Field brawls between players and coaches are one thing, but announcers trading blows? That’s what happened between the Detroit Tigers popular television announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen in the broadcast booth Tuesday before a game in Chicago against the White Sox.
The altercation led to both being suspended for the rest of the 2018 season. A decision that was announced by Fox Sports Detroit on Friday.
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“After speaking with all involved parties, Fox Sports Detroit has decided not to schedule Rod Allen and Mario Impemba for any future Tigers telecasts this season,” network spokeswoman Courtney Welch said in a statement. “Since this is an internal matter, we will have no further comment.”
There are speculations as to what caused the incident, the most popular being over a broadcast chair. These same people point the finger at Rod Allen, who allegedly started the spat by assaulting Impemba from behind and choking him.
While this has been the first known physical altercation, this isn’t the first time the pair has been at odds. It’s common knowledge in Detroit that Impemba and Allen have had several disagreements during their tenure and they aren’t particularly close outside of work. Sources who work within the broadcast team say that tensions were brewing for some time now. Particularly this season, pauses of silence for nearly a minute have happened more frequently, where the pair have had on-air disputes mid-game.
Rod Allen took to twitter Thursday night to defend himself writing, “I’ve always conducted myself as an honorable professional and I always will. Because this is a personnel matter. I can’t comment right now.”
Allen’s agent Tom Shaer also vehemently denied the choking incident, which has been depicted as “severe” and “horrific” by those close to the situation, stating these are “blatantly false descriptions” and even pointed the finger at the media and shamed them by saying, “Those who engage in such gross untruths should be ashamed of themselves.”
Rival broadcasters have voiced their concerns over the incident but sympathize over the situation too, saying that the MLB season is long, and verbal disagreements happen all the time. While physically fighting isn’t necessarily heard of, most who know Impemba and Allen hope they can fix their professional relationship so it doesn’t hurt their careers.
Tigers manager Rod Gardenhire was asked about the incident and said, “It’s unfortunate. You get to know people, and I like both of those guys. But in a work environment, things happen.”
Both Impemba and Allen are in their 17th season as the team’s main television team. Their contracts are due to expire at the end of the season, according to multiple sources within Fox Sports Detroit, and have said it would be a surprise to see the station keep one over the other, given the circumstance.
Allen has split color-commentating duties with Kirk Gibson and Craig Monroe the past two seasons. Going forward, FSD will likely hand announcing duties over to Gibson, Monroe and Matt Shepard to finish out the year. Each have decided not to comment on their co-workers’ scuffle, including their futures with the organization. Gibson said Friday that any comment would be “inappropriate” and referred those sort of questions to FSD.