Sneakers, songs and baseball with Gabe Kapler of the Giants
Ahead of Wednesday’s game with St. Louis, Giants manager Gabe Kapler had a question for reporters.
âWas Rod Laver a better tennis player than Stan Smith? ” He asked.
This happened because, for the first time this year, Kapler was holding a canoe media group in person, without a mask. When everyone is seated together there are occasional little interactions.
In this case, one of the beat reporters was wearing all-white tennis shoes. He was asked if these were the classic ‘Stan Smith’ sneakers from the 70s, which are still very popular.
Kapler, a bit of a shoe fashionista, made the decision.
âCertainly not Stan Smiths,â he said.
This led to Laver, and if he had an iconic shoe, which led to Kapler’s question about who was a better player.
We mention this because, in a way, we get to know Kapler. He took over as manager in 2020 and quickly entered one of the strangest seasons in baseball history.
COVID has closed stadiums to fans, reduced the season to 60 games, and made media interactions virtual. Last week Kapler and the players had their first face-to-face interactions with reporters and everyone seemed a little dizzy.
Don’t make mistakes. There were still a lot of questions inside baseball. Kapler, for example, explained why Brandon Crawford, who is such a hot hitter there were jokes about him going into the home run derby, always hits low in sequence.
(That’s because he likes having Alex Dickerson higher, so he can kick for him in the flesh of the roster when opponents bring in left-handed relievers. Dickerson fights almost exclusively against right-handed people.)
But it was also a chance to see Kapler in person, wearing electric orange shoes, instead of being a face on a screen. This gives us a close comparison to his predecessor Bruce Bochy, who won three World Series titles.
âIt’s a big change from the way we operate with Boch,â said longtime coach Ron Wotus. âHe arrives in a large market, a new manager. Everything was different.
Not to mention the first year. No need to rehash it, but baseball barely managed to host a 2020 season during the pandemic. It wasn’t just the 60-game schedule; that was the very real concern about the virus.
When asked if he thinks the year of the coronavirus contributed to the injuries, which seem to occur all over baseball, Kapler was able to see him.
He said COVID âhas had an impact from a stress point of view. The general stress was high. And sometimes there is a correlation between stress and fatigue. And sometimes you hurt yourself.
That’s the kind of answer we get from Kapler – thoughtful, theoretical, and a little opinionated. He seems comfortable and at ease.
I mention this because when he was introduced as manager he seemed suspicious and cautious. This is understandable. He was a bit of a question mark.
His two-year tenure as the head of the Phillies was mixed. There were grunts about his handling of the game, but some Philadelphia media felt the real problem was that he “wasn’t Philly enough.” Too tanned, too slick, and too much of a motivational speaker instead of a former manager.
An old controversy has also resurfaced. When Kapler and Giants president Farhan Zaidi were with the Dodgers, they were involved in an incident in 2015, when a 17-year-old girl said she was beaten and sexually assaulted by two underage league players.
The response from both was seriously botched. Rather than going to the police, Kapler attempted to organize a dinner party to discuss the incident. Zaidi admitted he was aware of the incident, but did not follow up.
It came back when Kapler was hired in San Francisco. The two men answered questions about it. Everyone admitted that they were wrong and handled the situation badly. They have apologized on several occasions and without reservation.
âI don’t think I’ve done enough,â Kapler said upon his introduction in 2019. âI have a lot of remorse for that.â
And frankly, what more do you want them to say? They took the blame, apologized and say they learned from the mistake. I think it’s fair.
But now, seeing Kapler loose and comfortable, you can see the difference.
Of course, that’s not all because of the good vibes and sneaker quizzes.
âWinning help,â Wotus said. âWe’ve had our fair share of success. Losing is what makes you lose your mind.
Yes, having the best record in baseball for most of the first half of this season doesn’t hurt. Right now, the Giants are buying what Kapler and his team are selling, and the manager is giving interviews with a smile.
He even seemed happy to stay and chat.
After the serious baseball questions were over, Kapler asked, âHow are you guys doing? “
That’s when the topic turned to shoes, then socks, then to a reporter who said she had socks with guitars on them because she played electric guitar.
And Kapler said he played bass, so maybe they could jam. He suggested that if they played punk rock, any mistakes could be mitigated. Which led to the suggestion that they could play the Ramones punk classic, “I want to be sedated.”
Did Kapler know? He did.
“It’s a great album,” he said. “And it’s probably their most famous song.”
Certainly not Bruce Bochy.
Contact CW Nevius at [email protected] Twitter: @cwnevius