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The Dip: A Broadcasting Plan For The Future

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, July 03, 2009 01:30 PM | Comments: 44
Posts, The Dip

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.

tmacWhat 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.

The players

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.

Analysis

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.

The call

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.

Avatar of The Dipsy

About The Dipsy

The Dipsy has written 29 articles on Phillies Nation.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 Nesto

    I completely agree. A booth with Franzke, LA, and Sarge would easily provide the most entertaining broadcast. I always look forward to the middle innings when I watch on television, even in these arduous times for the Phillies, because I know Sarge will say at least a few hilarious things. And Franzke is just flat out better than T-Mac.

     
  • Posts: 0 Brett

    I’m glad to see you getting your own posts, Dipsy. I agree with everything you put out here, and the three man booth you suggest would be awesome.

     
  • Posts: 0 Kevin

    The question remains though; when has a three man booth ever really worked?

    Wheels isn’t as bad as many make him out to be, and McCarthy is just in a tough spot right now. Why not think outside the box and invite Todd Kalas to the tv booth?

     
  • Posts: 0 Howard

    McCarthy’s OK. He’s got the hardest spot to fill. ANYONE who is going to follow in Harry’s footsteps is going to be in for a rough ride. The only thing I wish would happen – WHEELS BLOWS A TIRE AND LEAVES!!!! I can’t stand him whether he’s on the tube or radio. Can Andy Musser come back and take his place? PLEASE!!!

     
  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    Baseball announcers today don’t really announce do they? Too many chat endlessly with anecdotes and jokes that are irrelevant to the game on the field.

    You commented about Wheeler not being a former player as a negative in assessing his qualities. Would you apply that particular negative to some of the great baseball broadcasters of the past such as.. Ernie Harwell, Mel Allen, Curt Gowdy, Vin Sculley, Red Barber, and Harry Carary who were not former players themselves? In their times, they combine both play by play and color analysis in describing the game.

    In your role as make believe studio producer and rearranging roles of the Phillies broadcaster, you made a few valid points but not entirely agreeable to me. Personally, I wish the babbling “Sarge” Mathews be relegated to radio broadcast and replace by Larry Andersen for the TV crew. You yourself described Mathews as “.. belabors the obvious sometimes” on game situations. For me, I find little that is enlightening or relevant from his comments on the game. When prodded by McCarthy, his rambling anecdotes and tired jokes are both boring and a hugh distraction from the game on the field. McCarthy is not much better and his distraction with Sarge affects his accuracy in responsible play calling.

    Chris Wheeler has and ably provided the necessary color analysis and better focused on game situations. It’s obvious to me that McCarthy leans on him in a big way to support his play calling. Because I don’t listen to radio broadcasts very often and therefore would not be fair to judge Scott Franzke, I would stay with “Wheels” and McCarthy for six innings of the game. The obvious change I desire is to bring Andersen to the TV booth for the middle three innings and put Mathews in the radio booth. I can picture Franzke rolling up his eyes in listening to all that babble from the Sarge. (chuckles)

    While I disagree with some of your points, I will commend you Dipsy for a well written article.

     
  • Posts: 0 Keith

    I think we should focus on winning games instead of complaining about the announcers ;)

     
  • Posts: 0 Phyl

    I don’t get to see the Phils on TV where I live. But I do get to listen thanks to mlb.com and XM. I love Scott & Larry on the radio and I will be seriously disappointed when (if) they get moved to TV. I realize TV is a promotion for them, but there are still lots of us out here who listen rather than watch and let me tell you, Scott & Larry are heads & shoulders above a lot of the radio people out there.

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew

    I dont live in philly. so i get to listen to alot of other teams commentators. Like tonight I am foced to watch the horrible mets commentators. I will say this. Wheeler is the worst announcer in baseball. I wonder how he got his job and how he keeps it. Harry didnt even like the guy. Sarge and Mccarthy is OK. Basicly anything minus wheeler is OK with me. He is that bad.

