I don't know about you guys, but I watch a lot of baseball. Sure, I spend countless hours watching the Tigers. But on top of that, I watch and listen to games going on around the league whenever I get a chance. As I type this, I'm half watching/half listening to Rangers/Twins because, well, day baseball is just great. The more baseball I watch and listen to, the more I'm reminded of something a lot of us take for granted: the Detroit Tigers broadcast team is top notch. I love listening to Dan and Jim on the radio, but even more than that, I love watching the game with the familiar voices of Mario Impemba and Rod Allen talking me through the action.
Mario and Rod are a great commentary duo. A lot of other announcers are pretty lackluster. When I lived in Michigan, this is something I really only noticed when the Tigers were nationally televised. But now that am a displaced fan who watches more non-Tigers baseball than I ever did when I lived in Michigan, it's become much more apparent to me. Whether it's general incoherence, audible disdain for the other team, or too-obvious analysis, the play-by-play and commentary for a lot of teams in MLB simply pales in comparison to the awesomeness that is Mario and Rod.
No disrespect to Mario Impemba, but what I'm really driving at here is that I cannot get enough Rod Allen. Mario is great, but Rod's entertainment value is something else. Some people find his catch phrases a bit cheesy, and some have said they could use a translator to figure out what he's talking about. But I have to say, Rod Allen is a professional, big-league commentator, and the talking points he features on a day-to-day basis are some kind of smooth.
Rod Allen's recurring catch phrases are well-documented. They've even inspired drinking games. In some ways, these very catch phrases are what make him so delightful. There is a sense of familiarity that they bring. When Cabrera hits a bomb, you can count on Rod to tell him to "stop it." When Scherzer carves up batter after batter, you can count on Rod to declare him "filthy." When Martinez battles through a quality AB, you can count on Rod to remind you that Victor is a "professional hitter." He almost always gives us what we've come to expect from him over the years, while still managing to work in new gems along the way -- like making a crack-smoking joke about Toronto's mayor Rob Ford while discussing the Tigers base-stealing tendencies. What a guy.
Rod's most famous catch phrase is actually one he doesn't even use any more: Country Strong. Only one player in Tigers history has ever been dubbed Country Strong, and that's Marcus Thames. I remember watching Marcus Thames hit a home run one time on a swing that broke his bat. Rod Allen tucked that Country Strong away when Marcus Thames left town, and I'm beginning to wonder if it will ever come back. Part of me hopes it doesn't, but, boy, its return would be something special.
Of all the Rodisms out there, one of my favorites is the "green light." Runner on first? "He may have the green light to go ahead and steal second." 3-0 count? "Players like (insert name here) often have the green light, so he may be swinging 3-0 here." Rod Allen especially loves the green light in 3-0 counts. He loves it so much that I'm convinced he thinks just about every player might swing in that situation. That's why I'm starting #RodAllenGreenLight.
According to Baseball Reference, the Tigers have seen 88 3-0 counts this year. They've swung in 8 of those counts, or 9% of the time. Victor Martinez has seen the most 3-0 counts (23), followed by Austin Jackson (12) and Miguel Cabrera (11). Martinez, Jackson, and Cabrera have each swung twice in 3-0 counts this season. In other words, it doesn't seem like the Tigers have the green light to swing 3-0 very often, and I imagine that the case is similar across MLB. But that doesn't seem to matter to my man Rod Allen.
For the record, I have no hard data here to show you how often Rod Allen believes a player has the green light to swing 3-0. All I can give you is anecdotal evidence through lots and lots of observation. By my estimation, Rod Allen articulates his belief that players have the green light to swing about 50% of the time. Through an advanced series of calculations that only exist in my brain and cannot be reproduced, I've arrived at the estimation that this means, even though he only articulates this belief 50% of the time, he silently holds the belief about 97% of the time.
If you don't believe me, you'll just have to watch and listen. If you see enough 3-0 counts in a game, you're bound to get a #RodAllenGreenLight at some point. And if he doesn't give it on a 3-0 count, there's still a good chance he'll give one to a baserunner.
The Tigers play this afternoon and will try to bounce back after a heartbreaking loss to Oakland last night. If you're watching, keep your ears open. And when you hear the #RodAllenGreenLight, make sure you let me know in the comments section below, or hit me up on Twitter.
And to Rod Allen, thanks for being great. I see you, big fella.