Louis Victor Piniella (born August 28, 1943, in Tampa, Florida, United States) is the current manager of the Chicago Cubs and a former Major League Baseball outfielder. He has been nicknamed "Sweet Lou," both for his swing as a major league hitter and, facetiously, to describe his demeanor as a player and manager. He presently ranks 14th all-time on the list of Managerial Wins.
Piniella played for the Kansas City Royals from -73, and was the American League's AL Rookie of the Year in 1969. He was the first player to come to bat in Royals history. On April 8 of their first season, he led off the bottom of the 1st against left-hander Tom Hall of the Minnesota Twins. He doubled to left field, then scored on an RBI single by Jerry Adair. While playing for the Royals, Pinella accomplished a remarkably indubious feat. He became the first major league player to be thrown out at first, second, third, and home in a single game. This tale was recounted in a book written by former American League Umpire, Ron Luciano.
That was followed by 11 years as a member of the New York Yankees, where they won five AL East titles (1976–78, 1980 and 1981), four AL pennants (1976–78 and 1981), and two World Series championships (1977–78). After center fielder Mickey Rivers was traded, during the 1979 season, Piniella became the Yankees leadoff hitter. One of the more underrated players of the 1970s (he made just one all-star team), he compiled 1705 lifetime hits despite not playing full time for just under half of his career.
He wore uniform number 24 for the Orioles, and 23 for the Indians. His longer stretches were wearing number 9 for the Royals, and 14 for the Yankees.
On August 12, 1990, in a home game against the San Francisco Giants, Piniella argued with umpire Dutch Rennert after Barry Larkin was called out at first at the end of the fifth ending. After throwing his hat down, Piniella was ejected. Afterwards, Piniella ripped first base out of the ground and threw it twice toward right field. The Reds went on to win the game 6–4.
In the Mariners' 30-season history, they have had nine winning seasons and reached the playoffs four times. Seven of the winning seasons and all of the playoff appearances occurred during Piniella's ten years with the Mariners.
Piniella is the only manager in Mariners history to have a winning record in his tenure with the team, while serving at least one season.
In a game on September 18, 2002 in a 3–2 (10) win against the Texas Rangers, Piniella came out to argue a call in the bottom of the ninth in which the umpire called out Ben Davis after a close play at first and was immediately tossed by first base umpire C.B. Bucknor after throwing down his hat. Afterwards, he kicked his hat several times, aggressively approached Bucknor as he was screaming in his face, and kicked dirt on him as well. After being restrained by first base coach Johnny Moses, he then ripped first base from its mooring then threw it down the right field foul line twice after he imitated the umpire tossing him out.
Tensions eventually made Piniella step down as the Devil Rays' manager on September 21, . Sweet Lou had one more season remaining on his contract from October 2002, but agreed to a $2.2 million buyout, in lieu of $4.4 million that he was due, had he decided to manage the team for one more season. He would have also received $1.25 million in deferred salary from 2003.
Famous for his anger and meltdowns, he showed it during a press conference after a Cubs-Reds game on April 13, 2007, when Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano blew a five run lead in the 5th inning in which the Reds scored 6 runs, winning the game 6–5. A reporter asked him what was not working for the Cubs. He responded in a loud, angry voice, "What the hell do you think isn't working?! You saw the damn game! … This guy is your ace, you got a 5–0 lead with the eighth and ninth hitters coming up, you feel pretty good about that inning and all of a sudden it turns into a six-run inning,” Piniella said, obviously still agitated but calmer. “And then I bring in the reliever who’s throwing 30-to-40-foot curveballs to boot. I can see. I can start to see some of the ways this team has lost ballgames. I can see it. We’ve got to correct it obviously. This game here is one that got away from us that really shouldn’t.” In a similar meltdown after the May 17, 2007, game against the Mets, Lou stated, "I don't care about feelings."
On June 2, 2007, Piniella was ejected as a Cub for the first time after throwing down his cap, kicking dirt at third base umpire Mark Wegner, and kicking his cap three times. He was arguing a call that Angel Pagan was out at third attempting to advance on a wild pitch. In the post-game press conference, he said Pagan looked safe from the dugout, but acknowledged that, after seeing the replay, the umpire made the right call. However, he also said he was going to argue no matter if Pagan was safe or out: "it didn't make a damn bit of difference." He was suspended for four games, the longest of his career. The Cubs—22–31 in their 53 games through June 2nd—went on from there to capture the National League Central Division title and the best record in the league. Piniella led the Cubs to their second straight divisional title in 2008. It was the first time the franchise had made it to consecutive postseasons since winning the National League pennant three years in a row from 1906–1908.
