iPad Game Nearly Derailed Kansas City Royals' Magical Season

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2014

The Kansas City Royals players celebrate after the Royals defeated the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 in Game 4 of the American League baseball championship series Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals advance to the World Series.
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

For the first time since 1985, the Kansas City Royals are playing postseason baseball. However, a beloved iPad game nearly derailed their season.

It may seem silly, but The Kansas City Star's Andy McCullough wrote that the team was able to right the ship by focusing more on baseball and less on a video game.

Early this season, reserve outfielder Jarrod Dyson introduced Lorenzo Cain to a game that he had been playing on his iPad. The game: Clash of Clans.

From there, Clash of Clans became a fixture in the Kansas City clubhouse.

The team played good baseball for much of the first half of the season. When the Royals started to slump, though, the coaching staff began to wonder if the game was taking up too much of the players' time and energy.

One day, first-base coach Rusty Kuntz walked into the clubhouse and saw many of the Royals playing the game at their lockers. That's when he realized the addiction might be a problem.

Here's what Kuntz said about the matter, per McCullough:

At that time, in that situation, it's really disappointing. ... You just got to a point where you go, "What's the priority here? Is this just three hours out of your time, spent away from what you're actually being interested in?

"We've got to find a way to get this changed, so that the priority is the game, and all this other stuff is secondary."

The team lost four straight games coming out of the All-Star break and dropped to 48-50 on the season. As a result of the skid, some of the veterans called a players-only meeting. In the 45-minute meeting, they talked about how much talent the team had and how players had to be held accountable.

As a result, players began to cut down on their iPad usage and instead put in more work on their games. After the meeting, the team won five straight and 16 of its next 19 games.

Kansas City finished the season at 89-73 and earned a spot in the American League Wild Card Game. What is the reasoning behind the team's strong finish?

"Their priorities have changed," Kuntz said.

Whether it's a result of not playing Clash of Clans or something else, the team is locked in right now. It hasn't lost a game since Sept. 27 and is a perfect 8-0 in the 2014 MLB postseason. Oh, and Cain—the man Dyson introduced the game to—was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 American League Championship Series.

For the sake of the Royals and their fans, hopefully the team's iPads will not become an issue during the World Series.