Thursday, January 9, 2014

Out of the Park: Phillies' Icons Off the Air

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.

Both Matthews, 63, and Wheeler, 68, lost their jobs in the Phillies broadcast booth after the team struck a multi-billion-dollar 25-year deal with Comcast SportsNet. They'll continue to have some kind of jobs with the Phillies, maybe public relations, according to this article and this one in the Philadelphia Inquirer today.

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:
On severance
Swim coach Dick Shoulberg
Medical Assistant Sofia Escobar

1 comment:

Michael Willers said...

Ugh! Inhumane corporate actions like this leave a bad taste in my mouth -- and a burning desire for poetic justice in my heart! We can only hope that one day the one doing the canning is the one that gets canned. It's the way corporations work for the most part, and if the person doing the firing thinks they are safe from being fired themselves, they need to grow a few more synapses.

It's time to start treating people like people again.