     
  • Posts: 0 Keith

    Chris Wheeler isn’t that bad

     
  • Posts: 0 Evan

    I like Sarge and not so much Wheels. Wheels has an attitude that can just sour the best play. LA and Franzke are by far my favorites, if I could find a way to synch the radio broadcast to mlb.tv I’d be in heaven.

     
  • Posts: 0 The Little Guy

    Wheels, knows the game, considering hes been there for like 30 years, and around baseball, he should know something. BUTTT..the thing that gets me so mad is, how wheels goes over the situations, and “what the hitter should be thinking” and what not. The Majority of the people that tune in every game, know baseball, know the nuances and little tid-bits and strategy, but wheels acts as if everyone is new to the game of baseball, and sometimes insults my intelligence.

    T-Mac, isn’t too bad, he plays into wheels just talking, but Franzke is really good, smooth and seems relitively easy going and enjoys the game.

    Sarge and LA, i mean we could do without them honestly, but i wouldn’t mind them doing a couple innings of the game, LA makes everything a joke.

     
  • Posts: 0 Kurt

    The thing that bothers me about the games is that there’s no “air” in the broadcasts. Just talk, talk, talk. I remember, while I liked Whitey, if he didn’t have anything to say he just wouldn’t talk. And that was cool. 30 seconds of dead air, just let me watch the game. Sometimes you wouldn’t hear him talk for like two or three minutes. Wheeler is so completely annoying because he’s somewhat snarky and talks too freakin much and comes off as a know it all.

     
  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Hey Phillies fans. I am not going anywhere. I am a Phillie for life. Now stop being goof balls and support me as I announce Philadelphia Phillies
    game for years to come.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew

    wheeler is that bad. I want to love the phillies broadcasters. I am even a fan of mccarthy and sarge. Because they are our guys.
    I want desperately to like wheeler. He simply really is that bad.

     
  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    I am a know it all. I speak the baseball language and I will help you learn it every game.

     
  • Posts: 0 Kurt

    The Dipsy? What the hell is that all about? Good article, stupid name. I guess since Tim is gone they’ll let anybody write.

     
  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Whats with false-flag posting my name? Jacka$$

     
  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    T-Mac and Sarge have great chemistry, and I think they should flip flop it and give Sarge the beginning and end of the game and give Wheeler the middle innings and let him jump in and out of the radio.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phils76

    I enjoyed this article a lot.

    T-Mac seems like a genuine person. I’ve never met the guy, but he just seems like good people. People need to give him a chance. He’s following Harry. How many of us would even attempt to think about doing such a job? It’s also not T-Mac’s fault for working for the Mets. He’s got to earn a paycheck and obvious Philly wasn’t working out for him at that point in time. I also think T-Mac has read these forums/blogs/etc. and saw the complaints that he was going on too much sometimes. I think he has gotten better in that department since April.

    Wheels is the last connection to the classic Phillies radio broadcast booth. Like it or not, but he has played a role in that booth for a long time. I consider him the last link to those years gone by. Who cares if he didn’t play baseball?! Did T-Mac? Did Harry?!?!?! Come on! Wheels knows his stuff. I do wish he’s let his guard down once in a while, though…just for fun…and to stick it to his critics.

    Sarge is Sarge. I appreciate that. He’s got a down-home charm to him and frankly, I think I like him better than Larry Andersen, who I find to be a bit lethargic at times, and dare I say, a bit egotistic?

    Franzke is a tough call. I do like him a lot…I just don’t see them pushing McCarthy out. Hmmm….it does seem like he is being wasted a bit by being on the radio all the time.

    Here’s my suggestion:

    INNINGS 1-3 on TV: Wheels and T-Mac
    INNINGS 3-6 on TV: Franzke and Sarge
    INNINGS 7-9 on TV: Wheels and T-Mac

    LA can do the radio all 9 innings.

     
  • Posts: 0 Itslikethat

    I also have a problem with a colr guy who never played ball. If you’re doing play by play it doesn’t matter but when you are trying to comment on the action for the purpose of edifying the watcher, which a color man is, then I think it helps if you played. While I’m sure a lot of what Wheeler says is accurate I would rather hear it from a player. Whe he talks it just doesn’t carry the same credibility. I tried to think of color guys who didn’t play the sports they covered and I couldn’t come up with any. Bob Salmi was the closest. Is it me or does Wheels sometimes not know the difference between a slider and a curve? That hair is precious, though.

