This is a sad story. Almost movie-like.
Gabe Kapler leaves the World Champion Boston Red Sox for Japan to make more money. He hits poorly overseas, becomes injured, then lands so far on the bench that he didn't look like he would see the field again.
He was sad in his new home. He questioned every day why he would leave the States; more specifically the Red Sox. Then Kapler was released and his attitude changed. He wanted to go back to America and play ball; more specifically, with the Red Sox.
He came back and smashed the ball pretty well. He wasn't hitting home runs at every at-bat, but he was doing his job. He hustled, and he never slowed down. He would run the ball out as hard as he could, whether it was a fast grounder to the shortstop's right or a routine grounder to the second baseman. More importantly the whole team was his best friend. His instant impact in the clubhouse, when times were becoming rough, really turned the season around. If you ask him what some of his favorite moments of the season has been, he'd probably say just being back in his dugout, slapping hands after the Sox score some runs.
Then last night happened. Kapler was on first base when Tony Graffanino roped a line drive home run over the wall. Kapler wasn't sure if it was gone or not, and, with Gabe being Gabe, hustled the whole way until falling face first after second base.
It's sad, and ironic, that Kapler will now miss the rest of the season, maybe even the rest of next season according to Chris Snow of the Boston Globe. What I must give credit to Kapler for is the fact that he always hustled, and when hustling costed him his season the irony just piled it. It's not funny irony, either.
His ruptured Achilles tendon may have ended his season, but it hasn't ended his effect on this team. Kapler will be around the clubhouse everyday; standing at the edge of the dugout at every game. And you sure as hell know he'll be there in the playoffs.
He won't be playing, but he'll slapping hands after great plays. And if that's all we get from this amazing person and player, then I'll take it in a heartbeat.