Nationals manager Davey Johnson, responsible for the organization’s first and only post-season appearance since moving to Washington in 2005, was honored before the first of two scheduled games against the Marlins today. Johnson is retiring after the season and will act as a consultant to the team going forward.
CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman described the event:
A touching video tribute featuring highlights from both Johnson’s playing and managing career preceded a string of thank-yous from former teammates, current coaches and most players on the Nationals roster. Managing principal owner Ted Lerner and general manager Mike Rizzo then presented Johnson with a personalized Tiffany and Co. crystal that read: “In celebration of your decorated baseball legacy and your contributions to the Washington Nationals.”
The crystal included the date “Sept. 21, 2013,” permanent evidence that this ceremony was originally planned for Saturday night but had to be postponed one day after the Nationals’ game against the Marlins was rained out.
Johnson had been saying he didn’t want a long, elaborate ceremony, and the Nationals kept this one fairly brief.
The Nationals lost to the Marlins in the afternoon game by a 4-2 score, which clinched the NL East for the Braves. They will play again this evening. Despite a late-season surge — the Nats are 23-8 since August 20 — it has been a difficult year in Washington as many expected the team to defend last year’s NL East title and make a deep run into the playoffs.
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.