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Sarge talks Phillies, Gary Jr.

Gary (Sarge) Matthews Sr. who broadcasts Phillies games with Tom McCarthy, offered these insights as the Mets face the Phillies this weekend. Sarge is the father of Mets outfielder Gary Matthews Jr.

What’s the state of the Phillies after they struggled in Arizona and San Francisco?

“It’s simple. I’ve been there, done that with teams. When you don’t hit, when you don’t pitch, when you don’t field, you end up losing. But they have such huge character. I have the ultimate, ultimate respect for them because they just never give up, and they never put the blame on any individual. It doesn’t matter -- from a pitcher giving up a home run or a fielder missing a ground ball, they win and lose as a team. For me, that’s sort of what separates them from a lot of the other teams. I think the Yankees probably have that character, too. It’s uncanny to be around these guys. It’s a pleasure to be around them on a daily basis.”

What are your observations of Roy Halladay?

“You’ve got to understand, I was with Roy Halladay in Toronto. At that time, I believe our starters were Roger Clemens, Pat Hentgen, along with Juan Guzman, Chris Carpenter and then Roy Halladay. Halladay was special. When he came up and pitched his first game (actually Halladay’s second) against Detroit, I think he almost threw a no-hitter that game. (Bobby) Higginson ended up hitting a (pinch-hit) home run, I think, to break that up (with two out in the ninth). I knew even before he came here he’s a special person to be around. He’s one of those guys, as a coach or people affiliated with him, you don’t ever want to miss a start. It’s the same way I felt about Greg Maddux, the same way I felt about Roger Clemens, the same way I felt about -- and I played with -- Steve Carlton. Those kind of guys, you don’t want to miss their starts.”

What do you think about the Phillies locking up Ryan Howard with that five-year, $125 million extension?

“Honestly, the salaries, I look at more the character of the player. For me, it doesn’t matter what the guy is being paid, whether it’s the minimum or whether it’s the most on the team. I want to see what the player is bringing to the table. Ryan Howard brings a lot to the table, and in this day and age is paid accordingly. I’m delighted. I’m very, very happy for him. Now he can just go out and continue to put up numbers that he normally does. For me, quite frankly, I think it’s a good thing.”

What do you think having your son in the division with you?

“I don’t want to minimize it, but it’s not like the Griffeys, where you’re playing with your son. I’ve seen him play so many different times. The only thing that will be different is it’s a rivalry -- the Phillies and the Mets. I don’t think players coming in understand it. People like David Wright would understand it because he’s been there so long. People like Keith Hernandez would understand it in the broadcasting business, and Ron Darling. When you first get there, you don’t understand the rivalry the way that it is. I’m looking at it, really, as more from a dad’s perspective -- getting together and having lunch or dinner, talking about his son.”

Did you welcome the trade because the Mets play six series a season against the Phillies?

“I welcomed it simply because he wasn’t getting much time there with the Angels. And I also realized coming to New York, (Willie) Mays had talked about how almost he had never lived until playing in New York, in that type of city, because it’s very special. And New York, for me, they grab different athletes -- whether it’s in hockey, football, et cetera -- it’s a certain style that you’ve got to have to get the respect of the fans and people there in that city.”