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Do we really want "sweet” Lou?

By Chris Birge

OK, I admit, I was a bit concerned in listening to the announcers on the opening day telecast for ESPN. They were talking about how Lou Piniella was going to try to calm down at the request of his wife, Anita. Lou is kind of like Tiger Woods, it would seem. Tiger wants to be able to control his temper, but I don't know that it will be the best thing for his golf game. Likewise, I think if the Cubs lose the ability to have a tirade by "sweet" Lou when and if they need it, it may be a loss that severely damages their postseason hopes.

Consider an oddity of the Cubs schedule this year. They have nine games against the Cardinals after August 12th. Six of these games are in St. Louis, while only three are at Wrigley Field. San Francisco will provide the Cubs opposition on August 12th. That would seem to be right in the middle of the dog days. Would it really be that awful, if the skipper got himself ejected in, say, the third inning by throwing a tantrum over a questionable call, went back to the hotel, took a nap, and got the team refocused? It may be just what the team needs at that point, depending on momentum.

I offer two points of support for the statement above. First of all, most diehard baseball fans will know that Bobby Cox is the all-time leader in ejections for Major League Baseball, and I have not heard anyone doubt the fact that Cox should be headed for Cooperstown. Great managers have fire. It's debatable whether or not Piniella fits into that category or not, but it doesn't seem like he would even be in the debate without his temperament. It may not be the best thing for the health of a manager, but that seems to be one of the deals with the devil they have to make to receive the contracts that they do. A quick look back at recent history provides further evidence. Mlb.fanhouse.com ran an article in February 2007 in which Sports Illustrated reporter Albert Chen said that Piniella was making the same type of statement about his attitude toward the 2007 season. Well, there are people who will make the argument that his June 2nd outburst and ejection was the turning point of that season. Obviously, the plan back then didn't last very long.

So, my request to Anita Piniella is simply this. Give your husband a mulligan or two. He may not need them, but the team almost certainly will. One World Series may very well be enough to give him a legacy of greatness, but if he could win one for the Cubs, there would be no question about what his legacy would be. He could be the king of Chicago for as long as he wanted to be. It would be the best life you and your husband could ever want. A calmer Lou might be good for Anita, but it would likely hurt the Cubs, something I don't think either Piniella would want to do.

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