I can honestly say that I grew up jaded. I thought that Hall of Famers did everyone's broadcasts. Growing up in Mid-Michigan meant that we only saw about 15-20 Tiger games a year, so it was kind of an event when they were on. Especially when they would televise a game from Michigan and Trumbull. What was a staple on these broadcasts were the voices of George Kell and Al Kaline. Both former Tigers and both Hall of Famers. Kell and Kaline were average to listen to. They never really got under your skin, however would always tell you how "times had changed." Kaline was really worse in this respect, as I can remember multiple times him saying, "We just didn't make mistakes like that back when I played..."
Growing up in Michigan in the '80's also meant one other thing...you thought that Kirk Gibson was the man and the toughest guy in the Major Leagues. Yeah, he may not have hit .300, but no one played harder. Gibson also used a vocabulary when he struck out that could only be matched by my grandfather, or my father when I woke up to him cursing the scorer's table during the 1986 NCAA Tournament when the timekeeper in Kemper Arena robbed Jud and the Spartys of a much deeper tournament run.
Gibson would later take on the duties of color man for Tiger broadcasts when you could catch the Tigers on any day of the week on Fox Sports Detroit, and his words were just as harsh then as they were when he played. On the opening day of Comerica Park, Gibson blasted Tiger management saying, "It would have been nice if they would have paid for a team to match the ballpark." Gibson would also fume and vent in the booth, in fact there was once when the biggest Tiger bust in recent memory, Juan Gonzalez, was picked off using the lame "Fifty-three" pickoff maneuver, and I thought Gibson was coming out of the booth just to kick Gonzalez' ass.
Both Gibson and Kaline had been tough on players when calling a game, and why shouldn't they be? They were Tiger legends offering their insight on the game they love....that stands in stark contrast to what we are given today.
Rod Allen is not a legend. In fact he is barely a Tiger. Oh, Rod will always spout off on the fact that he was on the '84 team, making the viewer think that he played an integral part on the Tiger's march to the World Championship that year. In '84 Rod had 27 at bats over 15 games...sounds like mop up duty to me. The most famous thing that Rod Allen has ever done is charge the mound in a YouTube classic video. Feel free to look it up if you want, but the bottom line is the fact that he thinks the Japanese pitcher threw at him intentionally (which he didn't) and chases the pitcher back and forth into the outfield like in a Three Stooges sketch.
Well now we get to hear Rod spout off almost every game for my beloved Tigers, and even though we are only 7 games into it, I am already sick. Broadcasts seem to be something out of the Soviet Union Ministry of Propaganda, or that wacky Iraqi Information Minister in the second Gulf War as Allen seems to only give you the "Company Line." Its gotten so bad that it can be argued that Rod has a legitimate Man Crush or "Bromance" with Tiger First Baseman, Miguel Cabrera. Rod has said things about Cabrera like "He is a MAN's Man!" and "Big Fella, is already in the groove!" (This was 5 games into the season).
So far I don't think Rod has ever seen a player in a Tiger Uniform he doesn't like. Slumps according to Allen? "Hey every player is gonna go through that, its nothing they haven't seen before." Bad Pitching Outings? "Hey, he is a professional, he is going to forget about it, and come back out and compete the next time."
I almost fell out of my chair when after the Tiger's home opener this year, Allen said after a overwhelming Tiger victory, "You know that, Jim Leyland is a manager of the fans, he knows what the fans want and he is going to deliver that for them." Okay, I don't think Leyland much cares if there is one fan out there or if there are 40,000 as long as the Tigers win. Its almost as if Rod has a meeting with the Illitch family prior to the game to see what they would like him to say in order to sell more tickets and get people out to the ballpark in this economy. I wouldn't be shocked if there is going to be a Little Ceasar reference coming soon from Rod. I believe Rod has already penciled in the Tigers to be in the postseason, because as we learned last season high expectations = more ticket sales = more revenue's for Illitch family = Rod's doing a hell of a job!
I have no objection to having a homer for a broadcast. Harry Caray was one of my personal favorites, but you have to be able to look critically as well, and be able to offer your criticisms otherwise you lose all credibility. Caray and Steve Stone were great homers for the Cubs, but they were also critical of the Tribune Company on Tribune Company broadcasts. This basically cost Stone his job, after Caray had passed away. Then again we are looking for credibility from a guy who batted a lifetime .220 and has 3 RBIs over 3 seasons in the Major Leagues. He probably also really needs the job that the Illitch family has for him, because lets face it, have you tried to get a job in this economy?