Despite Pinella's Cubs dominating the National League for most of 2008, clinching the Central Division with the best record in the NL, the tide turned when the Cubs went up against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2008 NLDS. Pinella could only watch as the Cubs' offense suddenly sputtered, scoring only 6 runs in all three games, and his defense committed 4 errors in Game 2 to pick up talk of the Curse of the Billy Goat once again. Pinella's Cubs were swept by Joe Torre's Dodgers and outscored 20–6. He could only laugh, blaming himself and his entire team for failing to produce. He did mention the top of his lineup's failure to contribute. Alfonso Soriano went 1-14, Kosuke Fukudome only 1-10, and Derrek Lee, Pinella's #3 hitter, drove in zero runs the entire series despite batting .545 and going 6–11. After the game 2 loss to the Dodgers in the NLDS, a reporter asked Piniella, enraged about the loss, about starting Fukudome. Piniella responded, "I'm going to play [Mike] Fontenot or Reed Johnson or somebody else, and that's the end of that story. The kid is struggling, and there's no sense sending him out there anymore." Despite that, they lost Game 3 and, oddly enough, Fukudome went 1-2 when he came into the game later on.
|Team||Year||Regular Season||Post Season|
|Won||Lost||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|New York Yankees||1986||90||72||.556||2nd in AL East||-||-||-||-|
|1987||89||73||.549||3rd in AL East||-||-||-||-|
|1988||45||48||.484||5th in AL East||-||-||-||-|
|Cincinnati Reds||1990||91||71||.562||1st in NL West||8||2||.800||Won World Series|
|1991||74||88||.457||5th in NL West||-||-||-||-|
|1992||90||72||.556||2nd in NL West||-||-||-||-|
|Seattle Mariners||1993||82||80||.506||4th in AL West||-||-||-||-|
|1994||49||63||.438||3rd in AL West||-||-||-||-|
|1995||79||66||.545||1st in AL West||5||6||.455||Lost ALCS|
|1996||85||76||.528||2nd in AL West||-||-||-||-|
|1997||90||72||.556||1st in AL West||1||3||.250||Lost ALDS|
|1998||76||85||.472||3rd in AL West||-||-||-||-|
|1999||79||83||.488||3rd in AL West||-||-||-||-|
|2000||91||71||.562||2nd in AL West||5||4||.556||Lost ALCS|
|2001||116||46||.716||1st in AL West||4||6||.400||Lost ALCS|
|2002||93||69||.574||3rd in AL West||-||-||-||-|
|SEA Total||840||711||.542||-||15||19||.441||3 Divisional Titles|
|Tampa Bay Devil Rays||2003||63||99||.389||5th in AL East||-||-||-||-|
|2004||70||91||.435||4th in AL East||-||-||-||-|
|2005||67||95||.414||5th in AL East||-||-||-||-|
|Chicago Cubs||2007||85||77||.525||1st in NL Central||0||3||.000||Lost NLDS|
|2008||97||64||.602||1st in NL Central||0||3||.000||Lost NLDS|
|CHC Total||182||141||.563||-||0||6||.000||2 Divisional Titles|
|AL Total||1264||1189||.515||-||15||19||.441||3 Divisional Titles|
|NL Total||437||372||.540||-||8||8||.500||World Series, 3 Divisional Titles|
|Career Total||1,701||1,561||.521||-||23||27||.460||World Series, 6 Divisional Titles|
During their broadcast of Game 3 of the 2006 American League Championship Series, Piniella was commenting on player Marco Scutaro who had struggled during the regular season but was playing well during the series. He stated that to expect Scutaro to continue playing well would be similar to finding a wallet on Friday and expecting to find another wallet on Saturday and Sunday. Piniella then commented that player Frank Thomas needed to get "en fuego" which is Spanish for "on fire", because he was "frio" meaning "cold". Lyons responded by saying that Piniella was "hablaing Español" and added,"I still can't find my wallet. I don't understand him, and I don't want to sit close to him now.
FOX fired Lyons for making the above remarks, which FOX determined to be racially insensitive. Piniella later defended Lyons saying Lyons was "kidding" and that "There isn't a racist bone in his [Lyons'] body".
Piniella and Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillén appeared in one commercial to advertise a local car dealership during the first half of the 2008 Crosstown series. The creators of the commercial used their likeness in three other commercials, which featured stunt doubles riding bicycles and jumping rope.