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
It's not easy for us here in Detroit to understand and defend Jim Leyland on some of his managerial decisions. We question his lineups and his handling of the bullpen on a regular basis. Many can't figure out why he takes Drew Smyly out of the game after throwing a 1-2-3, 9-pitch inning, nor can they understand why a hot-hitting Matt Tuiasosopo is being benched for Andy Dirks because there is a righthander starting for the opposition.
But overall, Leyland does have his team in first place at the break and he did get this team to the World Series for the second time last season, thus deserving of coaching the American League in the annual All-Star Game. It seems like he can't coach a single game without controversy/second-guessing following him. I'm not sure he's unique in that regard, but the complaints he's received following the use of Mariano Rivera is more than nitpicking.
Supporters of the all-time saves leader and sure Hall of Famer desperately wanted him to pitch the final inning of his final All-Star appearance. They wanted the fairy tale. It wasn't dramatic enough that Leyland asked both teams to remain in the dugout when Rivera was introduced and warmed up; it wasn't enough that Rivera was positioned to throw against the bottom of the order, nearly ensuring a 1-2-3 performance. And it sure wasn't enough that he was named MVP of the Midsummer Classic. No, people have to continue to rip Leyland because he didn't write the proper final chapter to their dreamy novel.
Imagaine, with a 3-0 lead, the American League blows it and the National League plates four in the eighth off someone OTHER than Rivera. The A.L. bats in the top of the ninth and goes down 1-2-3 and loses by a run and there is no save opportunity, thus no Rivera appearance. You think people in Tampa are pissed that Ben Zobrist didn't play...can you imagine how people in New York, or baseball in general, would feel then? Why did it matter if Rivera pitched the eighth or the ninth? What mattered is he pitched and pitched at a meaningful time in the game and he was honored the appropriate way.
I've been as critical of Jim Leyland as anyone, but I totally understand the method to his All-Star madness when it came to pitching Mariano Rivera, and most importantly, Rivera understands it too.