The recent news of Chris "Wheels" Wheeler and Gary "Sarge" Matthews being reassigned from the booth to other roles within the Philadelphia Phillies assembly is symbolic of what is ahead for the wavering organization.
In the days immediately following a new television contract with the Phillies, media conglomerate Comcast decided to shake things up in the booth. With a forecast predicting fledgling attendance in the near-future, one has to wonder if general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is on thin ice.
Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News recently pondered if the Wheels and Sarge shake-up was a sign of things to come for the Phillies and whether Amaro should be worried.
As Donnellon sees it:
"Comcast, to this point a rather quiet, little, multibillion-dollar entity, has decided to become more overt in the day-to-day operations of its sports entities."
Comcast's 25-year investment worth $2.5 billion and the Phillies $119 million stake in equity is nothing to sneeze at. The recent news and change in media direction would behoove the team to give in to more sweeping changes in how the organization is handled.
In fact, the Wheels and Sarge reassignments show how far the Phillies are willing to go to adhere to the Comcast enterprise. Are we entering an era where the Phillies will be pushed around by Comcast as if they were a shopping cart?
To be precise, no one knows for sure.
If anything, one has to suspect the anticipated shortcomings of 2014 will lead to a signatory decision by Comcast in pressuring owner and president David Montgomery to make Amaro's seat hotter. If the team implodes and lands fourth or last in the National League East for a second consecutive season, one can only hope Comcast forces the hand of Montgomery and Amaro is dislodged from his position of general manager.
Too much money is involved for Comcast not to act on behalf of its interests. With a farm system more barren than the factories that used to run in North Philly, Comcast could also use its apparently newfound leverage to reinvigorate the scouting department.
The takeaways from the new television deal are uncertain though. Most speculation may be rendered extraneous. However, one thing is for sure. The suits at Comcast are going to play a heavier hand within the operation of the Phillies organization. How heavy? No one can be sure. Comcast forces will be at work though.