Former Detroit Tigers play-by-play broadcaster Mario Impemba has a new home after losing his Fox Sports Detroit job in the wake of a physical altercation with his co-host and analyst, Rod Allen. (Allen was also fired.)
According to Chad Finn in The Boston Globe, Impemba will be joining WEEI this season, as the Red Sox revamp their own booth by turning it into a rotating platoon.
Joe Castiglione, who has been part of the Red Sox’ radio broadcast team since 1983, is back for his 37th season. But the spot vacated when Tim Neverett, who had been Castiglione’s partner on WEEI’s broadcasts for the past three seasons, chose not to renew his contract in December, will not be filled by a single play-by-play voice or analyst.
Instead, WEEI is expected to announce in the next few days it will use a cast of broadcasters with Castiglione this season.
According to sources with knowledge of the process, those expected to be in the mix are Will Flemming, who currently calls Pawtucket Red Sox games, and Mario Impemba, a longtime Tigers broadcaster who was fired — along with analyst Rod Allen —in September after an altercation in the booth. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wrote the foreword to Impemba’s book.
The move ties together two of the more interesting baseball broadcast booth stories from last year. Obviously when a play-by-play man fights an analyst, that’s up there, but we also had the brief drama over WEEI reportedly considering a format change in an effort to develop more of a sports radio feel, which led to the departure of Red Sox play-by-play man Tim Neverett. That format change idea was quickly denied, but WEEI has certainly tweaked things, going to a rotating cast of play-by-play broadcasters and analysts.
Analysts who will join Castiglione at times to be part of a three-person booth will include WEEI’s Rob Bradford and Lou Merloni and Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam. And at least one other former Red Sox player besides Merloni may be part of the rotation.
NESN’s Tom Caron may also call a game on radio once in a while. And one source suggested that Sean McDonough, the outstanding Red Sox television voice from 1988-2004, could call an occasional game. That would be a coup for WEEI, but he is under contract at ESPN. He did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Neverett, meanwhile, has moved on to the Dodgers. The rotating booth is pretty clearly an effort to avoid routine for listeners, shaking things up with different pairings throughout the season. It also makes things a bit tougher for the broadcasters, of course. But maybe it helps avoid the built-up friction that can lead to, say, broadcast partners fighting each other.