Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews Called Their Last Nine Games Knowing They Had Been Fired

Voila_Capture 2014-02-24_03-35-42_PMChris Wheeler met with reporters today to talk about life after being shafted by the Comcast overlords. Ryan Lawrence has a transcript– one part stood out:

Q: You’ve always had a lot of respect for the organization. How did they break the news to you?

First of all, (team president) Dave Montgomery told me on September 21 that I wasn’t going to be back to do the games. I did the last nine games knowing I was a lame duck. And that was a little difficult. It was difficult leaving that Sunday, the second game that I did. That Saturday night, it rained with the Mets. He told me before that game. So leaving the booth that Sunday, I caught myself looking around as I walked to the bus. We went to Miami and Atlanta, so I did the games down there. (Tom McCarthy had to go home for personal reasons) and I wound up doing play-by-play for two or three games. Just me and Sarge, two lame ducks sitting there.

So that was a little bit difficult. But David and I started together in 1971. He said to me it was a very difficult thing for him to have to tell me but there were extenuating circumstances. You all know. It was Comcast’s decision. And he wanted me to know as soon as possible because he felt he owed me that because of our relationship for so many years and because I deserved that.

Since that time, I could not have been treated better. I had to wait. We had to sit on it for four months. They really thought the deal would come down a lot sooner than it did. It’s a big deal. So it took a long time for the deal to come down. When it did, you guys all found out about it. We had had some preliminary things. Did I want to stay in the organization? How we wanted to handle it, all that sort of stuff. And the door was wide open. We want you here. We think you have skills that other people don’t have. We’d like to use your skills. And my first reaction was, ‘Sure. What am I going to do without baseball.’ Will I be sitting here three or four years from now? I don’t know. I’ll be in my 70s.

Wheeler was with the team for almost 40 years and had to broadcast the last nine games knowing that he was fired without being able to mention it? Sounds familiar.

I don’t want to fall into the trap of shredding the Phillies for everything they do, but it’s hard not to shake your head at this. How do they not let Wheeler address the audience before signing off one last time?  Obviously David Montgomery did what he felt was right – telling Wheels before the season was over – and I understand that the deal with Comcast wasn’t completed yet and couldn’t be mentioned, but there’s a way to let your longtime company man give a final signoff without hinting at a new TV deal. Do you think they would’ve let Harry or Whitey go out that way had they not passed before their careers were over? No way. Wheels deserved better. He deserved a chance to do what Tim McCarver did after the World Series.

Lawrence thinks I’m overreacting, and maybe I am. But I don’t even like Wheels (more like a passionate dislike) and I still feel like there was a better way to handle this. An all-too-familiar pattern is forming with regard to how the Phillies go about their business– Charlie manages final game knowing he’s done, Wheels and Sarge broadcast final games knowing they’re done, and a college kid is ratted out to the NCAA. These are all business decisions, sure, but there’s a way to go about these things while allowing others to preserve some shred of dignity. Would it have been so difficult for the Phillies’ cognitively challenged PR team to concoct a story as to why Wheels was leaving the booth without hinting at a new TV deal? I’d think so. And so what if people speculate. Obviously an agreement was already reached and they were just waiting on the paperwork to be finalized. Something just feels gross about this.

18 Comments

  1. Wheels is a loser

  2. I thought that when the Phillies hired Scott Palmer away from Channel 6 several years ago, all of this bullshit was supposed to go away. And it did… for a while. But it seems like the longer Scotty is with the Phillies, the more he falls into the “Phillies way” of doing things and makes less and less of a difference on the PR side. Wait, I know… wasn’t Wheels a PR guy with the team before he became a full time broadcaster? Maybe they could move him back into that role.

    P. S. That last part was pure sarcasm.

  3. Angelo's Inner Voice

    February 24, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    They shoulda shown Wheeler the door that day, instead of letting him stay on for 9 meaningless games. At least more fans would have tuned in for the games, knowing that blowhard was gone.

    And what’s this about “being shafted by the Comcast Overlords”? WHEELER SUCKED! He wasn’t shafted. He should be thanking the Phillies for keeping him on THIS long (about 10 years too long.)

    Comcast did everyone a favor by mandating his dismissal – something the soft, country-club .300 Monty would have never done on his own.

