MLB

Uram: Kapler may be thick-skinned, but he better win fast or it will get ugly

It isn’t unprecedented in Philadelphia sports for a head coach to last one season or less because of a dismissal by management.

It didn’t take long for new Phillies manager Gabe Kapler to put himself in the crosshairs of the fan base. Before the club reached its home opener, Kapler’s “Be Bold” philosophy resulted in controversial in game decisions that didn’t work out for the Phils, kicking them off with a 1-4 record.

Kapler was booed during introductions as some fans tried to cheer the newbie. Then in the sixth inning, when removing Nick Pivetta after 97 pitches during a shutout, the jeers increased in volume. Even though Kapler insists he can handle the masses, it’s safe to say some people aren’t fans.

In addition to that, an anonymous source told FanRag’s Jon Heyman that Kapler needs to basically back off and Nick Williams is expressing frustration about his playing time, making remarks one could define as a jab at analytics.

One could speculate if more Kapler head-scratchers occur, the physically fit manager’s time in Philadelphia will be quicker than any other Phils full-timer in franchise history.

Kapler should tone it back a bit with the analytics, let the game play out and his talent win for him, like Charlie Manuel’s guys did from 2007 to 2011.

The sampling size is extremely small, but just about every Kapler move didn’t work out during the team’s season-opening road trip.

Pulling Aaron Nola during a shutout after 68 pitches on Opening Day was extremely ill-advised, among other adjectives.

The new manager used relievers in the Atlanta series like it was Game 7 of the World Series. By the finale, he ran out of people, forcing him to use utility man Pedro Florimon in the third game of the regular season, which wasn’t even as egregious as calling for Hoby Milner before the lefty could warm up.

In the two-game Mets series, a poorly aligned shift against Jay Bruce denied the Phils from making a double play that could’ve prevented two runs from happening and shallow outfield positioning by Nick Williams resulted in Amed Rosario’s go-ahead triple.

Kapler defended every decision, only falling on the sword for Milner not being ready. He would relieve Nola early on Opening Day again if presented with the situation, keep the same shift on Bruce and defensive alignment against Rosario.

Instead of admitting his data-driven decisions led to losses, Kapler tried to give reasoning.

What he can’t deny is Opening Day at the Braves and the Mets losses were a result of moves he made. These games still might of ended up in the “L” column. But, they did though as a result of him and his staff, whom he oversees.

It wouldn’t behoove Matt Klentak to remove Kapler by the end of September either, because he’s essentially admitting hiring Kapler was a mistake, thus putting his employment in jeopardy. Also, the young general manager doesn’t seem like a guy that would do that.

Yet, Klentak did remove Pete Mackanin only months after an extension and if Kapler’s Phillies are so bad to the point where they’re out of competitive contention before the All-Star Break, it would be hard to justify retaining the rookie skipper considering there was promise to playing meaningful games deep into this season.

The 76ers are the most frequent to partake in the, “we’re going in a different direction,” tactic after just one season. Eddie Jordan’s chalk ran out after a 27-55 record in 2009-10. Prior to the 2017-18 campaign, Jim O’Brien’s 2004-05 Sixers were the last Sixers team to sport a winning record in an 82-game regular season. But, Billy King parted ways with O’Brien for Maurice Cheeks. Randy Ayers didn’t make it through 82 games after replacing Larry Brown in 2003. The Johnny Davis/Brad Greenberg experiment blew up in 1996-97. Doug Moe lasted 56 games. Roy Rubin won four of 51.

Flyers did away with Wayne Cashman after only 61 games removed from a Stanley Cup Final appearance. Craig Ramsey was canned early in the 2000-01 season. Ken Hitchcock and Peter Laviolette got quick hooks in their final years with the club.

Eagles never yanked someone early based on performance. Most recently they dumped Chip Kelly less than a year after giving him player personnel control.

The only Phillies managers to last a season or less as full time managers were Hans Lobert in 1942 and Bucky Harris in 1943. The Phils don’t historically pull the hook quickly either.

Again, it’s early. Things can change. And even if they don’t, it wouldn’t be shocking if Kapler gets another crack at his job considering Klentak doesn’t want to admit he made a huge error with his hire. That doesn’t mean he should.

Philadelphia sports fans are smart. Their criticism of Kapler this early into his tenure isn’t unwarranted. The Phillies need to show signs that they’re capable of competing, and they need to do it fast, especially when the rookie skipper says they’ll be a playoff team.

Bravo, Villanova 

Two National Championships in three years.

Remarkable.

Villanova’s Jay Wright proved in the “One and Done” era that you don’t need potential lottery talent to be in the Final Four conversation every year.

Wright proved you don’t need to be corrupt as so many coaches are alleged to be in their recruiting tactics.

Wright does things the right way with class and honesty.

He’s extremely likable and easy to root for, even if you’re an alum or attendee of Big 5 rivals.

The best part about Wright is even though it would be very intriguing to see him give the NBA a shot, he doesn’t want to leave Nova and that’s more than OK.

Wright is perfect for that University and that program.

Instead of going pro and dealing with multi-millionaires, keep building a college basketball dynasty with good kids and morals.

Shoot ’em up and sleep in the streets, Coach. You and your program is a privilege to watch and a great representation of Philadelphia, regardless of what some haters may think.

Before I forget… 

• If Joel Embiid and Dario Saric return to full health in time for the playoffs, watch out Eastern Conference. The Sixers are talented enough on paper to go to the Finals. Yup, that’s not a typo.

• All the Flyers need to do is get in the postseason. They play down to lesser opponents while stepping up against the best. If they back into the last playoff spot in the East, they’ll play the top team in that conference. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a good, hard fought series.

• Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbawale drilled two buzzer beaters to beat UCONN and Mississippi State in the women’s Final Four. They were outstanding, well-defended shots. I’m not a college sports fan, but this past weekend was a good one for amateur athletics.

• Putting baseball on Facebook is an awful idea. You’re relegating audiences to smaller screens, especially if the viewer isn’t tech savvy enough to connect the stream to a television set. Streams often crash because they rely on unreliable Internet signals. There’s nothing wrong with making sporting events accessible via means other than TV, but don’t take away what people are used to. Not everyone owns a Facebook page, and quite frankly, I don’t blame them.

 


Dave Uram is a weekly contributor to Philly Influencer. You can follow him on Twitter (@MrUram) and e-mail him at uramradioman@yahoo.com.

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