It’s not often that I get to be the bearer of good news on the Philadelphia Phillies front anymore. Today actually has turned out to be one of those days.
While the Phillies, in the minds of many fans and analysts, are bringing back a tired old roster, they won’t be bringing back the same old tired announcing crew, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Longtime Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler is out after nearly four decades in the booth and Gary Matthews isn’t returning as color analyst.
The Phillies released the following statement, confirming the AP report.
“As the longest-tenured member of the Phillies broadcasting team, Chris Wheeler will return to his club roots after stepping down from his role as a Phillies broadcaster,” the team said in a statement.
“With 37 years of broadcasting experience, combined with his front office background where he began his Phillies career, ‘Wheels’ will take on a new role allowing the organization to continue to benefit from his knowledge, experience and dedication to the game,” the statement said. “Additionally, Gary Matthews will continue to work with the Phillies bringing his exceptional background as a major league ballplayer, broadcaster and commentator to new roles at the Phillies.”
Additionally, both Wheeler and Matthews were quoted on the news.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Phillies broadcast team for 37 years,” Wheeler said in a statement. “I certainly respect the decision that was made and I look forward to my new role in the Phillies organization.”
“I enjoy working for the Phillies and want to retire as a Phillie,” Matthews said in a phone conversation. “This is a great opportunity for me to remain in the area and also do my charity work.”
The article, written by Rob Maaddi, also discusses the “sadness Phillies fans have expressed on social media” over the moves, especially “Wheels” departure. I’m not exactly sure what Maaddi was reading, but not to many people are sad about this move. Instead, many are elated that a Phillies broadcasting crew that had become nearly unlistenable, is getting some turnover.
Wheeler did spend 37 seasons as an announcer for the team, but after the death of legendary announcer Harry Kalas, he seemed to lose his grove as a color-commentator, and rubbed many fans the wrong way.
Matthews, more commonly referred to as “Sarge”, will go down as one of the worst announcers in Phillies history. It wasn’t that he didn’t know the game, but he simply struggled to turn his thoughts into insightful analysis. That and the fact that he and play-by-play man Tom McCarthy, who will retain his position, would consistently tell inside jokes and booth and start laughing uncontrollably, leaving fans all over the Delaware valley shaking their heads.
The Wheeler-ism that I’m going to miss the most is everytime the ball got near someones’ head, he called it their coconut. As for Sarge, I’ll just miss seeing him wear his hats backwards. Other than that, I’m extremely happy about this news.
Unfortunately, Tom McCarthy doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, as he is entering just year two of a five-year extension he signed prior to last season. “T-Mac” has a good homerun call, but when he does anything other than call the game, he annoys me, and just about all other Phillies fans.
There is no word on who will replace them just yet, but Maaddi speculates that Comcast Sportsnet and the Phillies won’t go for an external answer.
Among those thought be potential replacements are former Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who was 48-for48 in save situations during the 2008 World Series championship season, Chris Coste, a backup catcher on that team, and former All-Star closer Ricky Bottalico, who currently serves as a postgame analyst.