Yesterday, I discussed the recent clamor among Phillies fans for manager Gabe Kapler to throw a temper tantrum and get ejected by an umpire to fire up his team, which is on its way to its eighth consecutive loss. Kapler is anything but a hothead, so getting ejected — especially for no legitimate reason — is not in his nature. He said as much, saying, “it would’ve been really contrived to go further,” referring to a disagreement he had with an umpire recently where he felt he had done enough to warrant an ejection.
Kapler’s rational approach, which includes heavy usage of analytics, rubs the largely blue-collar contingent of Phillies fans the wrong way. They like tough, hard-nosed guys who are willing to get into a fight. Kapler won’t overturn postgame spreads and get in his players’ faces the way Larry Bowa did; instead, he’ll pull them in individually into his office to offer constructive criticism.
With his team spiraling out of control to end 2018, Kapler is looking towards next season and is already seeking ways to improve. He is soliciting feedback from his coaching and support staff in the form of anonymous surveys, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Kapler said, “I have a lot of room to grow and improve. The first step I’m taking is seeking out feedback from others on my performance and areas where I fell short.”
The idea was quickly mocked by Phillies fans on social media, but it’s actually brilliant. No, it’s not a novel idea by any means, but it is a terrific way to get honest and constructive feedback from people who rank below oneself. It is tough to honestly criticize a superior because it could sour the relationship, putting one’s job security in jeopardy. It is way easier and safer to be a brown-noser.
Kapler screwed up a few times very early in the season, including one incident in which he tried to bring in a reliever — Hoby Milner — even though he hadn’t warmed up. The criticism came in loud and en masse from all directions. Kapler, to his credit, took the criticism in stride and made concerted efforts to improve the way he communicates with his team. His latest effort, anonymous surveys, is laudable and indicative of someone truly committed to winning and doing the best job he can. Many managers are recalcitrant, unwilling to change their ways. Kapler clearly is not. One would think that would be a personality trait fans would love, but not Phillies fans and certain media types in Philly for some strange reason.