Talk about misplaced anger. Instead of getting mad at the media, Lou Piniella, blame thyself.

Talk about misplaced anger. Instead of getting mad at the media, Lou Piniella, blame thyself.
 
Oh, you could have been plenty peeved at your $136 million, alligator-armed, swing-at-everything slugger. Your wobblier-than-a-Weeble closer, too.
 
But it was you, Lou, who didn't do what you knew to be true.
 
Why take the Cubs manager to task? Because -- and this is very rare, as he does his job extremely well -- Piniella on Thursday contributed to his team blowing a two-run, ninth-inning lead and losing 4-3 to the Milwaukee Brewers.
 
In the eighth, he made a curious defensive switch. Taking out center fielder Reed Johnson, who less than a week earlier had made one of the great catches in recent Cubs history, Piniella went with Felix Pie. Nothing wrong there; Pie also is very good. But why didn't Lou shift Johnson to left, where Alfonso Soriano was making his comeback after 15 days on the disabled list?
 
Soriano is a lousy outfielder even when completely healthy -- and Piniella knows it. Lou also knows that those zany baseball gods have a way of making the ball find the worst fielder in the most important situations, which is exactly what happened in the ninth inning.
 
Asked by a radio reporter afterward if he had thought about sliding Johnson to left, Piniella shot an if-looks-could-kill stare at the inquisitor and shouted: "You're damn right I thought about it! You think I'm stupid or something? God ... "
 
He caught himself and quietly added: "Darn it."
 
After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, he got up, turned his back to the mob and muttered a few choice expletives as he left the interview room.
 
Easy, big fella. Blame thyself.
 
Here's a quick ninth-inning synopsis: Kerry Wood, the starter-turned-closer who now has blown three of seven save opportunities, hit Craig Counsell with his very first pitch. The next batter, pinch-hitter Gabe Kapler, lofted a catchable fly toward the left-field corner. When Soriano got to the warning track, though, he pulled up short and didn't fully extend his glove arm.
 
The lame effort opened the door for Milwaukee's winning inning -- Jason Kendall's RBI single and Ryan Braun's two-run double followed. It also signaled that Soriano was worried about being in the same zip code as the brick wall.
 
When you compare that play to Johnson's amazing, fearless, diving grab of six days earlier, well, it made Lou's decision look pretty bad.
 
Some also might find fault with Piniella closing with Wood instead of young gun Carlos Marmol, but Marmol is ideally suited to the role at which he excelled again Thursday -- entering in the seventh with two on and striking out the next two batters. Wood is the only logical choice for the ninth, at least until Bob Howry finds his fastball and command.
 
Only a stupid person thinks Piniella is stupid. His problem: He has a soft spot when it comes to Soriano. A very proud player back in the 1970s, Lou seems reluctant to hurt Soriano's feelings.
 
That almost surely was why Piniella didn't remove Soriano for defensive purposes. And it's why Lou probably second-guessed himself all the way to St. Louis, where the Cubs are scheduled to open what promises to be a fun three-game series tonight.
 
As promised, Piniella also reinstated Soriano as the leadoff hitter, even though the Cubs have numerous better top-of-the-order options than free-swinging Fonzie. Why? Because that's where Soriano likes to hit. He has a mental block against batting down in the order, and Lou doesn't want to mess with a high-paid guy who has a history of pouting.
 
Soriano had talked Wednesday about being more patient at the plate. Then came Thursday, when he saw a grand total of 11 pitches in going a weak 0-for-4 and hearing more than a few boos.
 
So what happened to being more selective?
 
"It doesn't matter," Soriano said. "I've played seven years and that's my game. I'm very aggressive. I don't have to change anything because the manager doesn't say anything to me."
 
Lou Piniella has been called many things, including intense, feisty, intelligent and strong-willed.
 
But has anybody ever called him an enabler?
 
When it comes to Soriano, that's exactly what the manager has become. This time, it helped cost the Cubs a game.
 
Mike Nadel (mikenadel@sbcglobal.net) is the Chicago sports columnist for GateHouse News Service. Read his blog, The Baldest Truth, at www.thebaldesttruth.com.