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The strange tale of the fighting Tigers broadcasters

In Saturday’s Say Hey, Baseball, we examine the angry Tigers broadcasters, Rhys Hoskins in disguise, and another heartbreaking Tommy John surgery.

T-Mobile Home Run Derby Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Tigers haven’t had a particularly good or interesting season. They have the sixth-worst record in the majors, but they’re number one when it comes to broadcaster drama.

Play-by-play guy Mario Impemba and analyst and color commentator Rod Allen got into a fight. And not just any fight -- an actual physical altercation. Katie Strang of The Athletic reported on Thursday that the reason Impemba and Allen were absent from the Tigers Wednesday broadcast was that they’d gotten into a fight, and someone had to separate them.

It gets crazier. According to WDIV, the whole thing was over a chair. Something about a chair in the booth set either Impemba or Allen off. Impemba reportedly left the booth at the end of the game and Allen followed. Then Allen grabbed Impemba from behind and started choking him. Can you imagine this happening outside a baseball broadcast booth? Ot at any workplace? Or literally anywhere?

Now, was this really about a chair? Who knows. Impemba and Allen have been calling games together for over 15 years, and they’re not known for being the friendliest toward each other. When you have an argument with someone you’ve known for 15 years, how often is it actually about the silly thing you think you’re fighting over? Of course, this argument didn’t end with a hug or an “I’m sorry” card or an Edible Arrangement. It “ended” with Allen reportedly chasing after Impemba and strangling him.

WDIV pointed out that the signs of Impemba’s and Allen’s fight were more apparent than you’d think. They went back and listened to the broadcast and heard a number of long silences in the back half of the game, including a 43-second silence in the sixth inning. Yikes.

The two won’t be working any more Tigers broadcasts this season, separate or together. Fox Sports Detroit announced Friday that both broadcasters were done for the season, though they didn’t mention if they were suspended and whether they’d be paid. It’s not clear what will happen from here, whether the network will call in an entirely new broadcast team, or if just one of them will come back.

This genuinely might be the most interesting thing to happen to the Tigers all season. But if you’re the Tigers, and your options for being interesting are an embarrassing broadcaster situation that’s only tangentially related to you, or having a season like the Orioles, I’m pretty sure you go with the broadcaster stuff every time.