When Brandon Inge departed from the Detroit Tigers, a huge void was left in the hearts of Tiger fans everywhere. Gone was the beloved hero who could do no wrong. Gone was the modest, stoic figure who was always an image of calm in an otherwise turbulent sport. Despite the emptiness in the Tigers’ clubhouse, one man is more likely than other’s to fill the void of favorite Tiger left by the recently departed Brandon Inge—that man is Ryan Raburn.
Raburn has never found a home on the baseball field—bouncing between third base, second base and outfield—but is about to find a place to reside in the hallways of Detroit Tiger lore. He’s due to join a select crew of players who have bonded Tiger fans like no others. That list of players includes names such as Nate Cornejo, Juan Gonzalez, Jason Grilli Nate Robertson and Mr. Inge himself–all players who have united a fanbase and staked their claim as Mr. Tiger. They are about to be joined by Raburn.
While at a FOX Sports Detroit shoot for an upcoming segment on most popular Detroit athletes, Raburn took a break from rubbing elbows with such iconic Detroit sports names such as Charlie Villenueva of the Pistons and Jeff Backus of the Lions to talk to the Sportsczar.
Raburn knows what’s at stake in the coming weeks. “Listen, I know that no one can replace Brandon Inge. The way the fans flocked to support him was amazing. He could be cold and go 0-5 or heat up and go 1-4, it didn’t matter…fans loved him just the same.”
“Before he left, Inge pulled me aside and told me he was passing the torch to me. He’d said all the joy he provided to Tiger fans the last decade—it was all on me to keep that going. He said I’m the next in line and there can be only one—kinda like in that movie the Highlander.”
“Anyway, Inge brought up how similar the situation was to when Albert Pujols left the St. Louis Cardinals. Cardinal fans were in disarray. They lost their most beloved hero. But the team has rebounded to a hot start despite his loss. Inge said to me, ‘Detroit’s lost its’ Pujols’. That’s about as well as I could put it. He went on to say it’s up to me to bond this team, this fanbase and this community, and doggone it, that’s what I’m gonna do.”
So far Raburn has lived up to his promise. He’s gone 3-32 with 12 strikeouts since Inge departed, aptly filling in as Mr. Tiger and becoming a hot topic among Tiger fans after years of anonymity.
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