SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The Giants introduced their new manager at a news conference Wednesday afternoon but, instead of baseball, the talk immediately went to a controversy regarding domestic violence at a previous team.
Gabe Kapler had barely donned his ceremonial Giants jersey and hat when President of Baseball Operations, Farhan Zaidi, addressed the cloud hanging over his new manager–that Kapler had mishandled allegations of domestic and sexual battery leveled at several minor league players when both men worked for the Dodgers.
“I don’t think we did enough in that regard,” Zaidi said, “and I’ve had to reflect on that and I’m truly sorry that I didn’t do more.
The complaint is that Kapler made clumsy attempts to handle things himself without seeking experienced help in the matter.
“I’m sorry that I didn’t make all the right moves,” Kapler said. “Everything I did, I acted from a place of goodness and from my heart and wanting to do the right thing. But I was naïve. I was in over my skis and trying to do things on my own when it was very clear that I needed counsel and I needed counsel from people like I’ve met in this community over the course of the last two weeks.”
The situation is difficult enough with beloved manager Bruce Bochy having left and the Giants having suffered another losing season. So, Zaidi is making a big bet that Kapler, whose only major league managing experience ended in a losing record in Philadelphia, can help rebuild the team. But fans say it won’t help if the manager becomes a lightning rod for controversy.
“What this area, every area, doesn’t need is more polarization,” said Giants fan Ellen Ebie. “It’s nice to come to the ballpark and expect to see a certain thing and not have that polarization.”
“Other people, I think you can get by it and it can be forgiven. In a city like this I think it’s a lot harder,” said Mark Richter, who grew up as a Giants fan.
But everyone KPIX spoke with outside Oracle Park agreed that whether right or wrong, much will be forgiven if Kapler can make the team win.
“But if he doesn’t win, they will hold this over him,” said San Francisco resident Jesus Gonzalez. “They will hold it over him, they will make sure to use that to get him out of here, to get somebody else. But if he wins, they will forgive him.”
Kapler says he has learned a lot from the experience and will seek help from others if an incident should occur in the future. Ironically, he says when he was a player, his family operated a foundation to help combat domestic violence.
It’s a new era for Giants baseball, but it’s also a new era when it comes to violence against women and the Giants are gambling that Kapler can be successful on both those fronts.