He took a 95-loss team and brought it to the brink of the World Series in one season, so think twice before blaming him for the implosion in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the NLCS against the Marlins. And don't tell the gentleman farmer from Sacramento that you think the 2014 Cubs have no chance.
"Why do you say that? How do you know? What about the Miracle Mets in '69? They went from ninth place to World Series champions. I know. I was with the Braves team that lost to them in the division series that year.
"See, that's part of the problem with the Cubs. People are always waiting for the worst to happen instead of the best. One night in 2003 they tried to bring a billy goat into the park, and I call Andy MacPhail and tell him to get that goat out of there. He says, 'If we don't let him in, they'll blame us.' We're trying to win the division and we've got to worry about some damn goat. We didn't let him in.
"Look, being positive will help Rick Renteria big-time. Don't let 'em tell you you can't win. Don't let 'em talk about billy goats or curses or the past. Just go out there and prove everybody wrong."
GM Jim Hendry hired the former Yankees, Reds, Mariners and Devil Rays manager to replace Baker. Piniella had won the 1990 World Series for Cincinnati and steered Seattle to 116 regular-season victories in 2001, but what he did with the Cubs was even more impressive: taking a 96-loss team to back-to-back first-place finishes for the first time on the North Side since, yes, Frank Chance in 1908. After being swept twice in the postseason and then watching the club slide back into mediocrity, though, Sweet Lou bid a sweet goodbye at the tail end of the '10 season.
Now semiretired, Piniella makes himself scarce. But he did have this to say to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune this past August.
"It was an experience. Unless you're there and you do it ... it's different than what you think going in. You know, you win three or four games in a row, and you're going to win the pennant. You lose three or four games in a row and the season is over. It isn't an easy place to manage.
"Let me tell you. If I had to do something over again over there ... I've given it thought ... what I would've done was, when we went into the postseason, I would've told the team, 'There is no pressure on you guys. No one expects anything.' Take the air out of the balloon ... with the Billy Goat and the fact that the Cubs haven't won and so forth, that might've been a nice approach."
Small world: Two of the past three Cubs managers (Quade and Renteria) played on the 1982 Class A Alexandria Dukes. When Piniella suddenly retired in August 2010, Quade took over on an interim basis, then was named manager by Hendry in October. He's now working in the Yankees' minor league system.
"I had a rough year, but it's still a great memory. I'm from the Chicago area, and getting the job in front of family and friends was something. Rick is a good man, and I wish him well. He'll do fine. ... It's Chuck Tanner's line, I believe: The three things you need are patience, patience and patience. That and embrace the wonderful Chicago media."