If you are a fan of the Detroit Tigers and a visitor to this website, you are more than likely familiar with Mario Impemba and his "don’t rock the boat" approach to calling Tigers games. Very rarely will he voice displeasure. Very rarely does he show his hand too early. He is the consummate nice guy.
In, If These Walls Could Talk, Impemba has compiled 224 pages of anecdotal "my life as a nice guy in baseball" stories.
If you are planning on reading this book, you should know in advance that you will not be venturing much deeper than surface level. While it is interesting to be included in nearly 30 years of professional broadcasting experience, Impemba has no plans of airing out any dirty laundry or offending anyone. You will not hear anything about what goes on in the locker room, Miguel Cabrera's off-the-field issues, or Prince Fielder's marital problems.
Instead, you will hear tales of Justin Verlander's no-hitters, Magglio Ordonez's 2006 ALCS walk-off home run, and how Impemba worked his way up from a women's basketball commentator at Michigan State University to getting to work alongside Ernie Harwell in the broadcast booth.
The latter of these is the most interesting element of the entire book.
From the book's synopsis, "Providing a behind-the-scenes look at the personalities and events that have shaped the Detroit Tigers’ recent resurgence, readers will meet the players, coaches, and management and share in their moments of greatness, grief, and quirkiness."
Except in this case, "behind-the-scenes" is more like peaking your head past a closed door for a few moments at a time.
There are moments that leave you wishing Impemba would have gone a little deeper. Recalling his time working with Harwell, or what it was like to call a game after Sept. 11, leave you feeling a bit brushed off. There must be more to these stories, but the end result is similar to having a chance encounter with Impemba in the coffee line at Starbucks.
If only there was a little more substance.
Overall, the book is easily digestible and can be read in one straight shot, or over the course of a week. You can pick it up and put it down without fearing you are going to forget any vital information. The pacing is somewhat clunky, and stories end as soon as they begin, but overall it is an enjoyable, albeit very safe, look at what it is like to be the voice of the Detroit Tigers television broadcast.