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Awful Announcing Ranked All 30 MLB TV Crews. The Tigers Were Dead Last (Again)

One of the most requested topics that local fans tell me to write about is the Detroit Tigers current TV crew. When I talk about the "crew," I'm mainly talking about the play-by-play and color commentators. Detroit staples like Trevor Thompson, Mickey York, John Keating, and Johnny Kane rarely receive any criticism, nor should they. There's a reason they've been around forever. But the current TV booth with Matt Shepard doing play-by-play has received almost exclusively criticism ever since Mario Impemba and Rod Allen were let go following the 2018 season. 

Last week I had a fan who sent me a petition to sign asking Bally Sports Detroit to remove Matt Shepard from his play-by-play responsibilities. Even if I felt that strongly about it, I would never do something like that, I can be a very remorseful guy, but in general, I don't like seeing people, especially people I've heard good things about, lose their job. 

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The last time Awful Announcing did these rankings was following the 2019 season, which was Matt Shepard's first year as the play-by-play guy. During that season, his color commentators were Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson. That's changed. Craig Monroe is almost exclusively the main color commentator, with Dan Petry, Kirk, Gibson, and Cameron Maybin occasionally joining in for a few games. Despite the change, the Tigers booth, once again, finds themselves dead last in Awful Announcing's rankings. Is that fair? Let's talk about it.

Having an excellent local TV crew is a definite bonus. Every Mets fan I know has said that all their miserable seasons and in Queens (there's been plenty) have been made slightly less unbearable because they have a tremendous TV crew (Awful announcing ranked them second best in the most recent list.) While it's a definite plus, not vibing with your local announcers doesn't bother me much. 

I have strong opinions about everything, but in this instance, I don't know; I just shrug my shoulders. I really liked Rod and Mario when they were in Detroit. It was unfortunate how things ended. They were the voice of my summers in my formative years, so I'll always have a soft spot for them. Maybe I'm just in denial, but I have difficulty believing that the Tigers booth is the worst in the sport. I like Craig Monroe. He's a good color commentator with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. He has a good relationship with the fans. That's all I need. People always send me clips of weird shit that Matt Shepard says during the broadcast, and while I can confirm he's not Joe Davis, it just doesn't bother me much. It's very unlike me to be so indifferent, but if I hear a bad song on the radio, I turn it down. Some people turn it up and obsessively send tweets about how bad the song is. There are alternatives aplenty.

The biggest reason for my apathy regarding the Tigers current TV booth is that they're given very little to work with. This is Matt Shepard's fifth year as the play-by-play guy for the Tigers, and they have been, at best, bad and, at worst, God-awful ever since he took over. Local TV crews are like ballparks. You can only properly judge their affectedness once you have a good team. No one praised the atmosphere at Comerica Park until 2006, when they made the run to the World Series. Do I think that this is a crew that will ever be considered one of the best in baseball? Absolutely not. They'll never even come close. But you are at a disadvantage as a broadcaster when you cover a consistent loser team. 

I've watched a fair amount of Astros baseball over the last several years, and Todd Kalas in the fourth inning, rarely talks about what his favorite cotton candy flavor is. They don't have to because their games are competitive. When you lose with the consistency that the Tigers have lost at, and you find yourself down six runs in the fourth inning, you end up having schmucks like this guy on the broadcast (cheap plug, I know).

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I'm probably coming across as a bit wishy-washy here. People will continue to have their opinions. I'd be very surprised if Matt Shepard and Craig Monroe weren't here to stay for the long haul. I understand the fan's frustration but I don't find them insulting. At the same time, it doesn't matter here. They are a very unpopular booth among the people that I talk to. But I can't put a fork in the possibility that they one day win people over, but there needs to be an adjustment. There is way too much of a cornball aspect to this current booth. It tends to give off a very "How do you do fellow kids" vibe. 

Detroit fans love it when broadcasters shoot it straight. I remember listening to Matt Shepard back when he did local radio in Detroit. He's very much capable of doing that. It's a tricky balance because they technically work for the team, and you can only rock the boat a little. I hope they figure things out. I've heard good things about them as people. They don't pass with flying colors, but I can't call them the worst in baseball.