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Lou Piniella is not frustrated (yet)

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piniella_ejected.jpgContrary to the signs you see peppering the windows of Wrigleyville apartments, it's not gonna happen.

No matter how bad things get, it would seem that Lou Piniella is not going to flip out.

He's not going stride from the depths of the dugout, throw his cap down on the ground, kick dirt, scream in an umpire's face, or grab a base and chuck it end-over-end into left field like some defenseless old rag doll.
This is noteworthy only because it has to be at least somewhat maddening to manage this Cubs team right now. With as much talent as they have in that clubhouse, the reasons behind the lack of offensive production, while evident with some players, must seem a complete mystery from others.

The old Lou Piniella might have already done something that resembled his July 2, 2007 outburst.

Take Saturday, for example. Having lost three games in a row -- two of which were heart-wrenching walk-offs against the Astros --  a sold-out home crowd sat there on a sunny afternoon on Chicago's North Side and watched as nary a run was scored by the home team, leaving so little for which to root, root, root. That might have been one of those days when the old Lou would have argued a close play for the sake of whipping the Wrigley faithful into a frenzy. He's been ejected from 60 games throughout his managerial career. What's one more?

But it simply didn't happen. 

"I'm not frustrated," Piniella told reporters after Sunday's 3-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. "Look, we're all trying to win baseball games. I think we've gone out there and played hard and lost a lot of close games. Today, we won a close game. We're playing a lot of one-run games, a lot of real close games. A base hit here, a base hit there makes all the difference in the world."

That's it? The manager of one of the most underachieving teams in baseball isn't frustrated? The old ya-win-some-ya-lose-some line?

It would seem we're in the midst of a kinder, gentler Lou. Sweet Lou, indeed.

Perhaps he just hasn't had the right opportunity. There's a chance the umpires have gotten every call correct this season. Maybe with age comes a certain wisdom and antipathy for blood boiling. Or maybe all that Aquafina has gone to his head.

Or maybe it's the fact that despite a .500 record; despite the fact that only one of his players is hitting above .275 and despite the roosting of an increasing number of boo birds in the Friendly Confines, the Cubs are still very much in contention in the National League Central Division at 2.5 games behind St. Louis and Milwaukee.

To be sure, things could definitely be worse. When Lou flipped his lid for the first time in a Cubs uniform in 2007, the team was 22-30, had lost five in a row, was on its way to losing its sixth and was 7.5 games out of first. This 2009 team has found a way to stay in the mix through injury and adversity -- something for which Piniella deserves credit.

For all we know Peaceful Lou might be his public persona. Behind closed doors, maybe he becomes the ranting, raving maniac we all miss -- one who will stop at nothing to motivate his club. If that's the case, the players are staying mum.

Ryan Theriot, who slapped a game-winning RBI over the outstretched arm of Minnesota's Nick Punto into right field, would only confirm Lou's patience with the team's hitting woes.

"Lou will offer a few points here and there, and really that's it. He doesn't bombard you with too much information," said Theriot. "I think he realizes with a few of the injuries and with the way the lineup's been turning over -- he's been good throughout."

After the infamous 2007 ejection, the Cubs used the energy of that single moment as a sling shot through the rest of the season on their way to their first of two consecutive division titles. Could it work again?
 
The Cubs -- and their legion of fans -- hope they won't need it, and their fingers are crossed that today's game is a "harbinger of good things to come," as Piniella put it.

But this week welcomes the renewal of the Cubs-Sox Crosstown Classic. The whole city will be watching. If ever there were a time to light a proverbial fire under some proverbial butts, it would be now.

This could be the ideal moment for Lou to have an epic meltdown. Don't hold your breath, though. It's simply not gonna happen ... that is, unless things get really bad.

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1 Comment

I worry more about showboat Mount Carlos erupting when he doesn't get his way...

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This page contains a single entry by Kevin Allen published on June 14, 2009 6:04 PM.

K-Rod, Bruney involved in outfield altercation was the previous entry in this blog.

Not breaking news: Wrigley Field makes Ozzie Guillen puke is the next entry in this blog.

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