Editor’s Note: This piece includes some coarse language. We have chosen to not censor it, because really… we’ve all been there.
The Detroit Tigers have announced the hiring of AJ Hinch as their next manager, replacing recently retired Ron Gardenhire. This. Fucking. Sucks. For a multitude of reasons. Before I break those down, let me clarify where I am coming from.
Being born & raised in the suburbs of Detroit, the Tigers have been my team forever. Even as hockey-obsessed as the Motor City is, my first love has always been the Tigers. I’ll always remember seeing Cecil Fielder crush balls at Tiger Stadium, even if I was typically sitting behind an obstruction. From the time Comerica Park opened in 2000 up until I left for California in 2013, there wasn’t a single year that went by where I missed a game in that park. For the majority of my childhood, they were BAD. Like, the worst team in baseball bad. Kinda like they are now. My college and early adult years coincided with amazing teams that found new ways to hurt me in the World Series. But I still loved them.
Something shifted for me in 2017.
Justin Verlander, who had been my Tiger for just over a decade (I still have the jersey with his name on it I bought his Rookie of the Year season), left for Houston via a wavier wire deal at the end of August. The Tigers were clearly going into a full rebuild, and the man deserved a ring, maybe more than any other player at the time not named Clayton Kershaw. It was bittersweet knowing that he would likely be the missing piece to the Astros winning a title. And sure enough, it was. Especially since he was going up against the other team I’ve always rooted for since I did a book report of Jackie Robinson in the 4th grade, the Los Angeles Dodgers. But I was happy JV had finally won one.
Which brings us to AJ Hinch.
For those unaware AJ Hinch was the manager of those Houston Astros. The very same Houston Astros that would go on to be exposed as dirty fucking cheaters. So, that title I was happy to see JV finally win? Extremely tainted now. Which is simply a slap in the face to everyone who rooted for that team simply because they wanted to see him get one. For his part in the sign-stealing bullshit, AJ Hinch was unceremoniously let go from the Astros organization and issued a 1-year ban from MLB for the 2020 season.
There will be some who immediately will defend this hiring with “he served his suspension with no complaint and therefore should be able to work again.” That’s a giant load of horseshit and everyone who says it either knows that already or has their head so far up their asses it’s amazing they can even collect the oxygen required to spit out that shitty take. Because 2020 is 2020, the MLB season was 60 games long. Not 162 like everyone thought the season would be when the punishment was issued. And Pete Rose is still banned for life by the way. So, there’s that.
More importantly than the length of season though, is the fact that it’s just “forgive and forget” with this because Hinch is seen as a “good guy.” Give me a fucking break. He’s biggest accomplishment was gotten because his team cheated, and that’s not what a “good guy” does. Plus, I can guarantee you without a sliver of doubt in my mind, if the situation was reversed and it was Dave Roberts that was found to be cheating or Dusty Baker, they wouldn’t have been hired LESS THAN A WEEK AFTER THEIR SUSPENSION ENDED ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?
But Hinch is a good ole’ boy (read: white) so here we are. One of the nicest men in baseball, Ron Gardenhire, being replaced by a fucking cheater. Sigh.
And, the preverbal salt in the festering wound where my love of this team used to be is, he’s not even the right guy for the job. He’s not a player development type of coach, like Gardy was, which is what this team truly needs. He’s not even a clubhouse guy.
Hinch’s biggest defense leading up to his suspension was “I didn’t know it was happening.” He also claimed at another point he didn’t approve of it and even went so far as to “smash a monitor in the dugout.” Which is it buddy? You didn’t know or you didn’t approve? Either way, you’re a fucking liar. And if by some miracle you aren’t lying? Then your team didn’t respect you, trust you, or think you could lead them, because they did it anyways. So, no matter where the truth is in all of that, why would I want this guy leading my team?
I don’t have an answer for that last question other than once again Al Avila is proving that he is not fit to make these types of decisions. Which is sad. Like Kevin recently put quite eloquently, it’s getting harder and harder to continue loving baseball. The only thing keeping me invested has been the deep desire to see my teams finally break the drought. The Dodger’s just did that and it was amazing (mostly… Justin Turner), but this signing hurts so bad I don’t even know if I want my team to succeed. And that’s what sucks the most. I had one day of laughing about Chicago hiring a tone-deaf dinosaur to lead their frightening talented young team. And then somehow, the Tigers got it even more wrong than they did.
This. Fucking. Sucks.
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