This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by visiting our contact page.
What should have been a joyous beginning to a World Series defense was instead replaced by a blow to the solar plexus of every Phillies fan with the death of Harry Kalas. As the dust continues to settle and we go about trying to put it all behind us, there are still games to be played, and those games are called by men on TV and radio. And I wanted to take this this opportunity to pick through the rubble (and the rabble) of what is left behind the microphones.
Tom McCarthy. Phillie-turned-Met-turned-Phillie was groomed to be Kalas’ replacement and now that time is here. T-Mac finally got called in from the bleachers and has proven himself to be a capable play-by-play man. While many don’t care for him much, his voice is smooth enough and his delivery is glitch-free. I get the feeling that other teams would take him if offered. Just don’t put the camera on him too often.
Chris Wheeler. Company man turned color analyst has been a fixture on the broadcasts since forever. He has a strong command of baseball fundamentals and in-game strategy (just ask him). Equally famous for his toupee and run-ins with fellow broadcasters as for his phrase-making, which has become legend among fans (“They’re in a no
doubles defense” … “He’s looking for something middle-in”).
Gary Matthews. Nicknamed “The Sarge” from his playing days, Matthews displays a folksy manner while lending a firm grasp of the obvious to the broadcast. He can be a bit eccentric at times. While somewhat enigmatic, there are those who insist he adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the telecast.
Scott Franzke. Our play-by-play man on radio is a solid broadcaster. He delivers the action in an heartier manner than McCarthy. A Franzke-Anderson broadcast has an earthy feel that the television broadcast does not. In his 30s, Scott may be a little young yet to push for the top job. He also wears weird eyeglasses.
Larry Anderson. Like the Sarge, our color analyst on radio is a former Phil. Those who can get past L.A.’s lazy delivery, will find a quality analyst with a dry wit. He can be a bit esoteric and is an acquired taste for some. Nevertheless, the banter between he and Franzke makes it clear the two enjoy working together and the camaraderie between the two creates an enjoyable broadcast.
On TV, there is no chemistry between McCarthy and Wheeler whatsoever. While McCarthy is technically fine, his impersonal delivery fosters a teflon-like personality on air. While by all accounts a nice man, if you had a beer with the guy you’d be bored stiff inside of 10 minutes. Wheeler sits in the booth like a haughty gargoyle pontificating on baseball’s finest nuances to the point where everything has been analyzed into dust. It’s obvious that years of riding in the back of airplanes with players has taught him the game of baseball. My problem lies with the fact that he never played.
For this reason I can’t take him seriously as a baseball man. A McCarthy-Wheeler broadcast tends to be cold and antiseptic. It also doesn’t help that the pitch of their voices occupy the same range, leaving the telecast short of any “auditory contrast” (this is a long way of saying that they sound the same).
The Sarge. Ah, the Sarge. Yes, he belabors the obvious sometimes. Yes, he references domestic luxury cars too often after a Phillies homer. Yes, he wears funny hats. But he knows the game and I find his eccentricities charming. He has revealed to his audience that no matter how hard he tries, he simply cannot get drunk when there’s a full moon. On one occasion he referred to a young pitcher in a tight spot as being “puckered up in the rear-end area.” Sometimes he just says stuff that makes me laugh like hell. I like him. Do I wish he were Mitch Williams or perhaps Ricky Botallico? Perhaps. But I think he’s fine.
Yes, Wheeler is that bad, but the Phillies are known to be intensely loyal, so he’s not going anywhere. Since “Wheels” has to stay, put him on during the middle innings with McCarthy. If feathers get ruffled you can tell one or both to take it or leave it. On TV, I’d recommend a move to a three-man booth with Franzke, Sarge and Anderson. Franzke calls a better game than McCarthy, plain and simple. I think the interplay between the two genuine oddballs, Matthews and Andersen, would provide good analysis and make for a few belly laughs as Franzke mans the rudder.