The Phillies’ season came to an unceremonious conclusion on Sunday afternoon with a quiet 4-3 loss to the Miami Marlins. It was a relevant outcome in only that it prevented the franchise from claiming its 82nd win, and, in turn, the meaningless distinction of its first winning season in eight years.
The 2019 Phillies often did not hit the way they were supposed to hit. They often did not pitch the way they were supposed to pitch. Key players often got hurt. These three truths have led many fans and observers of the team to arrive at the singular conclusion that the thing to do now — really, the only thing to do now — is fire the manager.
And so we wait.
If you have read this site over the past few months, you already know I’m of the opinion that Gabe Kapler’s dismissal is unwarranted. I’m not looking to bring a take to the table, and I’m not looking to play the contrarian. I simply don’t think he deserves to lose his job based on the circumstances of this past season. Last week, I compared him to a hamstrung real estate agent tasked with selling a structurally-flawed home.
Included in that defense was this acknowledgment:
To be clear, this reasoning does not wholly excuse Kapler for his failure to get the Phillies to rip off the type of prolonged winning streaks that even far worse clubs achieved this season. It doesn’t excuse his occasional strategic missteps, or some of the decisions I’m sure he would like to have back, either.
That is to say if Kapler is ultimately dismissed this week, it’s not as if it would be some great injustice. I just happen to believe he deserves another crack at it with this core group and an upgraded pitching staff.
Beyond the uncertainty of Kapler’s fate, what I have found most interesting in recent weeks as the Phillies’ season limped to its conclusion is how many fans and observers of the team have reacted to the manager’s potential dismissal. It’s been a cocktail of disdain, vindication, and excitement.
The many people that want him out of here say that it’s nothing personal. They say it’s just about results. After all, the results are what matter most, right?
I’m not so sure about that.
Scroll through the tweets, read the Facebook comments on any recent Phillies story, listen to sports talk radio. Hell, go old school and strike up a baseball conversation at the bar with the dude sitting next to you. Invariably, you’re going to read or hear about Kapler paired with one of the following words or phrases:
- “coconut oil”
- “too positive”
- “pretty boy”
It feels like the distaste for Kapler goes beyond baseball. It feels, I don’t know, a bit personal, doesn’t it?