STACK recently visited the MLB Fan Cave, a huge space in New York City dedicated solely to baseball. Upon walking in, it struck us as a perfect place for a team to hang out, play video games and have fun together. In addition to a huge set of television screens—for viewing multiple games simultaneously—the Fan Cave flaunts a billiard table, foosball and shuffleboard tables, computers and a jukebox, making it a great spot to bond with a team.
Athletes who stopped by the Fan Cave on its opening day included Detroit Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson and Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage. STACK asked them for ways to improve team chemistry off the field. Old-timer Gossage offered that of the nine different teams he played for during his MLB career, the most cohesive frequently ate meals together. "We'd go to dinner a lot with different groups of guys, three, four or five of us," said Gossage, who cited his 1978 championship Yankees team as a "very close knit group of guys."
Jackson remarked, "[Chemistry is] something that come naturally. Guys aren't perfect out there, so you want to be backing [them] up." All players have strengths and weaknesses—and it's each player's job to realize what they are and to learn how to use them for the team's advantage.
Point is, if you spend time with your teammates off the field, it can only work to your benefit in that critical game down the stretch. In addition to playing video games, sharing music and watching baseball, activities such as pool and ping-pong are great, because they can get you out of the house.
It's fun to share experiences that you don't necessarily associate with your sport. You may not be best friends with everyone on your team, but it's important to respect and appreciate them; and these feelings can grow more easily by hanging out with them in settings other than sports and school. After all, to get that perfect game in baseball, you must be able to back up the guy on the mound—but, more important, you must want to back him up.
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