Gabe Kapler says he spoke to his mom about Dodgers sexual assault incident
Gabe Kapler was named the Giants new manager last night. Today he met the press.
Most of it was pretty run-of-the-mill. He wants to win. He knows he’s following a legend in Bruce Bochy and knows he can’t fill those shoes immediately, if ever. Kapler is usually pretty polished so it’s not surprising he said the right things about the job ahead of him.
But he did say something profoundly odd about one of the jobs behind him. The player development gig in Los Angeles during which he, infamously, tried to handle a sexual assault incident involving two Dodgers minor league players without telling police. It was an irresponsible decision at the time and it only came to light way after it happened and way after he got his job managing the Phillies. Today, then, was the first time he had to address it as a new hire, and this is what he went with:
At start of introduction of Gabe Kapler, Farhan Zaidi spoke about LA incidents for three minutes. Said: “I don’t think we did enough (in supporting the victims). I’ve had to reflect on that. I’m truly sorry we didn’t do more.”— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) November 13, 2019
Gabe Kapler said he spoke to his mom a lot over the past month "for obvious reasons." He regrets that he did not talk to her about what to do during Dodgers incidents.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) November 13, 2019
Gabe Kapler: "I’m sorry that I didn’t make all the right moves. Everything that I did I acted on from a place of goodness and my heart and wanting to do the right thing, but I was naïve. I was in over my skis.”— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) November 13, 2019
The first and third comment are, superficially, what you expect to hear someone say in such a situation. That second one is, well, I have no idea what it is.
Kapler and I are about the same age. I’m struggling to think of any mistake I could’ve made in the past 25 years of my life in which, “hey, I talked to my mom and now I get that I was wrong” would be considered an acceptable answer. I’m also sort of struggling with Kapler’s hypothetical. Like, back in 2015, when the sexual assault allegations arose, would the then-40-year-old Kapler’s process have been better if he had . . . called his mom?
Obviously not. What’s missing here is why he didn’t call, say, police. Or take the matter further up the chain in the Dodgers organization to someone who would make that call. Those are questions no one has really answered to anyone’s satisfaction yet. We’ve heard a lot of “we regret we did not do the right thing” and very little to establish that anyone, in fact, knew what the right thing was then or knows what the right thing would be now if such an incident once again occurred.
Which makes all of this sound like a bunch of fake-woke eyewash, not unlike the kind of thing you hear when politicians claim to be sharply anti-sexual harassment or sexual assault because of their “wives and daughters,” but fail to demonstrate it any way at all with their actions. With Kapler it’s his mom, but it’s the same kind of dodge. Heard ya loud and clear. I have a mom, and I’ve talked to her and now we’re all good. Next question? Anything about how the roster is going to look next year?
This mirrors Farhan Zaidi’s comments about all of this. Zaidi, of course, was with the Dodgers then too and, like Kapler, was not forced to talk about this until years after the fact. As Grant Brisbee of The Athletic noted in an excellent Twitter thread today, before Kapler’s press conference, Zaidi offered the same sort of “hey, we talked to women” comments that Kapler did later. It wasn’t his mom, but rather sexual assault advocates. Shoulda done it before but didn’t. Did it now . . . because we’re hiring Gable Kapler and someone is going to ask us about it, I presume.
Of course, this is all Kapler and Zaidi had to do, right? They know no one in that interview room is going to press them on this for a host of reasons. They know -- either consciously or instinctively -- that they just gotta answer a question about such things once. They know that the question will be less-than-pointed and that there will be no followup of substance. As such, there is nothing pressing them to actually, thoughtfully examine what they did and what they didn’t do nearly five years ago beyond that which is necessary to get through one press availability.
The odd, less-than-thoughtful reference to Kapler’s mom the get-me-over fastball of answers, heaved in there because all he needed in this instance was a get-me-over fastball after which he can safely assume that he will never be asked about this stuff again.