The Detroit Tigers will be without longtime broadcasters Rod Allen and Mario Impemba for the 2019 season.
Famous author Charles Dickens once said, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Even though this quote was originally written in A Tale of Two Cities over 150 years ago, this quote still applies to 2018, especially when it comes to baseball.
More specifically, when it comes to Detroit’s modern day voices of baseball and favorite broadcasting duo, Mario Impemba and Rod Allen. These two titans of the industry have had an incredible run, 17 years together in the broadcast booth with what seemed like incredible chemistry, especially early on.
When the Detroit Tigers had their first initial success in 2006, the duo seemed giddy to be paired together in the booth, as they bonded over Jeremy Bonderman‘s “filthy” slider, Nate Robertson‘s “bulldog” mentality, Marcus Thames being “country strong”, and of course, Rod asking Mario “did you get your workout in today partner?”
For me personally, and for many growing up during this time period, Mario and Rod were staples in our lives. Rough day at the plate in little league? Turn on the T.V to Fox Sports Detroit to listen to Rod giving pointers he received from Placido Polanco when he was down at batting practice. Need to study for a big test with a little background noise? Listen to the soothing, yet very professional manner Mario Impemba would call another Brandon Inge strikeout, with Rod chiming in with, “he’s due.”
Even as the years rolled on after that “Magg-ical” 2006 season, the two seemed to complement each other perfectly. Mario, ever the consummate professional, prepared for each game like he was about to retake the ACT.
On the other hand, Rod would occasionally go down to batting practice. Rod also had quite the celebrity presence around Detroit. He was in commercials, such as this ACE Hardware gem that should have gotten him nominated for an OSCAR. Tiger fans even created a Rod Allen drinking game, which had players drink the beverage of their choice whenever Rod said one of his famous punch-lines. Google it!
The Beginning….of the end
Unfortunately, that’s why the two low-key hated each other, because they were polar opposites. Mario allegedly despised Rod Allen’s work ethic, and that he did not prepare for games like Mario did. Who knows, maybe Mario also wanted his own drinking game, the taglines, and the Metro Detroit celebrity status that Rod gained over his 17 seasons as a color commentator!
As a Tiger fan for over 26 years, it’s easy to think about the cracks forming in their relationship before our very eyes. The awkward pauses after Rod Allen quipped about Jordan Zimmerman being “very sharp” despite allowing 3 home runs in 5 innings suddenly have a deeper meaning.
Fox Sports Detroit did not implement a broadcasting booth rotation just because they felt like it. They must have known the feud was occurring, and decided that maybe an occasional change of scenery for Mario and Rod would smooth out the rifts.
The cracks turned into potholes on I-75 during the month of March, as on September 4th, 2018, the Rod Allen-Mario Impemba feud was visible to the public. The Detroit Tigers became a laughing-stock off the field, in addition to on the field, after it was reported that Rod Allen choked Mario Impemba. To no one’s surprise, the duo was suspended for the rest of the season.
As of October 9th, the two have been removed from their positions. If you work for Fox Sports Detroit, and are reading this, I am open to being interviewed for either position!
F. If I could go lower, I would. I know the Detroit Tigers stunk this year, and I know that a lot of the current players will not be around when the team becomes a perennial contender again. However, I thought I could bank on Mario Impemba and Rod Allen being around in 5 years, so this is very upsetting to write about.
The Mario and Rod separation after 17 years feels like a divorce. They started off strong during their “honeymoon” phase, the tension hit, and Fox Sports Detroit attempted to play the role of marriage counselor, separating the duo for a big chunk of games each year while encouraging them to “figure it out and make it work.”
It did not work. There are two things that we can learn from this. First, DO NOT play musical chairs with Rod Allen. Second, all good things in sports must come to an end.