Probably Rudyard Kipling’s most famous and well liked poem is ‘If–’ and in particular it contains the lines:
If you can dream–and not make dreams your master
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim
If you can meet Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
The last two lines of that verse are quite well known in some sports; tennis fans in particular will know that they are written on the wall of the players entrance to Centre Court at Wimbledon.
The Kansas City Royals must, if not actively bear these words in mind, at least heed them. Last year one of the great problems faced by the young and inexperienced Royals was an inability to cope with Disaster in particular. Everyone will have seen the disastrous 12 game losing streak in April, but there were other very similar situations throughout the year. There are many causes, certainly, but one of them was that the players started to panic after a few losses and could not then stop the rot.
But, of course, dealing with disaster is only half of the task and the Royals will certainly intend to have a bit of triumph with which to deal as well. It is imperative as well that if the players do get on a roll during the season and perhaps find themselves in the unfamiliar position of first place or even just a pennant race they keep their heads. It has been shown time and time again in sport that Kipling very much knew what he was writing and if a team gets carried away with triumph that disaster will follow hard upon.
This may be the single greatest challenge for the Royals this year. They have assembled a very talented team and all the pieces are in place for at the very least a push for the top of the table. It is a bit much to expect it so soon, but it is not out of the question. But how the team will react is completely unknown. They are a very young team still and the way they reacted to losing last year was not good. Manager Ned Yost must try to implement some stoicism this spring. Perhaps poetry readings in the clubhouse is in order.