Being a manager of a Major League Baseball team or being a head coach for a professional league is a thankless job. Shoot, coaching high school kids, college students or youth kids is not fun anymore.
Twitter, blogs, YouTube, sports radio and newspaper site comments provide an outlet for fans to rip managers and head coaches at a moment’s notice. High school coaches and youth coaches hear it from disgruntled parents during the game and after the game.
Wins and championships turn out to be a temporary respite from the nonsense that coaches and managers deal with. But in a win at-all-cost world, it seems more of a relief than celebration. There’s no appreciation for the hard work they put in at their job anymore.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway and Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler live in that world. Both are under scrutiny for the job they have done as managers of their respective teams. The Mets are likely going to have their third straight losing season, and the Phillies are showing they are not a playoff team despite making off-season acquisitions in Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto and signing an expensive marquee free agent in Bryce Harper along with David Robertson.
Callaway will likely be fired when the season is over, but right now, this is not fun for him absorbing the losses and criticism every game. He expressed his frustration towards Yahoo’s Matt Ehalt about why he did not use his closer Edwin Diaz for a five-out save on Sunday, and then he yelled an obscenity at Newsday’s Tim Healey. If he had his way, he would prefer to be fired now rather than dealing with the nonsense, especially since he knows he’s a goner when the season is over.
Kapler’s job status depends on whether or not the Phillies qualify for the playoffs this season. If they miss the playoffs, he will be looking for work. Already, fans are calling for his head along with certain sports radio personalities in Philadelphia. He has been criticized for overmanaging and relying too much on analytics to win games. Some question his leadership when things are tough like right now after he failed to get his team going into the final two months of last season.
We know how inept Callaway is from watching him on a day-to-day basis. We don’t have a feel for Kapler since we rarely write about his team. From a distance though, it’s hard to blame the Phillies manager when he does not have a starting rotation and bullpen to work with.
Outside of Aaron Nola, which starter is reliable for Kapler to win every fifth day? Does he even have a competent reliever on his roster?
It does not help matters for him when his pitchers pitch 81 home games in a park where anyone can hit a home run at Citizens Bank Park. In the Phillies’ series against the Mets, his pitchers gave up six home runs in the first two games of the four-game set, and look for the numbers to keep rising with two more games to go.
A manager can only do so much if he does not have the pitching.
If the bullpen performed well for the Mets, Callaway likely wouldn’t be hearing calls for his job. The Mets would be contending for the wild-card spot instead of playing out the season. If the bullpen gave the Mets a chance on Monday, maybe they find a way to win since the Phillies bullpen is awful in their own right. Certainly, if the Mets manager had several competent relievers in his bullpen, they would not have blown a 5-2 lead on their way to a 7-5 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night. This is the 19th time this season that his bullpen blew a lead, the most in Major League Baseball. Overall, the Mets bullpen ERA is 8.10, highest in MLB.
Kapler could relax and enjoy these last two days. He needed that after the Phillies lost seven in a row, including getting swept by the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins.
Losing 11 of 13 does not have the Phillies in the right direction, and the four-game series against the awful Mets will fix things only temporarily. The Phillies’ pitching problems could be too much to overcome in the end, and Kapler could pay the price for it in the end.
Fans have no reason to feel sorry for managers since they signed up to be in the profession they are in, not to mention they get paid well. Still, it has to be tough for a manager to be in a no-win situation when he doesn’t have a shot. In Callaway’s case, he works for an incompetent ownership in the Wilpon family and a general manager who is over his head at his job in Brodie Van Wagenen. In Kapler’s case, he can only work with what he has to work with.
Callaway does not get the benefit of the doubt from fans since he comes off as inept from watching him manage games and talking to the media. Kapler does not get it, either because he comes off as a guy who is a smooth talker and a guy who is too smart for his own good.
Criticism is part of the deal when it comes to managing or coaching. Still, it would be nice if managers or head coaches get credit from a fans’ perspective. Only Bill Belichick gets the benefit of the doubt because of his six Super Bowl championships.
There’s nothing glamorous about being a head coach or manager.
It’s a thankless job that eventually has an expiration date.
Callaway certainly is resigned to his fate, and Kapler is not far behind.