On Wednesday, Awful Announcing rebooted their annual MLB local broadcaster rankings. The reader-voted list had not been released since 2019, and while the voting sample size of just over 10,000 total votes is a mere fraction of the list’s peak voting sample size of 64,000 total votes, the results are as interesting as ever — especially if you’re a Detroiter, but probably not surprising. This season, Detroit’s broadcast ranked dead last in the national fan vote.
Once upon a time, Tigers games aired on Fox Sports Detroit and featured broadcasters Mario Impemba and Rod Allen. Impemba and Allen were generally fan favorites during their time in Detroit; they peaked on Awful Announcing’s list at 11th place in 2015, but a combination of the on-the-field product and a diminishing relationship between the two led them to fall to 23rd in their final appearance on the rankings. The two were fired in 2018 following a September altercation. Rod Allen now serves as the color analyst for Bally Sports Florida covering the Miami Marlins, but Mario Impemba has not worked in MLB broadcasting since serving as the 2019 Boston Red Sox radio broadcaster.
The two were replaced by long-time local pro and college sports broadcaster Matt Shepard. Shepard has been paired with multiple familiar color analysts during his time as the Detroit Tigers play-by-play announcer, including Kirk Gibson, Jack Morris, Dan Petry, and Craig Monroe. In his 2019 debut on the Awful Announcing local broadcaster rankings, Shepard and Gibson, his initial full-time partner, ranked 28th of 30 teams. With that said, Shepard and the now-Bally Sports Detroit team has had four years to sharpen the broadcast since their initial bottom-three ranking; have things gotten any better?
Not according to the Detroit faithful, apparently.
This season, Matt Shepard, Craig Monroe, and the Tigers’ broadcast ranked dead-last on the rankings, somehow even behind the disastrous Oakland Athletics’ 2023 broadcast team (A’s broadcaster Glen Kuiper was fired earlier this season for saying a racial slur on-the-air). While these rankings are undoubtedly influenced by the on-the-field product produced by a team (the A’s rank 29th, the Nationals rank 28th, the Rockies rank 27th, etc.), the Tigers have outperformed every team ranked ahead of them in the bottom-five of these rankings.
Elsewhere in the division, Kansas City’s broadcast team ranks 25th; Cleveland’s broadcast team 19th; Minnesota’s broadcast team 17th; and the Chicago White Sox team, led by popular broadcaster Jason Benetti, ranks 6th. Interestingly, the top-three broadcast teams have remained consistent since 2018, albeit in varying order. The San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, and San Diego Padres — all National League teams! — comprise the top of the list. The sole American League team broadcast in the top-five, interestingly enough, is the Toronto Blue Jays’ broadcast. (Yes, the White Sox have the best American American League broadcast. If only that could have helped Tim Anderson to hit a single home run over the past calendar year.)
The full tally of votes across the league is available here. Out of 324 total Detroit votes, just 8 voters gave the Detroit broadcast an A, and 46 gave the broadcast a B. Those figures each rank 30th among 30 broadcast teams.
The problem is mainly with Matt Shepherd and the widespread impression that he’s just not a baseball guy, nor a very compelling broadcaster in general. His forced use of catch phrases, particularly his own pet ones that don’t fit into a baseball context, and general lack of easy familiarity with the game are the chief gripes. However, different color analysts have their supporters and detractors too, without any one of the group really seizing the role and becoming a long-term fixture.
How do you feel about the broadcast right now, Tigers fans?
What grade would you give the Bally Sports Detroit broadcast team, led by Matt Shepard and Craig Monroe?
This poll is closed