Looking at Lou
In preparation for the Cubs' three-game series beginning tonight in Seattle, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times interviewed former M's manager Lou Piniella over the weekend. The use of the word "weary" in the headline gives you a pretty good idea of the portrait which Stone paints. I thought this passage stood out.
I reminded Piniella of a quote he gave me back in 2007, when the Mariners played at Wrigley during his first season. Noting the difficulty of the Cubs' challenge, he said, "It ain't going to drive me crazy. I want to get it done, but it's not going to drive me crazy." That's still his story, and he's sticking to it. "Our organization hasn't won in a long time," Piniella said. "Because of that, there's a lot more scrutiny here. And because of it, it makes managing probably tougher than it should be."
What struck me about that quote was how perfectly it captures the difference between being the Cubs manager and being a Cubs fan. As manager, your inclination is to say, "I don't care about the 102 years or the goat or Steve Bartman. None of that happened on my watch. We're going to look forward and not dwell on all the misery." As a Cub fan, at least a devoted one, you have no choice. If you're in for the fun, you have to bear the pain, all 100-plus years of it.
Yes, Lou, it does drive us crazy. And there's nothing we can do about it except hope for the pain to end.
Finally, here was another piece I came across from the Seattle Times, written in 2002 right after Piniella was granted his release by the Mariners, after ten mostly very successful seasons. This story, written by Bob Finnegan, paints the manager in an extraordinarily positive light, as the chief shaper of what was, and what remains, the brightest time in the history of the Seattle Mariners.