With Piniella, Cox retiring, is the golden age of managers going with them?

Sweet Lou is hanging up the spikes at the end of the season.

The writing was on the wall for anyone paying attention to the way this Cubs season has gone. Lou Piniella isn’t just managing a third-place team that’s nine games under .500, he’s managing a team that is a complete non-factor.

The most notable thing to happen to the Cubs this year was Carlos Zambrano’s insane tirade that had him sent to anger management and Piniella to tell reporters, "I’ve gotten frustrated. But I bounce back. … The losing isn’t easy for me. I’m not used to losing."

Piniella will turn 67 this summer, his last as an MLB manager.
Piniella will turn 67 this summer, his last as an MLB manager.

Piniella does have a fantastic track record as a Major League manager. He won the World Series in 1990 with the Reds and was named Manager of the Year three times in his career – but his actual playoff record is 23-27, and in 23 seasons he’s been to the World Series once. Oh, and let’s not forget that before joining the Cubs in 2007, Piniella was the manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for three seasons. In the eight years since leaving Seattle – with a stop off in the broadcast booth in 2006 – Piniella’s overall record is 508-556 (.447) with an 0-6 postseason record.

Piniella must have been frustrated when he made those comments in late June because despite a .547 winning percentage in this three previous years in Chicago, he hasn’t really won much of anything.

Again, it could just be frustration settling in and perhaps "the losing isn’t easy for me," should be translated differently. To paraphrase the great line from Danny Glover, maybe Piniella is just too old for this … stuff.

The average age of all the current Major League managers is 55 and a half. Only eight managers in the big leagues were born before 1950. Piniella, who turns 67 in August, may just be too old for this stuff. Before this starts to sound ageist (admittedly that ship may have sailed) it’s not to say that Piniella is incapable of managing at this age. It’s just that being a baseball lifer can make for a pretty long life after a while.

Piniella first played in the big leagues in 1964 and played in the league every year from 1968-1984 when he retired and took a job with the Yankees. A year later, he was their manager and has been in the league for seemingly every minute since. That’s a long, long baseball life.

Bobby Cox is retiring this summer, too.
Bobby Cox is retiring this summer, too.

Piniella isn’t the only one who’s lived a long baseball life, by the way. Bobby Cox is 69 years old and has been a coach, manager or general manager in professional baseball since 1971. I’m not great at math, but that’s almost 40 years! That was certainly enough for Cox, as he announced his retirement well before the 2010 season.

And then there’s Joe Torre who turned 70 years old this week and is the oldest manager in the game. Torre had hoped for an extension with the Dodgers but cut those talks off before the season as to not "be a distraction" the rest of the year. There has been as much speculation about Torre’s future as anyone, and much of the talk has him leaning toward retirement after the season.

The other managers over 60 are: Cito Gaston, 66 (Blue Jays); Jim Leyland, 65 (Tigers); Charlie Manuel, 66 (Phillies); Tony La Russa, 65 (Cardinals); and Dusty Baker, 61 (Reds). Manuel and Baker seem to still have a few years left in them, which makes some sense considering Baker is the youngest of the lot and Manuel didn’t get his fair shake at managing until he was already in his 60s. Gaston was all but out of baseball before getting re-hired by the Blue Jays in 2008 on a two-year deal. Leyland’s contract, which was extended by the Tigers in 2009, goes through next season. And La Russa? His time in the league may very well be tethered to whatever decision Albert Pujols makes about his future.

So is 60 some magical number with regard to managerial success? That may be better asked this way: Has 60 always been the magic number for managers, and have the last 10 years actually bucked the historical trend? Manuel managed the Phillies to the World Series at the age of 64. In 2006, La Russa won the title as manager just after turning 62. Jack McKeon led the Marlins to the 2003 title at the age of 72. Torre led the Yankees to the 2000 World Series during the year in which he turned 60.

Before 2000, the last manager to win a World Series after the age of 60? Casey Stengel in 1958 at the age of 68. With six of the eight managers over 60 still in their respective pennant races, there are a few years before we have to start thinking about that kind of drought again.

