If you had one adjective to describe a man who has been ejected from 65 ball games, wrestled one of his own players in a locker room and lashed out at the press almost as much as Mel Gibson, what would it be? Sweet is probably not the word that came to mind. But for one man, this satiric nickname proved true to form as “Sweet” Lou Piniella announced his retirement from Major League Baseball (MLB) in an emotional press conference.
It was announced earlier this month that Piniella would retire after the Cubs’ miserable season came to an end. However, it came as a surprise when Piniella announced he would retire after the Cubs game against the Braves Sunday, Aug. 22. So the Cubs, doing what they do best, went out and got an emotional win for their skipper’s last game. False. The Cubs got demolished in a 16-5 rout by the Atlanta Braves, sending Piniella into retirement with a thud. However, the little dirt mark that was the Cubs’ 2010 season will not stain the arguably Hall of Fame resume of “Sweet” Lou.
Piniella began his major league career as a left fielder for the Baltimore Orioles. After spending a year in Baltimore, he played a year with the Cleveland Indians, five years with the Kansas City Royals and 11 years with the New York Yankees before retiring as a player in 1984. After a brief stint as the Yankees’ hitting coach, he began his managerial journey when he took over for the Yankees in 1988. Without much incident in New York, he travelled to Cincinnati, where his nickname became as fitting as an extra-small T-shirt on Yao Ming.
In 1990, he led the Reds to a World Series title by sweeping the Oakland Athletics. But apparently winning baseball games just wasn’t enough for Lou. In 1991, he displayed his base hurling skills to Reds fans and the first base umpire after he was ejected for disagreeing with a call. Then, in 1992, he pursued a one-day career in wrestling, when he took hot-tempered pitcher Rob Dibble to the clubhouse floor over false remarks.
In 1993, Piniella took his talents to the Mariners for 10 blissful seasons, filled with scuffing umpires shoes, kicking his hat around the field, stealing bases and covering multiple home plates with dirt.
After Seattle lost its lust, Piniella went to Tampa Bay for three seasons before accepting the position as general manager of my beloved, lowly Cubbies.
On Aug. 23, 2010, Piniella tearfully addressed the press in a way that might have made Chuck Norris shed a tear or two, announcing he was retiring due to family issues. Through all of his shenanigans, Piniella is currently the 14th most-winning coach in MLB history and will not be forgotten anytime soon. On a side note, if a bag of groceries is ever hurled over your checkout line, you may have a Lou Piniella sighting on your hands.