Tag Archives: Scott Franzke

Confession of a Phillies fan who left the Harper walkoff slam game early

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I have a confession to make. I’m a lifelong Phillies fan. A partial season ticket holder. I write about the team frequently here at my website.

I was at Thusday night’s game in which the team rallied scoring seven times in the final two innings to come from five runs down and win on Bryce Harper‘s walkoff grand slam.

And I saw none of it. None of the runs. No part of the rally. Not live and in person anyway.

I gave up, and I left early.

To set the stage for you, this was perhaps the eighth game that I had been to this season. After an early season hot streak, things had deteriorated, for me and the ball club.

In each of the previous two games that I had been to, the Phillies had been blown out. Not only that, but they had not even shown up. Both times they were nearly shutout, had few hits, and the games were over by the middle innings.

Thursday night was much the same. The Phillies were down 5-0 when the top of the 8th inning rolled around. They had just four hits. Yu Darvish of the Cubs was dominating, striking out ten batters over seven innings.

So, as the 7th inning rolled around, I turned to my daughter with whom I was attending the game and told her that we would give it one more inning.

Really, I wasn’t hoping for much from the Phillies at that point. The club was down 5-0 on the scoreboard and showing no life. This night on the field appeared to be solely for the many Cubs fans in the stands, including one who was seated directly behind us and had been chirping all night long.

No, I was willing to stay through the 7th inning to see, of all things, the Phillie Phanatic. Hey, the big green furry guy puts on a nice show in that frame, dancing on the Phillies dugout roof. He didn’t disappoint, doing a nice number with a dance troupe from Temple University.

And so, as the action got underway in the top of the 8th, we left.

There was a good crowd at the ball park on a beautiful night. More than 37,000 showed up. Many left, both before us and as we were leaving. But there were still many who stayed. Those who stayed to the end would be the lucky ones. Well, at least those rooting for the home team.

We headed to the car, down towards I-95, and up onto the highway northbound. At somewhere between Bridge Street and Academy Road, the Phillies scored a run. I told my daughter, who was flipping through her phone in the passenger seat, that we scored a run. “Yay” she said, with sarcastic feigned enthusiasm.

I dropped her off at her house, and continued on to home. On the way, my wife asked me to make a stop at Wawa. As I drew nearer to our neighborhood, the Phillies had put two runners on base with one out in the bottom of the 9th inning, still down 5-1.

I slipped through the dark and quiet streets of our neighborhood, my headlights streaming out and the street lamps helping light the way, and as I pulled into the Wawa parking lot a base hit by Brad Miller scored Cesar Hernandez to make it a 5-2 ball game.

Things were getting a little interesting. Roman Quinn, who has been hot for awhile now, was coming to the plate. He would be followed by Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper. Dare we dream?

As Cubs skipper Joe Maddon went to the mound to make a pitching change, I went into the Wawa.

Got myself a coffee, and the night manager, a nice guy who I’ve seen in there many times, saw my Phillies t-shirt and cap and said “I guess they lost, huh?

I told him that I had been down there, left when it was 5-0, but now they had a little rally going in the bottom of the 9th, down 5-2. He asked who was up, and I told him that it was Quinn. He kind of nodded with an “oh well” look on his face.

As I walked through the store to find an item for my wife, a notice came over my phone that Quinn had delivered an RBI single to make it a 5-3 game. I rushed back to Mr. Wawa Manager to let him know, and he said “guess I better find a place to listen.” I hope he did.

I got my items, paid, and left the store. Back in my car, I heard that Rhys Hoskins had somehow reached base – I just assumed a walk at that point – and that Bryce Harper was now up with the bases loaded.

Harper battled reliever Derek Holland during my four block drive home. I had just pulled in front of my house and was parking my car when…

You know the rest. Scott Franzke’s typically fantastic voice raised with the call “Swung on…hit high and deep…right field…and that…ball…is……goooooone!

Needless to say, finishing my parking job got a little bit tougher with that adrenalin jolt.

