As I listened to the Chicago Cubs pregame on WGN Radio, I heard the news that Lou Pinella is resigning after Sunday’s game against the Braves. A few of my thoughts about the Lou Pinella era:
1. This resignation spells the true end of this four year era of Cubs baseball. As the players leave (Lee, Theriot, Lilly) and now the manager is gone, the bottom has fallen out on the Cubs. The four year run included two playoff trips from two very good teams that couldn’t break through the first round.
2. Lou as a person has been fascinating to watch. He clearly has a wealth of baseball knowledge yet at the same time can often seem like another grumpy old man. He has one of the slowest walks to the mound. He can be grumpy with post-game questions. I have seen some pictures and I have read his statistics at Baseball-Reference.com but I still have a hard time believing he was a serviceable player for some good late 1970s New York Yankees teams.
3. I don’t know what to make of Pinella’s managerial skills. While he will certainly be remembered for two playoff losses (including yanking Carlos Zambrano early in Game 1 in 2007) and then asking for more left-handed hitting before 2009 (which seemed to backfire), I think managers are like the President of the United States: they get lots of credits when things are good, blamed for everything when things are bad. Ultimately, the players are the ones who make and break the team.
4. Hearing Ron Santo’s pregame interview with Pinella, I was reminded why some people don’t like listening to Santo and why some Cubs fans love him. Santo sounded depressed for much of the interview and talked about how much he enjoyed their friendship. Ron really does bleed Cubby blue.
5. I hope the Cubs go with a relative newcomer when selecting a new manager – the last two big names of Dusty Baker and Lou Pinella haven’t worked out. It looks like next year will be a rebuilding year and it would be interesting to see a younger guy (like a Ryne Sandberg?) mold a new Cubs team.
UPDATE 9:28 PM 8/22/10 – Listening to Pinella’s post-game press conference was touching as Pinella got choked up about his time in Chicago. He really did seem to enjoy his time with the Cubs – even if he may only be remembered for being another Cubs manager who couldn’t win a World Series.