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Lou Piniella wasted no time waffling.
“I'm planning to come back next year,'” the 66-year-old Cubs manager said immediately after the sale of the storied baseball franchise to the Ricketts family was completed, the Sun-Times reports.
The Tribune Company finalized the years-long sale process Friday, agreeing to sell all but a 5 percent stake in the Cubs franchise to the Ricketts family for $845 million.
Whether or not the hall-of-fame-bound skipper would return to the club had been a hotly contested topic around Chicago. Piniella bailed on his former managing gigs with Seattle and Tampa Bay before his contracts were up, and some feared the change in ownership would spur Lou to do the same here. But that’s not the case with the Cubs, he said.
''This [sale agreement] is good for a lot of people in the organization. We can do some things going forward. But that's been my plan, to come back next year.''
Piniella, who has been prone to Cubbie malapropisms – like the curse of the goat -- in the past seems to have gotten one mantra right: It’s always about next year.
Some Cubs players lament the fact that the sale came so late.
"I wish it came about a month earlier,'' first baseman Derrek Lee said, referring to the limited activity around the trade deadline. ''I think Jim's [Hendry’s] hands were a little tied. "Actually, I wish it came about eight months earlier."
''Hopefully, [the Rickettses] are in this to win and not just to say they own the Cubs, and they're willing to keep the payroll the way it is and we can do what we need to do.''
Hendry, for his part, is excited by the move.
''Tom [Ricketts] seems like a guy that not only really cares about the Cubs but also the people of Chicago, and I think he wants to do the right thing for the franchise.''
And third baseman Aramis Ramirez already has a wish list for the new owners.
''Now we can go get Roy Halladay,'' Ramirez joked.