Lou Piniella did the right thing by stepping down now

Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella stands for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner before the game against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field in Chicago on August 22, 2010. Piniella announced Sunday that the game would be his last game as manager.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

I don’t blame Cubs fans if they feel cheated by the way Lou Piniella has decided to step down as manager with 37 games remaining in the season. After all, if they have to sit through the rest of this miserably year, why doesn’t he?

But the fact of the matter is that neither Piniella’s heart nor his mind is in it right now, so why drag the thing out any longer? And besides, does it really matter who’s managing the Cubs at this point?

Piniella has had to take two leave of absences to attend to personal matters this year, which mainly consists of him visiting his 90-year-old mother who has been ill for most of the season. There are more important things than baseball and seeing as how he was going to retire at the end of the year anyway, there’s no sense going through the motions for 37 more games.

Following another horrendous loss on Sunday, Piniella had this to say about starting his retirement early:

“Cried a little bit after the game,” he said, before choking up further in his postgame news conference. “This will be the last time I put on a uniform. This has been very special for me. I’ll go home, do what I have to do there…and enjoy my retirement.”

Obviously this wasn’t the way he or Cub fans envisioned things ending this season. While the club also struggled last year, many pundits thought they would bounce back and that just hasn’t been the case. The team’s roster is littered with overpaid, underachieving veterans and the youth movement has just begun. It’s a sad way for a World Series-winning manager to walk away from the game, but not everybody can go out on top.

Piniella wasn’t going to be part of the Cubs’ future and it was probably right that he has decided that they won’t be a part of his present.

When it’s time, it’s time.

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Fredi Gonzalez a candidate to replace Piniella as Cubs’ next manager

CHICAGO - JANUARY 01:  Former Chicago Cubs second baseman and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg waves to the fans during pregame festivities prior to the Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on January 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

According to ESPN Chicago, former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez will be one of the candidates interviewed by the Cubs to replace Lou Piniella at the end of the season. Piniella announced his retirement yesterday, which will be effective immediately following the season.

Gonzalez, who was fired by the Marlins on June 24, has a long personal and professional relationship with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry stemming from the time they worked together with the Marlins.

Gonzalez, who has interviewed with the Cubs in the past, is the consensus top choice to replace Bobby Cox as manager of the Atlanta Braves, according to multiple baseball sources.

If I were to put on my prediction hat (which is essentially the sleeve off one of my old T-shirts that I fashioned into a hat), I’d say that Gonzalez winds up in Atlanta and Ryne Sandberg (photo) replaces Piniella in Chicago. Sandberg has been craving the Cubs’ job for a couple of years now. He wants it. He needs it. He wants to make sweet, sweet managerial love to it.

Of course, hiring Sandberg (who was a mega fan favorite in Chicago, which is about 10 notches above just a regular fan favorite in case you were wondering) makes too much sense. And nothing Cubs’ management does every makes sense.

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