Ratto: The Kapler/Zaidi perp walk

Exec and manager largely aced their initial press conference

Ray Ratto
November 13, 2019 - 2:10 pm

We grade press conferences in America because we run long on optics and short on substance. Credit our short-attention spans, and show us the pretty colors.

That said, Gabe Kapler and Farhan Zaidi largely aced their initial press conference and public perp walk. They apologized for their actions and, more accurately, inactions in the infamous Dodger sexual assault cases, acknowledged their ignorance on the subject and their myopic viewpoint that their view of the assaults emanated from the baseball and legal perspectives. They even noted that the organization's momentum has been halted by what has been a largely criticized hire, and how they are now married to each other in ways that baseball operartions people and managers normally are not.

In short, they sang the song well. But here what they omitted:

*The specific structure and methodology they will use when the next Giant prospect assaults his spouse. They said they knew they performed poorly in Los Angeles, but they didn't provide a map by which their words can be matched with their deeds.

*A concrete definition of "collaboration," which is the new corporate copout/buzzword that usually means nothing more complicated than "obedience to the higher power." Does Kapler have the same level of in-game autonomy that Bruce Bochy did? Should he? Who's making that call to get the lefthander up in the sixth inning when the Pirates have loaded the bases with nobody out?

*Why did the Phillies talk so glowingly of a guy they just fired?

*And why did Zaidi want to go through the grief of the multiheaded perp walk if there was anyone else he could have liked almost as much?

Let's answer the last one first: Zaidi wanted Kapler all along and was willing to go to the mattresses to get him. I mean, he could have hired him a month ago, which at least suggests that he had to do at least some convincing of the moneyed partners. He is the baseball ops guy who gets what he wants, even if it takes awhile.

But that inevitably brings us back to the central truth of the Kapler hire, which is that the two of them are joined at the hip in all ways, including their inadequate reactions to the Dodger case and how they intend to prove that they have learned and will display that education when needed.

This is in one way an oddly therapeutic decision by Zaidi, who largely skated on the assault report cases while Kapler got it with all barrels. By sharing the responsibility that they both share, they both can show that they "get it" in a real and enduring way on a subject sports people are normally clumsy handling.

More to the point, it is their willingness to allow other reporters to rehash the questions asked today that will show that their shame regarding the past can be retooled into beneficial action. They can't play "I handled that at the press conference" and come across as sincerely penitent, and as a tactical measure, those who do acknowledge wrongdoing when asked get past it quicker then those who resist it.

The baseball? It will take care of itself. Kapler inherits a team that is still in the nascent stage of a full rebuild, and those who succeed great managers infrequently become great themselves. This is a difficult job under any circumstances, but their shared backgrounds in what was a horrendous set of decisions in Los Angeles mean that both Zaidi and Kapler have grabbed each other by the hand jumped off a very high cliff with very jagged rocks.

But because we need the optics, it must be said that they jumped well and gracefully. Now let's see them stick the landing... as many times as they are asked to do so.

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