I have to admit, I never "RTFM'ed" on this lens, and it was literally years before I even knew the tripod collar was removable. Further, I have no idea why anyone would want to.
It is the ideal palm rest, allowing the lens to seat firmly in your hand while raising it up just enough to allow finger tip control of zoom and focus rings. Just loosen the knob and it can transition from vertical to horizontal and back in a second. It's an OK carrying handle and is also good to keep the lens hanging at the ready in your jeans pocket while you use a different lens.
I never find it to be "in the way" and it diminishes the handling of the lens when not attached. And not that this really matters, but the original poster is quite correct that the lens just looks wrong without it.
Like The Beatles said, "Let it be. . ."