BY Art Thiel 09:07PM 10/10/2013

Piniella turns down Mariners’ bid for his return

Lou Piniella, retired three years from managing, told Mariners bosses he wasn’t interested in going back to the future. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Just when you think Mariners-world can’t get more bizarre, ownership asked Lou Piniella to manage the club again.

Eleven years after Piniella asked out of the Mariners partly because he could no longer deal with CEO Howard Lincoln and president Chuck Armstrong, they put on a “full-court press” to woo him back, an unidentified source told Fox Sports.

“I talked to them about the job, but that’s it,” Piniella told Fox Sports Thursday night. “There was nothing else to it. It was just conversation, nothing more.”

Piniella, 70, said he’s not interested in managing again.

“I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” he said, “which is watching a little baseball, doing a little bit of television for the Yankees, 15 games or so a year. It keeps me involved a bit.

“I don’t really want to manage anymore.”

Piniella managed the Mariners from 1993 to 2002, during which the Mariners reached the postseason four times — the only playoff appearances in the club’s otherwise dreary 37 years. Piniella, whose Seattle record was 840-711, remains the only Mariners manager to last more than four seasons.

The vacancy happened when Eric Wedge, not unlike the manner of Piniella, wanted out, declining a one-year extension the Mariners offered. Wedge said he wouldn’t have accepted a five-year extension the way ownership wanted to run the club.

In trading him in October 2002, to the Rays for outfielder Randy Winn, Piniella had his request fulfilled to go back to his Tampa home, where he had an ailing father as well as a daughter that needed his attention. He managed the Rays for three years and the Chicago Cubs for four years through 2010 and has not had a field position since.

Piniella has been on friendly terms with Lincoln and Armstrong since his departure, but the thought of him rejoining the same front office that he wore out — and wore him out — is, to borrow a pet phrase from the great Dave Niehaus: “Unbelievable!”

Leave it to the Mariners, at a time of crashing irrelevance that cries out for forward thinking, to look backward.

 


YourThoughts

  • Jamo57

    Probably the most compelling evidence yet that senior management has no idea what to do to turn things around. No vision, no idea. Can’t they just admit they are not baseball people?

    Too bad for the marketing department. They had already produced the mold for the Lou Pinella ‘throwing first base into the outfield’ bobblehead.

    I’m sure Little Joe Cora is next on the ‘short list’.

    • art thiel

      How about Alex Rodriguez as player-manager?

      • dinglenuts

        Mario Mendoza as hitting coach?

      • Bayview Herb

        I kinda liked the thought last week of hiring the old man from right field as a player-manager.

  • Trygvesture

    Argyros was a competent baseball genius by comparison. Sheeesh. The barrel has false bottom after false bottom.

    • art thiel

      Hard to know on the Richter scale of mockery whether this is the 9.0 fans have been waiting for. But it’s close.

      • Trygvesture

        What could beat this buffoonery? I’m beginning to see these guys as a two-headed Falstaff– thoroughly full of themselves despite no redeeming qualities whatsoever, thoroughly duplicitous when speaking out loud, oblivious to the criteria for greatness held by the world at large, unsupressable until death.

  • thekellygreenandwhite

    Now I know how Chicago Blackhawks fans felt when Bill Wirtz was controlling the club..

    • art thiel

      Don’t forget Loria in Fla, or McCourt in LA, or Irsay in Indy, or Schott in Cincy, or . . .

      • Kirkland

        Morbid as it sounds, the Blackhawks didn’t turn it around until Wirtz died and his son took control. And Loria also ruined Montreal, which has a surprisingly rich baseball tradition outside of the Expos.

      • Bayview Herb

        Someone last week suggested that the Dodgers were worth a bazillion bucks which brings all other franchises up with them. Sorry Charley. First, the Dodgers own their own stadium which revenues from parking exceed the Mariners gate receipts. Just the real estate they stole from Chavez is worth more than the Mariners, players and all.
        Is there anyway we can stretch football through the Summer Season?

  • ss

    Can’t you can see their intent. Put on your marketing hat. How much money could they make spinning Sweet Lou to the milk toast Seattle fan who only looks for the compelling story for his entertainment dollar? A nostalgia play for revenue if ever there was one. Winning baseball?

    During his retirement celebration, Griffey suggested we shouldn’t questions Chas and Howie’s desire to win. Sorry Griff.

