Lou Piniella today announced that he will retire from managing at the end of this season which, barring an unlikely turn of events, will wind up as yet another disappointment in the annals of the Cubs.
That will make Piniella's four-year run in Chicago just another blip in the history of the franchise, one that began with excitement and ended, as they all do, with tears.
It will also represent but a blip in Piniella's big league career. He took his first hacks in 1964 with the Orioles, weaved his way through three other teams before shifting to the dugout where he'd manage five clubs before announcing his retirement on Tuesday. Along the way, Piniella won two World Series as a player, one more as a manager, guided six division champions and won three Manager of the Year Awards.
We'll take him at his word and assume that this is the end of the line for Piniella, but no one should be surprised if his name comes up as a potential replacement for Jerry Manuel later this year. For all his movement and success elsewhere, Piniella remains more closely associated with New York than anywhere else.
All of that movement probably played some role in keeping Piniella from fully breaking away from his Yankee days. He had a fine career in the Bronx and played a key role on the 1977 and 1978 champions, but it is hard to think of many guys who won a World Series for another team without ever being strongly associated with that team.
Piniella's won it all in his first year out of the gate with the Reds but things devolved quickly into battles between him and his players. He was gone after just three seasons and the 1990 Reds very rarely come up during discussions of past championship teams. You're a lot more likely to see the tape of Piniella fighting with Rob Dibble in the clubhouse than you are to see any clips of Billy Hatcher hoisting the World Series MVP trophy.
He was with the Mariners for a longer period of time and is by far the most successful manager in the history of the franchise yet they still seem to lag behind the Yankees. Perhaps that's because Piniella was overshadowed by guys like Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez or perhaps it was the fact that he couldn't find a way to get past his old team in the 2000 or 2001 playoffs with Mariners teams that had outperformed the Yankees in the regular season, but he never quite shook the label of being an old Yankee.
We shouldn't be surprised. Nostalgia is something that the Yankees sell very well so it makes sense that a platoon player who was part of a merry-go-round of managers in the 80s has been indelibly linked to a team that employed him for a relative eyeblink in his long career.