Tigers Baseball Outsider

a thinking fan's perspective

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Brandon Inge - The End Of An Enigma

Well, this is likely the end of the Brandon Inge era in Detroit.

Inge has accepted an assignment to Toledo … to take one final shot at continuing his professional career in the bigs. An assignment he is unlikely to return to Detroit from.

I am an Inge fan.

I would have rather he retired.

I would have rather on the return from the All Star break, that Brandon just step up to the microphone and said:

Thanks guys, it’s been great. Baseball has been very very good to me. I will miss the game and the fans and wearing the Old English D, but it’s time I move on. I have purchased a ranch and my family and I will now enjoys a comfortable life raising llamas and camels we will donate to underdeveloped nations

A couple of tears, a couple of hugs from teammates and managers and executives … a wave … and … goodbye.

That would have been classier. And it probably would have been added to the list recent Tiger emotional moments.

And he would have gained the a little bit of that respect back from those fans that are gladly holding the door open now for Inge to walk out.

But that opportunity is gone, and Brandon will likely fade away – out of sight and out of mind of Tiger fans. Back to riding team buses and carrying his own bags in hopes of creeping his average back up to .240 and that a call may one day come saying “The team needs you Brandon, you’re the only guy that can help us now …”

Of course, by accepting the Toledo assignment, Brandon still has a chance to return to Detroit. Should Inge go to Toledo and suddenly hit .310 off of Triple A pitching. And Wilson Betemit gets hurt. And Kelly gets hit by lightning.

And the Tigers are by then past the July 31 trade deadline.

But Inge is now hitting .177.

It’s almost impossible to hit .177. A check swing single now and then should at least get you to .180.

And he does average twenty or so errors a season. Inge was not a golden glover by any means. But he did come through with some of the best highlight reel plays of the last ten years. Diving catches behind third – throwing on his knees – before they were broken – to first – to nab a speedy runner just before their foot came down on the base.

Great stuff – the kind of plays we watch baseball to see.

I can’t think of another player who inspired such fan loyalty with such unimpressive numbers – the kind of loyalty that had fans voting him the player of the game when he didn’t really do anything but maybe bare hand a bunt down the third baseline and toss out the runner.

Love him or hate him, Inge is an enigma in Detroit. I looked it up:


1. a puzzling or inexplicable occurrence or situation

2. a person of puzzling or contradictory character

There was a picture of Brandon next to the definition. Okay, I made that up – but there should be.

Brandon is like the kid down the street that you hope does well, and because the fans liked him so much and seemed to identify with him so much – a really good play by Inge was interpreted to be an amazing play that human beings can’t make. Add to that – a batter hitting .240 who steps up in the ninth inning once or twice and hits a game winning homer or drives in a game winning run.

But he didn’t get those kinds of hits very often. But Inge fans might tell you he did it all the time. Inge might tell you so as well.

Then there was Brandon’s appearance in the 2009 All Star Home Run Derby – after being voted in by fans like me typing crazy codes into a computer screen for several days in a row – often neglecting family and personal hygiene in the process – only to cringe to hear Inge was going to participate in the homer bashing contest meant for names like Pujols and Cabrera and the likes – then to shrink into utter embarrassment for Inge as he barely hits a softly tossed pitch out of the infield.

Remember that? I know you do. That action right there redefined Inge to me.

The guy does have an ego … as well as an undeniable case of the “delusions of grandeur”.

And you know – Brandon was never the same after that. And then the knee surgeries that he never quite recovered from

But ya still liked the guy.

Anytime I went to Comerica Park, I always saw Inge signing autographs along the field line – or after a game through the security bars on the other side of the street as the other Tiger players hopped in their Maseratis or Lamborghinis and pulled out of the player’s parking lot – leaving the day’s game behind them.

And then there was his involvement in the community – visiting sick kids in hospitals – a truly heart wrenching activity to be sure – and lending his face, name, and presence to various charitable foundations and organizations in the area.

Of course fans love him.

They rooted harder for Inge than any other Tiger in the last twenty years.

And I for one do not want to take that part of Brandon Inge’s legacy away.

It’s one thing to be the greatest third baseman of all time like Brooks Robinson, An achievement that Inge never came close to.

But it’s another to be ranked up there with the most loved players possibly in Tigers history – with names like Kaline , Horton, Fidrych, Trammel and Gibson – a goal Inge reached in some inexplicable manner seemingly with ease.

And in the long run – which is more important – even in the game of baseball?

And by indicators shown by Inge – that love was mutual.


  1. As I've been an Inge critic since his days in West Michigan, that was one of the most balanced and fair summaries I've seen...especially by a fan.
    Well said.

  2. Inge signing autographs? I would have like to have seen that!Been to many many games and never seen that! We had several occasions to see him with the Mudhens and he would never even acknowledge the fans!He is truly a hero in the community for all he does but was not one of my favorites over the years. Great at 3 rd base but not with the bat. We all have opinions, like it or not.


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