Lou said fuck it I can't take any more and hung up his Cubs uniform for good today.
Lou said fuck it I can't take any more and hung up his Cubs uniform for good today.
David Haugh column: Emotional goodbye for Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella - chicagotribune.com
Emotional goodbye for Piniella
Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella cries before the start of the game against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field on Sunday. Piniella announced that he would begin his retirement after the game against the Braves Sunday.
Good Bye, Lou. We'll miss ya.Manager happy about pleasing his family but sad about disappointing Cubs
Pinching the bridge of his nose with his left thumb and index finger as if to stop the flow of tears moistening his eyes, Cubs manager Lou Piniella winced.
Summing up his last day in uniform after 48 years in baseball proved to be more difficult than taking it off.
"I cried a little bit after the game … I get emotional, I'm sorry," Piniella said Sunday in the cramped Wrigley Field interview room for the final time. "It's a good day to remember, and also it's a good day to forget."
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It was a day of mixed emotions that began with the Cubs announcing Piniella was retiring effective Monday to return home to Florida to care for his ailing 90-year-old mother, Margaret, and ended with an ugly 16-5 loss to the Braves.
Before the game, Piniella delivered the news to his team in a moving speech about the importance of family and got misty-eyed acknowledging the crowd of 37,518 after exchanging lineup cards with Braves manager Bobby Cox.
Afterward, Piniella laughed and cried reflecting on his four seasons with the Cubs working in a ballpark he called "probably the most fun place in Major League Baseball."
The final Cubbie occurrence for Piniella may have come when he was asked, after an 11-run defeat that marked his team's 74th loss, if the day represented his best ever in baseball.
"It's been very special," Piniella said.
Indeed, on his last day in baseball, he was Bittersweet Lou Piniella.
Piniella felt happy about pleasing his family but sad about disappointing the Cubs, right about fulfilling his responsibilities at home but wrong about falling short of them at work.
Forgive Cubs fans if they were similarly ambivalent or had little emotion left to invest in another goodbye to Lou. After a week that included sendoffs to the organization's most popular player, Derrek Lee, and now its manager, the Cubs are running out of gold watches.
Everyone ran out of patience a long time ago.
Piniella's final day in a Cubs uniform really should have been July 20, when he announced his retirement. But Piniella originally wanted to stay until Oct. 3 in order to finish what he started, and the Cubs obliged out of respect for his Hall of Fame career.
In retrospect, the slow, painful process of disassembling a team with a $145 million payroll taxed Piniella professionally almost as much as his mother's health has worn on him personally.
For everybody's sake, the dugout probably was the last place Piniella should have been the last month. That takes nothing away from a managing career that included 1,835 wins and one day likely will land Piniella in Cooperstown, N.Y.
He is the 14th-winningest manager in major league history with a World Series ring from the 1990 Reds team he managed. Even if Piniella did most of his winning before he arrived in Wrigleyville, has a more accomplished Cubs manager ever stood on the top step of the home dugout?
Piniella's legacy with the Cubs always will be tied to being the first modern-day manager to lead the team to back-to-back playoff appearances, but careful not to exaggerate his historic impact. Revisionist historians repeated the notion Sunday that Piniella "raised the bar," for the Cubs, but that's not entirely accurate or fair to his predecessor, Dusty Baker.
Expectations changed Cubs culture most dramatically after the 2003 season under Baker, not after 2007 or '08 under Piniella, and credit Jim Hendry for making that distinction briefly as he otherwise lathered Piniella with deserved praise.
What both Piniella and Baker shared was the hefty reputation they brought to the job, a marquee quality nobody should expect the next Cubs manager to possess.
Dusty. Lou. Something tells me you will have to call whomever Hendry hires in October by his first and last names so baseball fans know who he is. The Ricketts Era could mark the end of the celebrity manager at Clark and Addison.
Could that mean no "Ryno"? Sure. If the Cubs believed Ryne Sandberg had the inside track at being their next manager, don't you think he would have been given the shot to manage the final 37 games instead of Mike Quade?
Given the parameters for the next manager outlined by a source close to the search process, Piniella's successor will be a young, hands-on teacher who is as likely to follow a spreadsheet analysis as his gut. Out with instinct, in with integers, and strategists must value statistics even more.
You might say the Cubs are in the midst of fully converting to baseball's sabermetric system.
