Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Genius is in the Stupidity

Phillies president David Montgomery is a genius.

Only a genius with the best marketing skills imaginable could have come up with this one. The public won't know what hit them. Montgomery devised the most clever of plans to cover the $94 million payroll that Phils have this season.

Before we get to the genius part, let's recap...

In 2001, the Phillies made a bit of a surprise run at the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. They were in the race until the last few days of the season and it was fun to watch specifically because it was unexpected.

Ever since, the organization has been, one would think, trying to improve upon that team to make it to the playoffs.

By the way, just about everything has gone wrong with that plan- in case you forgot.

Gone are Scott Rolen, Kevin Millwood, Jim Thome, Larry Bowa, and, of course, Ed Wade. Remember, Wade was the guy who shouldered much of the blame for the underachievement- especially for the 2004 and 2005 seasons. So Montgomery fired him and replaced him with Pat Gillick, a man with general mangagerial success in the past.

"Hooray," said the fans of Philadelphia. "Maybe this guy can turn things around!"

Since his hiring, Gillick has made several strange moves and comments. The Ryan Franklin thing still confuses me. He tried to move Abreu, but just this week said he didn't try to do it.
I, for one, have become confused. This guy sounds like Ed Wade! Wade was the problem. Gillick was the solution. How is it that they are sounding so much the same?

Let's also recall that the Phillies drew 600,000 fewer fans in 2005 than they did in 2004. They drew 600,000 fewer fans when they were in the playoff race until the final day.

Yes, Matt, you say, but where is the genius in any of this?

How do you get fans back in the seats, given all that occurred that is listed above? Do exactly what David Montgomery is doing this year. Put Chris Wheeler on the television broadcast for all nine innings every day.

That's right. Nine innings of Wheels each and every game covered by the local networks. How many innings of Harry Kalas will you get if you tune into a Phillies broadcast? Six. How many innings will you get of Scott Graham? Three. How many innings will you get of Larry Andersen? None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

"This is crazy! Wheeler is terrible! Kalas and Andersen are the best! They're the best anywhere! Why would they do this?"

All valid questions indeed. On the surface, it may appear as just another mindless move on the part of a team president who has done very little to remember during his tenure. But think about it a bit deeper. You are a Phillies fan. You go to a couple of games per year. Mostly, however, you like to tune in on the tube when you get the chance. But now, you are subject to more Wheeler, less Kalas, and no Andersen. It'll drive you insane. You'll turn off the game. You'll think that you will find other things to do with your time. But after a while, you'll start to wonder how those ol' Phillies are doing. Perhaps you give the television broadcast another try. Perhaps you don't. But what will inevitably happen is that your interest in the team and your loathing of Wheeler will come into conflict. How do you solve this problem? Hey, if you just go to the game, you won't have to listen to Chris Wheeler! There it is! There's my solution!

So more people feel compelled to go to games that to watch them. And ticket sales are on the rise...

Again, it takes a true genius to devise a plan such as this. David Montgomery should be commended. He has passed all blame for the franchise's failures onto Larry Bowa and Ed Wade. He already has Pat Gillick looking like he is confused. Now, this.

Only once in a lifetime does one get the opportunity for something so complex.


Andrew Tavani said...


Interesting hypothesis on this bewildering decision. There might be more to this, though. Below is an excerpt from an article in the April 2004 issue of Philadelphia magazine entitled, "Welcome to Feud-adelphia!"

It's not exactly Shakespearan drama, but it sheds some light on the root of the bad blood between broadcasters. For the record, Kalas is the best in the business--in any sport. Reducing his TV airtime is assinine.

"Harry Kalas vs. Chris Wheeler"

The skinny: Fear and loathing in a cramped Phillies broadcast booth.

