In an off season in which the Philadelphia Phillies were expected to make big news, the most seismic move came on Wednesday when the team dumped a couple of long-time broadcasters.
Since the beloved and iconic Harry Kalas passed away a couple of years ago and his long-time partner Rich Ashburn died a couple of years before that, the Phillies have been largely voiceless. The team has broadcasters, but they lack the talent, personality and wit of that Kalas and Ashburn team.
While no one will ever replace Kalas and Ashburn in Philadelphia, the team would be wise to use some of the $2.5 billion they received in a recent TV deal to go poach someone else’s icon. Jon Miller of the San Francisco Giants is a Hall of Fame announcer and his voice would be a welcome addition to the booth this summer. Now that the Phillies have the money, they should go out and get him. It doesn’t hurt that Miller does a spot-on and hilariously funny Kalas impersonation, and the fans need to hear Kalas’ voice on the broadcast again, even in the body of another person who was his good friend.
While reaction was mixed over the announcement that Gary Matthews would be leaving the booth, news that fellow broadcaster Chris Wheeler was leaving was greeted with more enthusiasm. Wheeler has been with the broadcast team since 1971 after starting in the Phillies’ public relations office. Since then, he’s been pretty much a public relations mouthpiece for the team, refusing to criticize the organization and preaching to the fans things they already know or were skeptical of, including the “no-doubles’ defense” of guarding the line in the late innings and the unwritten rules of baseball, like you don’t steal bases with a four-run lead.
Miller would bring some credibility and star power to the TV broadcasts, and if the team doesn’t have that on the field, having it in the booth is the next best thing.