Matt Shepard is the play-by-play voice of University of Michigan basketball, Eastern Michigan University football and the Detroit Lions Television Network. He can also be found on TV locally on Fox Sports Detroit and nationally on the Big Ten Network for college football and baseball.
Here, he answers a few of your burning questions.
Hometown? Farmington Hills, MI
Marital Status? Married, Lisa, with four children (3-boys 1-girl)
What High School did you attend? North Farmington HS
What is your Favorite sport to watch on TV and your favorite sport to attend in person?
Football on TV...hockey to attend
Who is your favorite actor or actress?
Clint Eastwood/Mel Gibson.....Ashley Judd
Who is your favorite sports celebrity of all time? Wayne Gretzky
Bases loaded, two outs in the bottom of the ninth of the Game Seven of the World Series and your team is down one run...Which active baseball player do you want at the plate? Derek Jeter
Who is your favorite cartoon character? Bugs Bunny
What is your favorite national sports moment? Miracle on Ice
What is your favorite Detroit sports moment?
1984 World Series & 1997 Red Wings Stanley Cup
If you could change a rule in sports, what would it be?
I'd just like to see the strike zone called appropriately
What Detroiter do you admire most? Joe Dumars
College or Pro Sports? College
If you could invite three people to dinner, living or dead, who would they be? Jesus....my father (deceased)....my father-in-law (deceased) to see 'em one more time
What was your most interesting interview? Paul Newman at the Detroit Grand Prix
Favorite broadcaster of all time? Dick Enberg....but I really respect Joe Buck
Most embarrassing moment on the air? Stuttering during a line in a sportscast
What is your favorite Sports Team? Detroit Tigers
Shep's Daily Poll Question is brought to you by Art Moran Buick GMC
I have been as patient and understanding as one could be when it comes to Jose Valverde.
I try not to be too reactionary. I constantly remind myself that baseball is a 162 game marathon; that has its ups & downs, ebs & flows, high & lows. I constantly refer to baseball (and all sports) being about capitalizing on an opponents mistakes. Batters are going to strikeout, pitchers are going to give up homers and players are going to make errors. My criticism usually focuses on players making the same mental mistakes and, of course, the timing of such miscues. Which brings me to Jose Valverde.
First, I understand Tigers fans hate Valverde's "routine" of drinking some Absopure, taking his hat off, spitting some of the water left then right and hopping his way to the mound for his relief appearance. Fans hate that "he doesn't look like an athlete" with his pear-shaped body. And fans hate that he doesn't overwhelm hitters with a 100mph fastball.
His "out" pitch is his split-finger fastball. The problem is that pitch isn't splitting! According to ESPN, Valverde has thrown 20 splitters in his last six games, and he's allowed four homers on those 20 pitches. In his first 12 games he threw 21 splitter and allowed NO homers. If he doesn't have that pitch working then he can't do his job and the Tigers pay the price.
Valverde should be released for the second time in two years from this club because he can't perform. We appreciate the service and the effort, but it's now over. What this club does to fix the problem is up for debate. The team could give Drew Smyly or Rick Porcello a shot, promote Joaquin Benoit or make a trade.
I'm not totally opposed with the Smyly idea. He has a live fastball and can get strikeouts when needed. He has a calm demeanor, but he's never done it and I'm not a big fan of "experimenting" when there are other options. I think he could do it, but you better have a competent pitcher who can assume his role because he's been solid this year. I hate the Porcello idea. He's settled in nicely as the fifth starter, but he doesn't strike out many and he pitches to contact and allows a lot of baserunners. A trade is always a tricky proposition because a lot depends on what you have to surrender. Personally, I'm not in favor of giving up Nick Castellanos. He's tearing the cover off the ball in Triple-A. He's only 21 and he'll be an everyday player for this club probably by the time he's 23.
I'd be in favor of Benoit closing (he's done it) and promoting Bruce Rondon to the setup role. The kid has earned an opportunity, pitching 23 innings with 29 strikeouts and a 0.77 ERA in Toledo. He takes the setup role with less pressure and a "margin for error." This way the Tigers get a guy who can and has closed, their future closer gets the feel for the big leagues and can learn from the veteran doing the closing and Valverde is no longer a sideshow bringing this team and this town down.