End of An Era
Very shocking news from the Phillies today: Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews will no longer be broadcasting games for the team. Obviously, the biggest surprise is with Wheeler going as he has been with the team for 37 years. In other words, I have not listened to, or watched, a Phillies game without Chris Wheeler being a part of that broadcast. As the article above stated: “None of the three voices that defined modern Phillies baseball — Harry Kalas, Richie Ashburn and Wheeler — will be in the booth opening day for the first time since 1962.” Truly, it is the end of an era.
I can’t speak for Wheeler, but I would imagine he thought he would work for the Phillies until he retired. He recently wrote a book about his experiences called View From the Booth: Four Decades With the Phillies. So, clearly, he loved being with the team. Interestingly, with the recent Comcast deal, they gained a say over the broadcast and made this decision. I think it would be safe to say that the Phillies would not have made this decision on their own.
As for Wheels, I was never a huge fan, but I have a soft spot in my heart for him as he, like Harry and Whitey (but certainly not to the same level), has been a part of the broadcasts for my whole life. I will say that I have never heard someone who knows baseball trivia as well as he does. He almost always get the question right every game. Sarge was really rough when he started, but grew on me and a lot of fans. While he didn’t have the tenure that Wheels had, he did have some funny sayings and quirks, like emphasizing random words that he said. (“He turns on the ball and drives the ball RIGHT down the line”.) I think Comcast would have been better served getting rid of Tom McCarthy before these two guys. I don’t want to bury the guy, but T-Mac really doesn’t bring anything to the broadcasts.
The article I hyperlinked to above lists some possible replacements. Of course, most people have said LA and Franzke should move to the TV booth, but apparently that is not happening and Comcast is looking for a former player. One name mentioned is Ricky Bottalico, someone who would be a good choice. Not so sure about Chris Coste. He did an okay job a few times as a post-game analyst, but this would be a big step up from that. One name that was surprising was Brad Lidge. I don’t know if he is even interested in that or if he has any experience, but I’d be curious to see how he would do. In the end, though, Bottalico would seem to be the best choice.