IN THE 24 HOURS since Comcast SportsNet and the Phillies dismissed Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews from the TV broadcast team, Brad Lidge's name was atop the list of new candidates rumored to be on Comcast's wish list.
Lidge was first reported as a candidate by the Associated Press, which broke the changes in the broadcast booth story on Wednesday. USA Today reported yesterday that the former Phillies closer was a front-runner yesterday morning.
Lidge's Philadelphia-based agent, Rex Gary, was well aware of the increasing whispers, so he gave his client a heads-up that he might have to answer to the queries.
"Stuff was definitely floating around," Lidge, 37, said with a laugh from his home outside Boulder, Colo.
In an interview with the Daily News, Lidge confirmed yesterday that Comcast SportsNet called him with regard to the job of Phillies in-game color commentator, the position vacated by Wheeler and Matthews. But it's almost certain that the former Phillies closer will not be in the team's broadcast booth in 2014.
"The timing right now is tough," Lidge said.
Asked if an offer had been made, Lidge said he cut the conversation short out of respect to Comcast.
A Comcast spokesman declined comment.
"They wanted to talk about it and see where I was at on it," Lidge said. "I didn't want to take them on a long route."
Five months after a ceremonial retirement in a Phillies uniform, Lidge and his family are finally getting used to what would amount to a normal lifestyle, free of the demanding travel of the baseball schedule. Lidge and his wife, Lindsay, have a 9-year-old daughter, Avery, and a 5-year-old son, Rowan. The remainder of their extended family is in Colorado, too.
Lidge is also working on a master's degree in Roman archaeology.
"My family and I are finally getting settled in Colorado and it'd be tough right now to change that, even as cool of an opportunity as it is and as much as I love being in Philadelphia," Lidge said.
Lidge retired last winter but didn't stay away from the game long.
He began working on a weekly show on MLB Network Radio last spring and says he enjoys the work. He is also open to returning to the demanding lifestyle of traveling with a baseball team. He said he missed the camaraderie: playing cards on the plane, going out to eat with teammates on the road.
"I'm already missing it a little; [in a few more years] I might be missing it a lot," Lidge said. "As tough as [the travel schedule is], it's also what you miss."
In addition to being the guy who threw the last pitch in the 2008 World Series, just the second title in franchise history, completing a perfect 48-for-48 season in save opportunities, Lidge was one of the more personable, quotable and intelligent players to wear a Phillies uniform. Even in his somewhat short stint with the Phillies (2008-11), Lidge became a popular voice in the clubhouse, a respected teammate and a go-to player for media looking for insight on the state of the team.
Lidge's polish didn't go unnoticed. He said Comcast SportsNet had approached him in the past when he came back to town, just in a if-anything-ever-happens-we'd-love-to-have-you type way.
But, as for now, the timing isn't right.
"While it's a really cool opportunity and definitely an honor to be mentioned and asked to do it, my family and I are finally getting settled in Colorado right now and it'd be tough right now to change that," Lidge said. "It's not like I'd say no indefinitely. I mean, who knows, someday I might be very good at it, and maybe for a long time."
Comcast SportsNet is expected to hire one person to replace Wheeler and Matthews. It's likely they'll continue to pursue candidates like Lidge: popular former Phillies.