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You knew it was bound to happen eventually. The question was when. The news that the Tigers have finally released Brandon Inge comes as bittersweet to those of us who have followed his career in Detroit over the past 12 years. He has had good seasons, bad seasons, and in-between seasons for the Tigers, the only team he has played for in his Major League Career. But with his batting average around .100 and his defensive skills eroding, the Tigers had no choice but to cut him loose.
Some fans who have been booing Inge at Comerica Park this season will cheer the move to get red of him. But I can’t help but feel a little sad about it. He was with the Tigers during the good times and bad times…In 2006 when they made it to the World Series. In 2009 when he got off to a great start and was named to the American League All Star Team. And even last year, when he was designated for assignment, went to Toledo, worked hard and returned to Detroit, only to hit a home run in his first game back. He also suffered through the 2003 season, when the Tigers lost a team record 119 games. And you have to admire his tenacity, hanging on even when the Tigers brought in Pudge Rodriguez, bumping Inge out of a catching spot, and after losing his third base job to Miguel Cabrera.
Off the baseball field, you had to like Brandon Inge. He was always accessible to the media and talked whether he had a good game or a bad game. And he and his wife were big supporters of the community, raising millions for local hospitals and charities. And as far as I know, he was the only Tiger to live in Detroit year round. He literally wore his heart on his sleeve, with the names of his kids tattooed on his arms.
Brandon Inge may not be remembered as a great ballplayer in Detroit history. But he was one of the good guys. Which still counts for something, doesn’t it? Who knows, maybe Inge still has something to offer to another team, which will be able to pick him up without shelling out much, since the Tigers are stuck picking up his salary. Stranger things have happened. Jamie Moyer just became the oldest pitcher in Major League history to record a victory for the Colorado Rockies at the age of 49.