If the next manager has an established name, great. But those guys also cost money. It's hard to imagine the new ownership regime taking measures to streamline a bloated payroll doling out $5 million a year for someone to fill out the lineup. The reality of that trend may not bode well for those hoping to see Joe Girardi change his pinstripes from Yankees navy blue to Cubbies royal blue.
"I don't have a front-runner,'' Hendry said. "To label anyone as the favorite right now would be absolutely foolish."
It would be equally foolish to think Piniella's successor will appreciate the opportunity more than he did. Ironic that, on his last day on the job, the guy who occasionally sounded like an outsider to Cubdom never felt more like he belonged.
The crowd was chanting "LOUUUUU,'' and not "BOOOOO," right?
"It was a nice tribute," Piniella said. "I was very appreciative, very moved, very touched. I want to thank everybody. I won't have to make any more explanations to you people."
With that Piniella chuckled and wiped away another tear before one of baseball's great managers walked off to be a good son.
ESPN: SportsCenter Chicago
Potential Cubs Managers next Season:
- Ryne Sandberg (AAA Iowa Cubs)
- Joe Girardi (Yankees)
- Alan Trammell (Cubs bench coach)
- Mike Quade (Interim Cubs manager)
- Bobby Valentine (ESPN)
Joe Girardi: Great expectations - chicagotribune.com
Joe Girardi: Great expectations
But, really, don't believe Yankees manager would bolt New York to attempt resurrection with Cubs
How much imagination do you have?
Mine was taxed by the sight of the Yankees manager sitting in the visiting dugout at U.S. Cellular Field, talking to a throng of reporters about whether he would consider leaving the defending World Series champions to manage whatever is left of the Cubs in 2011.
There was Northwestern grad Joe Girardi on Friday night, as scheduled, pleasantly holding court on the subject of potentially jumping ship amid a discussion of Andy Pettitte's workout and how he wished both the Rays and Red Sox both could lose when they play each other. He was congenial, if not forthcoming, and everyone involved was much more civil than they surely would have been 25 years ago across 35th Street at Comiskey Park.
Where was the great New York reporter Murray Chass or even a young Joel Sherman to yell at Chicago reporters for cutting into their time? And why wasn't the manager in fear of losing his job for speaking of life without pinstripes? Man, times really have changed.
But would Girardi really leave the Yankees to try to end the Cubs' curse? Could he get over being turned away in favor of Lou Piniella four years ago?
Normally I wouldn't think any of us would have that much imagination. But the longer Girardi talked before the start of the White Sox's biggest series of the summer, the more it seemed like the Peoria native might be ready for a homecoming.
"As I've said all along, my responsibility is to the Yankees,'' Girardi began. "I was hired by the Yankees to do a job. We're in a division race, a very tight division race, and my job is to prepare the club. … I have a responsibility to the Steinbrenner family. They have treated me great, treated my family great. I have a responsibility to (general manager Brian Cashman) to do everything I can for this team to win.''
Through October, anyway.
"My faith has always been extremely important to me,'' said Girardi, a mixed image with braces on his teeth and Peter Fonda shades across his eyes. "I've never worried about next year. I'm happy with my contract situation. I feel I'm fortunate to be one of 30 managers with a contract right now managing in the big leagues. … We're not worried about it for next year. I'm worried about right now.''
Girardi was asked if he was uncomfortable addressing a possible split with baseball's traditional superpower.
"Yeah, but I assumed (this) was going to happen,'' he said about his becoming the focus of interest in Chicago. "(Reporters) have a job to do. I understand that.''
Girardi never said the one thing Yankee fans probably would have loved to hear — and the one thing the late George Steinbrenner in mid-life would have insisted he say: That he would stay in New York as long as the Yankees wanted him.
Girardi seemed wound tight in his first season in New York but has become remarkably open on a variety of topics, including his father's 15-year battle with Alzheimer's. He went to see his dad Thursday, an off day after a series in Toronto, and said with delight that his father had shocked him in a brief, unexpected conversation.
"Every time I see him I think it might be my last,'' Girardi said. "… It was wonderful to see him.''
You can understand why Girardi and his wife, Kim, think about Chicago. But is the pull of home enough to walk away from a chance to have a shot at winning the World Series every season he manages?
I did a quick, highly unscientific straw poll on the question. The vote was 12-4 that he still will be in New York, and I find it surprising that one in four observers (none based in Chicago, by the way) believe Girardi could leave.
