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Louis Victor Piniella ( ) (born August 28, in Tampa, Floridamarker, United Statesmarker) is the current manager of the Chicago Cubs and a former Major League Baseball outfielder. He has been nicknamed "Sweet Lou," both for his swing as a major league hitter and, facetiously, to describe his demeanor as a player and manager. He presently ranks 14th all-time on the list of Managerial Wins.

Early life

Piniella grew up in West Tampa, Floridamarker. His Asturian grandparents immigrated to Florida from Asturiasmarker, Spainmarker. As a child, he played American Legion Baseball sponsored by Post 248 and PONY League Baseballmarker alongside Tony La Russa, who Piniella has admitted was like an older brother whose shadow he could not move out of. He attended Jesuit High School of Tampamarker where he was an All-American in basketball. After graduation, he attended the University of Tampamarker where he was an All-American in baseball.

Playing career

Piniella, at the age of 21, played in his first major league game in with the Baltimore Orioles. At 24, his second major league season was with the Cleveland Indians. He joined the Seattle Pilots during their preseason, but was traded at the end of spring training. He was prominently mentioned in Jim Bouton's classic book about the Seattle Pilots, Ball Four.

Piniella played for the Kansas City Royals from -73, and was the American League's AL Rookie of the Year in 1969. He was the first player to come to bat in Royals history. On April 8 of their first season, he led off the bottom of the 1st against left-hander Tom Hall of the Minnesota Twins. He doubled to left field, then scored on an RBI single by Jerry Adair. While playing for the Royals, Pinella became the first major league player to be thrown out at first, second, third, and home in a single game. This tale was recounted in a book written by former American League Umpire, Ron Luciano.

That was followed by 11 years as a member of the New York Yankees, which won five AL East titles (1976–78, 1980 and 1981), four AL pennants (1976–78 and 1981), and two World Series championships (197778). After center fielder Mickey Rivers was traded, during the 1979 season, Piniella became the Yankees leadoff hitter. One of the more underrated players of the 1970s (he made just one all-star team), he compiled 1705 lifetime hits despite not playing full time for just under half of his career.

He wore uniform number 24 for the Orioles, and 23 for the Indians. His longer stretches were wearing number 9 for the Royals, and 14 for the Yankees.

Managerial career

Known for his often aggressive and sometimes explosive behavior, Piniella has been ejected 61 times in his managerial career. Among active managers, only Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and all-time leader Bobby Cox have received more ejections. He often sends his pitching coach to remove a pitcher from the game. He once got into a clubhouse scuffle with pitcher Rob Dibble while with the Reds, which was caught on video, ending with the two being pulled apart and Lou screaming, "You don't want to be treated like a man!."

New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds

After retiring as a player, Piniella joined the Yankees coaching staff as batting coach. He managed the Yankees from to . Piniella was promoted to GM to start the 1988 season and took over as manager after the firing of Billy Martin on June 23. Piniella managed the Cincinnati Reds between 1990 and 1992, a tenure that included winning the 1990 World Series against the heavily-favored Oakland Athletics.

On August 21, 1990, in a home game against the Chicago Cubs, Piniella argued with umpire Dutch Rennert after Barry Larkin was called out at first at the end of the fifth inning. After throwing his hat down, Piniella was ejected. Afterwards, Piniella ripped first base out of the ground and threw it twice toward right field. The Reds went on to win the game 8–1.

Seattle Mariners

From – , he managed the Seattle Mariners, winning the AL Manager of the Year Award in , and again in when he led the Mariners to a record-tying 116 wins. After winning the 2001 AL Division Series, the Mariners dropped the first two games of the AL Championship Series, and Piniella held an angry post-game press conference in which he guaranteed the Mariners would win two out of three games in New York to return the ALCS to Seattle. However, the Yankees closed out the series at Yankee Stadiummarker, and the Mariners have not reached the playoffs since. Following the 2002 season, Piniella was included in a rare "trade" that sent him (and infielder Antonio Pérez) to the Tampa Bay Rays, with outfielder Randy Winn going to Seattle.

In the Mariners' 33-season history, they have had eleven winning seasons and reached the playoffs four times. Seven of the winning seasons and all of the playoff appearances occurred during Piniella's ten years with the Mariners.

Piniella and Don Wakamatsu are the only managers in Mariners history to have a winning record in his tenure with the team, while serving at least one season.

