So Lou Piniella called it a career yesterday. After 48 years as a player, general manager and manager, he took off his uniform for the last time and headed home to Tampa to take care of his mother. I’m sure a lot of people don’t believe that’s why he’s leaving. They probably think it’s because his team has packed it in, and has lost 15 of their last 20 games. The Cubs sent Lou off in typical fashion. Randy Wells gave up a homer to Omar Infante to lead off the game, and it all went downhill from there. And we all got to read a load of crap today from the talentless Chicago sports columnist set about how Lou deserved better.
Fact is, you know Lou doesn’t believe that. Lou knows you get what you deserve. He had a lousy baseball team to manage this year, and they ended up lousy. That’s how it works. Lou also knows his legacy as a manager won’t be defined by what happened on one random August day when he had to write “Darwin Barney” on top of his lineup card. Lou won more than 1,800 baseball games in his managerial career. He won a World Series. He managed a team that won 116 games in a season. These Cubs could play non-stop until next December and not get to that number.
Lou wasn’t crying at home plate with Bobby Cox, and then after the game because his bullpen sucked. He was crying because something he’s done for almost a half century is over. He’ll still draw a paycheck in baseball after this. He’ll be a Yankee consultant, and get paid to watch games and give his opinion on players. Over the next ten years they’ll probably mail him two or three more World Series rings to add to his collection (he has three altogether.)
But Lou was sad yesterday for a lot of reasons. He clearly loved being a manager, and he was good at it. Really good at it, even in Chicago, where the lousy excuse for what constitutes the fanbase doesn’t seem to think so. He was sad because that part of his life was over, and on top of it, he’s likely going home to watch his mother die. And, it was probably the last chance he’ll have to hang out with George Castle. You’d cry too, if your life was about to be 100 percent Castle-free. I mean the guy is just a force of personality and good times. Wait, what was that last part? I’ve clearly had some sort of stroke. Someone call 9-1-1.
In four years with the Cubs, Lou had three winning seasons. Can you name the last Cubs manager to have three winning seasons in four years?
Leo Durocher, who actually had five winning seasons in a row from 1967-1971, and he was over .500 in 1972 when he got whacked.
Charlie Grimm, in the 1930s. So, every forty years the Cubs pull this off. I can’t wait for the late 2040s!
I was, and am, and will always be, an unabashed Lou Piniella fan. The job he did with that gob of mediocrity he inherited in 2007 was nothing short of amazing. In 2008, the Cubs were the best team in the National League, until Ryan Dempster shit his pants in game one of the playoffs (seven walks), and the infield followed suit in game two (four guys, four errors.)
Last year’s team wasn’t good, but there they were, on August 1 in first place. Clearly, this man has no idea how to manage. Good riddance. Why, just dig through the couch cushions and I’m sure you’ll find an adequate replacement.
Lou didn’t deserve a better ending, but it would have been nice if he’d gotten one. The current Cubs team is a mess. All of their brilliance was on display yesterday. Alfonso Soriano chasing after flyballs like he thought just maybe it was a grenade. E-ramis Ramirez bailing and flailing at a routine ground ball so that his pal Derrek Lee could finally get his first Braves “hit.” The bullpen setting itself on fire. And amid all of the chaos, there was Starlin Castro. Still, the youngest player in the National League, looking around and wondering why nobody else on the team is remotely as good as he is. He had four more hits. He also is the only Cub who looks upset when they screw something up. Don’t lose that, kid. Someday you’ll be on a winner and it’ll serve you well. That winner will probably be in Boston or Anaheim, but still.
Of the first twelve outs the Cubs made, 10 of them were by strikeout. The Braves had brought Randy Johnson out of retirement and…no, wait, it was Mike Minor. Ugh. I hate them now more than ever.
Today, Lou flies back to Tampa. The Cubs have flown to Washington, DC where they can gauge just how much better Jim Riggleman’s Nationals are, than they are. Excuse me while I find something sharp enough to stick through both eyes at the same time.
Mike Quade is the new manager. He’s the first Cubs manager without eyebrows since Joey Amalfitano had his infamous fondue accident.
Yes, it’s true. Mike Quade is hairless. I don’t mean he’s just bald, I mean he’s like one of those Sphynx cats. It’s just creepy. He seems like a hell of a guy. And, if he asked the Cubs and Ron Santo if he could wear #10 and put on a blonde Mo Howard wig, you couldn’t tell the difference between him and Bruce Kimm, could you?
But in a way, it’s fine that the Cubs set up a patsy to finish up this long, horrendous season. It takes the attention off of them. If they’d brought Bob Brenly down from the TV booth, or had Ryne Sandberg drive a tractor in from Des Moines, they’d be front page news for the rest of the season. Instead, they gave the job to the least interesting man in the world, and hopefully he can do the impossible and squeeze the 12 more wins out of this team needed to avoid 100 losses.
I’m not going to miss Lou Piniella.
I miss him already.