Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 4/26/12
DETROIT -- Well, NOW what can we talk about? Sports-talk radio just got a little quieter. Twitter has fewer tweets. Brandon Inge has played his last game as a Tiger. Everybody happier now? Baseball is a big-boy business. Its a bottom-line game. Those who can play, play. Those who cant, get released. Everyone acknowledges that. Inge has not been able to hit consistently the last couple of years, and after the loss to Seattle on Thursday, he was pulled into what had to be a very quiet office and given the news that he had to know was coming. In his heart of hearts, it was likely a relief to him. The human condition is that we all want to be liked and respected. Theres not been much of either of those concerning Inge from Tigers fans, who were once very much in his corner. Even if you were one of those who was pulling for the Tigers to pull the trigger on Inge, you have to allow that it had become painful for everyone. Id said many times that Ive never seen a fan base become so polarized by one player. People either loved him or hated him, but there was very little in between. The needle began to shift dramatically this season as he tried to refashion himself into a second baseman. He wanted to play. He wanted to play here. But he also wanted to play better, and as the boos became louder, you could see the strain it was placing on his chances of playing better and on the team in general. If the Tigers went 6-1 on the home stand instead of 1-6, Inge probably isnt released now. Change was needed, and this was handy. This was expected. This was coming anyway. Every team has a utility player whom youd like to see produce more. Inge just had to hit a little bit to remain a part of the team. Every at-bat was so magnified, though because of the growing vitriol and the cascading confidence in him, and it all played a role in the conclusion that was reached Thursday. Im among those who like Brandon personally -- hed been very caring about my wifes battle with cancer -- and its somewhat surprising that for all the hue and cry about transient athletes in our city, this was someone who had chosen to make Michigan his year-round home. Who doesnt love someone if only because hes chosen to be one of us? I also know the nature of the beast. He knows it better than any of us. Its not just a matter of what have you done for me lately. Its evolved into what can you do for me or for us RIGHT NOW. While hell be remembered by most for one of those check-swing punch-outs, a little perspective will offer recollections of plays at third base that you will be able to tell your grandkids about. The pitchers with whom he played will especially remember those. The game turns over on everyone. His time had run its course here. He handled it exactly as one would expect. With a wry smile and reflection. "No hard feelings," Inge said. "This is my family. This is where I've been my whole career. "I appreciate everything that's happened here." Even family members move on.
PLAYERS: Brandon Inge
TEAMS: Detroit Tigers
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