I love the Kansas City Royals. Having been a Royals fan my entire adult life, I have seen a lot of losing games. But, this team is different. This team is way different from the 1985 Royals, which show-cased our only Hall of Famer, George Brett. George Brett was a superstar. There are no superstars on this 2015 Royals team. There are no Babe Ruth-like home run hitters. There are no Sandy Koufax-like pitchers. What the Royals have is so much more. These are the qualities of the Royals that make them shine:
1. Teamwork - They work together. They celebrate each other. When one player makes a good play, the others are ecstatic. You get the impression that this team really cares about each other. The whole is really greater than the sum of their parts.
2. Hard work - While the Royals are talented, they work hard. They run and jump just a little farther to make that play. They practice catching the ball glove-less and stoking it back-handed to stop that potential double. They work hard and go above and beyond what is required of a professional baseball player. They require themselves to continually be exceptional, not be because they are exceptionally talented, but because they push themselves to be great.
3. Trust - While I have criticized Ned Yost for being anti-sabermetrics, I see that he has a bigger plan. He does not give up on his players. Sometimes he has let pitchers stay in the game when it seems too long, but the real message to his players is that he trusts them to figure out a way to play their best. Johnny Cueto struggled against the Blue Jays, but Yost slotted Cueto for the second game. Cueto was the only starting pitcher on either side of the game who finished an entire game, even though the Mets' strength was their starting rotation.
4. PERSISTENCE - I wrote this word in all caps because persistence is what really makes the difference in this World Series. And persistence makes the difference in real life. If people give up easily, they are less likely to achieve their goals in life or lead a productive, satisfying life. Coming behind in late innings 8 of 11 postseason games is nothing short of amazing. When others would give up on the Royals, they never gave up on themselves. In two of the World Series games, the first and the last, those kids tied up the game in the 9th inning and went on to win spectacularly in extra innings. Wow!
I hope lots of parents are showing their children what the traits of teamwork, hard work, trust and persistence mean. Through the entire existence of the Royals only one team member has made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. None championship Royals of 2015 may see their way into Cooperstown, or maybe they will. It doesn't matter. The Royals are Superstars, examples for us all.