Earlier this week, the Philadelphia Phillies signed a huge $2.5 billion, 25 year television contract with NBCUniversal and Comcast SportsNet. In addition to being locked in to the deal for the next quarter-century, the networks let go two familiar faces in the Phillies' broadcast booth for the last few years. Both Chris Wheeler and Gary "Sarge" Matthews will not be returning to the airwaves when the Phillies begin the 2014 season.
Wheeler was the longer-tenured broadcaster, having been a part of the broadcast team for the past 37 years. "Wheels", as he is affectionately known, spent many years alongside the legendary Harry Kalas in the broadcast booth. However, his departure is not much of a surprise, as some fans were becoming annoyed over his increasingly rambling nature and opinionated commentary. Despite this, Wheeler had been a celebrated part of the Phillies broadcast team for multiple generations of Phillies fans.
Gary "Sarge" Matthews, who routinely worked the fourth through sixth innings alongside main broadcaster Tom McCarthy, was perhaps the least favorite of any of the TV broadcasters among most fans. Matthews had also had a tendency to ramble, trip over his words, and rely his commentary heavily on reminiscing to personal experience as his time as a major leaguer. Matthews joined the team as a broadcaster prior to the 2007 season.
Both Matthews and Wheeler will remain with the team in a currently unknown role. Their replacements have not been announced, although names such as Brad Lidge and Ricky Botallico have been thrown around to serve as new color commentators.
Tags: Baseball, Brad Lidge, Chris Wheeler, Harry Kalas, MLB, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Phillies, Ricky Botallico