Says the Athletic:

General manager Matt Klentak and team president Andy MacPhail flanked John Middleton, the billionaire CEO, and they let him speak last week at Citizens Bank Park.

For weeks, as MacPhail detailed, the team’s leadership attempted to sway Middleton from firing manager Gabe Kapler. They told Middleton to seek more information. Middleton said he would not reveal that information now because it was confidential.

Why did the Phillies fire Kapler? For 56 minutes and 56 seconds, the three men in charge of the Phillies talked, and it was dizzying.

“What John didn’t hear was any explanation of why we were 20-36 over the last two Septembers, or more important, what was going to be in place to assure that that didn’t happen again,” MacPhail said. “So he came back and made his decision.”

Forget, for a moment, the fact that the most recent Phillies season went sideways during an 11-16 June, or that their latest September shortfall reflected an indifferent trade-deadline strategy employed by the front office, or that the Nationals traded their 22nd-ranked prospect (according to Baseball America) for a mid-tier reliever who has recorded so many important outs in October.

For 56 minutes and 56 seconds, it was harder and harder to see how these Phillies will find a path toward relevancy.

Did Middleton, the club’s managing partner, fire Kapler because he was unpopular in this city?

“It’s always a factor,” Middleton said.

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