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Lou-Be-Gone: Piniella will leave Cubs after Sunday's game

Big League Stew

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Lou Piniella is saying goodbye to the Chicago Cubs 37 games earlier than intended.

Citing a desire to tend to his ill mother, Piniella will manage today's game against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. He will then turn over control of the team to coach Mike Quade, who will serve as interim manager for the rest of the season (and then be considered for the permanent job in 2011, says GM Jim Hendry).

Here's part of Piniella's statement (via the Chicago Tribune):

"When I previously announced my intentions to retire at the end of the season, a primary reason for my decision was that it would allow me to spend more valuable time with my family. That time has unfortunately gotten here sooner than I could have ever expected. As many know, the several weeks since that announcement was made have been very difficult on a family level, requiring two leaves of absence from the club. While I fully intended to manage this club the rest of the season, a family situation at home now requires my full attention.

Since he's already taken two leaves of absences from the team to care for his mother, Piniella is making the right call to leave a season that became meaningless months ago. Family takes precedence over any team, especially one that's 20.5 games out of first place and has seen a good part of its core already shipped elsewhere.

If there's any criticism to level it's that he should called it quits for good on July 20 when he made his initial announcement on retiring. The final 2 1/2 months were never going to anything more than a through-the-motions slog, so what was the point of Piniella — frustrated and fed up as he was — delaying the inevitable?

Ah well, what's done is done and Piniella will get his chance to draw some more cheers from a Wrigley Field faithful that will never know how to reconcile his most notable accomplishment of pairing back-to-back NL Central titles with being the victim of back-to-back playoff sweeps. That he'll leave this way — while Bobby Cox watches from the opposite dugout and plans to continue his own retirement tour on a different path — seems fitting for one of the most disappointing Cubs seasons in recent memory.

But as I said before, it's completely understandable giving the circumstances. So long, Lou.

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