Gabe Kapler deserves major props, but there's 1 thing he needs to cut out

Gabe Kapler deserves major props, but there's 1 thing he needs to cut out

As we close out July, the Phillies are in first place, 11 games over .500. They’ve been able to accomplish this with a roster that has its fair share of shortcomings. This was a team that was 30 games under .500 last season and finished in the bottom of their division. They are also the youngest team in baseball and have a first-year manager. 

When you take all of that into account, you have to be pretty pleased if you're a Phillies fan. You also have to give major props to said first-year manager, Gabe Kapler. His detractors will point back to his moves in the first series of the season, his reliance on analytics, use of the bullpen, shifting, brand of coconut oil, etc. Most of which is nonsense. 

Any manager or front office worth a damn incorporates analytics and has been for a very long time. For the most part this season, the shifts have paid off. Were there mistakes made in the opening series in Atlanta? Yes. That was more than 100 games ago. And the bullpen maneuvering is mostly done out of necessity. He has managed with his gut, not just by a printout.   

But the thing that really chafes Phillies fans more than anything is the way Kapler speaks. He’s heavy on nicknames. Any given pre-or- post-game gathering, you will likely hear a “Mikey,” “Ef,” “Noles,” “Stretch.” There will be plenty of confidence preached. Or someone presenting well, coming out of the skipper’s mouth. It’s not your typical baseball-speak. To me, that is all nonsense, window dressing. People didn’t like Charlie Manuel’s southern drawl. They came around real quick when they realized he was the right guy for that group of players.  

It’s what else Kapler says, particularly after games, that is more open to debate or interpretation. No matter how ugly the game, he is Captain Sunshine, Positive Pete. There could be several reasons for this approach. He has a genuinely positive outlook on life, no glass is half-empty. He is deflecting any negative attention away from his players. And on a related note, he takes into account the age of his team and feels the need to be the protective mother hen. All valid reasons. 

But the issue with that approach is, it’s insulting to the fans. If you lose a 3-2 crisply played game, I have no issue with a manager throwing around platitudes and crediting certain players or situations. But when you lose a game 13-2 in hideous fashion, spare us the kudos to the mop-up guy who threw two clean innings. 

There’s a fine line between throwing one of your players under the bus and admitting “we didn’t field, hit or pitch well enough." There’s nothing wrong with that. Nobody’s asking Kapler to be Larry Bowa or Dallas Green. The media and fans, and most importantly his players, are astute enough to know what went down and who did what. 

I believe Kapler has done an excellent job this season. And if this is the biggest gripe, then that’s a good problem. But it is one of the things I hope that he does away with as he gains experience as a manager.

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'A Tormented Man:' ESPN's 'Imperfect' examines Roy Halladay's battle with addiction

'A Tormented Man:' ESPN's 'Imperfect' examines Roy Halladay's battle with addiction

Every Phillies fan remembers Roy Halladay’s perfect game against the Miami Marlins that took place 10 years ago today.

The image of Doc embracing Carlos Ruiz is crystal clear in all of our minds. It’s how many fans remember Roy.

What’s not as clear — something we’ve all heard rumblings about — is Halladay’s battle with addiction after walking away from the game of baseball.

That battle will be on full display this evening when Imperfect: The Roy Halladay Story airs as an E:60 Special on ESPN at 7:00 pm.

The one-hour program dives deep into the battle Halladay fought with addiction by speaking to those closest to him. Roy’s widow Brandy shares honest and hard details about her husband’s dependence on pain medications throughout his life, including during his playing days in Philadelphia.

The special shares that at the end of the 2013 season Halladay checked in to a drug rehabilitation center in Florida to treat his opioid addiction. Brandy speaks about her memories of that experience and the shame that contributed to it not proving successful for her husband. Roy entered rehab for a second time in 2015 that lasted three months, according to a trailer for the series.

Brandy shares that Roy was formally diagnosed with ADD, depression and anxiety.

