With the dismissal of Chris Wheeler and Gary “Sarge” Matthews as Phillies announcers yesterday, speculation immediately began on who would be stepping into the booth the fill the shoes of the two. Frankly, I’m not sure that the Phillies couldn’t look the in the direction of bringing in two new announcers, but I believe the age of both Wheeler and Matthews (both of whom are in their 60’s) was the reason the Phillies had three members of their broadcast team. Depending on who they bring in, nine innings might not be considered as much of a hurdle as it was with the other two, both because of their age, and questionable at best commentary.
The obvious names that came up in speculation were former reliever Ricky Bottalico (Phillies pre-game and post-game live host on Comcast Sportsnet and former Lehigh Valley Ironpigs color-man), former catcher Chris Coste (who has done some work on Comcast Sportsnet), former pitcher Jamie Moyer (who served as an analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight in 2011), and one Brad Lidge.
The man who closed out the Phillies 2008 World title, officially retired as a Phille last season, and hosts a radio show on MLB Network Radio every week. Lidge says that representatives from Comcast Sportsnet reached out to him, to gauge his interest.
“They wanted to talk about it and see where I was at on it,” Lidge said.
Unfortunately, the Phillies caught “Lights Out” at an inconvenient time.
“The timing right now is tough,” Lidge said from his home outside Boulder, Colo.
“My family and I are finally getting settled in Colorado and it’s be tough right now to change that,” Lidge said. “Even as cool of an opportunity and as much as I love being in Philadelphia.”
Lidge would have been my pick out of the names mentioned, but I’m not sure that the Phillies necessarily need to go with a former player that has Phillies ties.
Ben Davis, who played in the MLB, but never with the Phillies, has done a really good job on Comcast Sportsnet, and I’d much rather see him than a guy like Ricky Bottalico. Bottalico is sometimes so critical of the Phillies, that he almost makes me look like an optimist. Not that I don’t think Bottalico makes some good points, I’m just not sure I could listen to him for nine innings, over a 162 game season.
Then again, none of the names we have mentioned, besides Bottalico, have a lick of announcing experience. Working as analyst, you usually are prompted with topics, and are able to break down the topics accordingly. Announcing, you respond to the ebbs and flows of the game, and aren’t prompted with what is going to happen in the future. I know they are doing color-work is not the same as play-by-play, but it is just completely different than being a studio analyst.