I haven’t made a post in over a year, but I can’t suffer anymore. I have to massage the pain out of my system. Phillies television broadcasts have been rotten for the last four years – I’m talking about the announce team – but now, with the passing of our beloved Harry, the only pleasure of watching/listening to a game on TV is gone.
My thesis is that a World Champion team deserves a world champion-level television broadcast. So here it is: An Open Letter to Dave Montgomery, President of the Philadelphia Phillies. Oh, before I start, I should mention that Rob Brooks is the man who hires announcers and assigns their broadcast roles.
Dear Mr. Montgomery,
The time has come to fire Gary Matthews and to demote, reassign, or fire Rob Brooks. For the past four years, the television broadcast quality of games has been, in order, substandard to awful to finally, incomprehensible.
The timing couldn’t be more crucial because of the sad, sad passing of our beloved Harry. The next television broadcasting decisions are the most important since Bill Giles hired Harry in the 1970’s. They will define the next epoch of Phillies announcing.
Why fire Matthews? Because he has only imperceptivity improved from an innocuous start three years ago, and remains in the basement of television analysts. He’s just awful.
Gary Matthews is an ignorant man. That sounds harsh, but I believe it to be true. The difference between stupid and ignorant is determinant: stupid refers to someone who simply can’t learn, while ignorant refers to someone who will not put in the time to learn and improve. The first is a condition, the second a choice. Matthews has clearly made that choice.
Matthews’ calling cards are to state the obvious and belabor it to death, or to make unintelligible, poppycock ramblings that go nowhere, and illuminate nothing. Oh, I almost forgot, there’s the Matthews “I don’t know what I’m saying, but I have to say something shtick.” In one recent game, he described a Raul Ibanez home run this way: “That’s got a little more distance than it’s goin’.” Oh, really.
And, oh, by the way, baseball is a game that sometimes needs to breathe, to speak for itself. But with Matthews, we are forced to endure his never ending banalities after almost every single pitch.
Dear Lord, have mercy.
This brings me to Rob Brooks, who, in my opinion, has made a flock of failed decisions in the choice of announcers and in the way he organizes their use.
Hiring Scott Graham was such an obvious mistake that he was terminated after one painful year of announcing. Then came Brooks’s Matthews debacle. First, Brooks put three men in the booth – Harry, Wheels, Matthews – and the clunking was painful for nine innings every game.
Then Brooks brought in Tom McCarthy and made yet another decision at the expense of clear and commanding broadcasting. This time he only put two men in the both, but rotated them with a game of musical broadcasters. There was never a chance for the game to have a flow.
To get McCarthy, I’m guessing Brooks promised him those “in game” reports which only served to take attention away from the game itself. Those reports were often ‘fillers’ where nothing of importance was said. Worse yet, they intruded on some great game action —- like a game winning Ryan Howard home run. While McCarthy was running around with his innocuous blather, Howard was running around the bases. Whoops. How grand (and timely!) it would have been to have heard another Harry, “It’s Outta Here.”
So, we had Harry and Wheels, and then, McCarthy and Matthews, and then McCarthy and Wheels, and finally, Harry and Wheels again. How do you fit all of those pairings into nine innings and not get broadcasting mush? What a fiasco!
This year was a little better, with Harry and Wheels doing innings 1-3, and 7-9, while McCarthy and Matthews did 4-7. Regardless of how horrible Matthews’ work remains, at least their was a flow to the broadcasts.
But now, where are we? Now we have McCarthy for nine full innings. I understand that. But McCarthy is, barely, an average announcer, a middle-three innings man. Next year, a new lead announcer should be hired and along with Matthews’ firing, you have a chance to build a broadcast team worthy of our world champions, a team we loyal fans deserve.
The question is whether you will take a hard and clear look at the broadcast decisions of the last four years, and see how crucial it is to fix the mess, to make a winning decision. Matthews must go. Brooks must go. A truly talented lead announcer, a word-weaver, needs to be hired.
I want to assure you of this: I love the Phillies. They are my team. I’m counting on you.
Huge numbers of Phillies fans are packing the Bank, the club’s in first place, and still, I think of the Phillies as losers. Here’s a short list of losers at the helm, and I don’t mean Wes.
Dave Montgomery, CEO – I’m sure that Dave wants to win a World Series. I’m sure he feels it would be really, really nice. I think winning a World series would make Dave very happy. He would like that. Yes, he would. But I think most of us agree that with Dave, there is no URGENCY to win. It’s just so “pleasant” to be competitive, draw those huge crowds, play nine at the country club, and drink martini’s with the boys. But my God, wouldn’t we love an all-out-do everything-to-win-right-now CEO? Don’t we deserve one? Sadly, we can only conclude two things about our Dave: 1. He doesn’t have the guts to take the risks required to win. 2. He doesn’t have the smarts to win. Either gutless or incompetent. Or both. Nice.
