Chicago Cubs’ manager Lou Piniella announced his retirement from baseball today, effective after Sunday’s game, and Los Angeles Dodgers’ announcer Vin Scully will announce today whether he plans to retire at the end of the 2010 season.
With Piniella and Scully, Major League Baseball faces the retirements of two of its most recognizable figures.
Even if Scully announces that he will return next year, which is possible on an abbreviated schedule, it is clear that the eighty-three year old announcer is at least in the final stages of a brilliant sixty one year career with the team. His understated, informed, and soothing style is a trademark off the Dodgers and he has been the common thread with the franchise through ownership changes and a move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.
The announcement of Piniella’s retirement is not surprising, though the fact that it takes effect immediately is.
Following a very disappointing three and three quarter years with the Cubs, there is a growing sense in Chicago and around baseball that Piniella, long regarded as one of baseball’s best managers, has grown tired and perhaps old. At 66 years old, Piniella is four years younger than Dodgers’ manager Joe Torre. But Piniella’s highly combative and combustible style that in many ways helped drive his success in winning the World Series as the Cincinnati Reds manager in 1990 and in turning around the Seattle Mariners’ franchise from 1993 through 2002, has run its course and perhaps doesn’t age as well as the style espoused by the calm and placid Torre.
Piniella, who has a lifetime .517 winning percentage as manager with the New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs, has cited family issues in his decision to retire before the season’s end. In a statement released today by the Cubs, Piniella said, “When I previously announced my intentions to retire at the end of the season, a primary reason for my decision was that it would allow me to spend more valuable time with my family. That time has unfortunately gotten here sooner than I could have ever expected. As many know, the several weeks since that announcement was made have been very difficult on a family level, requiring two leaves of absence from the club.”
Of course, as sports fans know from players such as Michael Jordan and Brett Favre, and with coaches such as Bill Parcells, retirements in professional sports are never permanent until they are. There will likely be up to ten managerial openings at the end of the year, and if Piniella wants a job he surely will be able to get one. A team such as the Atlanta Braves might be attractive to Piniella. He lives in Tampa, which is a relatively short drive from the Braves spring training home in Orlando, and Atlanta itself is a short plane ride to Tampa.
While nobody is sure what the future will hold for these two legendary figures, baseball will surely miss Vin Scully and Lou Piniella as both prepare for retirement…at least for now.
Los Angeles Times