     
  • Posts: 0 Howard

    Whether or not Wheels was a player or not, he’s not a broadcasting personality. He over explains everything that a blind man can figure out. Plus, if you remember, even Harry didn’t care for him (go back to when Harry was renegotiating his contract a few years ago). The broadcast team is just like any other team, and you have to have chemistry whether you’re in the booth or in the dugout or in the locker room.

    He could be better off producing – OFF camera.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing LA taking Wheels’ place.

     
  • Posts: 0 clktwr14

    Chris Wheeler, acts everybody just step of a space ship and he is trying to teach everybody about the game, I have heard that from several people I know and work with he should go back to Penn State and may be get a personality, and quit sucking the other team players off. Franzke and LA remind me of Harry and Whitey, if they weren’t on the radio they would be in the stands as fans not trying to teach the game to everybody.

     
  • Posts: 0 bsg

    at least it seems that some of the mindless banter between t-mac and sarge has clamed down a little now that harry is gone, just my observation( I mean how many times can you talk about sarge’s love of hats and alyssa milano inspiration!), the thing is sometimes sarge has to be goated into saying anything i listened to innings where sarge may only get a a few sentences in, grant it they usually are quick innings and that i understand, but to put L.A. in there too, no way! as for L.A. he is funny at times and i do like him and franske together)but sometimes his lazy man, unprepared schtick, gets old and it makes it seem he’s just phoning it in, Scott does have a good voice and good cadence and does seem to show true excitement in his voive on a big play, i think he would carry over well to tv for a few innings

     
  • Posts: 0 M.P. aka A.J. #54

    Sit here in SC and listen to the Braves announcers, the Mets announcers and the Padres announcers complaining about the Phillies. You will like Wheeler that much more. I want to like Wheels, but I will take him over any other station.

    Now, when Harry passed, I said Franske and LA should take the TV and Wheels should do radio. I stand by my comment on that. I love my XM when LA and Franske are on and sometimes sync my TV up with it so I can hear them.

    Dipsy – nice article.

     
  • Posts: 0 Georgie

    I must admit I enjoyed this article Dips, well written, but I would expect no less from you. I agree for the most part, except I can’t get on board with the Wheels hating, he’s kind of grown on me over the years, it’s weird. I love Sarge, he cracks me up on a routine basis, and I love when he starts over-enunciating when he gets excited. I would say he’s my fav, then Franzke, who’s also hot, imo. Not a big fan of T-Mac, but I know he’s trying and it’s a HUGE undertaking replacing Harry.

    All in all, I’d say we’re pretty lucky with the guys we have, and it’s also been a nice diversion from the actual team talk, I think we all feel pretty bummed right now.

     
  • Posts: 0 bsg

    oh yeah at least wheels doesnt harp on and on after a bad play either by the phillies or the other team like he used to do, i use to love when wheels would screw up or say something to piss off harry and harry would just say nothing and their would be dead air for what seemed like forever, golden!!.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phils76

    As much as I got a laugh out of the Wheels Dance after the final out last year, it still surprised me to hell that there was no emotion exchanged between Harry and Wheels at that moment. After all those years working together, they didn’t even acknowledge each other at that moment.

     
  • Posts: 0 Dhall

    Franzke, Sarge and LA would be great but it ain’t happening. Wheeler will be there until he retires or dies. I don’t have a problem with the fact that Wheeler never played, my problem is that he’s annoying as heck. He doesn’t shut up…EVER. Plus he over analyzes to the point where I want to cut my ears off. My favorite is when he tells you what the guys in the dugout are saying based on their hand movements or when he tells you what the players are thinking during certain moments of the game. Didn’t you know he’s a licensed psychologist? T-Mac does nothing for me either. He’s just there. Plus he knows very little about the game. Sarge has grown on me and I like him. They should have kept Scott Graham…he was pretty good too.

