With Lou Piniella Calling It Quits, Chicago Cubs Need To Clean House

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IJuly 21, 2010

CHICAGO - APRIL 12: Manager Lou Piniella of the Chicago Cubs talks to reporters before the Opening Day game bewteen the Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day at Wrigley Field on April 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

On a warm sunny afternoon at Wrigley Field, one of the regal venues in America, the wretched times are still delaying an obliterated franchise, visibly entertaining a bellyaching crowd in attendance mainly for the traditional seventh-inning singing, or the expensive taste of beer.

It’s almost overwhelming that much activity hasn’t been seen on Waveland Avenue—oddly enough, becoming a quiet street as a depressed population hasn’t bothered attempting to catch a home run ball dropping into the residential zone. But times are hopeless and pathetic these days, yet devastated fanatics attend games for a fun afternoon at the ballpark and a sense of pleasure and sanity, unconcerned with the Chicago Cubs inferior track record.

In truth, Cubs fans are burned out of the dreadful crisis, known as a hunted curse, which offers a clearer explanation as to why the Cubs are belittled and tormented religiously. This is a hopelessness issue, especially when the famous Cubbies were sadly scourged and deprived of championship worthiness, in position on several occasions to remove all the long-suffering futility.

Among the downcast perception of Steve Bartman, the most hated man ever who sat in Aisle 4, Row 8, and Seat 113, for infamously interfering with a ball, passionate fans are still showing signs of outrage.

Yes, he pathetically may have cost the worthy Cubs a possible World Series bid. But the faithful cannot have any grudges or point the finger directly at the fellow and disowned supporter—obviously not allowed or welcomed to Wrigleyville even when he has vanished from the public.

And still, this reminds us of an irrelevant team, bringing back memories of a three-game postseason sweep, one of the most heartbreaking collapses in sports, completing a tragic ending in 1969. But even in the modern age, the Cubs are overshadowed and have underachieved in disarray with lousy postseason runs and miserable 162-game seasons.

Maybe we can blame some of the Cubs floundering letdowns on Sammy Sosa—you know, the lying performance-enhancer abuser who confronted the ordeal by fabricating to our society that he took Flintstones vitamins instead of steroids until his name was unveiled on the mysterious list of 104 players.

Maybe we can blame some of the painful headaches on Milton Bradley, the former no-good, brainless, psychotic nutcase. Honestly, he was an enigmatic board game none of us ever figured out, spelling out the word "TROUBLE" instead of consistency and blaming issues on teammates, managerial staff and fans.

Beyond all, there are worse issues unhinging and staining the Cubs, labeled as the chaotic joke of baseball for dugout altercations, postgame rants, bringing in psychotic athletes, and filing bankruptcy as the Tribune Co. had difficulty selling the team to the Ricketts family.

At this time, the Cubs are in a pathetic drought. We haven’t seen the disastrous Cubs  win a pennant for decades, including a century when the average team player within the organization is overpaid and underachieving.

It’s really embarrassing that the Cubs are doomed in their 102nd consecutive season without a World Series championship solely blinded by demons and ghosts. But even scarier is a horror anecdote, as long-scrutinized general manager Jim Hendry is the overseer in flirting with the farm system or dismantling a horrendous club by trading in valuable talent for uninspiring talent.

When Lou Piniella was hired for the managerial role three years ago, he walked into the Cubs clubhouse at a time of a ghastly calamity and accomplished very little in a brief tenure, suddenly calling it quits after this season.

Now that he’s older and mentally drained, maybe the managerial role is too much of a burden, maybe he’s stressed out and pressured to cultivate a disappointing franchise and has the suspicion that he’s held accountable for the Cubs failures.

But, as Piniella is almost in his early 70s, he announced Tuesday that he was retiring as manager at the end of another mediocre season. While the Piniella era isn’t considered a success, he announced his retirement at a bad time and he hasn’t measured up to standards, considering that he’s absolutely burned out.

As the years progress, Piniella knows he’s almost 67, and that placing a tremendous amount of pressure on his shoulders is very stressful. The timing couldn’t be better to escape the displeasure and turmoil, as the mediocrity and languidness continue to shrivel a once-beloved franchise.

“I couldn’t be more appreciative of the Cubs organization for providing me the opportunity to manage this ballclub,” Piniella said in a statement. “I’ve had four wonderful years here that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I’ve grown to love the city and fans, but at my age it will be time to enter a new phase in my life. It will enable me to spend more valuable time with my family—my wife, my kids and my grandchildren. God has blessed me to have been able to work this many years in the game that I love.”

By using common sense, Piniella wasn’t coming back next season. He apparently had initially planned to retire in the final year of his contract with Chicago, which expires at the end of the season.

There were episodes of Piniella throwing postgame rants and on-the-field tantrums with umpires, regarding a bad call that forced the long-time skipper to explode in one of his crazy temper outbursts. But in the past seasons, he stopped charging the field frequently and kicking dirt onto the umpires shoes. He mellowed out as a manager with experience and wisdom.  

Despite the limitless failures and collapses with the Cubs, he’s worthy of the Hall of Fame for leading the Cincinnati Reds to a miraculous World Series sweep over Oakland and winning his only championship.

Now that he retires as a Cub, he’s remembered for a 0-6 drought that could rupture his legacy or Hall of Fame votes. The ramification, for the Cubbies never having postseason success or vanquishing the miserable World Series droughts, should be canning flawed GM Jim Hendry for his faulty mistakes in wastefully spending enormously and squandering much of the team’s payroll.

Let’s reflect back on the errant investments that backfired in the face of Hendry.

For decades, the Cubs have made cartoonish moves, a resemblance of Tom & Jerry cartoons with all the botched maneuvers exploding in the face of Hendry. He lavished an unproven pitcher, Carlos Zambrano, with $91.5 million based on a strong performance level, but has turned out as an indigent bust.

If anything, he has divided a clubhouse by throwing hissy fits and raging in verbal and physical altercations with teammates. It’s also worth noting that Hendry spent rashly when giving a $136 million deal to an overpaid Alfonso Soriano as a way to salvage his formidable livelihood in the majors. If Hendry is running the business, the upsetting fans will very likely experience a 103-year drought and counting.

“Our goal is to win the World Series,” Tom Ricketts said. “Our goal is to put a team on the field that can win a World Series every year. I can’t envision an era without that and still calling it a success, no.”

And now, it is a good time to dismiss Hendry. It’s the only way the Cubs will ever escape the evil curse that ruins all the endless possibilities of the pennant. Until then, he will construct a franchise with needless baggage and drama, which smears the Cubs of angling towards success.

The troubles aren’t on the field, but in the front office, dating back to the dumbest mistake when he signed a disturbed Bradley last year. The next time we see Piniella, he may likely call it as he sees it from the broadcasting press box after accepting a job offer as a commentator, while the Ricketts should remotely consider roster upgrades and trading for some value. Lastly, terminate Hendry, whose helpless revitalizing dismantled the Cubbies and drew teary-eyed, saddened fans.

Honestly, the franchise’s 100-year drought will never end, unless Hendry is removed as lead executive.


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