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Tigers will be a great fit for AJ Hinch


It would always happen.

But did it have to be done so quickly?

And the same week that the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series by beating the team that beat the Astros?

Talk about full circle.

AJ Hinch is back in Major League Baseball. He’s a manager again. He’s back in the American League. He is in charge of rebuilding to the next level. And now the 2021 Astros occasionally have to deal with seeing the best skipper in franchise history across the field.

On Texas Sports Nation: Are AJ Hinch, Jeff Luhnow and Alex Cora for rent?

“I immediately started to think when AJ and Jeff (Luhnow) got suspended, what will happen to those two guys? Are those two guys coming back into the sport? Would they be welcome in the sport again? said Christopher Ilitch, chairman and CEO of the Detroit Tigers, when Hinch was hired on Friday. . “

It’s still 100 percent fair to wonder if Jim Crane got it right on January 13, when the Astros owner did what MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t, firing Hinch and Luhnow for their roles in a character-stealing scandal that is has been and will continue to be discussed endlessly.

On Texas Sports Nation: A summary of AJ Hinch’s tenure with the Astros

Many Astros fans spent most of the 2020 season begging / hoping / waiting for Hinch to magically return. It took a staggering playoff run, and Dusty Baker led a remade club to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series during the weirdest season in MLB history for all still proud Hinch holdouts to admit to being the new man had its own unique touch.

What was clear when the Astros organization publicly left Hinch: he started playing baseball again.

The fact that Detroit waited about 30 minutes to pick Hinch’s numbers after the Dodgers won their World Cup – and Hinch’s suspension officially ended – tells you all about how the real (sports) world really works.

“I’ve always known I wanted to go back to baseball,” Hinch told reporters. “It was a matter of, I think, the game and the people in the game will tell you where it will be, if it will be anywhere.”

I’ve always believed the man who led the Astros to 311 combined wins and two World Series runs from 2017-19 would return to the grand ol ‘game before Luhnow, who ended up – for better and worse – constructing everything the rebuilt Astros.

And I’ll be honest: it was fucking weird seeing Hinch’s familiar face in front of Detroit’s instantly recognizable Old English D.

What’s wrong with this picture?

So much for if you ever really believed in the Astros 2015-19.

Nothing really, if you believe everyone deserves a second chance at this crazy thing we call life.

Or that Hinch, guilty as he was, ended up being one of the main fallers in a sport-changing scandal that primarily benefited unpunished Astros players – and possibly other teams still not getting punished by MLB.

“We had a pretty good knowledge of AJ, who he belonged to,” said Al Avila, Detroit general manager. “I never questioned his character, honesty – he’s one of the better guys you’ll meet in the game, or in life in general. One mistake does not determine who a man is. “

I’ll say what I’ve always said: If you really want to blame someone, blame Manfred.

MLB blew it terribly during the steroid era, and blew it again as tech-assisted sign theft changed the game over the past decade. When the sport finally got into acting, it was Bud Selig all over for Manfred – too little, too late.

Charlie Morton, who captured the Astros’ first and only World Series title in 2017, knocked Baker’s Astros out of the playoffs in 2020 and threw Tampa Bay into the Fall Classic.

Mookie Betts, who won the AL MVP in 2018 and played on an Alex Cora-managed Boston team that shot the Astros out of the ALCS before winning a world championship, won another World Series this week with the Dodgers.

Those Red Sox from 2018 don’t look the same anymore.

The 2017 Astros will never be the same again.

“I understand how wrong it was, and I’m sorry,” Hinch said. “I’ve said that before, I’ll say it again, I’ll keep saying it. I will never forget the feeling I have had for the past year while going through this with my family. “

Getting fired by the Astros ended a golden age for Hinch and immediately changed his life. He was forced to carry with Luhnow a weight that no one else in the organization – not the players, not Crane – had to put up with.

Hinch’s next shot at redemption from baseball – he was fired by Arizona in 2010 – begins with leading one of the worst teams in the sport.

The Tigers are a perfect fit for Hinch at the moment.

Just as Baker was the perfect manager for the Astros 2020.

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