I got out of the car and hurried into my house. My wife, knowing that I was on my way and knowing her husband, had the game on, watched that ending, and had rewound it so that I could watch the end.

Watching it on TV was just as dramatic, even knowing how it ended. I rewound a little further so that I could enjoy the entire rally. When that TV coverage got to the home run, chills again thanks to John Kruk‘s now legendary “Oh my God!!” as soon as the ball left the bat.

So, I was there on Thursday night. I was at Citizens Bank Park for the game in which the Phillies rallied from down 5-0 in the 8th inning and 5-1 in the 9th to win on a walkoff grand slam by Bryce Harper.

I had a nice evening. My daughter and I ate and had a couple of beers before the game at Pass & Stow. We enjoyed each other’s company and chatted as we watched the game.

But we were not there at the end. We didn’t get to enjoy “the moment.”

You tell yourself a lot of things when you leave early, as I have done many times over the years. Gotta beat the crowd, the traffic being the main thing. I don’t believe that what happened last night has ever happened in a game that I left early before.

So, the question is – will I ever leave early again? Of course I will. Probably the very next game that I attend. And if the Phillies are losing, even losing big, I’ll hope and pray that I get to listen on the radio and/or watch on TV as they rally again.

 

Phillies Abandon AM Radio

The Philadelphia Phillies will have no AM radio broadcasts in the 2016 season for the first time since the introduction of the medium.

Under the terms of a new contract reached with CBS Radio earlier this week, any 2016 Philadelphia Phillies games over radio, whether from spring training, during the regular season, or any possible postseason action, will be broadcast by sports talk station WIP at 94.1 FM.
Phillies games began broadcasting over the radio in 1936, and in those early days it was only road games that were heard by local fans. 
Those early owners, not only with the Phillies but all around baseball, were concerned that radio broadcasts of home games would reduce attendance.
The Phillies actually took part in the first Major League Baseball game ever broadcast over the radio, as the visiting team. 
That game took place on August 5th, 1921 when the Phils dropped an 8-5 decision to the host Pirates in Pittsburgh. The game was broadcast over KDKA and featured announcer Harold Arlin.
That fall, Grantland Rice and Tommy Cowan called the first-ever World Series broadcast over radio. 

The series featured the rival New York Giants and New York Yankees, and was broadcast over both KDKA and by WJZ of Newark, New Jersey. Neither broadcaster was actually present for the games, but based their calls on telegraph reports.
In 1936, the Phillies first introduced road game broadcasts over the local WCAU radio station, with Bill Dyer and Dolly Stark making the calls. 
Stark was the first Jewish umpire in modern baseball history, working in the National League from 1928-35 and again from 1937-40.
In 1939, a voice that would become legendary in Philadelphia baseball history took over the microphone. That year, Byrum Saam began calling the Phillies games, and he would continue through the 1949 season. 
Saam had already begun calling games for the AL’s Philadelphia Athletics in 1938, and would work both team’s broadcasts in a dual role for a dozen seasons.
Saam was forced to choose for the 1950 season due to an increased work load of travel with the two teams, and chose the A’s due to a long time friendship with owner Connie Mack
Of course as luck would have it, the Phillies enjoyed their magical ‘Whiz Kids’ pennant that year.
Saam returned to the Phillies when the Athletics moved to Kansas City in 1954, and would remain in the Phils’ booth into the television era. 
He called games through the 1975 season, the final five years teaming with Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn.
Ashburn and Kalas were the Phillies main voices of the team for generations of fansthrough 1997, until Ashburn’s death late that season. Kalas passed away in the booth while preparing for an early season 2009 game in Washington.
Since the 2006 season, former pitcher Larry Anderson and Scott Franzke have been a part of the broadcasting team, with Flyers’ announcer Jim Jackson serving as a backup as well as a pre and post-game host. 
Over the last decade the team of ‘Fanzke & LA’ have become beloved by the fans as a popular tandem for a new generation.
Now Franzke and Anderson will be heard only on FM radio. WIP has already been airing the Phillies games, and those had previously also been simulcast over AM on WPHT 1210. 
Now for the first time since taking the radio airwaves 80 years ago, there will be no Phillies baseball over the AM bands.
Per a report by Neil Zoren for Digital First Media, the move is logical. WIP is a local sports station, while WPHT is more geared towards a political and news station. 
With this move, CBS shores up WIP’s place as sports haven while freeing 1210 to cater more to its core audience,” wrote Zoren.
For Phillies fans there should really be nothing truly noticeable. Most have likely been listening over WIP in recent years any way. 
But this serves notice to any fans who might still happen to flip around the AM dial: when the Phillies begin broadcasting their first spring training game in a couple of weeks, don’t search those AM airwaves. For the first time since the Great Depression, you won’t find them.

