Mario Impemba and Rod Allen are no longer at the broadcasting helm of Detroit Tigers games. Emotionally charged news stories have a way of sorting themselves out over time and the situation between these two broadcasters is no different.
The breaking point between Mario and Rod was reached following a Tuesday night game in early September. Numerous reports immediately described both Mario and Rod as individuals and as a collective unit. Time allows for emotions and sensationalism to subside, paving the way for a rational explanation and subsequent discussion.
Allowing for fair treatment of both parties, it should be stated that they both individually cared about the Detroit Tigers and did a fine job of presenting a unified front on camera for the better part of two decades. Unfortunately, they both also had a hand in things falling apart off camera.
In a piece published this morning by Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, Mario and Rod’s toxic relationship is examined under a microscope.
Per numerous anonymous sources within the organization who spoke to Fenech, the breaking point was indeed an on-set chair. Rod Allen deals with lower back pain while Mario Impemba deals with hip issues. Allen asked to use the now-infamous chair, due to it being easier on his back. Impemba was put off by this request, as his hip issues also led him to use the more comfortable seating option in the booth.
White Sox announcer, Darrin Jackson, a familiar acquaintance of Rod and Mario’s who was working that evening, remarked, “If it’s going to be set off by a simple thing like a chair prior to a game that leads to something, there’s a lot more percolating under the surface that anybody would have ever known.”
Fenech points out that Jackson encountered Allen after the broadcast. They had a brief interaction where Allen described a tumultuous scenario for Jackson:
“Hey, what’s going on?” Jackson asked. “How did everything go, alright?”
“Man, it wasn’t a great game,” Allen reportedly said to Jackson. “I gotta talk to Mario, man. I just gotta talk to him. Because this game, it doesn’t have to be like this. It’s gotta be a better game.”
Jackson readily described his knowledge of a long-lasting animosity boiling beneath the surface of Rod and Mario’s relationship. They were somehow able to pull it together for their on-camera appearances, but that was the extent of it.
A Fox Sports Detroit cameraman who was intimate with the situation explained to Fenech that he felt Impemba had become frustrated with Allen’s inconsistent work ethic. Impemba’s passion for the game was clearly there, night in and night out. Allen often appeared detached and non-committal during broadcasts, deferring to Impemba’s more energetic personality.
Numerous outlets, including Detroit Sports Nation, carried the report that Rod choked Mario from behind. Allen’s agent, Tom Shaer, stated that there was, unequivocally, not a chokehold involved in the argument. It was all sparked by Impemba questioning Allen’s work ethic and professionalism, punctuated by Mario pointing into Rod’s face. Allen moved to push him against a wall, with an arm leveraged between his shoulder and chin, before a TV producer came in to break up the fracas.
In the end, this is about two people who were trusted to be the face of a professional sports organization, proving their inability to contain personal issues. Detroit fans enjoyed the pre- and postgame commentary from these two for almost two decades and are now left wondering who will take the helm.