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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Alex Gordon, Len Dawson, and Defeating Adversity

© 2015/ Jamie Squire, Getty Images. 
Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey
It was a Wednesday night, the 8th of July, just before the All Star break.  The Royals were in first place in their division, proud owners of the best record in the American League, and the second-best in baseball behind only that other team from Missouri.  But in the space of less than a minute, everything went sideways.  Tampa Bay Rays' Logan Forsythe launched a drive to deep left field.  Alex Gordon, as he has done so many times before, took off in pursuit.  Usually such a play ends with the ball in Gordon's glove as he slams into the wall.  But this time, as he approached the wall, he tried to pull up.  And then he went down.  I, along with a few tens of thousands of other Royals' fans listened, quite fearfully, as it appeared at the moment he may have suffered a season-ending, if not a career-ending injury.  Later, we were told that what we initially thought might be a blown knee or broken leg, has been diagnosed as a grade-2 strained groin muscle. This is a painful and serious injury to be sure, but one that has a better and brighter light at the end of the dark tunnel of his absence from the lineup.
In the hours following that moment, I endured my worst fears. But out of the depths of the past came a memory of September 1969. The Chiefs were off and running on what every instinct in your body knew was going to be The Year. Then Len Dawson went down with a knee injury.   All the hopes and dreams for a season of glory seemed to have collapsed.  At least for the fans.

The next week against the Bengals, Jacky Lee, the smart veteran back-up was carted off the field with a broken ankle.  Mike Livingston, a rookie with exactly 5 snaps of NFL -- excuse me, AFL -- experience was thrust into the arena. The Bengals won that day.

The following week was full of fear and trepidation as the team and the fans heard the bad news about Dawson.

But in that, the darkest hour of that championship season, The Chiefs character revealed itself. Livingston stepped in, and the team stepped up, and not only won, but embarked on a five-game winning streak.
The Royals find themselves in the exact same position. The leader, the brave knight of left field realm has been lost for at least eight weeks. The dreams of another World Series, and retribution, hang in the balance.  But as history revealed for the Chiefs of '69, things are not as dark as they might seem.

This Royals team has a lot of good things going for them. Pitching, defense, and the right amount of offense at the right moments.  But in the blizzard of statistics that defines sports these days, the most important thing, and interestingly enough the one thing for which no metric exists, is character.

Don't get me wrong. You lose an Alex Gordon, you're in trouble. But this is the moment that this team will be measured, and this season will be defined. If the Royals collective character, that essential "teamness" that is so uniquely them responds to this dark situation as the Chiefs did in 1969, then come October, the Kansas City Royals will be known by another title:


This is what champions do. They face adversity and beat it back with whatever weapons they have available. They win, because they won't accept anything less. It's not so much the individuals who will step up, this team, as one, will step up.  When Alex Gordon returns in September, he will rejoin a team who will be competing for the big prize.

And like Len Dawson in 1969, Alex Gordon will then lead this team to the promised land.  Because you can measure the speed of a fastball, the distance of a home run, and the range of a shortstop.

But no one can measure the depths of a man's heart.
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