Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Airing Grievances

A few quick words on the radio and TV broadcasts of tonight's game. While cleaning up in the kitchen, I caught a couple of innings on the radio, and, as usual, found myself shaking my head in amazement at Chris Wheeler's rampant whining. At least three or four times, he talked about this being another "strange" or "weird" Phillies-Marlins game. The talk only intensified when the Fish tied the game in the top of the seventh and again when Ricky Ledee went yard in the bottom of the inning. What Wheeler was doing was prepping his audience to blame the fates, or Providence, or bad luck, or whatever -- anybody but the Phillies -- should the Marlins win. Florida's domination over Philadelphia last year and this isn't due to chance -- the Fish have won too many games to chalk it up to strange happenings. Wheels surely knows this, and shame on him for trying to spin bad news to fans whose howling passion shouldn't be mistaken for gullibility or stupidity. His home-town hucksterism is an embarrassment.

On the TV side, listening to Harry Kalas and Larry Andersen call the ninth when Wagner pitches is becoming increasingly difficult. Their practiced nonchalance when the Phils' closer hits the upper 90s or three digits on the radar gun was cute for a game or two, but it's late July, and they're still doing it. All of Philadelphia knows that Wags can bring it, and we're all impressed by it. Andersen is a below-average color man, while Kalas, a Hall of Fame broadcaster on merit, is showing some signs of slippage. Put them together with Billy Wagner on the hill and the result is, sad to say, more reminiscent of a minor-league broadcast than anything else.


At July 22, 2004 at 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wheels gets a lot of crap about his homer-ism, but if I'm not mistaken, he was the only one to predict pre-series that the Blue Jays would take the WS in 93. He's no more the "Homer" than Kalas. At least he doesn't take bad about others in the booth to the press. Wheels and Graham KNOW what's happening in the world of baseball. L.A. gives mostly the "I'm a former player and I know how the clubhouse works" pitch (which Rob Dibble has annoyingly perfected for ESPN) and Kalas has been phoning it in since Whitey's death. Half the time you don't know he's there. There's "understated" and there's "out on an extended smoke break".

What comes accross to me when Wheels says "strange game" is his frustation with the time that he obviously can't speak of because his paycheck says Phillies on it.

At July 22, 2004 at 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Harry and Larry Show might have been nonchalant, but the fans certainly weren't. As the speed of each pitch was shown on the board, the fans got louder, and when he hit the 100 mark, a lot of noise was made by all. I couldn't have picked a better first trip to the new park if I had tried. Apparently the only people who don't think it's time for Harry and Wheeler to go are the organization and the men themselves. DSJC

At July 22, 2004 at 4:59 PM, Blogger Tom said...

I should have been clearer -- Harry and Larry's nonchalance is a show. They're definitely having fun with Wagner's velocity, but after the 30th time, the jokes about him "taking something off the pitch" and "only" hitting 97 get very, very tired.

Wheeler has no redeeming qualities. He's incapable of admitting that anything bad is the result of a Phillie misplay, misjudgment, or bad decision. I can't believe he gets the amount and quality of airtime that he does.

At July 23, 2004 at 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Wheels: "He's incapable of admitting that anything bad is the result of a Phillie misplay, misjudgment, or bad decision."

Who on the broadcast team is? I admit Wheels should say more, but none of them do. It still surprises me when these guys criticize the umps. It's obvious they don't want to offend these guys (the umps) because they'll be eating dinner with them later, so why should we expect them to criticize their employers. I don't agree with Homerism, but everyone in that booth (and any other booth that is run by a team) does it. Why bash just Wheeler?

At July 23, 2004 at 1:44 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Wheeler, I think, is the worst of the lot. Harry and the rest, I think, will discuss a play someone should have made, but to Wheels, it's always somebody else's fault.

At July 23, 2004 at 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still not buying it. The only reason I can imagine why people dislike Wheeler is, like Rob Neyer and Tim McCarver, he's too analynical. He comes off as a smarty-pants. They'd rather hear an ex-player talk about "clubhouse chemistry" and the importance of bunting a runner over than true analysis of the game.

If you think the other guys don't gloss over the Phillies mistakes, listen to L.A. when he does a Fox game of the week. He is much more willing to criticize Phillies play when he's over there.


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