This year! Add one more name to the big News Parade: Lou Piniella. Retires. So, inevitably, we have to ask: whose hat does he wear in the Hall of Fame? As a manager, that is, and I wouldn’t THINK there’d be any doubt about this; but then again, I live in Seattle and am a fan of Seattle teams … everything is ALWAYS in doubt, until it’s not. Either way, you can scratch the Cubs and Devil Rays right off the list. These have not been the greatest Riding Off Into The Sunset years that we all envisioned when he left our little city. Yes, he did take the Cubs to back-to-back playoff appearances (and 1 Manager of the Year award in 2008), but if I recall neither of those teams passed the first round of the playoffs. The one very obvious choice (Mariners-aside) would be Cincinnati, where Sweet Lou won his first and only championship as a manager. Which had to have been special … had he not already won 2 championships as a player with the Yankees. Which brings me to the team that employed him for oh so many years, as a player, as a coach, and briefly as a manager. Here’s where I refuse to buy it. Really, I refuse to buy either the Yankees OR the Reds because he only managed each team for 3 years apiece. He managed the Mariners from 1993-2002. He won two AL Manager of the Year awards (’95 and ’01). More importantly, the bulk of his 1835 wins came WITH the Mariners. Factoring in how we were actually good – for the first and pretty much only time in franchise history before or since – for the duration of his tenure, and that his tenure saved baseball in this city (along with a few other special players and moments along the way), and I have to believe Lou Piniella is a Mariner in the Hall. But, I’ve been wrong before. I just hope I’m not here.