An addicting cell phone game almost cost the Kansas City Royals their shot at a World Series title.
Kansas City Star reporter Andy McCullough wrote earlier this week that “Clash of Clans,” yes, the mobile game with the commercials featuring the little guy yelling “Fireball!,” turned out to be a serious mid-season distraction for the Royals.
The team’s problem started when backup outfielder Jarrod Dyson introduced fellow outfielder Lorenzo Cain to the game. Within no time, Cain, Dyson, Danny Valencia, and Mike Moustakas were hooked. The game’s jargon became part of the team’s locker room culture, and players slowly started watching less film and building more virtual war borders. Meanwhile, the Tigers had eliminated Kansas City’s lead in the AL Central.
One day, with the Royals record below .500 for the first time in months, first base coach Rusty Kuntz walked into the locker room and saw a handful of players with their eyes glued to their iPads. They were playing Clash of Clans again. Kuntz decided he’d had enough.
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“At that time, in that situation, it’s really disappointing,” said Kuntz. “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."
Cain and his teammates eventually vowed to spend less time studying opposing clans and more time studying opposing pitchers.
“Maybe I need to cut back some of my hours on it,” Cain said at the time. “I think I’m going to cut back on it a little bit.”
When the Royals won 16 out of their next 19 games, Dyson swore off the game altogether.
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“It’s ending,” he said. “I’m ending it. I’m winding it down. I’m toning it down. I’m trying to tone it down. It’s going to be hard, but I’m trying to tone it down.”
Three months later, the Royals are three victories away from a world championship. For a brief time though, a cell phone game almost ruined all of that.