Starling Gets Rude Awakening To Adult World

Remember when you first got out on your own, out of school, became an adult? Remember the exhilaration? The independence? Money of your own in your pocket? The chance to do what you wanted all the time?

But then, remember when reality set in? There were responsibilities, and bills to pay, and a job to go to, and laundry to do, and dishes to wash?

For most every one of us, there was a moment, if not plenty of moments, where we wished we could just go back to those care-free days when everything seemed simple, and we didn’t have to act like adults.

There’s a good chance Bubba Starling, the Royals’ first draft choice back in June, may be experiencing some of those feelings about now.

A year ago, Starling was humiliating high school football defenses. Eight months ago he was dunking over puny prep defenders. Six months ago he was a man among boys on the baseball diamond.

Who wouldn’t want to go back to that?

Adult life hasn’t been so easy thus far for the phenom that is Bubba Starling.

First of all, he allowed himself to be a pawn in a ridiculous tug-of-war between the selfish, arrogant Bo Pelini and the greedy, uncaring Scott Boras. He found out college football isn’t an environment in which a lot of coddling takes place. He was treated like a freak and an outcast before returning home with his tail between his legs.

In the end he earned just about the same dollar amount he would have received had he signed in June.

Second, he missed a good four months of skill development by sitting out the 2011 season. Starling turned 19 while holding out. While there is ample time for him to develop, many believe he has a lot of growing to do before he’s ready for high-level competition.

Third, Starling committed a lapse in judgment not unlike so many youngsters freshly out of their parents’ home – he got cited for underage drinking. The Royals treated this as a harmless event that will in the long run prove to be a great learning experience. That analysis may be exactly right. But it’s just one more bump in the road for a boy becoming a man.

And lastly, poor Starling strained a quad muscle after only a couple of weeks under his belt in the fall instructional league. He only logged about 30 at bats against professional pitching. Now it looks like Starling won’t play serious baseball until spring. Uh, oh.

Starling will still be an excellent major leaguer (I say with fingers crossed). But he’s not off to a great start.

In spite of all the fame and money, Starling may be just like all the rest of us, looking back at the security and ease of youth and secretly wishing he hadn’t had to grow up.

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