He might’ve already gotten the job in Chicago, but Lou Piniella can consider the following from the Dayton Daily News’ Hal McCoy a belated letter of reference.
Everybody knows about the Rob Dibble-Piniella clubhouse scuffle. Few know it was started by yours truly. Dibble was the closer in 1991, and when he didn’t appear in a closing situation, I asked Piniella about it and he said, “Dibble told me before the game his shoulder hurt and he wasn’t available.”
When I asked about the shoulder and what Piniella said, Dibble said, “The manager is a liar.” I dutifully relayed that message to Piniella, and he nearly flattened me against his office door on his sprint to the clubhouse to jump on Dibble.
Another memorable moment from ’91 involved another reliever. Things weren’t going well for Randy Myers, one of the Nasty Boys (Dibble, Myers, Norm Charlton), and he kept harping about a trade. His locker was right around the corner from Piniella’s office, and after one game Lou was asked about Myers’ trade talk. Piniella erupted, screaming loud enough so that Myers could hear:
“He is paid to wear the uniform he is wearing. He takes the checks, doesn’t he? He should just shut up and pitch when he is asked to pitch. If not, just take off the damn uniform and go home. How’s that?”
Piniella’s contract expired after the 1991 season and he wanted to stay in Cincinnati, but he wanted his situation cleared before the season ended, via a contract extension. CEO Marge Schott wouldn’t do it.
In late August, the Reds were in San Diego, hopelessly out of the race. Piniella and I went to Del Mar racetrack for some early-afternoon relaxation. After five races, I suggested to Lou that it was time to get to the park so he could make out his lineup card and be there for batting practice. “One more race,” he said. One more became two more, and I nearly had to drag him out of the place.
On the way to the park, I mentioned that it wouldn’t look good to be late, and he said, “Who cares? I’m not coming back next year.” What a nice way to get a scoop.