And one more thing: this is not a young team. Their all-star trio is hovering at the tip of old baseball age. Certainly, potential for top production years is dwindling. Chase Utley will be 30 this year. Jimmy Rollins will be 30 this year. And next year, Ryan Howard will be 30. Plus, Pat Burrell, turns 32 this year, and may soon turn away from the Phillies to test free agency. No, this is not a team with a lot of time to get it done. Hey Dave, boooooooo.
Ruben Amaro, Jr., Assistant GM – Oh, this guy thinks he’s so smooth. But really, he’s transparently counterfeit. What a phony. Whenever I listen to him, I feel like I’m being “had.” He always seems to be trying sell us a used car (without an engine). I’ll bet you tons of Euros that the next time you hear Amaro interviewed, he will say three things: 1. Frankly. 2. The fact of the matter is. 3. We didn’t get to the finish line. Well, Rube, frankly, the fact of the matter is you’ve never gotten your club to the finish line. Amaro, to me, is condescending and smarmy. And utterly predictable. But he’s the prince to the G.M. throne. Bill Conlin calls him, “Gilbuckle.” I’m not sure, but I don’t that that’s a compliment. Ah well, just another UPenn boy at the gates.
Gary Matthews, an Ignorant Man. For quite some time, I thought Gary Matthews was simply stupid. But he’s not. What he is is ignorant. Stupidity you’re born with. Ignorance is a condition, a choice. As hideous as his work is, it’s obvious this guy has no interest in getting better. He obviously has never put in the time the study to improve. He makes the same mistakes over and over. He has so much room to improve you’d think it would be easy to get better. But he is quite comfortable with his gig, happy to take his money and go home. Oh, how I wish he would go home.
Tom McCarthy, a Flatulent Man. Does he never shut up? Does he think he’s on radio? McCarthy talks-talks-talks, blah-blah-blah,and is so impressed with himself. Let the game breathe, McCarthy. And while we’re at it, his in-game interruptions remain gaseous, full of hot air. A good plan might be to have “T-Mac” go to his typically far-away broadcast location, have his picture taken, not say a word, and then go back to where he started. That would serve everyone’s interests so well. Tom could be on-camera lot and lots, and we fans wouldn’t have to suffer his vacuous disruptions.
Alert! Alert!! This just in: Our dear, dear Tommy has enlightened us again. During the second inning of tonight’s Phils-Cards game (Friday, August 1st), ol’ Tom has scooped the competition. He talked about “walking around Busch Stadium and I saw lots of Cardinals fans.” Wow, really. How perfectly fascinating. Cardinals fans at a Cardinals game. Good work there, Tom.
TV Games – Television coverage of the Phillies games continues to be mottled. Most annoying, as ever, is their inconsistency with posting pitch speed. One inning, it’s shown, the next not. One pitch it’s shown, the next, not. That is so bush league. It’s so astoundingly inept.
There’s more. Do readers recall the disputed home run Ryan Howard hit weeks ago? At first it was ruled a ground-rule double, then the call was changed to a home run. I still haven’t seen a picture of Howard crossing the plate. Take a bow in the truck, boys.
While I’m at it, how about those incessant, unrelenting cutaways showing us silly shots of fans in the stands. Who cares? I want to see the players. The whole idea of showing fans cheering dates back to the first days of sports television – to show viewers the action was “live.” But now those shots come at us in oceanic waves. It’s so boring. Tedious, really.
Rob Brooks Must Be Fired Now! Bet you thought I’d forgotten. Brooks, the Phils director of broadcasting, is the man responsible for hiring the hideous Matthews, the insufferable McCarthy, and the long-gone, easily forgotten Scott (Say what?) Graham. He’s also responsible for the lack of continuity in TV broadcasts with the constant shuffling of broadcaster pairings. This guy thinks he’s re-inventing sports television. What he’s done for the last three years is to destroy the once great pleasure of watching a Phillies telecast. Entertaining, very entertaining, Robby. Thank you.
Philadelphia Sports Writers – Why is it these denizens of letters never report on any of this stuff? Both the NY Daily News and the NY Post have reporters to keep an eye on incompetence and fraudulence by sports commentators and TV executives. But not the Philly papers. Hell, maybe they should hire me. Ha!