     
  • Posts: 0 Itslikethat

    I mean, correct me if I’m wrong but not only did Harry hate his guts, (Richie ignored him for he most part) but Wheeler complained about Sarge because Sarge was always making fun of him last year. Hence the reason that sarge was doing like an inning or two at the beginning of the year w/o Wheels. Ow he’s at three innings. Can I get a confirm on this?

     
  • Posts: 0 nate

    big fan of the radio guys, but i do miss scott graham and the graham slam ice cream commercials.

     
  • Posts: 0 Dan

    i completely agree. I don’t like McCarthy but i haven’t heard much of franzkie. What i have heard of him i thought was good.

    Also, I Tim back for good?

     
  • Posts: 0 Dan

    is tim back for good*?

     
  • Posts: 0 baseballfan

    Tim just does not write anymore. It still is his blog.

     
  • Posts: 0 mg52

    Dipsy, I have always liked your comments on other posts. This one of your own is gold. Commentary is an overlooked part of baseball. When a team is in a slump, a really good broadcaster – or a group of them – can provide the fans with something else to focus on. And Harry always found a way to accentuate the victories, too. That’s why he was in the booth for so long and made virtually all Phils fans into Kalas fans. I could not be prouder to be in that category.
    Wheels and T-Mac are not earsores, but they just aren’t “with it” sometimes. I have always known Wheels to deflate exciting situations and overanalyze certain plays. To his credit, he is well-versed in the nuaces of the game, despite never having spent any time as a player. T-Mac is glib, but there is, once again, not enough contrast between good and bad events in the game in his discourse.
    What LA and Sarge bring is emotion. I have heard them slam incompetent umpires and ostentatious opponents; they prove that color commentary need not be dispassionate. And yes, they are funny -even when they do not intend to be. Sometimes, it’s more than just knowing the rules of the game. It’s about knowing the moods of it.
    Scott Franzke raises his voice when home runs are hit and sounds downcast when a hitter strikes out in a key situation. Radio announcers have to be able to describe the details on the field that much more precisely because visual aids are absent. He does a good job of that. Franzke, LA and Sarge would indeed make a wonderful team. Mitch Williams might have to be slotted in there somewhere. He takes no prisoners in post-game shows and just as incisive as LA sometimes is about occasional injustices in the sport.
    Your recommendations, Dipsy, are paramount in the name of the reputable Harry Kalas. How all this plays out remains to be seen.

     
  • Posts: 0 Dan

    yeah but it says this is posted by tim malcolm

     
  • Posts: 0 frank

    the tmac wheels team has got to go.

     
  • Posts: 68 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    I disagree. The McCarthy/Sarge and McCarthy/Wheeler combos both have chemistry, that isn’t the problem. McCarthy is much like Michael Barkann in that he can bring the best out of anyone. He may be a “vanilla” announcer, but most play-by-play men are. We were just used to one who wasn’t.

    Wheeler not being a former player bothers so many people, but he simply knows the Phillies better than anyone. Would I rather have Mitch Williams/Ricky Bottalico? Absolutely not.

    Having formerly worked at CSN with these guys and been exposed to them a lot, I can tell you that Mitchy Poo and Ricky Bo do a better job of stating the obvious than even Sarge. Ricky struggles mightily to improvise or counterargue a situation. He delivers a thoughtful point rarely.

    Larry Andersen is the Phillies best color analyst. However, his rebellious attitude is why he won’t be back on TV anytime soon. He’s perfect for the radio, his voice, his sense of humor, etc.

    But something tells me the Phillies brass are too nervous of him crossing the line of inappropriateness during TV telecasts.

    Scott Franzke is a very good, young announcer, and deserves to be on TV. Putting him on during innings 4-5-6 and switching Tom to radio would be a great idea.

    I do think the Phillies announce booth can be boring at times. But they don’t lack chemistry.

     
  • Posts: 0 Nationals#1

    ugh, how did the dipsy get his own column on here? one of the site’s worst posters

     
  • Posts: 0 Phils76

    Just like with anything else in Philly sports, fans have a huge take on the announcers. I seem to think it’s a 60-40 split favoring the guys in the lineup now. Do fans of other clubs discuss the broadcasters as much as we have in the past or do now?