Call me cynical, but I don't see him at Wrigley Field next April. I think he's going to stay in New York, assuming the Yankees do present a super-sized contract extension.
Meanwhile, Cubs GM Jim Hendry (who bypassed him to hire Piniella) will work the four-corners offense in his managerial search, patiently evaluating Mike Quade and wading through interviews with Eric Wedge and others like him while waiting to see if Girardi does become available. He will ask himself over and over why he doesn't just give the job to Ryne Sandberg, and then he will go check the Yankee score.
Sandberg rocks vote
In first season at Iowa, Ryno named PCL's manager of year with Iowa
Ryne Sandberg was named the Pacific Coast League's manager of the year Friday, which can only put more pressure on the Cubs and general manager Jim Hendry in the search for a new manager.
In only one season at Iowa, the Hall of Famer topped 15 others for the honor with the Iowa Cubs still in a tight race for the playoffs. But more than potential postseason play for the I-Cubs, Sandberg, 50, was singled out for guiding the team to an 80-60 record with four games left -- good for a first-place tie in the North Division -- and for having the best road record in the league at 43-29.
That's the best league road record since 2002, when Las Vegas was 44-28.
At the same time, eight of Sandberg's players have come up to the major-league club, and they included some of the PCL's best talents -- including Class AAA All-Stars Thomas Diamond and Darwin Barney and pitcher Andrew Cashner. Many of the eight have come through the system under Sandberg's tutelage while managing at Class A Peoria for two seasons and last year at Class AA Tennessee.
All of which will beg the question of how Sandberg, whom Hendry spent several days with this week, won't be a leading candidate to succeed Lou Piniella -- especially with a team that likely will include a number of the prospects Sandberg has tutored.
The answer, Hendry continues to say, is that there is no leading candidate.
That would run counter to how Hendry has filled the job the last two times. He waited for his lead choices, Dusty Baker and Piniella, even as he interviewed others for the job.
This time his preference could be Fredi Gonzalez, the former manager of the Florida Marlins who has known Hendry since his high school playing days and when both were in the Marlins organization.
Gonzalez will be sought by other teams, as well, notably the Atlanta Braves. He coached in Atlanta under the departing Bobby Cox, who's said to be backing him as his successor.
''You'll read different speculation about who the front-runner is and who's been eliminated,'' Hendry said Friday. ''Trust me, it's all basically conjecture.''
Hendry said his plan remains to evaluate a number of candidates before coming up with a finalist to present to owner Tom Ricketts.
''We all understand in this business that this job, in particular, is held in high esteem,'' Hendry said of interest in the Cubs job. ''There is no leading candidate, there hasn't been and there won't be until I take the final evaluations to Tom Ricketts and his family.''
Therein lies what will make this manager search different than the last two, when the choice essentially belonged to Hendry during Tribune Co.'s ownership.
Hendry has talked to former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge, who was fired last season but is being paid through this season.
If the New York Yankees don't move quickly after the season to re-sign Joe Girardi, the ex-Cub who was a candidate four years ago will become a contender, as well.
Hendry understandably wouldn't talk about the time spent with Sandberg this week in Albuquerque, N.M., where Iowa was playing. They discussed the job in general, though Hendry characterized their meeting as ''normal dialogue'' and ''no different than if I was going to Iowa in the middle of May.''
''Ryno needs to finish his season,'' Hendry said. ''We're not in any rush to complete interview processes or things like that.''
Hendry called Sandberg's latest honor outstanding and also praised Tennessee manager Bill Dancy for being named Southern League manager of the year in his first season with the organization.
''We've had a real good year in the system,'' Hendry said, with teams at every level winning or in contention for their respective playoffs. ''It's not just from the wins and losses but the development point of view.''
The Cubs have been playing well for manager Mike Quade, whom Hendry declared a candidate when he handed him the reins for the rest of the season.
''I think the guys are playing well,'' Hendry said. ''I think they've been playing hard. Mike's done a real nice job of getting people involved and giving people chances. It's not an easy job when you take over with five weeks left.''
Report: Aramis Ramirez to remain Cub
Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez cleared up his intentions for the 2011 season, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that he intends to exercise his $14.6 million option next season.
''I'm staying here,'' Ramirez told the paper.
Ramirez has a player option in his deal that would allow him to get out of the final guaranteed year that will pay him $14.6 million in 2011.
