Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Save Harry

This article by Paul Hagan has caused quite a stir over the past 24 hours or so about the future of the Phillies broadcasting team. It's bad enough Paul Richardson won't be a part of Phillies baseball this season, but is the organization really trying to push Harry Kalas out the back door?

The tentative plan is to pair Hall of Famer Harry Kalas and Chris Wheeler in the first three and last three innings on television, with Wheeler and Scott Graham working the middle three. Larry Andersen will move to radio exclusively.

All indications are that this arrangement didn't make any of the holdovers particularly happy, although all apparently stand ready to carry out whatever duties they're assigned.

The added twist is that Kalas turns 70 next month. He's in the last year of his contract. And he figuratively shrugged recently when asked what his plans beyond 2006 might be.

"I haven't really thought about it, no," he said from his Delaware County home. "We'll see how it goes. I still enjoy it, and as long as I enjoy it, I'll probably want to continue."

The key phrase appears to be "as long as I enjoy it."

Because when asked whether the partners he ends up working with could impact his enjoyment and, by extension, his decision, he replied: "It might. I'm certainly going to miss working with L.A."

Damn. I didn't think it was possible for this franchise to prove to be any more out of touch with their fan base, but they've gone and proved me wrong again. Since when is pissing off all four of the team's main announcers and alienating an entire fan base a sound business strategy? I'm sure I'm missing something obvious here, but I fail to see the motivation behind this move. If the Phillies want to groom Scott Graham to take over Harry's spot someday, so be it. I just think it is incredibly naive to think that this is the sole purpose for the 2006 broadcast rearrangement. Let's try and break down what the Phillies logic is behind this move...

Harry and Wheels don't get along at all...so how about partnering them up for the first 3 innings and last 3 innings of every game!

Harry loves working with Larry Andersen...they obviously must remain isolated and separated from one another at all times.

I think it is fairly obvious to see where the idea that H.K. is being forced into uncomfortable working assignments to push him out of the job comes from, no? What other reasons do the Phils have for making this move?

Larry Andersen will from time to time offer some objective analysis when he, heaven forbid, actually has the audacity to question moves the Phillies make. This makes him a dangerous, dangerous man in the eyes of the Phillies management. If one of the announcers starts openly questioning the team, the fans will surely follow suit! This is such a dumb way of thinking that I don't even know where to begin tearing it apart. It's pretty ironic that L.A. is the guy who is banished to radio work - he may be more critical of the Phils than the other announcers, but he is still extremely tame in his analysis. Go figure.

Chris Wheeler, who I happen to dislike a whole heck of a lot less than the majority of Phillies fans out there (really not saying much), is absolutely the definition of a "homer." The Phillies organization can do no wrong in his eyes. Well, unless you are one of the targets of Wheels' illogical, completely unfounded animosity (think Bobby Abreu or Vicente Padilla). Every major league team has at least one extreme homer on the broadcast team - it's not always fun listening to a Phillies apologist for 9 innings, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I try to compare Wheels against the other homers from other teams around the league; when looked at it that way, he isn't all that bad. Still no good, but I don't agree with some Phils fans who think he is the worst announcer in the world. Bottom line though - Wheels is a good company man. He has spent a lifetime spreading pro-Phillies propaganda and the Phillies are doing their part to pay him back with this promotion. Like it or not, it's how the world works.

Phillies fans need to do their part and voice their displeasure over this series of moves. Luckily, PhilliesPhans have already started the ball rolling. Let the Phillies know how you feel by sending emails to Scott Palmer (spalmer@phillies.com) and Larry Shenk (lshenk@phillies.com). This is an opportunity to see some fan activism at its finest. Harry Kalas IS Phillies baseball. He deserves to go out on his own terms and should not be subjected to the passive agressive bullshit management is trying to pull on him. My email to the Phillies will be sent out within the hour - I hope it is just one of the many they'll receive over the next few days.


Anonymous MPN said...

xxx: Good stuff. The Courier Times ran a piece on this today, so hopefully the email volume is picking up. The problem with the Harry the K and Wheels combo is that it is like teaming up Kenny Banna (Wheels) with Jerry (Harry). Banna only works because he is unintentionally funny... much like Wheels. I predict that Harry starts calling Wheels Chris* exclusively by 1 June which will create a ton of friction in the booth which will inevitably lead to Harry retiring at the end of the year... or worse... moving to another team a la Harry Carray's move to the White Sox in the 70s. Whoever's decision this mix-up was, it shows utter and complete tone deafness on the part of the powers that be.

* Which Chris apparently HATES. You might recall that Harry did that to start the season a few years back after the Philly Feuds issue of Philadelphia Magazine and Wheeler apparently whined until Harry relented.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post. The only thing you got wrong is that Chris Wheeler is the hands down worst announcer in all of sports. He has NO baseball experience at all. what qualifies him to be a color commentator? Why should I care that Wheels thinks something is a good play? Has he even played little league? For an unqualified idiot like him to question the likes of his Whiteness (which he did on an almost daily basis) is absurd! Let Harry and LA work together and fire Chris Wheeler.

9:43 AM  
Blogger XXX said...

I love it. I was tempted to just use these two comments as a post because they are just great reactions to the whole thing by two Phillies' fans, but I didn't know if you guys would be cool with it.

mpn -

You are so right - this move just makes no sense at all from a PR standpoint. It's like management got together one day and tried to actively plot out the things that would piss their fans off the most. Next thing you know, they'll be eliminating Dollar Dog Night...

By the way, comparing this whole thing to Kenny Bania and Seinfeld - that's a thing of beauty right there...

"Why do they call it Ovaltine? The mug is round. The jar is round. They should call it Roundtine!"

"That's gold, Jerry! Gold!"

Cracks me up every time.

Anonymous -

I tried to be nice when writing about Wheels, but...well...let's just say you've got it right when it comes to your opinion on Wheels.

11:51 PM  

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