Today, the Detroit Tigers unconditionally released Brandon Inge. It brought to an end a ten plus year career in the Motor City, and the Tigers are the only team that he has played for. Over his years with Detroit, Inge belted 140 home runs and had 589 RBI's. He is currently second on the list for most home runs hit at Comerica Park. Only behind Miguel Cabrera, who "fittingly" just passed him today with a two-run shot in the Tigers' 5-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
For many fans, the end may have been foreseeable for quite sometime now. Inge has been criticized a lot over the past few seasons, mostly due to his poor play. He has struggled mightily ever since he hit zero home runs in the 2009 Home Run Derby.
I was at the game this Tuesday when the Tigers lost to Seattle. Inge started the game, and was booed just about every time the ball was even hit in his direction. This has been a common theme for many games over the past three seasons. Brandon has struggled as of late, but I don't think booing your own players is ever right. I am proud to say that I stood and cheered the last hit that Brandon got for Detroit. Baseball is a "What have you done for me lately?" type of game. And it is sad that so many fans have forgotten what this man has done for Detroit.
Brandon Inge has been here through everything. He was here when the Tigers had their worst season in franchise history and lost 119 games in 2003, and he was here when Detroit went to the World Series in 2006. Brandon was always a guy that would answer questions from the media day in and day out, and he always played hard for his teammates every game.
He switched positions several times to make room for other players. He gave up his role at catcher when Detroit acquired Pudge Rodriguez. He then picked up third base, but left again when Detroit traded for Miguel Cabrera. When Cabrera struggled, he moved back to the third base. And when Detroit signed Prince Fielder and moved Cabrera to third, Inge made the transition to second base.
Last season, Inge was sent down to Toledo late in the year. He did not make a huge deal of it, somewhat impressive for a guy that had been in the big leagues for about ten years straight. He came back to Detroit only to hit .429 in the ALDS. He had no choice in any of these situations, but at least he still made the best of it.
Most fans are probably happy that Inge is gone. Most fans will tell you how terrible he is, and how meaningless he has been. Those people were probably the ones booing him every chance they had. I, for one, am saddened by his departure. And I think that the true fans are as well. I believe that it was the right move, but in no way am I excited to watch this man leave.
Brandon Inge will always be a Tiger, and fans should really take the time to realize how much he has done for this city and for this team. He may be gone, but he should never be forgotten. Thank you, Mr. Inge.