Kapler Is Out, Zaidi Should Be Next; WNBA Team Coming to the Bay? Reader Feedback
Gabe Kapler, the National League Manager of the Year just two years ago, was fired Friday afternoon before the San Francisco Giants opened their season-ending series against the Dodgers.
The Giants were in playoff contention for most of the year, before imploding down the stretch in a non-stop horror movie of fielding errors, run-deprived offense, and unreliable relief pitching.
“As a group, as a team, we played our worst baseball when it mattered the most,” Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said in announcing Kapler's firing.
Pitcher Logan Webb, the team's best player, recently called for "big changes." So you knew something was coming.
Kapler (above left) was the fall guy, but one could argue, as I do, that Zaidi (above right) is more to blame.
He's the person responsible for putting together the roster of platoon players, spare parts, and oft-injured journeymen. He's the one who was unable to sign any big name free agents, landing Mitch Haniger instead of Aaron Judge.
He's the one who pulls the strings while Kapler executes the team's sorry, analytics-driven scheme utilizing only two starting pitchers, with three out of five games featuring a parade of relievers, and platooning almost every position on the field.
Only in San Francisco can a player like Lamonte Wade Jr. hit a leadoff home run and then be pinched hit for in the fifth inning when the opposing team brings in a left-handed thrower.
It's hard to watch. That's why there are so many empty seats at Oracle Park. Frankly, there was no reason to pay money to see the Giants this year. I didn't attend a single game.
One of the best baseball writers in the country, Tom Verducci, was so repulsed by the Giants that he recently wrote, “If this is the future of baseball, I want no part of it.”
From this corner, the Giants' purge at the top is only half completed.
One down, one to go.
Keep Crawford: One person the Giants shouldn't let go is Brandon Crawford, the best shortstop in the history of the franchise. Craw was honored yesterday in what seemed like a retirement ceremony. His contract is up and neither he nor the Giants have decided on his status for next year.
It would be a crime to see him in another uniform. The Giants need to offer him a modest contract to continue as a part-time player and mentor. Countless young players on the team have commented on how much he has helped them. He can continue to do so, if not as a player then perhaps as an assistant coach or special advisor.
WNBA to the Bay? The Warriors are close to bringing a WNBA expansion franchise to the Bay Area, according to several knowledgeable sources.
The deal hasn't yet been finalized, and the team acknowledged only "productive discussions," but an announcement is expected this month.
Reportedly the franchise will play games at Chase Center in San Francisco but be headquartered in Oakland at the Warriors' practice facility, which the team still owns.
Warriors' owner Joe Lacob has always had a strong interest in women's basketball. He was one of the principal investors in the American Basketball League, which I co-founded, and was owner of the ABL's San Jose Lasers franchise.
As president of the league, I had the opportunity to work with Joe on a daily basis from 1996-98 and found him to be smart, engaging, and demanding, but very fair. He did a lot for our league and for me personally.
I'd expect his WNBA team to become one of the most successful in the league.
Go Stanford: Yesterday's 49ers-Cardinals game was a showcase for Stanford alums. The Niners' all-purpose superstar, Christian McCaffrey, scored four touchdowns and gained 177 yards rushing and receiving. In my mind, he's the best player in the NFL and should be at the top of MVP lists.
Another Cardinal alum, Cardinals' rookie receiver Michael Wilson, who had a 65-yard reception last week in his team's upset win over Dallas, scored two touchdowns against the 49ers. Yet another former Stanford player, Cardinals' tight end Zach Ertz, almost had another TD grab. That would've been seven TDs for Stanford.
Feedback: Thanks to all of you who complimented last week's blog defending Stanford football, paying tribute to Buddy Teevens, and chiding USC's attempt to control the LA media.
I'm honored that so many people find the blog entertaining and/or compelling.
It's also gratifying that a lot of you have purchased the "Make Lying Wrong Again" cap we featured last month.
Amidst the torrent of positive vibes, I got one negative email from a subscriber who took issue with my references to Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy as "one of my favorites because of his push for sensible gun control laws" and my distrust of Texas Senator Ted "Cancun" Cruz.
Basically, he told me to stick to sports. Something along the lines of "shut up and dribble".
OK, but last time I checked, my blog was free of charge. And no one was forcing him to read it.
For the record, sports will always be the main focus here on The Inside Track, but I would feel like a coward if I didn't use this platform, on occasion, to push for the things I believe in.
Like doing something about gun violence. Standing up for the truth. Fighting racism.
From time to time, I may call out pathological liars, bigots and hypocrites who escape to Mexico while their constituents are suffering through a disastrous winter storm.
If a few readers have a problem with that, the sun will still come out tomorrow.