By: Jeff Riger
The Prince Fielder era in Detroit was a bizarre one.
But what was it exactly that got Cecil’s kid traded out of town a mere two seasons after he was brought in?
The massive contract, the steadily declining power numbers and the non-existent playoff production all were reasons enough that Fielder is gone, but I believe it was the playoff postgame comments that ended up sealing the deal.
It started in game 4 of the ALCS against the Red Sox…
The Tigers won the game 7-3 after Jim Leyland decided to shake up his lineup. Leyland moved the struggling Austin Jackson to the 8th spot while everybody else was bumped up a slot. Torii Hunter led off, Miguel Cabrera hit 2nd, Fielder hit 3rd and so on.
With the win, Detroit tied up the series at 2 games a piece and everybody had reason to believe the Tigers could still go back to the World Series.
After the game, a throng of media waited by Fielder’s locker stall. The $214 million dollar man just finished, going 0-4 with a strikeout and didn’t even bother to stop and talk. Instead he looked our webmaster Evan Jankens straight in the eyes and walked out. Fielder later sent one of his kids back to grab a personal item as the media continued to stand and wait to no avail.
Thinking back on that day, Fielder not talking might have been his best decision of the playoffs.
In game 5 of the series, Detroit fell to Boston 4-3, Fielder went 1-4 at the plate and the Tigers were a game away from elimination. Prince also was booed heavily by the Comerica Park fans.
This time after the game, Fielder decided to talk, and what came out was ridiculous.
Prince gave us audio gems like “my kids are taken care of, my family is taken care of, but this is all part of it, it matters” when asked about producing after signing a massive contract.
As for getting booed, Fielder responded, saying, “they’re fans, that’s what they do.”
Fielder continued to talk about his struggles at the plate that night; all while enraging and alienating the fans of Tigers baseball.
“I’m just trying to hit the ball hard,” Fielder said. “I can’t worry about the crowd because if they could do it they would play.”
Fielder referred to not having a magic wand to use for better at-bats and also gave some insight into if he was trying too hard saying, “I’m trying real hard to hit it hard, but that’s alright because I like to try hard.”
And, then there was maybe the most mystifying, perplexing comment by Fielder that night when talking about hitting opposing pitchers. “If they make a mistake I hit it. If not I won’t” Fielder said. “It’s that simple!”
Seriously Prince? I’m sure Tigers management loved hearing that comment.
Detroit trailed the series 3 games to 2 and it was off to Boston for a must win game 6 on a Saturday night at Fenway Park. The Red Sox won the game and the series that night as Fielder went 0-3 with a strikeout, a walk and an awful base running decision that ran Detroit out of, really their only productive inning of the evening. After the game, Fielder was at it again with more words of wisdom, and a strong message as he declared “It’s over, bro.”
How could Fielder be over losing the series that quickly when his teammates obviously weren’t?
I reminded Prince about the fans and how they might not be able to understand how he was already past being knocked out of the playoffs. “Because they don’t play,” Fielder said. “If you have responsibilities, you shouldn’t take your work home. I still have to be a father and take care of my kids, so you got to move on.”
Fielder continued reminding the media that he had children and that he had to send them the correct message. “You got to be a man about it, I got kids and if I’m sitting around pouting, how am I going to tell them to keep their chins up or their heads up when something doesn’t go their way. So, yeah, definitely, it’s over.”
It should also be mentioned that Fielder was the last Tiger to shed his uniform on that evening after game 6. So if that meant that he took the loss harder than he let on, he should have let his words describe that.
Fielder experienced the fan backlash throughout the entire American League Championship Series, but it was those comments after game 6 that had to have sealed his fate. Fans in Detroit will put up with a lot of things, but when an athlete takes them for granted, that’s it, and it’s really difficult to repair those burned bridges. Prince was living a public relations nightmare and because of that, he had to go. Even if he was truly over the loss in the minutes after it happened, he should have been smart enough and realized that followers of the Tigers definitely weren’t.
Before Fielder arrived in Detroit, fans were clamoring for him, but after his comments fans couldn’t get rid of him quick enough.
Fielder wasn’t traded because of his huge contract, bad numbers or contributing nothing in the most important game of the season, he could have bounced back from that. He was traded, because he was an out-of-touch millionaire who couldn’t care less about the hardworking fans of Detroit who supported him, bought his jersey and were originally so happy to have him.
Oh, and one more thing…
Since I was the one who asked Fielder a lot of the questions that eventually did him in, if it’s OK with you, I’m going to take credit for running him out of town?
For all of you who hate me on the radio (and there are plenty of you) can you remember that it was me, Jeff (Kermit the Frog) Riger who rid Detroit of Prince Fielder?
What? Too strong?
Yeah, I figured.
Now it looks like I’m the delusional one.
It’s over, bro!