Gabe Kapler is Cool With Phillies’ Showmanship, Thinks it’s Good for the Game of Baseball

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe Kapler, who manages the undefeated, 1st-place Philadelphia Phillies, joined 94 WIP this morning for his weekly phone call with Angelo Cataldi.

Kapler talked about a special night for Bryce Harper, explaining that he felt like returning to Washington was a tough and emotional moment for the Phils’ right fielder.

He also admitted that he was a bit surprised at the the reception Harper was given by Nationals fans:

It did (surprise me). It really did Angelo. It’s not that I wouldn’t expect the Nationals fans to be a little bit irked that Bryce chose the Phillies. But at the same time, I think the first thing that I would do as a fan is recognize the contributions of a player that gave everything he had for seven years and four playoff appearances. Look, I remember when I was with the Red Sox, and Johnny Damon went to the Yankees. He signed with the Yankees after the ’04 World Series, and then he came back to Boston. The first thing that happened was that he got a standing ovation, and then the boos came, of course the boos came after that. But before the boos came, you saw this acknowledgment and a tip of the cap in appreciation. So yeah, it was a little surprising.

Kapler, however, is not surprised that Harper has immediately connected with his teammates and the Phillies’ fan base, explaining that it was a “focus” and a priority for him after signing his 13-year, big money deal.

The manager is also 100% on board with the Phillies’ celebrations and handshakes, as explained after the jump:

Kapler: …David Ortiz had a handshake for every player he played with in 2004. So it’s not unheard of, it’s not a brand new thing. But it takes a lot of effort, and I think that’s where Bryce is, he’s put in a lot of effort. One of the things I find really cool, is that he has a handshake with Dong Lien, one of our strength coaches. And the thing I love about that is how good it makes Dong feel, to have that connection with Bryce Harper, with somebody with that kind of star power, and to feel that connected to that guy in that moment. I think Bryce understands that and it’s really played well.

Cataldi: Gabe, there’s maybe one possible negative, if the opponent keeps seeing that and thinks they’re overdoing it. We saw a little bit of that with the balls under the chin of Rhys Hoskins. You think that’s a response to all of what’s going on after the big moments for Bryce?

Kapler: I think it’s so commonplace in the game now, Angelo. I think certainly, the more successful you are, the more celebrations you have, the more likely it is that other clubs come after you. But I really do think it’s commonplace around the league. I’m curious to get your thoughts on that. There’s more celebration, there’s more emotion being shown. Like I said, handshakes are not unique to the Philadelphia Phillies. What’s your take on it?

Cataldi: Fans love it. We know from the calls we’re getting that the fans absolutely love it. That’s part of the show biz element of baseball today. I think they really enjoy it.

Kapler: I think so, too. And I actually think it’s really good for the game of baseball. It’s not to say that the Matt Williams style of hitting a home run, putting your head down, and sprinting around the bases isn’t cool, and I think there’s ways to (inaudible because my dog started barking at a squirrel)… but why not say, ‘hey both (styles) are great, both make our game unique, and both should be celebrated.’

So there you have it.

It’s part of the game. It’s fun. God forbid MLB fans have something to enjoy. God forbid the players have some personality.

If you don’t want the Phils to shake hands and flip bats, don’t let them score runs and hit dingers. Baseball retaliation is just as dumb as a hockey team losing 4-0 and deciding to just fight the other squad instead.

Seems simple enough to me.

Happy Wednesday.

Edit –

WIP just put up the audio:

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8 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for typing this out so that I could read along as I listened! Very much appreciated! Is it 5 o’clock yet? LOL!

    – Kate

  2. Was it showy to perform a Fatality at the arcade and not only embarrass the poor kid but rip his head off after you did it? Of course it was.

    Finish Him! Fatality! Next Man Up.

  3. I wonder how much we will like the celebrations when Hoskins takes a fastball on the wrist and misses three months. If the shoe was on the other foot, we would be screaming bloody murder. They need to tone it down.

  4. I think it is a little much, and I would hate to see someone get hit and get hurt, but I mean, the NFL lets people do the cupid shuffle on the field after an interception, and no one gets butt hurt over that. MLB players need to get over themselves and have some fun. The game is suffering for ratings, so maybe a little fun is what they need to spice up the ratings

    1. The NFL also allows it’s players to clobber the shit out of one another, so it’s easier unleash one’s aggression in the game of football, and even with all the physical contact that goes on in the NFL plenty of players get butt hurt over all kinds of crap that goes on. I have been hearing this argument lately that the MLB needs to allow more celebrations so people, especially younger people, will watch the game. I watch a ton of baseball and i would say this “celebration ” phase started about 6-8 years ago. Players today celebrate a whole lot more than they did 20 years ago when the game was immensely more popular. Celebrations are not going to regain anyone’s interest in baseball and the the lack of celebrations in baseball is not only a lie but it’s also not what is killing the game either. It’s just the game itself is too slow paced for not only kids but many adults who have their heads buried in their phones and don’t have the same patience they used to for a baseball game.

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