Phillies Broadcasters Get Mixed Grades

As the play on the field has deteriorated over the last few seasons, the performance coming from the Philadelphia Phillies TV broadcast booth also deteriorated. Long gone were the glorious days when fans were able to enjoy the sounds of Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn during the majority of the Phils’ TV and radio broadcast innings. Tom McCarthy, Chris Wheeler, and Gary Matthews made listening to TV less than enjoyable for many.
Despite changing some of the personnel on the TV broadcasts this season, the performance has remained uneven at best. Radio, on the other hand, has emerged with an incredibly enjoyable team. This all makes for an overall mixed bag. Here is a look at some of the key broadcasters, with a grade on their performance:
TOM MCCARTHY: ‘C’ – McCarthy only even gets this high of a grade for one reason, and that is his obvious love of the team. I don’t want my broadcasters being a downer, and I can’t stand the negativity that often comes from local sports talk radio. But McCarthy is way too far on the other end of the spectrum. He is not just a “glass half full” kind of guy, he is a Pollyanna. His jokes are not funny, and he tries to put a positive spin on almost everything, often when criticism of a player or the team is what is warranted. He seems like a really nice guy, and my gut tells me there is no way that decision makers will make a change. But as the lead man on TV broadcasts, he is a problem the longer he is kept. The Phillies would do well to find a better day-to-day baseball voice.
MATT STAIRS: ‘D’ – I will always have a warm and fuzzy place for Stairs in my fan’s heart for two reasons. First and most obvious is the homerun. You know which one. The 2-run moonshot crushed deep into the California night off Jonathan Broxton that gave the Fightins a 2-run lead in the 8th inning of Game #4 of the 2008 NLCS vs. the Dodgers. You may not remember the second though. I was driving home from the Jersey shore in early April of 2009 when Stairs crushed a homer at the end of a road game in Colorado. It would be the final homerun call in the career and life of Harry Kalas, who would pass away the following day. Stairs does not come across as personable on the air, and though he has the anecdotal stories required of an ex-player in the booth, he does not have the story-telling ability to relate them well enough. At this point, he looks like a mistake hire for the job, ala Gary Matthews, and we had to put up with Sarge for years.
JAMIE MOYER: ‘C’ – I preface this by saying that I love Jamie Moyer. He is a Philly guy, born and raised. He graduated from my Saint Joe’s alma mater. He helped pitch the team to a World Series victory. He was the last player my age to play for the Phillies. He does tremendous charity work, loves the organization, and is a likeable guy in so many ways. But on the air he seems to be forcing it. I think that over time, and with the right professional broadcasting partner in the booth, Moyer could be a longterm gem. For now, he gets the midling ‘C’ grade. But I believe there is more here. Because of who he is overall, I am much more willing to give him the chance to prove that than I am with Stairs.
Jamie Moyer, usually observant, fails to notice as Raul Ibanez's t-shirt begins to explode. (Image courtesy of 1.bp.blogspot.com)

