Detroit — To quote Willie Mays Hayes from "Major League," "I've been cut already?"
Fox Sports Detroit has officially eliminated the "players-only" telecasts for Tigers games, a format that debuted in April to much hype by network brass — but wildly mixed reviews from viewership.
Plans called for 17 total broadcasts feature players only, including Kirk Gibson, Jack Morris, Craig Monroe and Dan Petry. But the plan was cut off after just three.
FSD has confirmed play-by-play man Matt Shepard will do the rest of the games.
The first three "players-only" broadcasts debuted in April. The first game was rocky, as the analysts struggled to find a rhythm and a go-to "main voice." Things steadily improved for the rest of the series, though fan sentiment was overwhelmingly negative. The steady stream of guests, some via awkward Skype interviews, didn't help matters.
The second "players-only" series was set for early May, but was cancelled, with the network saying the format would return by late June.
That didn't happen, and now it definitely won't.
The "players-only" format has been a bit of a fad in recent years, but has now fallen out of favor. TNT, for instance, announced last month that it was getting rid of the format for its NBA broadcasts during the 2019-20 season.
FSD, meanwhile, hasn't ruled out bringing the format back for the 2020 season, though nothing is guaranteed. A lot is up in the air at FSD, as it is for many sports regional networks, 21 of which were bought by Sinclair Broadcast Group from Disney.
The Tigers receive about $50 million a year from FSD, under a contract that runs through the early part of the next decade.
It's unclear if that contract will be extended. The Ilitches have floated the idea of starting their own regional network, which would house at least the Tigers and Red Wings, but little has been said about that plan since it was made public last October.