Fresh off his appearance at the Winter Meetings in Orlando where he told a swarm of media that he “didn’t quit” on the Cubs when he abruptly left the team last August, Lou Piniella was spotted at a suburban Florida shopping center over the weekend, where he was working part-time as a mall Santa Claus.

“Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry …  zzzzzz … zzzzzz,” said Santa Piniella while nodding off to sleep. “Zzzzzz … where’s my piña colada … zzzzzz.”

Between picking up small crying children and setting them on Santa’s lap and polishing reindeer Rudolph’s red shiny nose, Piniella’s little elf buddy, former Cub Mike Fontenot, became increasingly irritated with his elfing responsibilities.

“I had to tickle Santa’s big old white beard and mustache every two minutes to wake his jolly fat butt up,” said Fontenot. “It was like I was back in the Cubs dugout all over again. What I really wanted to do was punch him in the face with my brand new World Series ring that I won with the Giants, but I can’t even pick that thing up, it’s so damn heavy.”

After his shift, Piniella joined former managers Bobby Cox and Joe Torre at the mall’s Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant for a 4 p.m. early bird dinner.

“Look, I really like that all-you-can-eat salad bar. They’ve got that sneeze guard and everything,” said Piniella, still dressed in his Santa outfit. “Now where’s that little elf of mine? What’s his name again, Theriot?”

Article by Jeremy Barewin. Photoshop by Pat Lamorte

Jeremy Barewin