In an event that overshadowed the end of two Detroit Tigers streaks, Tyler Collins and his middle finger have become the talk of the town, the state, and the country. Unfortunately for the team and the player, the conversations about this minor body part are not going away anytime soon.
First to the streaks. Yesterday’s game against the Oakland Athletics saw the end of one horrible streak – Miguel Cabrera‘s seemingly endless hitting slump – and one amazing streak – Jordan Zimmermann‘s long-lasting 0.00 ERA. Cabby went 4 for 4 yesterday with two home runs, a double, and a single. This ended a streak that put Cabrera on the bench for Sunday’s game.
Zimmermann still has an incredibly respectable ERA of 0.35 and he is still leading the American League with his four wins and tiny ERA, but after three games of not allowing any runs, the way the first run scored was quite a disappointment. He did not allow a run in 24 1/3 innings prior to the unforgettable mistake in the outfield.
This is where Collins and his middle finger come in.
It is crystal clear that the fans are fed up with poor defense and offense, so they let Collins and Justin Upton have it last night. After a fly ball got lost in the lights, Collins waved that he could not find the ball. As expected, the ball landed on the ground. Justin Upton and Collins ran to get it with Upton picking it up and dropping it. It was simply and ugly collection of errors that ended with Collins getting the ball and making a bad throw to Nick Castellanos at third.
The ugly play ended with a clear round of boos from fans. The boos could have been for Upton or for Collins, but it was Collins who reacted. And his reaction was even uglier than the mishandled play.
The boos were the results of the perfect storm. Both Collins and Upton have not contributed much to the offense and their inexcusable errors were simply icing on the cake. That dropped, bobbled, and poorly thrown ball put the lead-off batter on third base – the result put the kibosh on the no-run streak that was separating Jordan Zimmermann from every other pitcher in the American League. This was enough for the fans who did not want to see two players with pathetic batting averages create problems for the one pitcher who is consistently leading the team to victories.
Did the outfielders deserve to be booed? Possibly. They botched what should have been a routine play. And, then botched it a second time. Fans spend good money to see the Tigers and they expect the Tigers to perform to the best of their ability. Is it right for fans to boo their home team? It can be. The boos do not come very often, so when they do there is usually a good reason.
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Was Collins’ reaction appropriate? Absolutely not. While he did not physically injure anyone with his gesture, it was not appropriate for a professional baseball player to do and say what he did to the entire fanbase at Comerica Park.
Was the event handled appropriately by Brad Ausmus? No. The skipper should have immediately taken charge and replaced Collins with Anthony Gose who was on the bench that night. Ausmus also should have handled the press instead of having Collins respond after the game. Ausmus should have removed Collins from the situation so he never had to talk to the press at all. Even though Collins apologized for his behavior, his apology still blamed the fans for his response. His weak apology will not do anything to endear the .100 hitter to one of the most loyal fanbases in all of sports.
All Collins has to do is ask Joe Nathan what happens when you anger the hard-working fans of Detroit. It isn’t pretty.