After 18 years playing in the majors and 22 years as a manager, “Sweet” Lou Piniella announced that he will be retiring after this season. Lou was the only Mariners manager to lead the team to the playoffs, which he did in 1995, 1997, 2000, and 2001. I would argue that Lou was the best manager the club ever had.
What I’ve always appreciated and loved about Lou is his commitment to winning. Lou Piniella does not like to lose. And he’s not afraid to give umpires a piece of his mind, which he did while in Seattle on many a colorful occasion. I don’t know which Lou tantrum was better — the one where he kicked his hat around the bases, or the one where he threw home plate.
It was Sweet Lou, more than any player, who saved baseball in Seattle. To the Mariners, Lou brought the expectation of winning. From 1977-1994, the club never had a winning season. 1993 was the first time the Mariners played over-.500 ball. In 1995, the stakes were high. The club could have left Seattle without a new stadium. But under the guidance of Lou Piniella, the Mariners game from 12 games back to tie the Angels, beat them in a one-game playoff, and go on to the American League Divisional Series. Seattle became baseball mad. And Lou stewarded that team.
I’m sure Lou’s going to hang around baseball in some capacity. I would expect to see him as a club consultant, or possibly as an ESPN commentator during the playoffs. We wish you success, Sweet Lou.