At every stage of your life, there are ways to measure your success. In business or personal life, over short or long periods of time, there is a measuring stick. There are goals and categories, highs and lows, awards and punishments. Whether you’re in school and bring home a report card or you have to sit through your yearly performance review and look at your sales numbers, your success is measured.
In sports, success is often oversimplified. Wins, Championships, Pennants, and Rings are what teams strive for. Stats, MVPs, Contracts, Endorsements, and Models are what individuals are after.
It’s simple – he with the most wins, well…wins. He with this most home runs, the most touchdowns, the highest scoring average wears the crown.
So how do we possibly measure the success of the Kansas City Royals?
The team is 19 games under .500 and in last place yet again. Next year will have to be next year.
When I had a chance to talk with Ned Yost last week, I had the previous sentences in mind when I asked him, “at this point in the season going forward, what kind of goals do you guys play towards?”
Ned’s answer – though a little cliché – was “to win every day”. Of course, that’s what the manager has to say. He explained that his goal was to win every game, but not to do things that might be detrimental to the big picture. He talked about having young guys and getting them in the line-up. Getting them experience seemed to mean more than winning every day.
Let’s take the pitching staff out of the conversation for right now. It depresses me to talk about, and it’s something the Royals know they need to take care of. I am leaving it out of this article.
The team on the field these days is the team that Royals fans have been clamoring for. The most highly touted farm system in professional baseball has slowly turned those men into big league ballplayers. Save for Melky Cabrera (who is the team’s leading hitter), and Jeff Francoeur (who is tied for the team lead in HR), the rest of the pieces are in place.
The problem is, this team has more Growing Pains than Kirk Cameron.
What we’ve seen from the rookies on this team has been both moments of greatness and humility. Inconsistency. What you can see, is both the potential and the inexperience. So what are the goals?
I wanted Ned to throw out a number of wins or say they’re going to catch the Twins before the end of the season. He’s right though, those aren’t logical goals for this team. The goal has got to be to gain experience, take their lumps, learn, study, get better, and come out next year hardened and focused on winning from Game one. If they win games this year, there is benefit in that, but the goal is not to finish in fourth place. The goal is to get everyone to the show & let them fight the battle together.
Individually, you know everyone has their own goals in mind. Eric Hosmer would like to hit .300 and could. Alcides Escobar would like to make less than 20 errors and could. I’m sure they all have high expectations after having such great success in the minor leagues, but they’ve got to be realistic. The players they are facing now are the best in the world. Night after night, after night.
Someone like Mike Moustakas is clearly capable of hitting over .200, but has struggled in his first couple of months as a Royal. And although his batting average hasn’t climbed yet, he is improving. It’s been tough as a fan to watch him struggle, but I believe that these challenges are forcing him to work harder than he’s ever had to in his professional career. He is confident that if he continues to work, the success will come.
The bottom line is, we as fans need to take the same approach for the rest of this year. Don’t worry about wins and losses. Don’t worry about slumps, lack of production, or mistakes. Success is defined differently for this team right now. We will probably finish in last place again and be under .500 for the year. Undoubtedly, another percent of the fan base will write off the Royals and go become Cardinals fans. Let them go. Let them be disappointed.
Let us be the ones to watch this group come together and form the team that will bring us new memories in the coming years. Go out to the stadium and cheer these guys on. Buy their jerseys, give them encouragement, and take comfort in knowing that things will get better.