    • art thiel

      See, that’s the point — they don’t even know how pathetic the idea is. Even marketers couldn’t sell this. Knowing Lou, I’m certain he was the one who told them that.

  • Mark

    You were too nice.

    • art thiel

      i’m not done.

      • Trygvesture

        Best comment in years.

  • Larry GAHLHOFF

    what’s next, mike hargrove, maury wills, bosco the clown?????
    joey cora has to be too smart to make himself avail. for this managerial dead end.

    • art thiel

      Remember, there’s only 30 of these jobs, and there’s a lot of Little League managers with big aspirations.

      • Kirkland

        I know he’s not the best choice from a tactical and a financial angle, but giving Dusty Baker a courtesy call would be a good move P.R.-wise. Baker fails in the postseason, but at this point, failing in the postseason sounds just fine to Mariner fans. (You don’t have to interview him, just say you called him.)

        • Bayview Herb

          The last guy fired from the M’s ended up ion the playoffs. Maybe it’s not such a dead end for a manager to showcase his talents?

        • Trygvesture

          If scuttlebut has any cred– and it does–Armstrong hates him for some reason, so does Lincoln. They wouldn’t even call Baker back in ’02 when they needed him and he was available and coming off good success with the Giants. They don’t want a winner. Never have.
          They want adequate + obedient. Period.

          Jack had to choose– be independent and go-for-great, or be mediocre, obedient and keep a job. He threw in with the losers, sadly.

  • Will

    Gee, what would Howard Schultz do?

    • art thiel

      He went back in time himself — suing Bennett after he moved the team to OKC. Talk about un-ringing the bell . . .

  • Joe Fan

    I think Mitchie the Kid at KJR needs to speak with his brother at ESPN about doing a national story about the utter incompetence of the Mariners front office, specifically Chuckie and Howie. Lets bring the pressure on these boobs to a fever pitch.

    • art thiel

      Howard just digs in more when he hears media criticism. Pressure needs to be brought from within ownership. That’s all that matters.

      • Joe Fan

        I hear you, but ramping up the media criticism could help lead to more “cracks” within the ownership group. Maybe Chuckie and Howie feel indifferent about local media scrutiny, but national attention may create more pressure (though admittedly may be entirely uninteresting to the rest of the country). Maybe local media could do more to broadcast the opinions and frustrations of the minority owners? Lets here more of what they have to say and hopefully create some derision?

        • jafabian

          Media criticism has been strong for years and nothings changed. One can only hope that some of the minority owners threaten to pull out unless things change up top. But there’s no one among them a bigger fan than Larson. And if his voice doesn’t get things to change I don’t see what would.
          Maybe we can get the USS Mariner to return to bring in the bullpen to the field???

        • Kirkland

          The M’s bought ROOT Sports, a cash cow that will only get bigger when the NBA/NHL return (at least one has to be on that channel). Despite the poor attendance, the franchise is profitable. Minority owners, in a $ sense, have nothing to complain about.

          Sports is a strange business. Championship factory Manchester United is drowning in debt, while the pathetic Houston Astros, run on a shoestring, are profitable. If you’re a businessman, which would you prefer? Good question.

          • art thiel

            MLB runs a splendid monopoly.

          • Bayview Herb

            Several leagues were stripped out and now appear on FS1. I don’t know what is left other than the mariners and high school sports.

          • art thiel

            Hey, Big Sky Conference. As a native Montanan, can’t beat that

          • Trygvesture

            Guess it depends on how you see bizness in a public-private partnership. WE bought the park. THEY lease it and profit because of it, but it’s NOT THEIRS. Bizness people of any measurable caliber honor their partnerships, however they be structured. They also don’t diss their community and expect to get away with it– they also don’t diss their cutomers and expect longevity of their enterprise. But then, real bizness doesn’t have unaccountables at the top.

        • art thiel

          The ownership has so far been solid in saying virtually nothing for public consumption. I’d be surprised if that changes.

      • Trygvesture

        ‘Within ownership’ is now the other two NOA board members, since the ultra-limp current board likes the favorable treatment billionaires receive and the neglect the tax-paying co-investors get under the Archbishop Lincoln manipulations of the franchise. Passive profiting, sans responsibility for the M’s board. But NOA may just out-bizness Mr Bizness and want O.U.T. Fingers crossed.

