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Baseball broadcasters are paid to say interesting words about the game and have decent on-air chemistry. They are not, however, paid to be friends with each other. Some are natural friends, but others are very much not.
Detroit Tigers broadcasters Mario Impemba and Rod Allen are definitely on the “not friends” train. Katie Strang of The Athletic reported Thursday that Impemba and Allen got into an “altercation” that resulted in their absence from Wednesday’s broadcast.
Multiple sources told The Athletic that neither Impemba nor Allen were part of Wednesday’s broadcast due to a physical altercation between the two television personalities following Tuesday’s game in Chicago against the White Sox. It is not immediately clear what prompted the attack.
According to WDIV, the altercation occurred following Tuesday night’s broadcast. Impemba reportedly left the booth, only to be followed by Allen and allegedly choked from behind. The pair were broken up by a third party. Tom Shaer, Allen’s agent, denied the allegations in a statement to WDIV.
“We have not commented because Fox Sports Detroit is handling this professionally and thoroughly. But these ridiculous, blatantly false descriptions require me to speak the truth and say they are utter fabrications. Nobody followed anybody, there was no contact from behind, and a “choke hold” is a shamefully untrue way to describe anything which occurred in that very brief altercation.
Anonymous fabrications by others do injustice to the very concepts of fairness and professionalism. Those who give such gross untruths to media should be ashamed of themselves.”
What could cause such an altercation? According to WDIV’s report, it was a disagreement over a chair in the booth.
Impemba has been the play-by-play announcer for Tigers TV broadcasts since 2002. Allen, who spent five years in the majors, has been one of the Tigers color analysts for 15 seasons. Off the air (and sometimes on it), the two are not known to be close, or even very friendly. Strang said that there has been “simmering tension” between the two for some time, resulting from their opposing personalities and broadcast styles.
Allen and Impemba went back to Detroit after the reported altercation, but their travel arrangements were made so the two would not be traveling together. They were replaced on the broadcast by Matt Shepard and former MLB player Kirk Gibson.
Strang contacted Fox Sports Detroit about the incident, and general manager Greg Hammaren didn’t say much, but he didn’t deny that the altercation happened.
“My only comment is this we are addressing an internal matter and we will not have any further comment at this time.”
The Detroit Free Press reported that Impemba and Allen will meet with Fox Sports Detroit’s executives on Thursday to determine what should happen in light of the incident.
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