Is it time to add caffeine to the list of performance-enhancing drugs? After a brutal first two months of the 2017 season, the Royals are on a tear in June. They’ve won seven of their last eight games to pull themselves to two games under .500 and 3.5 games out of first place in the AL Central.
And they are crediting an espresso machine as their secret weapon.
Taking a page out of NBA forward Boris Diaw’s book, veteran relief pitcher Peter Moylan plays the role of barista before every game, according to The Kansas City Star‘s Rustin Dodd. He hands out cups of his special concoction, The Sledge-iatto (creamy espresso blended with chocolate milk and served over ice), to his teammates. It definitely sounds better than that Jack Daniels whiskey-infused coffee.
Here’s Moylan hard at work in a screenshot from first baseman Eric Hosmer’s Instagram.
Ever since the espresso machine, a $599 device from Amazon, arrived, the Royals fortunes have turned. From The Kansas City Star:
“It’s a little bit of a secret weapon,” said Whit Merrifield, the Royals’ starting second baseman.
Merrifield had his first cup of Moylan’s espresso on May 13, the first day of a 19-game hitting streak. Left fielder Alex Gordon finally gave into Moylan’s prodding in early June, sampling his first taste. A few days later, he hit his first home run in a victory over the Astros. Not satisfied by simply having the drink at home games, Gordon went out and bought another espresso machine to take on road trips.
“Gordo looks like he’s never had caffeine before,” starting pitcher Ian Kennedy said. “He’s like: ‘We need to buy one for road!”
No wonder the Los Angeles Rams traded William Hayes for a coffee machine.
Plenty of MLB players drink caffeinated beverages before games. A 162-game, six-month season ain’t easy. But maybe the Royals have an edge with Moylan, who also owns his own coffee shop back home in Australia:
“We need to have good coffee here,” Moylan said, before later adding: “We don’t have instant coffee in Australia.”
“You’ll never see this at Starbucks,” Moylan said, scrolling through photos of specialty drinks on his phone. “Because they don’t do it right. They don’t froth the milk properly.”
Moments later, Merrifield offered another review: “It’s not just the espresso,” he said. “It’s the special type of concoction.”
We’ll see if the espresso machine continues to work its magic as the Royals attempt to take control of first place in the division.