red Sox Idiot" and won't fit in to the corporate Yankee culture.

Now, Ian O'Connor thinks it's a GOOD deal for the Yankees -- for essentially the same reason:

The Yankees made a smart deal Tuesday night because they stole from the hated Red Sox a leadoff hitter and star center fielder, not to mention the lifeblood of Boston's Idiot movement.

So which is it? It could be either, but I'm with Caple. He further notes Jason Giambi's troubles in New York, and Giambi is a free spirit like Damon. The two were teammates with the A's in 2001. Giambi's troubles in New York, of course, aren't solely related to his free-spirit nature, but I can see Caple's point.

My point is -- there are things about baseball that cannot be measured on a stat sheet, or on the dollar line of a contract. You are talking about human beings playing a game, and at the same time doing a job.

This is why team chemistry is so important, whether you believe it or not. The 2003 Cubs are a fine example of that -- that team wasn't the most talented in its division, yet it won. It did so partly because of luck, but also partly because the players they had believed in themselves and believed in winning.

Do the 2006 Cubs have that in them? We do not know yet. In December 2002, I doubt any Cub fan thought the next year's Cub team did, either.

Discuss amongst yourselves.