Jamie Moyer joined the TV broadcast team this season. (Image courtesy of 1.bp.blogspot.com)
MIKE SCHMIDT: ‘A’ – The greatest position player in the history of the franchise was brought in this season to provide a player’s perspective for Sunday home games. For the most part, Schmitty has been excellent. He has great stories to tell from glory days of my youth. He is a fantastic conversationalist. He does a nice job of analyzing what a player or pitcher may be trying to do at a certain point in a game. At times he takes over the broadcast too much. My guess is that’s a natural outcome of the limited home-game Sunday opportunities he gets. If he were a regular, working every game, my bet is that he would be not just good, but great. I doubt the Phillies could get him to give up his life in Florida to do the traveling it would take to be a regular broadcaster. Shame.
RICKY BOTTALICO: ‘B+’ – Ricky Bo is not the greatest studio analyst and commentator in the history of pre and post-game shows. Not by a long shot. He can be too animated at times, and at times he just comes off as a buffoon. But I still like him. Why? Because Ricky Bo is one of the few associated with broadcasting this team who isn’t reluctant to call a spade a spade. He is not intimidated by bad circumstances, and doesn’t get carried away with good. He gives his opinion, usually strongly. I like that, even if he lacks polish. He needs to stay around in-studio.
BEN DAVIS: ‘A’ – Does it get any more handsome and chiseled than this guy? But let’s put aside his movie star good looks. The man was a baseball player, one from our area, born and raised a Phillies fan. And he does a really nice job on-air of expressing his opinion. Another one who is, like Ricky Bo, not afraid to hand out criticism when warranted. he’s sometimes a little stiffer, but he does the job with just a bit more polish than Ricky. Another one who needs to stick around in-studio.
JIM JACKSON: ‘B+’ – It’s so hard for me to listen to Jim Jackson and hear a Phillies game coming out of that voice, after hearing him broadcast so many Flyers games on the radio over the years. The guy is an excellent broadcaster, that isn’t the problem. He just doesn’t, for me anyway, have what I am looking for in an everyday baseball voice. As a Flyers broadcaster, I would give him an ‘A’ grade. Nice backup guy and post-game show guy, which is usually his role anyway. He is worlds better than Chris Wheeler or Gary Matthews, so that’s also a plus.
SCOTT FRANTZKE: ‘A+’ – The simple fact is that Frantzke is a great baseball radio broadcaster. The further fact is that his personable, natural chemistry with regular radio partner Larry Anderson is as tremendous as it is rare. Whether delivering the play-by-play, where his voice is perfect for the job, or commenting on issues surrounding the team on-field and off, or in bantering with Anderson, he is personable and professional. He also has a tremendous, understated humor. I didn’t think it would be possible to ever again experience a Kalas-Ashburn type enjoyable performance. With Frantzke and LA, it may not be quite at that legendary level – yet – but it is much closer than I ever thought I could hope to enjoy again. The team must keep him on board.
LARRY ANDERSON: ‘A’ – His work with Frantzke is the stuff that legends are ultimately made of in a baseball broadcasting team. Together they enjoy an on-air chemistry that is impossible to force. Their timing and humor together is impeccable. LA brings the former player perspective, and continues to display passion of the game and the team. I only gave Frantzke the slightly higher ‘+’ designation because of Scott’s play-by-play abilities. But when Frantzke and LA are together it’s magic. As I already said, they are as close to Kalas-Ashburn as I ever had a right to hope to expect to enjoy again in my lifetime. The powers-that-be need to be sure to commit to this team as long as possible. Wouldn’t it be awesome to get them on TV for at least a few innings each game as well? If Harry and Whitey could do it, why not Scott and LA?
The Phillies get other regular contributions from Comcast folks such as Gregg Murphy, Neil Hartman and Leslie Gudel. All three of them do a tremendous job of hosting, interviewing, analyzing, and commenting on the team. I refrain from giving them grades simply because they are neither former players, nor everyday game broadcasters. But all are professional, personable, and do a nice job in whatever role they are asked during any particular broadcast.
Overall, the Phillies broadcast team would get a ‘B’ grade, with an ‘A’ for the radio guys and a ‘C’ for the TV broadcasters. Replacing McCarthy with a better everyday baseball play-by-play voice would vastly improve that TV end. Maybe figure out a way to have that new TV guy and Moyer switch off a few innings each game with Frantzke/LA in the radio booth, ala with the old days of Kalas/Ashburn. Those would be my main suggestions for improvement going forward.