Sweet Lou is hanging up the spikes at the end of the season.

The writing was on the wall for anyone paying attention to the way this Cubs season has gone. Lou Piniella isn’t just managing a third-place team that’s nine games under .500, he’s managing a team that is a complete non-factor.

The most notable thing to happen to the Cubs this year was Carlos Zambrano’s insane tirade that had him sent to anger management and Piniella to tell reporters, "I’ve gotten frustrated. But I bounce back. … The losing isn’t easy for me. I’m not used to losing."

Piniella will turn 67 this summer, his last as an MLB manager.
Piniella will turn 67 this summer, his last as an MLB manager.

Piniella does have a fantastic track record as a Major League manager. He won the World Series in 1990 with the Reds and was named Manager of the Year three times in his career – but his actual playoff record is 23-27, and in 23 seasons he’s been to the World Series once. Oh, and let’s not forget that before joining the Cubs in 2007, Piniella was the manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for three seasons. In the eight years since leaving Seattle – with a stop off in the broadcast booth in 2006 – Piniella’s overall record is 508-556 (.447) with an 0-6 postseason record.

Piniella must have been frustrated when he made those comments in late June because despite a .547 winning percentage in this three previous years in Chicago, he hasn’t really won much of anything.

Again, it could just be frustration settling in and perhaps "the losing isn’t easy for me," should be translated differently. To paraphrase the great line from Danny Glover, maybe Piniella is just too old for this … stuff.

The average age of all the current Major League managers is 55 and a half. Only eight managers in the big leagues were born before 1950. Piniella, who turns 67 in August, may just be too old for this stuff. Before this starts to sound ageist (admittedly that ship may have sailed) it’s not to say that Piniella is incapable of managing at this age. It’s just that being a baseball lifer can make for a pretty long life after a while.

Piniella first played in the big leagues in 1964 and played in the league every year from 1968-1984 when he retired and took a job with the Yankees. A year later, he was their manager and has been in the league for seemingly every minute since. That’s a long, long baseball life.

Bobby Cox is retiring this summer, too.
Bobby Cox is retiring this summer, too.

Piniella isn’t the only one who’s lived a long baseball life, by the way. Bobby Cox is 69 years old and has been a coach, manager or general manager in professional baseball since 1971. I’m not great at math, but that’s almost 40 years! That was certainly enough for Cox, as he announced his retirement well before the 2010 season.

And then there’s Joe Torre who turned 70 years old this week and is the oldest manager in the game. Torre had hoped for an extension with the Dodgers but cut those talks off before the season as to not "be a distraction" the rest of the year. There has been as much speculation about Torre’s future as anyone, and much of the talk has him leaning toward retirement after the season.

The other managers over 60 are: Cito Gaston, 66 (Blue Jays); Jim Leyland, 65 (Tigers); Charlie Manuel, 66 (Phillies); Tony La Russa, 65 (Cardinals); and Dusty Baker, 61 (Reds). Manuel and Baker seem to still have a few years left in them, which makes some sense considering Baker is the youngest of the lot and Manuel didn’t get his fair shake at managing until he was already in his 60s. Gaston was all but out of baseball before getting re-hired by the Blue Jays in 2008 on a two-year deal. Leyland’s contract, which was extended by the Tigers in 2009, goes through next season. And La Russa? His time in the league may very well be tethered to whatever decision Albert Pujols makes about his future.

So is 60 some magical number with regard to managerial success? That may be better asked this way: Has 60 always been the magic number for managers, and have the last 10 years actually bucked the historical trend? Manuel managed the Phillies to the World Series at the age of 64. In 2006, La Russa won the title as manager just after turning 62. Jack McKeon led the Marlins to the 2003 title at the age of 72. Torre led the Yankees to the 2000 World Series during the year in which he turned 60.

Before 2000, the last manager to win a World Series after the age of 60? Casey Stengel in 1958 at the age of 68. With six of the eight managers over 60 still in their respective pennant races, there are a few years before we have to start thinking about that kind of drought again.

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