Between sweating in the bleachers on Saturday and vegging on the couch for the other three games, I watched almost every minute of the Cubs-Rockies series this past weekend.
Yet nothing entertained me more than this scene from before Sunday's game. As you can see in the picture to the right, that's Lou Piniella taking time to sign some autographs for his fans ... two of whom just happen to be rather babelicious.
I mean, how could you believe Piniella wouldn't have taken a few seconds from his day to sign a few caps for these ladies? In fact, if those girls are also Big League Stew fans, I'd like to take this opportunity to say that I'd be happy to sign any number of mouse pads, Mac laptops or printed-out versions of this post. All they have to do is produce some valid ID that they're over 18 and then tell me which Wrigleyville bar I should bring my Bic felt tip to.
But like these two girls certainly must have been doing, I'd also like to wish Sweet Lou a happy one-year anniversary of his famous tirade against third-base umpire Mark Wegner. Yes, it was last June 2 that the Cubs rated an absolute mess in Piniella's first year. The Cubs were 22-30, 7.5 games behind the Brewers and reeling from the clubhouse fight between Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett.
Both Piniella and his players will deny the ejection was orchestrated or that it had anything to do with their subsequent success, but ever since that day, the Cubs stormed back to take the NL Central. Then they got out to the best start in the majors in '08. Put the two together and they've gone 99-68. A win in San Diego tonight would make it an even 100 victories, extend their current win streak to eight games and prove my initial hunch about the tirade wrong.
There are a lot of things to like about this year's Cubs team, but I'm of the belief that Piniella is the best among them. In a circus-like atmosphere that demands a zany master of ceremonies that keep everything in order, Lou has somehow mastered the art more than any manager that came before him.
Will it be enough to win a World Series? Well, let's not get too ahead ourselves here. But he certainly makes Wrigley Field a lot more fun — not to mention more successful — than it was before he got there.
Even the blondes agree.