In a game on September 18, in a 3–2 (10) win against the Texas Rangers, Piniella came out to argue a call in the bottom of the ninth in which the umpire called out Ben Davis after a close play at first and was immediately tossed by first base umpire C.B. Bucknor after throwing down his hat. Afterwards, he kicked his hat several times, aggressively approached Bucknor as he was screaming in his face, and kicked dirt on him as well. After being restrained by first base coach Johnny Moses, he then ripped first base from its mooring and threw it down the right field foul line twice after he imitated the umpire tossing him out.
Spring Training 1983


Tampa Bay Devil Rays

In his first two seasons with the Devil Rays, Piniella was able to improve the team somewhat, and they won a franchise-record 70 games in , which was also their first season in which they did not finish last in their division, which he also guaranteed (he also jokingly said, after saying it several times, "If I say it any more times I might have us winning the World Series!") During the 2005 season, Piniella was very critical of the Rays front office for focusing too much on the future and not enough on immediate results, and for not increasing payroll quickly enough to field a competitive team (they started the season with a $30 million payroll, which was the lowest in the major leagues; the Yankees payroll in 2005 was over $208 million).

Tensions eventually made Piniella step down as the Devil Rays' manager on September 21, . Sweet Lou had one more season remaining on his contract from October 2002, but agreed to a $2.2 million buyout, in lieu of $4.4 million that he was due, had he decided to manage the team for one more season. He would have also received $1.25 million in deferred salary from 2003.

Chicago Cubs

On October 16, , Piniella agreed to a three-year contract to manage the Chicago Cubs. The contract is for $10 million over three seasons with a $5 million option for a fourth year

Famous for his anger and meltdowns, he showed it during a press conference after a Cubs-Reds game on April 13, , when Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano blew a five run lead in the 5th inning in which the Reds scored 6 runs, winning the game 6–5. A reporter asked him what was not working for the Cubs. He responded in a loud, angry voice, "What the hell do you think isn't working?! You saw the damn game! … This guy is your ace, you got a 5–0 lead with the eighth and ninth hitters coming up, you feel pretty good about that inning and all of a sudden it turns into a six-run inning,” Piniella said, obviously still agitated but calmer. “And then I bring in the reliever who’s throwing 30-to-40-foot curveballs to boot. I can see. I can start to see some of the ways this team has lost ballgames. I can see it. We’ve got to correct it obviously. This game here is one that got away from us that really shouldn’t.” In a similar meltdown after the May 17, 2007, game against the Mets, Lou stated, "I don't care about feelings."

On June 2, 2007, Piniella was ejected as a Cub for the first time after throwing down his cap, kicking dirt at third base umpire Mark Wegner, and kicking his cap three times. He was arguing a call that Angel Pagan was out at third attempting to advance on a wild pitch. In the post-game press conference, he said Pagan looked safe from the dugout, but acknowledged that, after seeing the replay, the umpire made the right call. However, he also said he was going to argue no matter if Pagan was safe or out: "it didn't make a damn bit of difference." He was suspended for four games, the longest of his career. The Cubs, 22–31 in their 53 games through June 2, went on from there to capture the National League Central Division title. Piniella led the Cubs to their second straight divisional title in 2008. It was the first time the franchise had made it to consecutive postseasons since winning the National League pennant three years in a row from 1906–1908.

Despite Pinella's Cubs dominating the National League for most of 2008, clinching the Central Division with the best record in the NL, the tide turned when the Cubs went up against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2008 NLDS. Pinella could only watch as the Cubs' offense suddenly sputtered, scoring only 6 runs in all three games, and his defense committed 4 errors in Game 2 to pick up talk of the Curse of the Billy Goat once again. Pinella's Cubs were swept by Joe Torre's Dodgers and outscored 20–6. He could only laugh, blaming himself and his entire team for failing to produce. He did mention the top of his lineup's failure to contribute. Alfonso Soriano went 1-14, Kosuke Fukudome only 1-10, and Derrek Lee, Pinella's #3 hitter, drove in zero runs the entire series despite batting .545 and going 6–11. After the game 2 loss to the Dodgers in the NLDS, a reporter asked Piniella, enraged about the loss, about starting Fukudome. Piniella responded, "I'm going to play [Mike] Fontenot or Reed Johnson or somebody else, and that's the end of that story. The kid is struggling, and there's no sense sending him out there anymore." Despite that, they lost Game 3 and, oddly enough, Fukudome went 1-2 when he came into the game later on.

On June 26, 2009, Pinella admitted that he had smoked marijuana once in his life to defend catcher Geovany Soto after he tested positive for marijuana in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He told that press that "Look, I have smoked dope one time in my life...and it didn't do a damn thing for me, and I never tried it again...I do know young people make mistakes at times and learn from mistakes. I've made a lot of mistakes in my life personally, and I've learned from them."

