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Team chemistry makes or breaks a team. That’s my takeaway from sports columnist Joan Ryan’s fascinating new book, Intangibles. Inspired by the 1989 San Francisco Giants’ improbable run to the World Series, Ryan spent the last 10 years looking at all kinds of players, from superstars to journeymen, to uncover the archetypal roles they serve on their teams: the sparkplug, the sage, the kid, the enforcer, the buddy, the jester, the warrior. The chemistry that comes from that magical mix of players who inspire, support, and believe in each other can’t manufacture talent, but it does maximize whatever talent a team has. And you’re not going to go far without it.
mixing the deeply emotional with the highly technical, presented with the kind
of sensitive, authoritative touch readers came to expect from Ryan."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"Engaging…good reading, especially for baseball fans."
"With her exhaustive research and breezy prose, Ryan has created something unique and lasting."
"Ever since the wave of analytics began to dominate decision-making in baseball, many insiders have been worried that human connections were being marginalized and stripped out of the game. In a compelling way, Intangibles
settles the debate about the merits and validity of the role team chemistry plays in enhancing individual, and ultimately team performance."—Vince Gennaro, President of the Societyfor American Baseball Research (SABR) and Associate Professor at the NYU TischInstitute for Sports Management, Media, and Business
"Nuanced...complex...All of this makes for a mind-opening study that extends far
beyond the confines of any ballpark."
"Team chemistry is real
and it impacts performance. Now we know the why and the how. With terrific storytelling and deep research into the
science of human relationships, Joan Ryan has delivered the seminal work on the
capacity of teams - in sports, business or otherwise - to summon the
best from one another.''
—Billie Jean King,founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative
chemistry is no longer valued in baseball today, which is a big mistake. It is
crucial for every team; it is critical to winning. Joan Ryan explains what team
chemistry actually is and how it affects performance in this fascinating and
important book. The voices in here are powerful. This should be required
reading for every general manager of every major league team.''
—Tim Kurkjian, seniorbaseball writer/analyst, ESPN
"In this entrancing book, Joan Ryan goes on a deep dive into both the human brain and the locker room and delivers a compelling, surprising look at the nature of team chemistry, and its dramatic impact on the sports we love. Outstanding work."
—Rob Neyer, author of Powerball
"In a laboratory, chemistry can be defined. But when it comes to personal and team dynamics, chemistry is among the things about which it can be said: "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." While a precise definition will always be elusive, Joan Ryan's lively, thoughtful, and carefully reported book brings us much closer to an understanding of what team chemistry is and can be."
"Joan Ryan writes the
way we all wish we could: clearly, simply and powerfully, with nothing wasted.
Intangibles is a sports book but it's really a mystery. In a time when players
are reduced to assets and data, Joan returns the people to the room. How they
interact - or don't - is so much of why we watch. This really is a terrific
—HowardBryant, author of The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron