By Jeff Moss
November 10, 2014
Last summer, I wrote an article regarding the contentious off-air relationship between Fox Sports Detroit broadcasters Mario Impemba and Rod Allen.
Sources had informed me that the relationship between the two Tigers TV announcers was so awful that FSD executives had to bring the two in for a meeting to discuss their unhealthy behavior; the broadcast team was also shown images of famous duos that had broken up over personality issues.
Ya know, like Martin and Lewis and Simon and Garfunkel.
Based on what the DetroitSportsRag has learned over the past week, it would appear that not only has the off-microphone relationship failed to improve, those same FSD execs now believe that the overall chilliness between the pair has seeped into the actual broadcast.
I have been told that Rod and Mario’s bosses had a meeting last week to discuss this ongoing issue and some at company believe the lack of chemistry between the two led to a ratings decline for Tigers broadcasts in 2014.
[Full Disclosure. I do not like Impemba and Allen. I think they are awful slapdick homers who wouldn’t recognize an advanced metric if it slapped them upside the head. And the idea of Allen getting clocked in the dome by BABIP just made me laugh.
My dislike for this broadcast team is so great that I watch Tigers games on mute all season long and listen to SiriusXM, podcasts or my iPhone music. But it has nothing at ALL to do with their chemistry. It’s just because they suck really, really bad. And they’re dumb. Like, really dumb.
The idea that Tigers fans give two shits about whether or not Mario and Rod like each other or dine out on the road is laughable. People tune in to FSD to watch the TIGERS PLAY. Bill Maher and the head of ISIS could be the 2015 tandem and the only thing that would matter would be the product on the field.
If ratings went down it’s because the team is incredibly frustrating on a night-to-night basis and the Tigers underachieved for a large portion of the season after their incredible start. That’s why ratings went down. No other reason. /Full Disclosure.]
Anyway, I am told that the meeting last week focused on what to do about this issue and whether or not a third person should be part of the broadcast team in 2015.
As you probably already know, former Tigers’ ace Jack Morris (an actual member of the ’84 World Series championship team and not someone who only had 27 at-bats that season) tagged along in September for some of the telecasts as an added voice.
According to my sources, just about the only item that Allen and Impemba can agree upon is their absolute distaste for having to share the booth with Morris — or anyone else for that matter.
Further complicating this issue is that the FSD honchos were not impressed with Morris’ September cameo appearances. And any idea of Morris joining the booth as a permanent third wheel has been quashed.
So, here is what we are hearing about the meeting last week to discuss 2015 Tigers television broadcasts:
- While Morris won’t be added permanently, the executives do like the concept of a third voice in the booth. Instead of it being one new hire though, it is more likely that they will rotate a few ex-players in that role. From day one it has been believed that FSD wanted John Smoltz for the permanent role, so maybe they will be able to get him on a more limited basis. Dan Petry would obviously make sense as well.
- At this time, there is no plan to fire either Allen or Impemba. But if push comes to shove I am told that it will be Rod Allen on the outside looking in. Mainly because Impemba is in tight with the Ilitch family. It is also MUCH more difficult to find a competent play-by-play man.
- The level of hatred between Mario and Rod cannot be overstated; they already have been lectured on this subject and now secret meetings are being held to see what can be done about it.
- The higher-ups believe that adding Morris to the team lit a fire under Impemba and Allen, which created a better broadcast.
That’s what we know at this point. Part of me didn’t even want to post this article because it’s just another heads-up to Allen to get his act straightened out; there is nothing I’d love more than to see him get axed and replaced with an advocate of sabermetrics.
But the news stops for no man, even though I am probably hurting myself by hitting “Submit” right now.
Oh well, I will always have the mute button.