It’s that time of year when managers of sub-.500 teams start getting public votes of confidence from their general managers and the Mets are 18-19, so general manager Sandy Alderson had some words of praise for Terry Collins yesterday.
Responding to what he referred to as “Twitter traffic” criticizing Collins, the GM told Mike Vorkunov of the Newark Star Ledger:
I think Terry has done an excellent job. I’ve said that over three-plus seasons. Terry has done an outstanding job. First and foremost he keeps our players motivated. We talk a lot about the fact that it’s a long season and getting the most out of our players is probably the most important leadership that a manager faces.
We all disagree from time to time on field strategy. That happens. I’m sure it happens with fans, it happens with everyone. And it happens with me. We talk about it from time to time. But those are incidental–those are from time to time. Those are more about educating me and others and just talking about things. It happens. It’s human nature.
Collins is in his fourth season as Mets manager, compiling a 243-280 (.465) record. After winning 77, 74, and 74 games in his first three years on the job the Mets are on pace to win 79 games right now and, thanks to an extension signed during the offseason, Collins is under contract for 2015 as well. In other words, he’s not going anywhere.
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.