So I'm in the World Series

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Fantasy baseball nerd.jpgI mentioned a long time ago that I was participating in a simulation league for media guys. The game: Rob Neyer Baseball. It’s a historical league based on the Diamond Mind platform, and I am owner/general manager/manager of the Matewan Massacre. Other owners include Neyer himself, Jonah Keri, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes, Baseball Prospectus’ Rany Jazayerli, Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods fame, FanGraphs’ Carson Cistulli and many others. It’s been a load of fun, but the season is almost over.

I’ve done well: I beat Mr. Neyer’s very own team to advance to the World Series, but
make no mistake about it: I’m an underdog against Jazayerli’s team, The Process, which finished the year with the best record in the league. He’s up 1-0 after a gem by his ace, Brett Saberhagen, and probably has a better top-to-bottom club than I do, but I have not yet given up.

The Massacre won its division with an 88-74 record, powered by an MVP season by Barry Bonds (.299/.421/.585 43 HR, 124 RBI in what turned out to be a really low-offense league).  Don’t look at me that way; the Massacre does not have a morals clause in its player contracts. Heck, my backup shortstop is former Chicago Black Sox Swede Risberg for cryin’ out loud. My rotation — which surprisingly became a strength as the season wore on — is populated by several fat, alcoholic 1940s and 50s pitchers. The closest thing I have to model citizens on the team are Luis Sojo and Clint Hurdle, but they were bench warmers all year. We’re all about winning in Matewan.

Game 2 of the World Series will take place later today, with three games tomorrow and the final two on Saturday if necessary.  I’ll let you know how my fellas do. If they win, Katie bar the door, because they know how to celebrate right-proper down in Matewan.

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.