Joey Votto was saved by his minor league host family

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The Dayton Daily News has an interesting sidebar to the Joey Votto story: a profile of his former minor league host family
who provided him a lifeline when he was at his psychological nadir.
It’s interesting and poignant as it relates to Votto, but it’s plenty
entertaining too as a result of the background it provides about how
guys in the low bush leagues live. Here’s the father of the host
family, explaining part of the rationale for taking in ballplayers:

“Back then our daughters were maybe 12 and 16, and I didn’t want
them to grow up naive. People said, ‘How could you let three
ballplayers and the team trainer live with you?’ I said, ‘Well, the
girls are kind of ugly. I’m trying to help them out.’ ”

He’s not serious, of course, though the article’s next best quote may give anyone pause before taking one of these guys in:

Over the years, they’ve had about a dozen players live with them,
including Votto, who spent his entire 2004 season with the Dragons at
their home.

“Yeah, they had three rules,” he said with a laugh. “No drinking. No girls. Don’t mess with the daughters.”

Linda smiled when his recollection later was relayed to her: “He’s
exactly right, but let me tell you something. Over the course of years,
all of those rules have been broken, and one player broke all three at
once.”

This is why I (a) don’t let my daughter hang out with those t-ball hooligans; and (b) keep my shotgun loaded at all times.

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.