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Henning: Dombrowski-ignited schedule flap was silly

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
Dave Dombrowski

Notes, thoughts, items as the Tigers seek a divorce from the disabled list and court a playoff ticket that’s playing hard-to-get:

Scheduling flap was silly: Dave Dombrowski knows, better than anyone, how game days at Comerica Park work when there’s a simultaneous big event in downtown Detroit.

They can be something of a traffic mess – especially if that event happens to be a Lions game set for a place named Ford Field across the street from Comerica.

Dombrowski also knows the afternoon gate for a Thursday game against the Red Sox – 1:10 p.m. is when games are typically set for Thursdays at Comerica – would be particularly heavy. And so asking nearly 40,000 people to adjust their schedules so that your 25-man roster can get a bit more sleep ahead of the matinee, on the same day the Lions are opening shop for the first time in 2016, isn’t going to fly in most courts of opinion or integrity.

Dombrowski now runs the Red Sox and any notions there’s great affection between him and his old gang in Detroit were, some time ago, ash-canned.

Dombrowski suggested earlier this week the Tigers, “if the roles were reversed,” would have played a night game and that, “I’m sure they did it in some ways because they realized we would come in as a tired club, and they did it from a competitive perspective.”

This is nonsense. And Dave knows it.

Al Avila, the Tigers GM who once was Dombrowski’s top lieutenant and friend and – well, ask them about their relationship, it’s complicated – talked Tuesday on the MLB Network about the scheduling snit and stuck to facts.

Note, also, the Orioles could just as easily have been asked to switch their game to 4 p.m. or earlier on a getaway date for the Red Sox.

“For all the years I’ve been around,” Avila said during an interview with Chris Russo, “we always try to get teams to switch games, particularly on getaway days. And, usually, 99.99 percent of the teams say no. It really has a business reason to it. Fans buy into that time frame. If you change that, you’re going to get a lot of people mad.”

Factor in the Lions’ game on Thursday night and this was always going to be a no-go for the Tigers, as Dombrowski knows, and seems to have forgotten in creating an unnecessary rift with his old team.

Dombrowski deals displayed: It’s worth mentioning, again, that Dombrowski knew on Trade Deadline Week 2015, he was probably in his last days as the Tigers’ front-office chief.

He did some of the most fevered, most persistent work a GM could do while a clock ticked and Dombrowski held out for the best deals imaginable.

Tigers' bats quelled in loss to Royals; Cabrera among wounded

That energy and drive resulted in Michael Fulmer becoming Tigers property even after Dombrowski had a day earlier pried from the Blue Jays a couple of kid pitchers in Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd when David Price was shipped to Toronto.

The Tigers came within one extended day off for Fulmer of starting all three youngsters in this weekend’s Red Sox-Tigers series.

I have heard it from those in the Tigers Situation Room that day in July a year ago. And have heard it multiple times. They were awed at Dombrowski’s skill and daring in pulling off those deals, particularly the Dodge City showdown with Mets chief Sandy Alderson as the two dueled over a Yoenis Cespedes-for-Fulmer package.

It was spectacular work by a man who was going to be the shortest of short-timers as Tigers general.

People yet wonder why Dombrowski was axed a few days later by Tigers owner Mike Ilitch.

It still seems a 14-year relationship, lengthy by owner-GM standards, had simply expired. There had been no world championship. The Tigers bullpen, which sabotaged Dombrowski, the Tigers – and Ilitch – had again in too many games faltered, and a natural halt to a long and mutually fruitful relationship had arrived.

Some insist Dombrowski was snooping for jobs and Ilitch became irked. No evidence of it. None at all. And even if a man in the last year of his contract was checking on potential landing spots – natural and defensible – that was no reason to can him when an owner had every option to extend him.

The parties all needed each other those 10 years: Ilitch needed Dombrowski, Dombrowski needed Ilitch’s resources, Dombrowski needed Jim Leyland as manager, Leyland needed supportive bosses on the levels above – and a very good baseball product came Detroit’s way for 10 years-plus.

But there’s a shelf life to all of it. And the expiration date for an owner and GM arrived 55 weeks ago.