Arguably, the biggest move the Phils made this offseason was firing more than long-time broadcaster Chris “Wheels” Wheeler (Biggest moves used to be signing guys like Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee). Gary “Sarge” Matthews was also shown the door. Wheels had been in the booth longer than most people who are reading this have been alive. He came on in 1977 and it’s the first year since 1971 that one of the three mainstays of Phillies broadcasting, the venerable Harry Kallas and of course Richie Ashburn, are not going to call the Phillies on television.
That’s quite a run for Wheels.
It was an unceremonious dump for a guy who probably deserved more despite the fact that almost nobody liked him. I’m not a Wheels apologist but he probably didn’t deserve to go out quite like that. Say what you want about Wheels – he was a know-it-all, he stated the obvious, his shtick was just tired – the man has forgotten more about baseball than any of us will ever know. He was well liked within the organization and not bad at his job. It was his time to go according to Comcast Sports Net, who dictated the firing after agreeing to give the Phils $2.5 billion over the next 25 years to broadcast their games.
“OK” the Phils said. Can’t blame em.
The thing that irked me about this whole thing is that Tom McCarthy is getting to keep his job. As much as people don’t like Wheels is how much I don’t like TMac. I don’t like how he calls games. Listen for it this year but I swear he can’t judge the ball off the bat. He struggles on home run calls and the inflection of his voice can make you think Cole got Bryce Harper to pop it up when all he did was foul it back. Aside from that, he’s just bland. He’s vanilla ice cream with a side of vanilla. Comcast should have just cleaned house and brought in a whole new team.
We’re about 2 months away from the beginning of the season and the Phils still have not announced a replacement for Wheels to be the color guy along side McCarthy.
My dream set-up has already been thwarted because TMac lives, but man, what I wouldn’t give to have Scott Franzke’s deadpan egging on of a probably drunk Larry Andersen. If you can listen to the Phils on the radio, do yourself a favor. Franzke and LA have great banter and LA cracks jokes, tells it like it is, and Franzke is the perfect foil who calls a better game than TMac. LA is too much of a wild card these days for it too happen but if the Phils aren’t going to be any good at least I could laugh my way through the tears with those two. Hopefully the new color guy is good enough that I don’t fight with my DVR to try and sync the radio show this year.
The next best scenario would involve a member of the 93 Phillies squad, a few of which are already on the national television scene. I doubt it’s realistic but John Kruk would be my ideal replacement for Wheels. Since his playing days Kruk has toned down the mullet look and proven to be an intelligent baseball mind as an analyst for ESPN. He would instantly add credibility to the booth and there’s a 5% chance he’d be bad or no one would like him.
Another loud personality from the memorable 93 team, Mitch Williams, would be a nice fit. The Wild Thing is a bit brash with his opinions if you follow him on the MLB Network or read about his dustup with Lenny Dykstra recently, but he would also be some one fun to have calling the Phillies for us every night.
Both of those guys are probably pipe dreams that would have to receive Godfather offers to take what would equate to a step down in the broadcasting world. They are both national analysts that have cushy studio gigs where they don’t have to have the same travel schedule as a Major League baseball team.
No, if I know the Phillies they’ll replace Wheels with some vanilla decision to couple with McCarthy. Nothing too risky to shake up the more stodgy Phils fans.
Yet another member of the 93 team’s name has been bandied about as a replacement. The new coach of Triple A Lehigh Valley, Mickey Morandini, has been contacted to gauge his interest. It was a pleasure hearing Harry Kallas roll More – An – Dini off his tongue every night. Mickey would probably be decent but not as fun as the names already mentioned.
Ricky Bottalico’s name keeps coming up. Darren Daulton probably couldn’t handle it with his health issues. Jamie Moyer is probably dying to get back on the road away from his wife and kids. Curt Schilling could use the money. Lenny Dkystra is turning everything he touches into gold then completely f___ing it up beyond all repair while treating people like shit and doing a ton of drugs. Pete Incaviglia is competing in arm wrestling championships. Danny Jackson has become Tim Burton’s prop guy. Jim Eisenrich is judging state-level beauty pageants. Terry Mulholland is traveling the country teaching lefties the step-off-pick-off. Dave Hollins is traveling the country teaching kids how not to throw from third to first.
Who knows who will be next at this point?
Who knows who will be next at this point?