In baseball, the clubhouse is a volatile space. When filled with the right influences, it can foster team chemistry and individual focus.
But the presence of bad influences can quickly turn a locker room septic. A lot of times, that toxic element is a person: Selfish players, combative players, players who don't care about winning.
But if you're the 2014 Kansas City Royals, your locker room's greatest threat is an iPad game.
It sounds too perfect for a group of young, fun-loving guys that play a brand of baseball perfected in video games, but it's true: Earlier this season, the Royals' playoff dreams were almost dashed because too many players couldn't quit playing Clash of Clans.
Clash of Clans is an animated war game that in which players can team up and play with one another in a community-like setting. Apparently, the game was a daily routine for Lorenzo Cain, Danny Valencia and Jarrod Dyson. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas also played intermittently, according to The Kansas City Star.
The game became so engrained in the Royals clubhouse that terms and phrases entered the team's lexicon, with players discussing the strengths of their respective clans and going back and forth over possible trades of various in-game assets.
Coaches were allegedly frustrated with the team, urging players to focus on baseball as the Royals' division lead slipped away in July. It wasn't until newly acquired veteran Raul Ibañez suggested a players-only meeting.
In that meeting, Ibañez told players the clubhouse was the most talented he'd ever been around, but that each individual needed to take on more personal accountability.
Coming out of that meeting, players began tapering off their gaming time and focused instead on watching video of pitchers to prep for games. Although they didn't capture the division, the Royals finished hot and went 8-0 from the wild-card round into the World Series.
The moral of the story: Don't play 'Clash of Clans.'