In 20 at bats this season, he was hitting an even .100. His two hits were a home run and a double. He bobbled a couple balls at second, his newest position. The fans were booing him. Some even admitting on Twitter that they didn't want to see him get a hit. Because yes, rooting against someone in a Tigers uniform but still calling yourself a Tigers fan makes so much sense.
But alas, he is gone. Brandon Inge was released today and for me, it was bittersweet. I was never an Inge hater. I was never as extreme as a lot of people I have seen. I acknowledged his struggles and I hoped for him to get better. That was it. He frustrated me, but never outraged me. He was a Tiger for 12 years. That's more than half of my life. I'm a very sentimental person. I get invested in teams and players. Inge wasn't just an ordinary player for me. The Tigers have seen a lot of terrible hitters come and go, yet Inge was my favorite of those. "You have a favorite bad hitter?" Yes, yes I do.
Inge was in love with Detroit. Detroit was in love with him. We rallied behind him in 2009 and sent him to the All Star Game. We watched him compete (and fail miserably) in the Home Run Derby. You could see more Inge jerseys at Comerica Park than just about any other player. For every person who loved him, there was someone who despised him. A player shouldn't be rated on his personality and charity work, but that's what connected a lot of people to him. Many fans looked beyond the stats and those who didn't were ruthless toward him. He was the thorn in many people's side.
This is not on the same level as the "FIRE MILLEN!" movement. Millen didn't seem to care about the Lions. Inge cared about the Tigers. He worked hard. Some might say he complained too much and talked big about himself, but he was a good teammate. Those are the two words that keep popping up. Every Tiger they have talked to so far has said that he was a good teammate. And who would know better than them?
Look, I will never defend his poor play. The numbers don't lie and I am certainly not blind. But to act like Inge didn't do something for the Tigers is just silly. His webgems at third are some of the greatest memories I have of any Tigers fielder. From 2000-2012, he put on that Old English D and represented our city. He was so determined to someday get over that hump and do what he tried promising us. It sounds pathetic, I realize that. But personally, that's what I admired about him.
The other day, someone on Twitter said he wasn't going to bother arguing with me (on a separate subject) because I said that people shouldn't boo Inge (or anyone on their own team, really). Just because I have a special place in my Tigers fan heart for a career .234 hitter, doesn't mean I'm stupid. Don't try to say I don't know what I'm talking about. I associate Inge with my childhood and watching him at third base with my Paw Paw, who absolutely loved his "scrappy play", as he would say.
Brandon Inge is no longer a Tiger, and it makes sense. He didn't earn his spot on the roster. He didn't play the way a man making that kind of money should have been playing. I'm going to remember the good times he had here. I'm going to remember how happy I felt for him in 2006 because of what he went through in 2003. I really, really don't care what you have to say about my feelings on this.
This was the right move. I'm just really sad it ended this way.
“But my heart will always be in Detroit 100% forever. I appreciate everything that’s happened here and every opportunity that I’ve been given. But it’s a business when you come down to it. I hope the team does well. I hope they go on to win it all.” - Brandon Inge