Nevius: Giants' Farhan Zaidi puts self in tight spot with manager hire
The managerial announcement last week at Willie Mays Plaza has been well covered.
A short synopsis: The Giants’ director of baseball, Farhan Zaidi, put his finger in the air, checked prevailing winds and then walked into a wood chipper.
Zaidi decided, despite ample input from second-guessers, to hire Gabe Kapler. Kapler is quirky, which is fine in San Francisco, but some of his blog posts are wince-worthy. He is wildly unpopular on social media. Also, he was fired at Philadelphia after just two years.
But most of all, when he was with the Dodgers, he completely mishandled a messy assault (and, it later turned out, sexual assault) on two women by Dodgers minor league players. And, by the way, it turns out that Zaidi, then with the Dodgers, was part of the front office that also botched the issue.
So it is worth speculating. Why would Zaidi do this? He knew the deal. They were going to have to start a job announcement with an apology. And he even ended up dragging himself into the mire.
What we hope, of course, is that this isn’t an example of “the Houston Astros model.” In another well-covered story, a Houston assistant general manager was fired after a bizarre post-playoff game rant in which he shouted to female reporters how glad they were to get “Osuna.” The reference is to pitcher Roberto Osuna, who had been suspended 75 games for domestic assault.
The kicker is that stories later appeared implying that the team was not only pleased with the Osuna deal, but in a warped way they thought the domestic assault charges were an advantage because it kept some teams from getting involved.
That kind of anything-for-a-win mentality wouldn’t fly here. Surely, Zaidi didn’t think the assault stories were no big deal, did he?
What is more likely, I think, is he is rolling the dice. He really believes Kapler when he says, “I don’t expect to gain your trust in this press conference, but over time I will.”
It must be said that each man had practiced his sword-falling-upon skills. Speaking as someone who is neither an expert in abuse cases nor female, I thought they did about as well as they could.
There was almost the feeling that Zaidi welcomed the chance to make a formal apology. That this might have been something that had been bothering him and this was a way to help make it right.
Both were contrite, unsparing and accepted blame without qualification. Kapler went off on a detour about talking to his mom about important things, but then hit the right note — he realizes now he’s not equipped to handle these problems. He should immediately bring in experts.
Zaidi essentially said he was disappointed he was part of a group that rather than making the moral decision made the expedient one, saying to the women, “You don’t want to go to the police? OK, fine.”
“It’s not just about protecting the victim,” Zaidi said. “It’s about supporting.”
So that raises the question, how many times can we ask them this? Sooner or later doesn’t it become asked and answered? There is certainly no ambiguity in these answers. They screwed up. They admit it. They pledge never to be so insensitive again.