|Gary Matthews and Chris Wheeler (Photo, courtesy Rob Maaddi)|
It's happened again! Icons in their field are unceremoniously dismissed by big corporate money. This time it's a duo I've become fond of, even though I'm not a regular or diehard Phillies fan. Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews, the Mutt and Jeff guys in the Phillies broadcast booth, are history. Wheeler let you know what was happening and Matthews, whom I especially enjoyed, always seemed to have an insight, a quip, a stratagem to add. Their commentary on the game revealed to me some of the reasons people love baseball… there's so much more going on than you realize in the slow-moving sport.
But as Inquirer sports columnist Bob Ford says, the "old Phillies" would have handled it differently if they'd chosen "to dump Wheeler in the river" after 37 years with the franchise. At spring training, they would announce this as his final season "and he would have gotten the farewell tour and the decency of a more dignified exit."
"Maybe that's the price of doing business now," he writes,"but Wheeler won't get the chance to commemorate his long on-air career with a final broadcast and one last chance to warn against the possible dangers of no-doubles defense and middle-in pitches that drift over the heart of the plate."
Apparently there were rumbles from folks who didn't like the duo. An Inquirer online poll (clearly not scientific and probably skewed to the naysayers) so far, has 13,313 people voting for or against the dismissal of Wheeler and Matthews. More than half (54%) agree or strongly agree to their replacement, 36% disagree. (Another 10 percent don't watch them anyway)
What do such high-profile dismissals say about how we, as a nation, value long-serving, well-respected and and dedicated employees?
What message are we sending Americans young and old about how hard work is valued?
For previous blogs on other controversial dismissals, see:
Swim coach Dick Shoulberg
Medical Assistant Sofia Escobar