||As George Castle documented the 2008 season of the Chicago Cubs and their manager, Lou Pinellas, some of the inexplicable eternal optimism of the team's legacy as lovable losers must surely have infected him. It was to be the 100th anniversary of the Cubs' last World Series title, and they had a formidable squad, led by all-stars Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Kerry Wood, and Carlos Zambrano. If the team could finally break the curse and capture a title, Castle could have a massive bestseller on his hands. By midseason, the team had a comfortable lead over their nearest competitor. By September, they had the best record in the National League, and were the first to clinch a play-off spot. Castle must have been giddy with anticipation as he took eager notes and silently composed his responses for his nationwide book tour. Then, the play-offs started, and the Cubs were summarily swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers, without ever attaining a lead in any of the three games. In short, the season perfectly encapsulated the succulent promise and imminent disappointment that has marked the team's history.
||Sweet Lou and the Cubs chronicles from the inside-out Lou Piniella's stirring and celebrated quest to reverse the team's fortunes after a record 100 years without a World Series championship. Drawing on the story of Piniella's Cubs debut in 2007 and his history as baseball's ultimate firebrand, veteran Cubs reporter George Castle gives fans the real story behind the building of the best Cubs team in decades. In riveting detail he traces how the Cubs swept into the 2008 playoffs as the favorite to represent the National League in the World Series, but then went down in shocking defeat-leaving millions of fans to pin their wounded hopes on the prospects of their remade team finally turning the tide in 2009. . . . This is sports writing at its best, focusing on Piniella's old-school style and baseball scientist's mind; wild swings in the Cubs' win-loss fortunes; the inside scoop on a Cubs' front office that has been dramatically more aggressive than its predecessors; the byplay of daily clubhouse life and profiles of key players; and Piniella's colorful proclamations and homespun philosophy, along with his interactions with his coaches, the team, ball-club executives, media, fans, and celebrity hangers-on.