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My summer is over.
At least, my summer as it relates to Major League Baseball is done.
I blame Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle. They are the general manager and manager (respectively) of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
With my Cubbies swirling the drain, I have been pulling for the Pittsburghers to take the NL Central. Of course, any of the other teams in that division are preferable to the hated Cardinals of St. Louis.
I especially liked the Bucs because they haven't had a winning season since 1991. Even more to my liking, Pittsburgh had brought Brandon Inge into the fold at the start of the season.
Now, Inge is the closest thing Bedford's got to a local player in the big leagues. He's a graduate of Brookville High School and played summer ball on Bedford's old American Legion team.
Here's an interesting side note: Inge played on that Legion team along with Liberty Head Coach Mike Thompson and Jefferson Forest Skipper Ryan Gilleland.
Of course, that was quite a while ago.
Since then, Inge went on to have a stellar career at VCU before a nice 12-year run with the Detroit Tigers.
Last year, he was with the Oakland Athletics before landing in Pittsburgh this season.
Now, he may have hit the end of his playing line.
It seems he struggled at the plate this year with the Pirates, hitting .185 prior to his release. But, he only got 105 at bats, far from enough for him to hit his stride.
At 36 years of age, Inge is no spring chicken. I take that back. At 36 years of age, Inge is, indeed, a spring chicken if you compare him to the sports columnist of the Bedford Bulletin.
But, compared to those guys suiting up in the big leagues, he's a veritable graybeard.
I think it would be easy to doff your hat to a job well done and ride off into the sunset if you're Inge.
Still, I'd like to see him stick around for two reasons.
First, the man is a winner. Inge helped drive the renaissance of Detroit baseball. He was there when the Tigers were at their all-time low (losing 119 games in 2003, more than any team in American League history) and when they improved to the point that they played in the 2006 World Series.
I like to think that a lot of Pittsburgh's improvement can be attributed merely to his strong presence.
Second, I believe him to be a good man.
A few years ago, the wife and I went down to Florida to catch some spring training. We headed to the Tigers' facility, where I got to interview Inge prior to a game.
You might think that a professional athlete might not really have the time of day for a 6,500 circulation weekly newspaper that doesn't even really cover his hometown.
I thought the same thing.
I couldn't have been more wrong. Inge gave me all the time I needed. He was gracious and informative. He asked about folks in Bedford (such as Thompson and Gilleland). In short, he made it a great experience (at least for me).
Further research shows me that Inge and his wife have made a huge impact on the Detroit area. They have been giving of their time and their fortune in helping some very noble causes.
But now he's been designated for assignment by the Pirates who, remarkably, stand atop the National League Central.
Well, I'm no longer charmed to see the formerly woeful team doing so well. Again, it's nice to see them beating up on the Cardinals, but I'd rather they do so with Inge aboard.
Therefore, I am off the Buckaroo bandwagon because of how Brandon Inge has been treated.
I know, my cheering for or against a team has nothing to do with that team's fortunes.
In fact, if history is a guide, teams are better off without me cheering for them. The three teams I most like have not fared well with my pulling for them. In fact, I'm not sure I could have selected teams that would have worse fortunes.
In baseball, as noted, I'm a Cubs fan. The Cubs, as is well known, last won a World Series in '09. That's 1909, not 2009.
In pro football, I favor the Buffalo Bills. They won the AFL championship, their last league title, in 1965. By the way, the AFL no longer exists.
In college football, my Minnesota Golden Gophers took the national championship in 1960. As that was the year of my birth, I really don't remember a lot about that title.
Maybe I really am a jinx.
If that is the case, then there's really only one logical thing for me to do the rest of the season.
And that would be to cheer for those St. Louis Cardinals.