The Agony And The Irony

Esteban Yan, call home. It’s that bad for the bedeviled Rays.

Lou Piniella won’t quit; he leaves too much money on the table. The Rays won’t fire him; they’d have to ante up. Barring a buy-out and a deal with another team, Lou, Stu Sternberg and Vince Naimoli are stuck with each other through next season. The Axis of Upheaval.

But here’s the real rub for Lou. He’s smart enough not to walk away from millions, but he’s proud enough to care that his reputation and legacy are taking a pounding.

His has been a solid managerial career with one World Series ring. He left Seattle with marginal-to-arguable Hall of Fame credentials. But these last 2 ½ seasons his winning percentage has plummeted, although there was consolation in taking the Rays from bad to slightly less bad. After this season, however, even that dubious standard will likely not be met.

There may be only one way for the 62-year-old manager with a Rays’ contract through 2006 to make a real run at the Hall. He needs to preside over a turn-around next season. Pipe-line prospects have to produce; management has to spend seriously and wisely on pitching; and Aubrey Huff has to stop playing like the second coming of Ben Grieve.

That’s how Lou gets into the Hall.

No, I don’t like his chances either.

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