He also is guaranteed another $2 million as a buyout for the 2012 season if the Cubs don't pick it up at $15 million.
Ramirez, who has battled injuries the past two seasons, isn't sure how much longer he wants to play.
"It won't be very long. I miss a lot when I'm away from my family," Ramirez said on Saturday. "I have 12 years in the league. I don't know how long I'm going to play, but it won't be very long."
Ramirez, 32, has had a number of injuries this year, the worst year of his eight-plus seasons as a Cub. He is batting .242 with 22 home runs and 73 RBIs in 109 games. He has been hobbled by a right quad strain recently, and also dealt with a sore left rib cage and pain in his left thumb.
Girardi a long shot, but Cubs seem ready to wait
Yankees manager is free agent after season, but why would he leave
MINNEAPOLIS — When the Giants played Atlanta in the 2002 playoffs, what kind of odds could you have gotten that they would win a spot in the World Series and lose manager Dusty Baker to the Cubs?
Long odds. Huge odds. CC Sabathia-sized odds.
Yet Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, with an assist from Giants owner Peter Magowan, somehow pulled that off. So at least there's precedent for the managerial heist he is weighing, if not yet officially attempting.
Joe Girardi, like Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, can be a free agent when the Yankees' latest foray into the playoffs ends — possibly as soon as Saturday but more likely at some point in early November, after a second straight World Series.
There are people in Chicago who swear they know Girardi would jump to the Cubs because he and his wife, Kim, want to return home to the Midwest. But the feeling around baseball is that Hendry is wasting his time if he's holding a place for him.
As the Yankees worked out to face the Twins in their American League Division Series, I polled a dozen people who either work for the Yankees or deal with them on a regular basis.
Asked to rate the chances Girardi will change jobs after the playoffs on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the least chance, the New York insiders gave replies ranging from a -1 to a 3.5.
"The door's open,'' one said, "but just a crack.''
None among those surveyed thinks there is even a 50-50 chance Girardi is sufficiently weary of New York and all that life there entails to pull the plug. That could change if something goes very bad against the Twins, but one person close to the Yankees' brain trust offered a take that must be the worst fear for anyone who covets Girardi in the Cubs' dugout.
"If he does go somewhere, it won't be (to Chicago),'' he said.
Huh? Where else would Girardi go?
To Pittsburgh? Toronto? Milwaukee? The Mets? I don't think so.
But what about St. Louis?
Tony La Russa left there on Monday after meeting with owner Bill DeWitt Jr. and general manager John Mozeliak, carrying the offer of a one-year contract extension with him. He's expected eventually to agree to return for a 16th season, but he knows he's walking a fine line, saying Monday that "at some point it's going to be good when the new guy comes in … it's going to refresh the whole situation.''
Replacing La Russa in St. Louis might be more attractive to Girardi than coming to Chicago.
"The Cardinals would be his kind of place,'' one insider said. "No media problems, total control … but don't they want La Russa back?''
We'll see. The same person raised an interesting question about the Girardi-to-Wrigley scenario.
"Who would be his godfather in Chicago?'' he asked. "He wouldn't go there unless he had protection.''
Girardi got burned when he went to work for the Marlins with no one in ownership or the front office specifically looking out for him. His timing in that regard isn't great in Chicago because the guy who would have increased his comfort level (John McDonough) left for the Blackhawks three years ago.
There was no talk about the Cubs on Tuesday, as Girardi held true to his word about putting job speculation on hold until the Yankees' ride has ended.
That's the way it was with Baker when the Giants started their quest in 2002. But by the time the World Series rolled around, the word on the street was that Baker was so frustrated with Magowan he would walk away.
This situation might work out that way, too, but that's not the way it feels.
Hendry has promised not to leave a stone unturned in his third managerial search, one that may determine his own future. And until another organization begins to show strong interest in Ryne Sandberg, Mike Quade or anyone else he is considering, what's the harm in waiting to see what happens with Girardi?
None, really. Yet Chairman Tom Ricketts and Hendry would make a strong statement by choosing between Sandberg and Quade sooner rather than later.
They know their guys. They know if they're right for the job. The longer they wait to give one of them a commitment, the more it will seem it was Girardi they wanted all along. That scenario works well for Girardi, who gains leverage in his dealing with the Yankees, but is it the best one for the Cubs?