It's Blanton, not Lee, in Game 4

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The Phillies are down 2-1 with CC
Sabathia awaiting them in Game 4 on Sunday night. Sounds pretty
ominous, right? Not if you’re Charlie Manuel. He still plans on
sticking with Joe Blanton.




The Yankees are no-doubt licking
their chops to face Blanton, who hasn’t appeared in a game since
October 19. Here’s just a sampling of a few Yankees’ past success against Blanton:




Derek Jeter: 4-for-12 (.333) with one walk, one home run and three RBI

Alex Rodriguez: 4-for-7 (.571) with three walks, two home runs and five RBI

Mark Teixeira: 9-for-27 (.333) with one home run, three home runs and seven RBI



The big question this morning is
“Why not Lee?” He has a 0.54 ERA, 0.69 WHIP and 30/3 K/BB ratio in four
starts this postseason, including a masterful performance in Game 1.




While it’s true that Lee has never
started on three day’s rest, the fallout of Manuel’s decision is
wide-reaching. Even if the Phillies win Game 5 with Lee on the hill,
they will be forced to start Pedro Martinez in Game 6 and most likely
Cole Hamels in a possible Game 7 at Yankee Stadium. After Hamels’
comments following Saturday’s loss, that can’t be encouraging for
Phillies fans. Meanwhile, Joe Girardi has his ace lined up for a
possible Game 7, if it gets that far.




Giving Lee three starts give the Phillies their best — and perhaps only — chance to win.

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.