Monday, June 25, 2007

Piniella: All Women Need is a Good, Hardened Man

This interview with Lou Piniella appeared a week ago in the New York Times Magazine. Since I live in the glorious Midwest and not Manhattan, and since I usually devote my Sundays to chasing toddlers and not reading the New York Times Magazine, I didn't see it until the Rocky Mountain News reran it. Some fun bits from Lou:

Q: Do you think a woman could be a good manager?

A: If she had a good bench coach, why not? I would think she would need a good, hardened professional baseball guy that would help her with the X's and O's during the ballgame. Someone who knew the intricacies in and out of the game.

Q: Plenty of women already know the intricacies of the game.

A: I'm not sure of that. I think some of the sportswriter women probably think they do.

Lou's Al Campanis moment? Probablly not. My sense is that he's really only saying that to be a good manager, you have to have played the game. While it's a sentiment I don't necessarily agree with -- I can imagine a person who came up through scouting or something having enough exposure to the game to the point where actually not having played on a professional level doesn't matter -- I understand how someone like Piniella could hold such an opinion and not, you know, be a raving sexist. Whether I think a woman could actually play major league baseball is another column (short version: I'm guessing Jackie Joyner-Kersee could have played a decent second base).

Still, his comments didn't come across very well, did they? After all, one need not be a sophomore at Wellesley to take a bit of offense when someone in Lou's position says that a woman would be lost without a good, er, "hardened" man. Frankly, I'm surprised that no one has made a fuss over this yet, even if I think the fuss would, in and of itself, be unwarranted. At the very least it seemed like the interviewer left about seven good followup questions unasked.

What else does Lou have to say?

Q:Why are the Cubs doing so poorly?

A: I don't know. I've been here a couple of months.

Way to take responsibility, skip! Remind me to never need CPR or something if you and Bobby Valentine are hanging around. Finally:

Q: What do you find so satisfying about kicking dirt on another person, a practice you've been known to favor since you managed the Yankees in the '80s?

A: My mentor, Billy Martin, did it. And Earl Weaver did it. I've kicked dirt more out of dissatisfaction than anything else. When I was informed that kicking dirt on somebody can be termed as degrading - you know, I never thought of it that way.

Given that Lou had to be informed that kicking dirt on someone was degrading, maybe it's better that the reporter didn't followup on what he thought about women managing.