    .

    • Kyle Scott

      February 24, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      I agree Wheeler sucked. But it also sucks being fired by a bunch of corporate suits as part of a TV deal. I kind of feel for the guy.

      • Grand Master Flush

        February 24, 2014 at 5:35 pm

        The “corporate suits” most likely based their decision to shitcan these two goofs based on demographic surveys of their viewer base, aka every Phillies fan who hated them both. So what difference does it make if Comcast jettisoned the garbage as long as it’s gone?

  4. This was a good read, on Philly.com this morning

    Mailing it in today Kyle? I thought you were a real badass, top blogger in the City and was motivated to be the best and kick everyone’s ass?

  5. Give it a rest, Kyle. You’re ripping EVERYTHING the team does – it’s gotten old and annoying. Sure, it didn’t play out perfectly, but guess what, things can’t always play out 100% perfectly 100% of the time. It’s life and business.

    I get it – you’re a blogger – so you’re going to blog about crap that goes on in Philly sports…have at it. But when you literally reference the Wheels situation and what the team did to the college player in the SAME sentence (as if those actions are related in any way or even being done by the same group of people) it’s clear you’re just trolling for pageviews, comments, etc.

    • Bastardo's Giant Quads

      February 25, 2014 at 1:34 am

      I’m partially glad he regurgitated this story since I didn’t see it before he did. That being said I agree with you 100%. Prolly is just going for page views/comments with this one…

      And you just gave him both of those things, dummy.

  6. Anybody doing that 97.5 focus group? I can’t wait to talk bad about mike miss, brace & marks. I’m so pumped

  7. The Phillies organization has never exhibited much class.

  8. Kyle’s right. On too many occasions, the Phillies brass have behaved like dicks when that was completely unnecessary. I was delighted to hear that Wheels is gone. but even he deserves a certain amount of common courtesy. And seriously: even at his worst, was Wheels any less competent than Rubes?

  9. I will tell u why guys like the Comcast dudes are dicks…they could have given wheels or sarge a reduced role…pre or post game, or even contribute to one of those lame week in review type shows. ..but no, they had to be completely fired…then those guys give jobs to hot chicks that they are fucking and we have to see those ditzy broads interviewing people at that crook pete c’s chickies and pete’s establishment

  10. Bastardo's Giant Quads

    February 25, 2014 at 1:36 am

    I do think wheels should’ve been able to say goodbye though. I’m not in PR and I could’ve made some shit up to make it sound nice and not involve comcast.

    Also to all of the people that shit in wheels… that dude is a baseball almanac and his toupee knows more about the game than most of you ever will.

    He was actually pretty good. People just don’t like him because stupid/self conscious people feel like he’s talking down to them or pointing out the obvious. It’s not his fault your dumb.

    A person watching a game that wheels called could’ve actually learned about the game while they were watching it.

    • Fuck Wheels, He Was The Worst

      February 25, 2014 at 8:53 am

      “A person watching a game that wheels called could’ve actually learned about the game while they were watching it.”

      Yeah, and his daily assumptions that his entire audience must have never seen a double play turned or didn’t pick up on how huge Petco Park is after the first 20 times he mentioned it never got old for one second.

      Going by your standards, any fan who’s watched baseball their entire life must be a “baseball almanac”, since that’s all Wheeler ever did to earn that title from you. Unfortunately for him, his job dictated that he wasn’t judged on being a “baseball almanac”, but rather on being an entertaining announcer who preferably didn’t annoy his audience with his dorky personality and idiotic over-explaining of things that happen on a regular basis throughout every baseball game. They should have taken him out of the booth decades ago.

      • Wheels was never the entertaining part of the crew when Harry and Richie were around. You just noticed it more now because Tom McCarthy is about as entertaining as Mayor Nutter. Wheels does know the game. Whether you want to believe it or not, there are people who don’t. We’ll see if Stairs and Moyer are any better. Anybody know how that is going to work? I thought I read that Stairs and Moyer would split the games between them; so that means they will be doing all 9 innings each game? Is it possible to sync the TV and radio for Phils games?

        • Bastardo's Giant Quads

          February 25, 2014 at 12:29 pm

          I’ve tried a million times and haven’t had success. I’m now determined though more than ever. There’s got to be a way.

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