No two players can represent hardship and determination better in the Kansas City Royals system than Kyle Zimmer and Bubba Starling.
Each new year brings hope that things will finally turn around for Kyle Zimmer and Bubba Starling. The attention starts every spring but leads to another disappointment as the year progressed. The pressure on them, and that they put on themselves, must have been difficult to experience and deal with. Yet, the two continue to fight through each setback in hopes of making a difference for the Kansas City Royals.
I’m not going to go over the statistics, the injuries, and the many disappointments both have faced. I’m not going to talk about the how good they could be or the possibilities of their chances of finally reaching the big leagues. I want to talk about the sheer determination the two of them have displayed to get to where they are now.
I once met Ed Hearn. He is known best as being part of what is considered to be one of the worst trades in Royals history. David Cone was traded to the Mets for Hearn. Injured almost from the beginning, his health continued to decline, and he came close to death. But, Hearn is one of the most uplifting men I have ever met. Each challenge only made him work harder. Each day was always going to be a good one. He never gave up. My life was enriched by meeting him.
Though neither has had to face the depths of problems Hearn faced, each has not given up. Do not discount what that means. Both could have given up by now, and their stories would have quickly faded away. They could have taken the money they signed for and went home. Yet here we are and these two, still young men, are ready to give it one more try. Maybe their last try.
Every year, a new crop of around 1000 new prospects will join major league clubs. We classify and grade them. Rate them against each other. Dream about their potential. The players work hard to make The Show. They either advance until they make the big leagues, are released, or quit. Whit Merrifield kept working even though the odds were against him. Zimmer and Starling would not have been resigned if they had not shown that same commitment.
We don’t see the sacrifice and long hours needed to be an elite athlete. Despite an athlete’s best efforts, potentials are not always realized, and bodies break down. Life has a way of making you humble. Sometimes we forget how human our heroes really are. Kyle Zimmer and Bubba Starling were at the top of their class at one time. Now, they are fighting for what may be their last chance of playing in the majors.
I don’t know how well or long they will play from this time forward. All I know is they have paid their dues. The time has come for good fortune, luck ,and health to shine down on both of them.