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Murph: Gabe Kapler, successful manager?



© Charles LeClaire | 2021 May 13

This being Friday, a day that does, in fact, end in “y” — I fully expect the Giants to win their game against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

And this being a Jock Blog, I fully did not expect to be writing this after 22% of the MLB schedule has been played: Manager Gabe Kapler has a lot to do with this success.

Gabe Kapler!

The guy who was officially on *nobody’s* list of “Managers Farhan Zaidi Must Hire” when Bruce Bochy announced his retirement.

Wait. He was on one guy’s list. That would be Farhan.

If there was a prominent media member who clamored for Kapler, I don’t remember who he or she was. If there was a groundswell of fan support to go get Kapler after he was sent packing Philadelphia, perhaps the pandemic has affected my memory of it.

Kapler is on my mind because of two reasons:

  1. The Giants keep winning, and it’s because his lineups are producing and his pitching moves have been damn near bullet-proof.
  2. Reliever Tyler Rogers, who is a big part of Kapler’s “All the Right Moves” bullpen, told us that he is awed by Kapler’s physical fitness — to the point where told us he walked by the weight room in Scottsdale this spring and saw Kapler dead lifting a large amount of weight … while wearing blue jeans.

If this isn’t Jock Blog-worthy, then I am not Jock Blog worthy.

So what we have here is a manager nobody wanted, who is pressing all the right buttons, and now carries the lore of dead lifting large amounts of weight in blue jeans. 

I love me some baseball history, but I don’t remember the tales of Billy Martin dead-lifting in blue jeans. Unless you count dead-lifting cans of Budweiser at the Pink Pony. 

Kapler is becoming more an object of fascination, win by win, dead lift by dead lift.

It was just 10 months ago — July 30, 2020! — that Kapler bungled a removal of Rogers from an extra-inning loss to the Padres. He forgot that Andrew Bailey had already visited Rogers in the same at-bat. So his attempt to remove Rogers could not be executed. Rogers had to be called back. 

The Giants started 8-16.

Philadelphia — the entire city, its environs, the ghost of Ben Franklin, the whole deal — laughed its butt off. San Francisco — the entire Bochy-loving city, its environs, the ghost of Bill Rigney — smacked its forehead in despair. 

And now look.

Since that start, the Giants are 44-29 from 2020 to now.

That’s .602 ball.

That’s bonkers.

I confess, I was among those perplexed by the Kapler hire. I was firmly in the corner of Ron Wotus, or Hensley Muelens. That’s probably because I, like you, wanted to hang on to the World Series memories as long as I could.

Farhan, the Dr. Spock of the Giants, had no interest in emotion. Only logic.

Still, it didn’t seem logical that Kapler would be the guy. 

Then again, it doesn’t seem logical to dead lift in blue jeans.

And of course, yes, yes, there is a whole difference between managing in May and managing in October. Bruce Bochy is a deity because he pressed all the right buttons in the autumn, not the spring.

But it’s worthwhile to mention Kapler, at the very least in a Jock Blog, for getting players to praise his communication, his explanation of roles and his hiring of a coaching staff that had us all baffled —until the team’s pitching and hitting, fueled by brand-new approaches, began to wildly succeed.

I asked one of my Philly buddies about Philadelphia booing him and laughing at him. He said to me, “he said some stupid (stuff). It wasn’t really about his managing.”

Classic Philly.

This time, in San Francisco, it’s about his managing. And his dead lifting.

Both Jock Blog-worthy.