In a nutshell: Just before Christmas, Phillies broadcaster Kalas, revealing that he'd hired a big-time L.A. attorney to play hardball with the team in contract negotiations, dropped a surprising personal nugget as well: His relationship with longtime boothmate Wheeler had become "uncomfortable," and he didn't want to work with him anymore. Kalas and Wheeler both joined the team in 1971 (Wheeler in PR, becoming a broadcaster in '77). They were once fast friends, hanging out on the road together. But now it's much worse than uncomfortable: Kalas and Wheeler don't speak outside the booth, and their banter on the air, where Harry refers to Wheeler as "Chris" instead of the preferred "Wheels," is chilly. That's because Harry the K and Wheels can't stand each other.

The start: Rich "Whitey" Ashburn had been Kalas's broadcast "color man," and their droll repartee was very popular. But heading into 1997, Ashburn was nervous. David Montgomery had replaced the retired Bill Giles in running the team, and Wheeler and Montgomery, Ashburn believed, were "joined at the hip." Ashburn warned Kalas not to trust Wheeler any longer and vented to a friend that spring: "I think I might be in trouble when Montgomery officially takes over. You know, Wheels is Monty's boy. Maybe I'll just retire after this season--I've done this too long to get lowbridged by the likes of Wheeler." Wheeler did replace him as Kalas's late-inning color man that year, and Ashburn, Kalas's best friend, died of a heart attack in a New York hotel room that September, during a Mets series.

The wife: Harry Kalas went to his wife one day in '98 with a confession: He had been seeing other women on the road. "Chris took a lot of calls from women who wanted to talk to Harry," Eileen Kalas says. "When Harry told me what he was doing, that caused a problem. The party was over." The Kalases went into counseling, Harry quit drinking, and now, Eileen says, "All our problems are resolved."

But in fairness: "The girls didn't just call Chris," Eileen calls back to add. "Harry would call the girls also."

Why Harry went public: "We talked about it in counseling," Eileen Kalas says. "It comes from me, to say something and stand up for himself. He never does."

Wheeler says: Nothing except a statement the Phillies have told him to stick with: "I consider it a privilege and an honor to be part of the Phillies broadcast team. Who I work with and what innings I work are not my decision."

In Wheeler's corner: "Chris Wheeler is one of the finest guys I've ever met," Tim McCarver, a former Phillies catcher and broadcaster, told the Daily News in December, after Kalas complained publicly. "To have his name sullied in this way upsets me."

But Harry has Eileen: "What Chris does on the air is very subliminal--explaining the game to Harry and interrupting him," Eileen says. "Harry put in a complaint to the Phillies about Chris last year and this year." ... "Chris used Whitey in life and uses him in death [by mentioning him on the air]."

Matt Tavani said...

Interesting, indeed. Stuff I certainly didn't know about.

But, I believe my argument is stregnthened by the fact that Tim McCarver likes Wheeler. They are equally knowledgeable and fun to listen to on the air.

That's not a compliment.

Anonymous said...

I'm the kind of guy who passions to taste radical things. Currently I'm manufacturing my private photovoltaic panels. I'm managing it all by myself without the assistance of my men. I am utilizing the net as the only path to acheive that. I saw a really amazing website that explains how to make solar panels and wind generators. The website explains all the steps involved in solar panel construction.

I am not really sure about how precise the information given there iz. If some people over here who had experience with these works can have a look and give your feedback in the site it will be grand and I'd really appreciate it, because I extremely take an interest in solar panel construction.

Thanks for reading this. U guys are the best.

Anonymous said...

I join. It was and with me.

Anonymous said...

Hallo in unseren Erotik-Chat.

Unser Erotik-Chat gibt dir eine Möglichkeit transsexuelle kontakte und natürlich vieles mehr,wie Live Dates
Hier im besten Erotik-Chat erwarten dich transsexuelle kontakte Live Dates
Du suchst erotische Rollenspiele , dann bist du hier genau richtig.Ok,worauf wartest du?
Sexgeschichten erotik sex ,einfach anmelden .
Du suchst jemand von Zürich, oder aus Berlin, vieleicht von Aargau , vieleicht aus Zürich, oder in Bischofshofen? Sicher kein Problem.!