By: Jeff Riger
At first it was just one time!
But, now it has turned into a regular habit, hell some people might even call it an addiction.
I can promise myself that I won’t do it again, but I think we all know that is a blatant lie. That’s right, I can’t help myself, and I have to check Brandon Inge’s numbers with his new team the Oakland Athletics’.
I’m not even sure why I do it?
It could be because after so much scrutiny here, I want to see the guy succeed. Or maybe it’s that I wondered if he truly can turn an almost finished career into another contract in 2013? Again, I’m not sure why I continue to check Inge’s stats on my phone or computer, but I do and I bet you do too!
Over the course of the last three games a significant amount of people have told me facts about Inge in an Oakland uniform that I did not know. For instance I knew Inge went 1 for 3 on Wednesday with a RBI, a walk and a strikeout but I had no idea that he had an error too. Listeners informed me about that! Which means they too, are checking up on the former Tiger. They too share the same addiction as me.
But what does it all mean?
Are they rooting for Inge to succeed now that he is elsewhere?
Is it’s because they hope to see awful results and then the laughs can follow?
Or, maybe they just miss Brandon?
I know that last one seems a bit farfetched but there could be some truth to it. People love to complain and Inge, by going 2 for 20 this season allowed fans to do just that. In fact it got out of control! Who can forget that double header against the Texas Rangers on a Saturday? Fans let Inge have it every time he fielded a ball or stepped to the plate. Inge claimed it didn’t bother him and there was nothing that Detroit fans could do to make him think less of them, but I don’t buy that. The longtime vet was visibly shaken and failed to do anything right that day which in turn led to more reaction.
It was almost like fans, while getting handled by the Rangers needed something to take their mind off the game and that enjoyable distraction was Inge.
I even bought into it. I remember thinking and probably tweeting as well that the bottom 3 of the Tigers order sure was boring when Inge was not in it. When he played it was a circus, people were outraged or at least they pretended to be and when he didn’t fans was forced to focus on just baseball, which I’m sure they didn’t enjoy as much.
Thinking back, I have never seen anything like it.
Inge was a guy that used to be loved and celebrated. Sure his average was never good and yes he did say things that might have been misunderstood, but for the most part he was cheered. Fans saw Inge as the link from bad baseball to a World Series. He was around for the horrific times and he was part of that 2003 team which lost 119 games and I believe people appreciated him for that. Of course that all changed. It started with the All Star home run derby in 2009 when Inge went homerless and then continued with problems with his knees, mono and a plethora of check swing strikeouts. Very quickly fans turned on #15! Of course our station and various other media and internet outlets played a part in it all as well.
And, now when I think about it all, it seems pretty clear…
People needed Inge.
Now that he is gone, the complaining still exists but it’s not nearly as passionate. Sure fans will yell that they don’t trust Jose Valverde, Joakim Benoit or Max Scherzer but it is nothing like it was with Inge. In fact, it’s a little boring. Fans will try to replace Inge with Jhonny Peralta and Ryan Raburn but it’s not the same. The mob mentality of hate that rang down from the stands of Comerica Park is gone and with it went the main intrigue to the early season. I’m not sure fans were actually that sick of Inge; they booed just because they were told to. Downtown Detroit turned into a farm with so many sheep sharing a good “baaaaaa” at the expense of a one time favorite. And, now those same people probably realize that all the commotion was for the 25th man on the roster who did not affect the team as much as they would like to believe.
People needed Inge and now that he is gone the only way to get the excitement and controversy of it all back is to check on his progress in Oakland.
That must be it!
But, I still don’t have an answer to my first question? Do people now wish Inge success or do they pray for his further failure?
I really don’t know the answer, please let me know?
In the mean time I figured I would share that Inge is hitting .182 with Oakland. He has a single, a double, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts and a RBI. Oakland is 2-1 since his arrival while the Tigers are 2-3 after his departure. The A’s start a 3 game weekend series with the Rays in Tampa on Friday night. I would offer to let you know how he does in those games but I don’t have to because I know you will be checking for yourself, even if you won’t admit it!