Teamwork in Baseball

Baseball is very much a team game. There are nine players on the field and there are typically 25 players at a time on a Major League roster. A star pitcher can't do well if the fielders don't make plays behind him and a slugger can't drive in any runs if the hitters in front of him in the lineup don't get on base. Everybody has to chip in and play their positions.

Alex Rodriguez's hip injury has been a big story in the news this spring. As well it should be  Rodriguez is one of the best players in baseball and the fact that he is going to miss more than a month of the season puts the Yankees at a disadvantage.

But lots of teams have been able to succeed when their star players get hurt or not playing well. In 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays lost star third baseman Evan Longoria to an injury for almost a month in August and September, but still made the playoffs and eventually reached the World Series. The Boston Red Sox only had their big slugger, David Ortiz, for 109 games in 2008 but were also able to make the playoffs. Both the Devil Rays and the Red Sox used teamwork to make up for the loss of one of their star players. Rodriguez' injury also provides an opportunity for the other players on the Yankees to step up and show how important teamwork is in baseball.

Defensively, even the simplest plays in baseball involve several players. First, the pitcher has to agree with the catcher on what pitch to throw. Then, even if the hitter swings and misses, the catcher still has to catch the ball. On a grounder, the infielder has to field the ball and throw it to the first baseman, who has to catch it and step on the base for the out. Even on a routine pop-up to centerfield, the other outfielders will yell directions at the centerfielder telling him to move forward or back or left or right.

On offense, teamwork is just as important. If a fast baserunner is looking to steal a base, the hitter has to help him out by taking the pitch. And while solo home runs are great, isn't a grand slam the play that gets everybody excited?

It's true that the Yankees are a better team with A-Rod in the lineup. But that doesn't mean the Yankees are doomed for the season. Rodriguez is just one player, and it takes a whole team to win a championship.

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