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Gabe Kapler: ‘I’m not f-ing Dallas Green and I never will be’

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The Phillies suffered an embarrassing 16-2 loss to the Dodgers on Monday night. It came after a frustrating opening to the second half in which they dropped two of three games to the Nationals and only avoided a sweep by the skin of their teeth. The Phillies played exclusively NL East competition between June 14 and July 14. They went 10-15, with six of those wins coming against the Mets. Once in first place by as many as 3.5 games as recently as May 29, the Phillies enter Tuesday’s action in third place, 9.5 games out of first.

The city of Philadelphia is tense. Fans are frustrated. Twitter and sports talk radio is full of calls for the entire Phillies’ regime to be changed from the top down, from president Andy MacPhail to GM Matt Klentak to manager Gabe Kapler and his entire coaching staff. Fans have also frequently brought up the desire to see Kapler flip out. First, it was a desire to see him flip out on an umpire to fire up his team. Now, fans want Kapler to blow a gasket yelling at his players. Asked about that today, Kapler said, via Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer, “I’m not f-ing Dallas Green and I never will be.”

Green was notorious for his short fuse as part of the Phillies’ front office in the 1970’s and into the early 1980’s, then again when he returned to the Phillies in 1998. He said of himself, “I express my thoughts. I’m a screamer, a yeller, and a cusser. I never hold back.”

Yelling at athletes isn’t some magic cure-all. It’s more about the fans’ catharsis. They’re frustrated and can’t yell at the players themselves, so they want someone to do it on their behalf. Not all athletes respond well to being yelled at. In fact, it might simply compound the issue. It may hurt team unity. And the point may be lost if the yelling is coming from someone making it feel unnatural and forced. Kapler is right to stay true to himself and not act in a way that serves only to satiate some fans’ short tempers.

There are much more pressing issues. They have sustained myriad injuries and haven’t had the depth to get through it. In fairness, few teams would’ve been able to withstand losing their top-six relievers, a starting corner outfielder, a lefty bench bat, and a starter with upside. Jean Segura and Maikel Franco are both currently banged up, and Jake Arrieta is pitching with a bone spur in his elbow. This is not to absolve Klentak of blame, as the team could’ve signed starter Dallas Keuchel and reliever Craig Kimbrel at any time and they chose not to every single day.

The Phillies have also gotten 40th-percentile or worse production (relative to their preseason projections/expectations) out of most of the roster, including J.T. Realmuto, César Hernández, Jean Segura, Bryce Harper, Nick Williams, Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, and Héctor Neris. That so few of their young players have taken marked and lasting steps forward is an indictment on the organization, certainly.

Has the Phillies’ front office failed? In some ways, absolutely. Has Kapler been underwhelming as a manager? In some ways, absolutely. But flipping over the clubhouse spread isn’t going to serve as a panacea for all that ails the team.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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