Cubs manager Lou Piniella announced yesterday that this season will be his last, as he will retire at the season’s end. The three-time World Series champion cited his desire to spend more time with his family as his reason to put an end to a legacy of base-throwing, chest poking and umpire screaming. His career as both a player and manager has spanned 48 years, during which he’s been associated with eight teams. Of his decision, Piniella simply told reporters:
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” he said. “There’s no way that I won’t cherish the memories here.”
But, he added: “I’ve been away from home since 1962. That’s about 50 years.” Source
The Cubs are currently in a tie for third in the NL Central, 10.5 games back of the first place Cardinals, and Piniella remains realistic that his team probably isn’t going to gain ground on the Cards and second place Reds unless they start winning series, as opposed to being swept or saving face. Cubs GM Jim Hendry said that he won’t name Piniella’s successor until after the season (*cough* Ryne Sandberg *cough*) and then everyone laughed because it won’t be Hendry’s decision by the time this season ends.
Regardless of how he closes out this season, praise is pouring in for the possible Hall-of-Famer.
Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told reporters there’s no doubt that Piniella, who won Rookie of the Year with the Kansas City Royals, two World Series as a player with the Yankees and one title as manager of the Reds, will be in Cooperstown soon. Meanwhile, Guillen also didn’t even wait until Sweet Lou finished his sentence before throwing his name into the pool of candidates. Sure, he seems to be joking, but it’s Ozzie and he didn’t swear once so he’s probably serious.
Rays players Carl Crawford and BJ Upton, who both played for Piniella when he managed the Rays, said Piniella’s tough guy demeanor helped them become mature players and respect the hard work mentality, despite, you know, playing for Tampa.
“One of the best things to ever happen to me was to play for Lou,” LF Carl Crawford said Tuesday after Piniella announced he will retire as Cubs manager after this season, ending his storied career. “Because he put that ‘go play hard’ stuff into me. Every play, go all-out, you know? Don’t take time off. …
“He pushes you to the max, and at the end of the year, you’re tired as hell, but you look back and you’re like, ‘I’m glad I played for Lou, because he gets everything out of you.'”
Alex Rodriguez, who played for Piniella in Seattle and used steroids for a good portion of his career, also jumped on board the Cooperstown bandwagon:
“To me, he’s obviously a Hall of Fame manager,” said Rodriguez, who played for Piniella in Seattle from 1994-2000. “He’s a rare breed – a combination of a guy who played and played in New York and won championships and was proven and was tough. I have a lot of love and a lot of admiration for Lou. It was the greatest experience overall for me to play for Lou.”
Piniella’s retirement has also planted seeds for rumors that Joe Torre, who was recently likened to a dead Nazi general by Tim McCarver, may retire after this season as well. Torre is 70-years old and his Dodgers are lagging, of which Torre claims may be reason enough for Los Angeles to retire him.
Most upsetting, though, was yesterday’s additional retirement announcement by Jennie Finch, who also cites family as her reason. I didn’t bother reading any of that but I assume she means starting a family with a contributing sports blogger. We are quite the desirable breed.