  • Da Kid

    Aw, c’mon Franchise. You stole this “story” from the Onion, right? Please tell me you did.

    • art thiel

      Would that it were true. Fox Sports found Lou, and his quotes sound exactly as he would express himself. There was no shock in his words, because remember, Steinbrenner asked him to come back twice.

      • Bayview Herb

        Steinbrenner has asked at least 10 managers twice.

  • http://www.paulbalcerak.com/ paulbalcerak

    This is an embarrassing trainwreck of a development, and it’s also the most interesting thing the Mariners have done since moving the fences in.

    If we can’t have a winning baseball team — and we can’t, not with this front office — we may as well have a Kardashian-esque, tragicomic reality show to gawk at.

    • art thiel

      At least it could be an episode of “Hoarders” fesaturing Lincoln collecting everything made in 1995.

      • http://www.paulbalcerak.com/ paulbalcerak

        There needs to be a sports version of “Shark Tank” where MLB execs pitch their next-season marketing ideas. Mark Cuban would call B.S. on the M’s before they could even finish.

  • Jamo57

    One other thing that has popped into mind. It’s very interesting how two M’s icons, Ichiro and Lou, have turned away overtures at remaining or returning to the fold. And certainly money was no object in making the offers in either case.

    Surely everyone can see what a sad state of affairs this operation has become and two of the faces on the M’s Mt. Rushmore want nothing to do with it. I’m curious at what point will Felix become weary of being strictly a marketing ploy realizing he’s not a cornerstone for the foundation of a winning ball club.

    • art thiel

      Felix’s patience has already stretched beyond limits most of us could imagine. That might be a tangible tipping point toward sale.

      • Trygvesture

        oh. tangible tipping point towards sale.
        Hm.
        That’s a comment unexpected, and a little obtuse, but …hmmmm.
        ANYthing that moves the fulcrum towards the exit of these unbelievable buffoons is welcome. If the King could be Bolingbroke to Lincoln’s Richard, well, what a fine coup it would be.

  • jafabian

    If Lou accepted I’d insist he take a drug test. So when they can Jack are the bringing back Dick Balderson?

    • art thiel

      If Lou came back as designated storyteller, he would draw more to Safeco than the 21K they’re getting now.

  • Long-Time Fan

    Every night, I try to get a good night’s sleep, and every morning I punch up Sports Press Northwest to get the latest. But, man oh man, who knew that I’d sleep all the way to April 1st.

    • art thiel

      Long-time fan, it’s good to hear you are sleeping some.

  • Effzee

    Let Jack Z manage this train wreck. He’s the one who believes in his plan. He’s the only supposed “baseball person” left who wants anything to do with the Choward Lincstrong Disaster. It may be the only option, in the end. He had the chance to show some personal integrity, and opted for Company Man. Let the three of ‘em go down with the ship.

    • art thiel

      The Wedge debacle really sunk Jack Z’s public cred. He was in no-man’s land: Side with Wedge and lose his job, or stick with ownership and lose his cred.

  • Hammtime

    Heck, bring back Chuck Cottier. He had one of the most memorable meltdowns as an M’s manager in the 80′s.

    • jafabian

      I want Rene Lacheman back. With Bill Caudill as bullpen coach and Larry Anderson as pitching coach. Jello for everyone!

  • GaryM

    “Let’s get this guy and go pound some Buds.” Joe’s not busy, and his present condition is in tune w/the Mariners.

    • art thiel

      Dear readers: For context above, read “Ball Four.”

  • Bayview Herb

    The least Lou could do is return first base. He threw it so far it as never come down.

    • art thiel

      The Mariners certainly didn’t find it often this year.

  • Scoop70

    This seems like a clear sign that the Mariners’ front office is out of any new, good ideas. I love Lou, but there’s no reason for him to come back when the same two guys at the top are still in charge as when he left. Enjoy retirement, Sweet Lou!

  • Mark Flynn

    M’s fan since the start, and disappointed so often with decisions made by ownership and management. Art, you have the insight on how this team operates – who do they look at? Better still, if YOU own the team or are GM, who do YOU look to?

    • art thiel

      Dusty Baker. Bryan Price. Eric Wedge.

  • maqman

    A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t
    change the subject. Winston Churchill