OBSERVATIONS: Why Isn’t Sweet Lou Piniella In The Hall of Fame?

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave before leaving this morning for a week’s vacation on St. Simons Island, wondering if the Cincinnati Reds will win a game before I return?

—WHY NOT LOU?: Why isn’t Lou Piniella in the Hall of Fame as a manager. I don’t think he ever kicked dirt on the shoes of any of the committee voters.

Only two managers ever won 90 or more games for four different teams, Dick Williams and Sweet Lou. Piniella did it with the New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs.

He won 1,835 games, more than Jim Leyland (1,769), Tommy Lasorda (1,599), Dick Williams (1571 Earl Weaver (1,480) and Whitey Herzog (1,281). Leyland, Lasorda, Williams, Weaver and Herzog are in the Hall of Fame.

In additiion, only 13 managers won more games than Piniella and 12 are in the Hall of Fame.

And here’s one not generally known. Piniella accepted the Cubs job in 2007 but hadn’t signed a contract yet when he received a phone call from Cincinnati Reds CEO Bob Castellini.

“C’mon, Lou, you can’t take a managing job in our own division,” said Castellini. “Come back to Cincinnati.”

Piniella said he would have loved to return to the Reds, but honored his commitment to the Cubs. Ironically, Lou replaced Dusty Baker in Chicago. When Piniella said no to Castellini, he hired Baker to manage the Reds.

Piniella, of course, never met an umpire he couldn’t rile. But Cowboy Joe West got the better of him one day when Lou came charging out of the dugout.

Before Lou could throw his cap on the ground and get in the umpire’s face, West held up his hand like school crossing guard and said:

“Don’t come any farther, It’s 100 degrees and if I have to be out here all day, so do you, I’m not throwing you out of his game because you’re having a lousy day of managing. You should have taken your starting pitcher out two innings ago.”

Piniella slinked back to the dugout without a word.

—THAT’S A ’30’: Former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jose Rijo made up his own word when the team went on a losing streak or played a bad game.

Said Rijo, rubbing snake oil on his talented right biceps, “This is the height of embarrassivity,”

And that should be the case for the Reds’ so-called offense. When they began play Tuesday night against Arizona, the Reds’ team batting average was .210, worst in MLB, 30th of 30 teams.

That’s embarrassing, but the embarrassivity part is the fact that the 8-27 Chicago White Sox were hitting .001 better at .211.

—TARIK WHO?: Aaron Judge hit a home run and a double off this 23-year-old lefthander and then said, “He’s one of the best pitchers in the game. A guy like that that’s got plus velocity, plus-plus stuff, plus feel for all his stuff and can throw any pitch at any time.”

What lefty was The Judge talking about: Clayton Kershaw? Blake Snell? Jordan Montgomery? Chris Sale? John Means?

No, Judge was talking about a guy working in near obscurity in the concrete monsrosity called Comerica Park in Detroit.

His name is Tarik Skubal and he is 4-0 in seven starts with a 1.90 earned run average. And on the day Judge is talking about, the New York Yankees beat the Tigers, 5-2.

But Skubal pitched six innings and gave up two runs, six hits, walked none and struck out 12 and was not involved in the decision. And his last strikeout was Judge.

Skubal uses an old-school high leg kick during his delivery and his catcher says of the 6-3, 245-pounder, “He comes at you with all ass and elbow.”

Tarik Skubal? Turkey? Czech Republic? Sweden? Nah, the guy is from California, a ninth-round pick by the Tigers in 2018 out of Seattle University.

—WHAT A MESS: The NIL rule has changed the college football and basketball landscape into a patch of overgrown weeds, with players laying in those weeds waiting for the best offer.

Does NIL stand for Name, Image and Likeness or Now It’s Legal? One college coach said when he drives into a parking lot used by his players, he has the cheapest car in the lot.

Ohio State’s backers staged an auction and three-fourths of the way through it the bids had reached $875,000 and an observer said, “That $875,000 will buy us half a quarterback.”

And somebody wondered, “When did you last hear that a college player was academically ineligible?”

Speaking of the transfer portal, new University of Dayton center Zed Key, a 6-8, 250-pound transfer from Ohio State, has a pet snake and likes to work on cars.

No report yet on if he has a hook shot.

—IS IT JEALOUSY?: Clearly, Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve isn’t familiar with the adage of knowing which side of her bread has the butter. When she drops her bread, the butter is going to get dirty.

The WNBA hasn’t even started yet and Reeve is complaining about the attention and marketing rookie Caitlin Clark is receiving.

“There is more than one player in the WNBA,” said Reeve. Oh, yeah. Ask the average basketball fan to name one. Isn’t it best to stay quiet and enjoy the extra attendance and attention C.C. is bringing to the WNBA?

—COLOR BLIND: Asking for a former friend: Why don’t the Chicago White Sox wear white socks?
—QUOTABLE QUIPS: Baseball people say the darndest things:

From old-time sports writer Arthur Baer: “Cincinnati is nuts with baseball and they should call the town Cincinnutty.” (Well, Art, the whole town is batty about Cincinnati.)

From former Pittsburgh outfielder R.J. Reynolds: “I never read the newspapers. It isn’t healthy for professional athletes.” (You aren’t supposed to eat the sports page, R.J., and your tobacco wasn’t so hot for athletes.)

From former first baseman Johnny Mize: “The only spirit you see in baseball these days is the kind you drink.” (Were most of them drinking Smoky Goat scotch?)

From former umpire Tom Gorman: “Any time I got those bang-bang plays at first base, I always called ‘em out. It made the game shorter.” (If they had replay/review in your time, Tom-Tom, you would have made the game longer.)
—PLAYLIST NO. 50: We’ve reached the half century mark of our list and we’re still going:

Stop In The Name Of Love (The Supremes), To Love Somebody (BeeGees), Where That Came From (Randy Travis), Long Tall Sally (Little Richard), I Have A Dream (Abba), Please Mr. Postman (The Marvelettes), Crazy (Patsy Cline).

Fast As You Can (Dwight Yoakam), In The Ghetto (Elvis Presley), In The Stilll Of The Night (The Four Satins), I Walk The Line (Johnny Cash), You’ve Got A Friend (James Taylor), Knock Three Times (Tony Orlando & Dawn), Isn’t She Lovely (Stevie Wonder).


One thought on “OBSERVATIONS: Why Isn’t Sweet Lou Piniella In The Hall of Fame?”

  1. Really surprised few have mentioned the amazing name for a pitcher: “Sku-ball”. More baseball amazingness!

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