The Philadelphia Phillies announced this week that Chris Wheeler would be removed from the broadcast booth and Gary Matthews would not be back as color analyst. Chris Wheeler has lived and breathed the Phillies for all his life and has worked in the broadcast booth for 37 years sitting alongside such people as Hall of Famer, Harry Kalas.
The Phillies have recently signed a new television contract with with NBCUniversal and Comcast Sportsnet for $2.5 billion over 25 years. The decision to replace Wheeler and Matthews came from the network, multiple sources told The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the network hasn't yet commented on the matter.
The Phillies used to be the ones who hired the baseball announcers but as part of the new deal Comcast now has, editorial control over who sits in the broadcast booth and it will be Comcast who searches for a new game time broadcaster. Among the names mentioned as possible candidates is Ricky Botallico, a former Philles and current postgame analyst for Comcast.
According to Philly.com, "Wheeler and Matthews were sometimes criticized by viewers, which factored into Comcast's decision." In an online poll conducted by Philly.com almost 36% of the people voting strongly agreed with Comcast's decision while almost 22% strongly disagreed.
The Phillies are the fourth largest baseball market and will reap great monetary benefits from the new television package.
Wheeler's easy going personality and familiar voice will be missed by many faithful Phillies fans who tune in the games week in and week out. Matthews who spent 16 years in the majors was with the Phillies in 1983 and helped the team reach the World Series. He was named the NLCS MVP during the 1983 playoff run. As a color analyst Matthews offered an informative inside look at the game of baseball and the Phillies in particular.
Both Wheeler and Matthews will be given jobs within the Phillies organization.
Wheeler issued this statement to all the Phillies faithful, "It's been an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Phillies broadcast team for 37 years. I certainly respect the decision that was made and I look forward to my new role in the Phillies organization."