“Everyone sees him as this very strong, dominant person, but he was terrified. He was terrified that people wouldn’t think he was good enough. He didn’t want to let anybody down. He, for whatever reason, didn’t feel that he had the luxury of making mistakes. He was tormented. He truly was. He was a tormented man,” Brandy said.

In addition to Roy’s son Braden and baseball great Alex Rodriguez, the special features former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee and teammate Kyle Kendrick. The special spans Roy’s early days in baseball through his peaks with the Toronto Blue Jays and Phillies, as well as the tragic plane crash that took his life and how those who loved him attempt to come to terms with the loss.

“For Brandy, reliving her husband's tragic last years has been painful but, by her own admission, necessary as she strives to contextualize her late husband's drug use and struggles with mental health. She wants people to know: There was more to her husband than what haunted him,” the special’s creators wrote.

“Everybody should be able to ask for help and they should not be judged and looked down on for that,” Brandy said.

The one-hour special airs tonight at 7 p.m. on ESPN. You can watch the trailer for it below.

Scott Boras lays out reasons why MLB players shouldn't give owners a 'bailout'

Scott Boras lays out reasons why MLB players shouldn't give owners a 'bailout'

In an e-mail to his clients obtained by The Associated Press, agent Scott Boras urged his players (which includes Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins and other Phillies) to reject MLB's salary reduction proposal, citing debt financing as the reason franchises are facing financial issues during the coronavirus pandemic.

Boras wrote this:

"Remember, games cannot be played without you. Players should not agree to further pay cuts to bail out the owners. Let owners take some of their record revenues and profits from the past several years and pay you the prorated salaries you agreed to accept or let them borrow against the asset values they created from the use of those profits players generated.

"Owners are asking for more salary cuts to bail them out of the investment decisions they have made. If this was just about baseball, playing games would give the owners enough money to pay the players their full prorated salaries and run the baseball organization. The owners' current problem is a result of the money they borrowed when they purchased their franchises, renovated their stadiums or developed land around their ballparks. This type of financing is allowed and encouraged by MLB because it has resulted in significant franchise valuations.

“Owners now want players to take additional pay cuts to help them pay these loans. They want a bailout. They are not offering players a share of the stadiums, ballpark villages or the club itself, even though salary reductions would help owners pay for these valuable franchise assets. These billionaires want the money for free. No bank would do that. Banks demand loans be repaid with interest. Players should be entitled to the same respect.

"Make no mistake, owners have chosen to take on these loans because, in normal times, it is a smart financial decision. But, these unnecessary choices have now put them in a challenging spot. Players should stand strong because players are not the ones who advised owners to borrow money to purchase their franchises and players are not the ones who have benefited from the recent record revenues and profits.

"... Please share this concept with your teammates and fellow players when MLB request further concessions or deferral of salaries.”

Boras used Cubs ownership, the Ricketts family, to illustrate the point.

"Throughout this process, they will be able to claim that they never had any profits because those profits went to pay off their loans," Boras wrote. "However, the end result is that the Ricketts will own improved assets that significantly increases the value of the Cubs — value that is not shared with the players."

Boras' e-mail followed MLB's proposal to the players' association Tuesday of a sliding scale of prorated pay in 2020 in which the highest-paid players would receive the lowest percentage of their prorated salaries and the lowest-paid players would receive the highest percentage of their prorated salaries. In essence, Harper would receive a lower percentage of his $25.4 million AAV than Hoskins would receive from his $605,000 salary.

The players' association found the proposal insulting and is not interested in the sliding scale of pay. Max Scherzer, who is on the MLBPA's eight-man subcommittee, released this statement Wednesday night.

The Phillies are well stocked with Boras clients: Harper, Hoskins, Jake Arrieta, Alec Bohm, Bryson Stott, Vince Velasquez, Cole Irvin, Nick Williams. Boras also, as of this week, represents Rays lefty and former AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell, whom Harper backed up recently after Snell commented on the pay dispute in a polarizing way.

Of course, not everyone agrees with Boras, as outlined in this NY Post piece and in this tweet by outspoken Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer.

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