Tony La Russa responds to Jack Clark

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There’s a war of words in St. Louis. You may have already heard that
Jack Clark, who spent three years with the Cardinals, thinks Mark
McGwire should be banned from baseball. He also questioned Tony La Russa’s claim that he didn’t know McGwire was on steroids during his tenure in Oakland and St. Louis:

“[McGwire’s] own manager never knew that [Jose] Canseco and McGwire and
anybody else ever had taken steroids? Trust me, from [a former player], I have a lot of insight into who did
what and when but I’m not even going to talk about it. It really
doesn’t matter.”

La Russa responded to Clark in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday night:

“I would say I always respected the career Jack had and he’s entitled to his opinion. But his comments about me are wrong.”

What better time for the whole gang to meet up at this weekend’s
“Winter Warm-Up” event in St. Louis? The team has confirmed that
McGwire will make his first public appearance as the team’s new hitting coach on Sunday,
where he is expected to sit down with one of the team’s broadcasters for
an interview in front of the fans. Just don’t expect Clark to be very
cordial should they cross paths this weekend.

“I’m not going to say hello. I’m not going to shake his hand. He’s a sad excuse for a
player in the industry of baseball. Just seeing him in uniform makes me
throw up.”

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.