UPDATE 1: Phillies beat writer Matt Gelb had to cut his chat on Philly.com, somewhat hilariously:
UPDATE 2: Many may assume this opens up some room for Scott Franzke or Larry Anders on TV. But on our podcast last week, we discussed the broadcasting team with Kevin Cooney. He explained the Franzke absolutely prefers radio.
UPDATE 3: I don’t know how to react. I wasn’t even this emotional when we got bin Laden.
UPDATE 4: WOW. Maaddi reports that it came from the network as part of the new deal:
Longtime Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler is out after nearly four decades in the booth and Gary Matthews isn’t returning as color analyst, several people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The team recently signed a new television contract with NBCUniversal and Comcast SportsNet that’s reportedly worth $2.5 billion over 25 years.
The decision to replace Wheeler and Matthews came from the network, according to multiple sources. The Phillies said Wheeler and Matthews will continue to work with the organization in other roles.
No surprise that they’re sticking around.
UPDATE 5: Phils confirm it.
UPDATE 6: On our podcast last week, we talked with Phillies beat writer Kevin Cooney about the broadcast team. Many might assume that this will open up spots for Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen on TV. But Cooney says Franzke prefers radio and likely doesn’t want to do TV.
UPDATE 7: From the Phillies:
UPDATE 8: Phils are already spinning this, saying Wheels is stepping down. Right. Matt Gelb reports that CSN has gained some editorial control as part of the new 25-year, $2.5 billion TV deal and played a role in this decision. Money might not be able to buy you happiness, but it’ll buy you more peaceful summer nights. [I’m talking about Wheels here. I liked Sarge.]
This deal really seems to have gone in Comcast’s favor. The Phillies got less guaranteed money than expected and lost some editorial control over the broadcast.
UPDATE 9: Never forget:
UPDATE 10: Let’s speculate on replacements (in the comments). Kruk, Mitch, Schilling (all with other networks), CHARLIE MANUEL?
UPDATE 11: Cooney also reporting that is was CSN’s decision.
UPDATE 12: T-Mac is under contract, but, to me, the fact that he stays here tells you how much he’s liked by front office and CSN. He was a close second to Wheeler in terms of fan dislike.
UPDATE 13: Todd Zolecki says Franzke and LA stay on radio booth. No surprise there.
UPDATE 14: Here’s the full statement the Phillies sent to the media:
”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 statement read. “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. 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.”
UPDATE 15: Chris Wheeler almost immediately refutes the stepping down thing, in a statement:
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Phillies broadcast team for 37 years,” Chris 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’m surprised he made it two sentences without mentioning the no-doubles defense.
UPDATE 17: Wheel’s finest moment:
UPDATE 18: Phil Sheridan going hard:
Hate seeing Chris Wheeler news. Works hard, knows the game, loves the game, respects the team. Can't have that in a broadcaster, right CSN?
— Phil Sheridan (@SheridanScribe) January 8, 2014
UPDATE 19: Tim Panaccio, who didn’t get the memo that his employer got Wheels taken off air:
Those who cant stand Chris Wheeler, I suggest you listen to other broadcasts in baseball to see just how good he is
— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) January 8, 2014
UPDATE 20: Wheeler was around for a long time, and he does know his stuff. He’s also, by all accounts, an incredibly nice man. I’ll admit that, at times, he made the broadcast more enjoyable or truly explained something to you that you didn’t know before. But, overall, his incessant prattling about nonsensical things and his need to tell you why he was always right would nearly ruin some games. I don’t like picking on good people (really), but when you spend countless hours watching someone, you can’t sequester your opinion on them. Same goes for T-Mac.
UPDATE 21: Franzke just told Rob Ellis and Anthony Gargano on WIP that he loves radio and really likes doing it with LA. He says he has no desire to do TV.
UPDATE 22: Matt Gelb reports that the new color guy will be a CSN employee, not a Phillies employee, like all other broadcasters.
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.
We’re hearing that Ricky Bo is the frontrunner. Though Lidge would be an interesting choice.