The Rio Olympics are finally beginning to wind down. If you haven’t been keenly following the dramatic plotlines such as the green diving pool or the literal trash fire that threatened a mountain bike race, then you’ve surely caught a few seconds of the action on a Royals off-day or while trying to watch Mecum Dealmakers, an actual program about car auctions that airs in primetime on NBCSN. (I think NBC needs these Olympics more than we realize.)
One event that’s just getting started — and that you probably won’t see much coverage of, if we’re being honest — is the decathlon. A combination of running, jumping and throwing, the decathlon is one of the best barometers for athleticism in the Olympics. In fact, the winner is often hailed as the "World’s Greatest Athlete." Seeing it show up on the Olympic schedule made me wonder how the Royals, long touted for their athleticism, would fare in the decathlon.
But each Royal has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it would be hard to pick one that would fare the best in the decathlon*. So let’s take the Royals and turn them into a tag-team decathlon superathlete. If we can’t get our world champion fix from the World Series, we can get it from the Olympics.
*It’s Lorenzo Cain. It’s obviously Lorenzo Cain. But, just, go along with this for the sake of the entire concept of this piece, okay?
- We will assign one player to each event. We won’t assign every player, because there are only ten events, but we also won’t assign any player to more than one event.
- Only players on the active 25-man roster are allowed. This is mostly just a technicality to take away the obvious choice for the sprinting event (Terrance Gore) and give ourselves a little challenge.
- This also means players on the DL are ineligible. They should be rehabbing anyway.
- We’re not going to choose any pitchers, because we don’t want to risk breaking any of them. We can’t afford to lose any starters given the shoddy nature of the rotation. Position players only.
- If you think I chose the wrong player for any event, please present your counterargument in the comments in the form of a poem. (This is more of a suggestion than a rule.)
|Olympic decathlon events|
|100 meters||110 meter hurdles|
|Long jump||Discus throw|
|Shot put||Pole vault|
|High jump||Javelin throw|
|400 meters||1500 meters|
100m: Raul Mondesi
The decathlon jumps right in with the fastest sprinting event, the 100m. This is the event that Usain Bolt dominates every four years at the Olympics, and it’s all about raw speed. We aren’t allowed to pick Terrance Gore, who I still think is the fastest player in the organization. But we can pick Raul Mondesi, who has already proven his ability to create singles out of bunts consistently.
The 100m is, for comparison, over three times the distance from home to first. It’s more accurately the distance from home to somewhere between third and home, minus the turns. This shouldn’t be a problem from Mondesi. He’s shown blazing speed everywhere on the basepaths.
Long jump: Billy Burns
Okay, I’m already starting to get creative, but I’d like to save some of the bigger names for other events. I’m mostly guessing that Burns would be good at the long jump, since he hasn’t really played enough here to give us a good idea of whether he’d be good at it or not. I do know that Billy Burns is fast, and speed is important in the long jump. And who knows? Maybe he’s picked up a few jumping tips from the praying mantises he’s befriended.
Shot put: Kendrys Morales
We move from events that require speed to the first of the events that require strength. The shot put is the heaviest object that decathletes are required to throw, so we’ll want one of the stronger Royals to participate. If Mike Moustakas were healthy, I might consider picking him and his strong arm. Instead, I’m going with Morales. And as an added bonus, the shot put doesn’t really require a run-up, so we won’t have to watch Morales run.
High jump: Lorenzo Cain
The specific type of jump required in this event isn’t executed very often in the major leagues, so this is a little trickier than you might think. But you could put Lorenzo Cain anywhere in the decathlon and he’d do well, so I placed him in the high jump. We know he’s got hops, anyway.
400m: Jarrod Dyson
There is certainly no shortage of speedsters to choose from on the Royals. We’ll place Dyson in the medium-length track event and trust him to do whatever it is that speed do.
110m hurdles: Alcides Escobar
When most people think of the speed on the Royals, they think of the outfielders, and rightfully so. But Escobar’s fast, too. Game 1 of last year’s World Series began and ended with Joe Buck yelling "Here comes Escobar!" Plus, he basically ran the hurdles on the basepaths earlier this year:
Discus throw: Salvador Perez
I don’t particularly know whether Perez would still have such a strong arm when forced to use to adopt the different throwing motion used in the discus. I do know that I’d have a blast watching it.
Pole vault: Eric Hosmer
One of the events I try to watch every year at the Drake Relays is the pole vault. But even after reading the Wikipedia page, I still don’t understand how physics allows the pole vault to happen. It baffles me that somebody first conceptualized such a sport, and then had the guts to attempt it. I do know, however, that you need speed, strength and flexibility to do well, and Hosmer has demonstrated all three in his time with the Royals. He’s one of the best athletes on the team, and he’ll do just fine in one of the most athletic events in the decathlon.
Javelin throw: Alex Gordon
The best arm on the Royals, especially over long distances, belongs to Alex Gordon. The javelin throw is also the event with a throwing motion most similar to the one used in baseball. Gordon also receives the benefit of a run-up, which should be comfortable for the outfielder.
1,500m: Paulo Orlando
The last event in the decathlon is also the longest. 1,500 meters is roughly equivalent to a mile. It’s not at all a marathon by any stretch, but it’s still a long race — much longer than baseball players run at any point in a game. I think the Royals do a great job conditioning their players, so I’m sure many of them would exceed expectations in this event. But the safest bet is Paulo Orlando, who was a track star in Brazil before coming to the U.S. to play baseball. Granted, Orlando was a sprinter, and the 400m is the more natural fit for him. But he’s more likely to know how best to pace himself over longer distances.
Who would you tab for each decathlon event? Were there any egregious errors or omissions in my selections? Tell me what I did wrong in the comments below.