    By the way, I love when Sarge says “filthy” or “cadillac time.” Makes me chuckle every time.

     
  • Posts: 0 LH

    Tom McCarthy – My son and I listen to what we call McCarthyisms which occur a couple times during a game. Example: (Contact by a Phillies hitter: That ball is going going, oh he caught it. I thought it was hit a lot further (it never made it the warning track)

    Chris Wheeler – can take his banter as long as a good play-by-play man would reel him in

    Gary Matthews – Captain Obvious. He seems like a gentle man but he doesn’t add much to the mix because he’s not asked penetrating questions. McCarthy tends to joke with him about his food intake.

    The Phillies had two on and two out during a recent game with the Braves. Fans were desperate for runs. But McCarthy & Wheeler were enjoying each others company talking about a non-baseball story which had nothing to do with what was happening on the field. The third Phil’s out was more frustrating listening to those two banter on non-sensibly. Timing is everything and they should have saved their story for a pitching change or some other period.

    Larry Anderson, like Sarge, is fun to listen to for old war stories. I like Larry Anderson is better because of his upfront comments when a Phillies player is doing badly. I think Sarge tends to sugar coat in order to avoid hurting feelings. I enjoyed the perspective of an ex-pitcher.

     
  • Posts: 0 bill anderson

    The phillies repalced Harry Kalas, the epitome of excelence in broadcasting, with a Walt Disney clown, Tom Mccarthy. Mccarthy’s
    preoccupation with trivia and his constant clowning are so irritating
    I have turned off the audio on the tv and I listen to play-by-play by Anderson and Franzke whose coverage is on a par with Harry Kalas.

    If Elmer Dud, i.e. Tom Mccarthy, is retained as tv announcer, I question
    the judgment of the Phiilies organmization.

     
  • Posts: 0 Allen Thomas

    Sarge may very well be one of the worst commentators in the history of the sport. Yes he was a good player for many years, but not every good player is meant to be a commentator. He obviously knows the game, but his seemingly endless blabbering ruins the entire television experience for me. He talks more than mccarthy and doesn’t contribute anything that isnt extremely obvious. After a routine groundball out the other night, this is what Sarge said after T-Mac made the call. “And right here Chase Utely fields the ball into his glove and as you can see throws it over to Ryan Howard at first who catches it for the out.” It goes on and on, he needs to get off the air. McCarthy is ok, you gotta give him some credit he’s got some big shoes to fill after the passing of Harry K. The Phillies need to work on their broadcast to return it to the enjoyable presentation it once was

     
  • Posts: 0 Carol

    Well said! I can’t see how anyone can disagree with your analysis.

    And ‘haughty gargoyle’! Ohhh that’s rich! That sooo gives a perfect mental image of the man I’ve always personally thought of as a squinting weasel.

    I so want new TV Broadcasters for the Phils.

    And yes, Sarge is endearing. Like you, I’d rather have Botallico, who is greatly improved in post game this year, in my view, or Mitch. (Love Mitch Williams.) But Sarge is not the problem. (Tho I never DO understand all the fast feet, slow hands, slow bat stuff)

    I want new TV Broadcasters for the Phillies. May it happen!

     
  • Posts: 0 jjweiss

    a 3 man booth? you destroyed any credibility you have. ridiculous.
    and i think you’re hallucinating if you can find any reason to listen to matthews.
    folksy? hardly. just ignorant. i despise him. he’s lazy and has hardly improved in 3 years. doesn’t even know JA happ is not Jay AY. mccarthy? heaven help us if he becomes the lead broadcaster. he’s adequate but no story teller, and kind of boring, really. he seems to do everything at one single volume setting. his commercial readings are more or less equal to his home run calls.
    by your logic, you prefer matthews over wheeler b/c matthews played the game. that, my dear sir, is proof enough that it doesn’t matter. i’d pick wheeler toupee and all, any day over that twit, matthews. still i love your steve jeltz award and think bruntlett could retire it. or maybe it should be the jeltz-bruntlett award and then paul (catcher’s (interference) bako could get some consideration. jjweiss

     
 
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