As manager of 2001 Mariners, Lou Piniella can relate to Warriors
Lou Piniella is one of the few people in the world who might be able to sympathize with Golden State head coach Steve Kerr.
Much like Kerr’s Warriors, who lost in the NBA Finals Sunday after his team posted a record-breaking 73 regular-season wins, Piniella managed the 2001 Mariners to a record-tying 116 wins only to fall short in the postseason.
Piniella told ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” Tuesday that there is a silver lining to losses like these. While the Cavs ended the city of Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought by beating Golden State, Piniella said the Yankees’ ALCS win over the M’s had an even more lasting impact.
“We get to New York and we go to Ground Zero, which was the right thing to do,” Piniella said. “We went and visited the police stations and the police wards and that area and also the firemen. We saw a lot of devastation and, truthfully, I think the Yankees beating us was great for the country. It wasn’t good for Seattle, it wasn’t good for our team, but, listen, they had a great team.”
When asked if he thinks the Warriors will remember their record season more than the Finals loss, Piniella said he believes Golden State players and coaches will see the bright side.
“I think it’s the former – the wins they had,” he said. “… If I were the Warriors, I would relish in the fact that 73 games has never been done and just be prepared to come back next year and win another world championship.”
Other highlights from the conversation:
On the 2001 Yankees’ rotation depth: “That’s the secret in postseason and championships, to have deep starting pitching, where you have three or four of them that you can start in the first game of a playoff and throw a No. 1 or No. 2 starter out there.”
On not being ashamed by the surprising loss: “You’ve got to tip your cap to (the Yankees). These guys, they played, they pitched, they had a two-inning closer, Mariano Rivera. It was a tough situation to beat the Yankees at that time. It really was. And they won four World Championships in a period of six years, so we really had nothing to be embarrassed about. But you’re right, after winning 116 games, we wanted to cap it off with a World Series win and we just didn’t get it done.”
On Ichiro’s accomplishments vs. Pete Rose’s: “Ichiro’s had a great career and he’s going into the hall of fame. He is one of the greatest players I’ve ever managed … This guy here, he ran like a deer, just made exceptional, exceptional contact. He was a Gold Glove outfielder, he’s had roughly 3,000 hits at the big-league level. I wouldn’t count the hits in Japan to beat Pete Rose’s record. Look, Japanese baseball is good. You can see how well they’re playing the World Baseball Classic and so forth, but I think when you start talking about hits to break Rose’s record, I think you do it basically in Major League Baseball. And it’s a shame because if he had come to this country five or six years prior to that, believe me, he’d be approaching that 4,200 hits that Pete Rose has. But I think it’s Pete’s record. I really do.”