Sunday, August 22, 2010

Piniella Manages Last Game

Lou Piniella had been expected to retire as manager of the Chicago Cubs at the end of the season.

However, due to the declining health of his mother, Piniella decided to call it quits after today. He received a lengthy standing ovation from the faithful at Wrigley after he exchanged lineup cards with Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox (who is also due to retire at season's end). The Cubs were then shellacked by the Braves 16-5.

Piniella has spent most of the past quarter century managing. He began his managerial career with the New York Yankees where he played the lion's share of his big league career. Sweet Lou managed the Yankees in 1986 and 1987 before being replaced by Billy Martin but was soon brought back after Steinbrenner fired Martin midway through the 1988 season.

But Piniella came into his own when he succeeded Pete Rose as manager of the Cincinnati Reds. In 1990, Piniella took the Reds to their first World Series title since 1976. After two more seasons in Cincinnati, Piniella moved on to the Seattle Mariners where he would spend ten seasons. Piniella managed the Mariners to their first post-season appearance in 1995 for which he would earn AL Manager of the Year honors. The Mariners would make the post-season three more times under Piniella's tutelage in 1997, 2000 and 2001. In 2001, Piniella guided the Mariners to 116 wins tying a MLB record held by the 1906 Chicago Cubs. This would earn him a second AL Manager of the Year award.

Unfortunately, Piniella could not get the M's to a World Series. Following the 2002 season, the Mariners traded Piniella to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for outfielder Randy Winn in an unusual manager for player transaction. Piniella could not manage the team to a winning record during his three seasons in Tampa Bay. After taking a year off in 2006, Piniella was hired as manager of the Chicago Cubs. He took the Cubs to two consecutive NL Central titles. Unfortunately, the Cubs would be swept in back to back NLDS playoffs. But Piniella would be named NL Manager of the Year in 2008.

Last year, the Cubs took a step back and this year the Cubs fell off the map. The thrill was gone and last month Piniella announced he would not be back in 2011. But with more than 1,800 wins as a big league manager under his belt his legacy is set. Although Bobby Cox has been ejected from far more games, Piniella turned it into an art form.

As for the Cubs, third base coach Mike Quade will manage the team for the rest of the season. I remember Quade when he managed the Ottawa Lynx during their inaugural season in 1993. In addition to managing teams in the Montreal Expos minor league system, Quade also managed minor league affiliates in the Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland Athletics and Cubs organizations. He was on the major league coaching staff of the Athletics from 2000 through 2002 and has been with the Cubs big league coaching staff since 2007. Let's just say that Quade has paid his dues and it's nice to see him get a shot even if only on an interim basi. But if the Cubs play well the rest of the way he could get a shot in 2011.

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