Managerial record

Updated through September 28,
Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
New York Yankees 1986 90 72 .556 2nd in AL East - - - -
1987 89 73 .549 3rd in AL East - - - -
1988 45 48 .484 5th in AL East - - - (fired)
NYY Total 224 193 .537 - - - - -
Cincinnati Reds 1990 91 71 .562 1st in NL West 8 2 .800 Won NLCS over Pirates,
Won World Series over Athletics
1991 74 88 .457 5th in NL West - - - -
1992 90 72 .556 2nd in NL West - - - -
CIN Total 255 231 .525 - 8 2 .800 -
Seattle Mariners 1993 82 80 .506 4th in AL West - - - -
1994 49 63 .438 3rd in AL West - - - -
1995 79 66 .545 1st in AL West 5 6 .455 Won ALDS over Yankees,
Lost ALCS to Indians,
Manager of the Year

1996 85 76 .528 2nd in AL West - - - -
1997 90 72 .556 1st in AL West 1 3 .250 Lost ALDS to Orioles
1998 76 85 .472 3rd in AL West - - - -
1999 79 83 .488 3rd in AL West - - - -
2000 91 71 .562 2nd in AL West 5 4 .556 Won ALDS over White Sox,
Lost ALCS to Yankees
2001 116 46 .716 1st in AL West 4 6 .400 Won ALDS over Indians,
Lost ALCS to Yankees,
Manager of the Year

2002 93 69 .574 3rd in AL West - - - -
SEA Total 840 711 .542 - 15 19 .441 3 Divisional Titles
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2003 63 99 .389 5th in AL East - - - -
2004 70 91 .435 4th in AL East - - - -
2005 67 95 .414 5th in AL East - - - -
TB Total 200 285 .412 - - - - -
Chicago Cubs 2007 85 77 .525 1st in NL Central 0 3 .000 Lost NLDS to Diamondbacks
2008 97 64 .602 1st in NL Central 0 3 .000 Lost NLDS to Dodgers,
Manager of the Year
2009 83 78 .515 2nd in NL Central - - - -
CHC Total 265 219 .547 - 0 6 .000 2 Divisional Titles
AL Total 1264 1189 .515 - 15 19 .441 3 Divisional Titles
NL Total 520 450 .536 - 8 8 .500 World Series, 3 Divisional Titles
Career Total 1,784 1,639 .521 - 23 27 .460 World Series, 6 Divisional Titles


Awards

  • 1969 - AL Rookie of the Year
  • 1972 - AL All-Star
  • 1995 - AL Manager of the Year with the Seattle Mariners
  • 2001 - AL Manager of the Year with the Seattle Mariners
  • 2008 - NL Manager of the Year with the Chicago Cubs


Broadcasting career

After parting ways with the Devil Rays, Piniella spent one season as a color commentator for Fox Sports, joining Thom Brennaman and Steve Lyons in calling postseason baseball games.

During their broadcast of Game 3 of the 2006 American League Championship Series, Piniella was commenting on player Marco Scutaro who had struggled during the regular season but was playing well during the series. He stated that to expect Scutaro to continue playing well would be similar to finding a wallet on Friday and expecting to find another wallet on Saturday and Sunday. Piniella then commented that player Frank Thomas needed to get "en fuego" which is Spanish for "on fire", because he was "frio" meaning "cold". Lyons responded by saying that Piniella was "hablaing Español" and added,"I still can't find my wallet. I don't understand him, and I don't want to sit close to him now."

FOX fired Lyons for making the above remarks, which FOX determined to be racially insensitive. Piniella later defended Lyons saying Lyons was "kidding" and that "There isn't a racist bone in his [Lyons'] body".

In other media

Piniella made a cameo appearance in the 1994 film Little Big League.

In late 2007 Piniella appeared in a television commercial for Aquafina bottled water in which he parodies his famous June 2, 2007 meltdown at Wrigley Fieldmarker.

Piniella and Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillén appeared in one commercial to advertise a local car dealership during the first half of the 2008 Crosstown series. The creators of the commercial used their likeness in three other commercials, which featured stunt doubles riding bicycles and jumping rope.

In 2009 Piniella did a commercial for DirecTV.

See also



References

  1. The List: Coaches Gone Wild
  2. How to lose mind ... and keep dignity
  3. Cubs come to terms with Piniella,MLB.com.
  4. http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/news/story?id=4290259
  5. Fired Baseball Announcer Lyons Finds Support, IMDb


External links




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