Earlier, Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge more or less cemented what we already knew: that he doesn’t have any interest in defending his Home Run Derby title in July when the All-Star festivities are held at Nationals Park. It sounds like Red Sox outfielders Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are on the same anti-Derby page.
When asked if he had any interested in participating in the Derby, Betts said (via Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe), “Hell no. I don’t hit home runs in BP. Can you imagine me going against Aaron Judge?” Betts was told Judge won’t be participating, then asked if that changed his mind. He said, “Hell no. I’m not that kind of hitter.”
Martinez won’t participate but for a different reason. He’s still upset he was passed over for inclusion in the Derby in 2015. Martinez said, “MLB didn’t want me. I figured I’d have the option of doing it and they said no. They had other guys they wanted, all these young guys. I was like, ‘Forget it. I’ll never do it.'”
Betts and Martinez have been two of baseball’s best hitters thus far. Betts entered Wednesday’s action batting .368/.439/.772 with an MLB-best 16 home runs along with 35 RBI, 49 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases. Martinez is hitting .343/.399/.674 with 15 home runs and 41 RBI.
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.