It’s been an up and down week for the Royals’ No. 1 Draft Pick down in Arizona. On Monday, Bubba Starling got to begin his first game action in a Royals uniform during the Arizona Instructional League that runs through October 21. Excitement is high for Royals fans, who view Starling as the power-hitting cannon-armed Outfielder of the future. While stats aren’t kept during these games, it will be a good chance for the Royals to assess how Starling will begin to make his transition to becoming a professional athlete. There’s been a TON of talk, and now it’s time to start the journey.
Then, on Wednesday, we found out that Starling was cited for underage drinking during the previous weekend. It was a quick reminder not only of the immaturity of youth, but of the fact that this guy is just 19 years old.
Sure, it’s a disappointing start, but hopefully only a blip on a map of a long and fruitful career. But it makes you wonder, is he capable of handling all of the stress and pressure of the future expectations on his head? We just gave this guy $7.5 million dollars and before he got one hit, he got pulled over.
19 year olds make stupid mistakes. They drink. They steal road signs, blow things up, spray paint, and do countless other things that give their parents gray hairs. However, most 19 year olds do this crap at home. Or on a college campus, where it’s expected and somewhat tolerated.
Starling however, is different. He’s special. He represents the hopes and dreams of countless people that he’ll never meet. When he goes out on the weekend, he is no longer just representing himself, his parents, or his high school. He represents the Kansas City Royals.
I thought it was interesting how GM Dayton Moore handled the situation. It had to be frustrating to him, having to answer questions about his first round pick’s social choices rather than his powerful swing or imposing stature.
When asked about the incident, Moore played it off, saying “I love it, I really do,”. He called the incident a powerful “teaching moment” for Starling. “When things like that happen with our young players, it’s the greatest teaching moment that we can have. We can’t recreate that,”
He’s got a point. There are several members of every professional sports organization that are devoted strictly to the grooming and development of the young men who will represent their brand. No matter how much preaching goes on, mistakes and poor decisions will still be made.
Here’s hoping that Starling has the ability to put this thing behind him. Now is an important time in his development and he needs to be focusing on the transition. He has enough of a spotlight on him already, and did not need a black mark such as this to kick things off.
Everything that we’ve heard about Bubba is that he’s got a good head on his shoulders. It’s very possible that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the fact is that he made the wrong decision. He’s paying for it now, and hopefully the brush with the law will scare him straight.
Let’s hope so. The guy’s got a long future ahead of him and I don’t want to see him waste all the talent that he has.