Hall of Fame Induction Day always sneaks up on me. I rarely read or hear about it until the week leading up to it. Which, in today’s media environment is kind of strange when you think about it. But it has done it again: Hall of Fame Induction Day is this Sunday.
For those who totally tuned out the crazy arguing back and forth back during election time or simply buried it deep, deep down somewhere where the vitriol can’t hurt you, please recall that Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick are going into the Hall. It will be a joyous occasion. Well, at least until the ceremony is over. At that point the members of the Blyleven-for-the-Hall Industrial Complex which has grown over the years may find themselves empty and adrift. What these brave warriors will do with no battle left to fight frightens me to some degree, I’ll admit. And that’s the case even though I consider myself to be a low-ranking foot soldier in that army.
Actually, now that I think about it, this will be one of the last inductions which will not be accompanied by cries of bloody murder on behalf of those who should be in but aren’t because of the PED mess, so I presume that — if we can make it past this next year — the Blyleven Brigade can scale up to fight that battle and thus won’t be loose and aimless on our city streets. Probably safe for all of us.
That business aside, congratulations, inductees.
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.