This was the rare spring training game that got more interesting as opposed to less interesting as it went on. And the reason for it was the very reason why I came here today: the Royals system is stocked.
But the system is still young, and for as good as Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and all of the rest of the bumper crop of talent is, they still have to wait until the waning innings of an early spring training game to get in on the action.
And get in they did. In the bottom of the eighth, with the game tied 3-3, Lorenzo Cain doubled to left center. He was then singled in by Mike Moustakas. Eric Hosmer followed and walked before the inning ended. The Royals went up 4-3, and that lead held as they went on to win the game by that score. The final two outs of the game came on a diving catch by Lorenzo Cain in right center, who then doubled a runner off second, kicking off Wilbert Harrison’s “Kansas City” on the loudspeakers. It was sweet.
It’s going to be a long year, Royals fans. The team is going to lose a lot of games. But there is hope. And it’s not going to be long before your boys are winning a lot of games.
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.