By Doug Halberstadt
I wrote a column a few weeks ago basically declaring the Chicago Cubs officially dead this year. One of the facts I used to support that theory was their manager, Lou Piniella, had just announced his retirement a few days before that column was written.
At that time, Piniella said he would stick it out until the end of the season before calling it a career. At that time, I thought he meant in October sometime. Obviously, now that the Cubs are 21 games out of first in the National League Central, the end of the season is here.
Even though it looks to me like Lou is jumping ship before the deck chairs get too wet, he claims it is because of family obligations. His mother is ill and is in her 90s. In his defense, he has taken two leaves of absence this season to attend to “personal matters.”
As Piniella explained in his farewell statement: “I didn’t think my career would end this way. But my mom needs me home. She hasn’t gotten any better since I’ve been here. She’s had a couple other complications, and rather than continue to go home, come back, it’s not fair to the team, it’s not fair to the players. So the best thing is just to step down and go home and take care of my mother.”
Piniella finishes his career with more than 1,800 wins in 23 seasons as a manager, and with 1,705 hits in an 18-year career as a player. He is a three-time Manager of the Year winner, including 2008 with the Cubs, and he managed the Cincinnati Reds to the 1990 World Series title. He is the 14th-winningest manager in Major League history, with a 1,835-1,712 record in 22-plus seasons. He’s fourth among active managers in wins.
Mike Quade, the former manager of the Rockford Expos (1989-1990), will assume the managerial duties for the remainder of the season. Quade has been with the Cubs’ organization since 2003, and spent this season as the third base coach.
Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry said Quade would be considered as a permanent replacement for Piniella.
Whoever does end up as Piniella’s permanent replacement next season will have his hands full. These are the Cubs we are talking about. I’m not sure why anyone in their right mind would even want that job. GOOD LUCK!
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Aug. 25-31, 2010 issue