Inge, Tigers on the Inge debate

Tigers manager Jim Leyland had his say on the sometimes heated, sometimes bizarre debate/fascination in Detroit with Brandon Inge the other day (here’s the link if you missed it). Once the move was made to release Inge after Thursday’s game, plenty of folks had their say on the reaction, and Inge might have had the steadiest reaction of them all. Of course, Inge said that as he was staring down the road at a fresh start somewhere.

Anyway, here’s the range of quotes from the front office to the clubhouse:

  • Inge on the boos at Comerica Park over the homestand: “That’s all right. I’m not worried about any of that. I know that Detroit, this is an emotional city. This is a city that will back you, and you know they want their teams to do well. And when they’re not, they’ll let you know, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That just shows that they’re fans one way or the other. Whether you’re a fan that dislikes someone or a fan that likes someone, you’re still a fan. I respect them all, I really do, and there’s nothing that anyone could ever do that’ll ever change my opinion of Detroit. This organization, it’s been a class act through and through, and I’ve actually been very, very proud to be a part of it.”
  • Inge: “I know better. I’ve been here long enough to know how it is in this city, how it is in this whole state. They’re baseball fans. I never get the horror stories that everyone talks about, which is fine. It’s probably because I never listen to anything. I just mind my business. Just play the game I love.”
  • Alex Avila: “I was a little upset because of the kind of person I know that he is and what he’s done for the city. And I know he’s had his troubles and he knows that. As players, we know that obviously when you don’t do well, fans want you to do well. But at the same time that’s definitely tough to hear, especially in a place that you call home.”
  • More Avila: “He handled it better than I did. I think I was more upset than he was, but that’s just kind of his personality. He’s always been pretty thick-skinned.”
  • Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski: “It only surprised me, I mean, because I get as conflicted a group of letters that you possibly could have about any player that I’ve ever been associated with in my career. Some people [say], ‘Don’t ever do anything with Brandon Inge, because we love him. He’s the best player on the Detroit Tigers,’ to the opposites that say, ‘How can you keep him on the ballclub?’ So I would see it all the time. And I understand the ups and downs, because it’s been there from an offensive perspective. Normally, when you have a guy that really gives their all, which he really has, and represents you the way that he does within the community, it surprises me to that extent. But I also understand, the controversy’s not really about him as a person. It’s about him as a player, because he’s as fine an individual as you’ll ever find and he’s represented us in as fine a fashion as you possibly could.”
  • Ramon Santiago: “It’s tough. I know a lot of people love Brandon. That isn’t going to change. They’re going to love him. But you know, that’s something you can’t control. Sometimes that happens and you just have to keep your head up and move forward.”


The truth is, people haven’t been booing Inge. In reality, they’re booing the front office for not replacing him. The problem is that Dombrowski never steps in that batter’s box — only Inge does, so he takes the heat for it. Don’t get me wrong — I think DD has done a fabulous job here, overall. But with respect to this past offseason, as I said the other day, we had obvious needs at 2B, SP, and 3B (which became a need at DH after Prince replaced VMart), and we didn’t address any of those needs. And Inge is merely the symbol / icon / embodiment of that lack of initiative on the part of the front office. That’s why he got booed. But really he should have been replaced in the offseason. (Well, really, he never should have been re-signed for 2 years for $11M.)

I agree with most of that assessment. Regarding booing, I think some of it was aimed at the front office, some aimed at Leyland for playing him, and some aimed at Brandon himself. And, some came from people who just want to raise a ruckus. Phil Rizzuto used to call the latter huckleberries, while I usually use the term yahoos.
It’s also unfortunate that the team struggles on this homestand contributed to the overall mood. But remember, 5000 people booing will always drown out the 30,000 who are not.

And the curse of placido polanco continues. Dont offer me a contract eh. Well you will spend years trying to find another .300 contact hitting 2b with good range.

OMG, Polanco has been getting ripped up and down for over a year. Too old, can’t hit, too slow, too many injuries, etc. etc. They want a younger 3rd baseman.

Look at Polancos numbers this year!

I know some knuckleheads are happy now. Brandon is gone, no more problems because we have Rayburn; oh yea he is hitting far less than the mendoza line, how about Boesch, he can do it. That damn Mendoza line again. In one way this could shake-up the Tigers because God knows the DD/JL brain trust doesn’t have a clue.
The kiss of death comes when the collective dummies say “I like him I really do like him.’ Phoney and stupid is a bad combination and the Tigers have it in spades.

I read Brandon Inge’s parting words to my 16 year old daughter this morning as the perfect example of what the words “gracious” and “classy” mean. Thanks for all you did for the Tigers this past decade, Mr. I, and may the future bring you nothing but the best — unless, of course, you are playing against your old teamates.

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