We all suspected it for more than a few weeks, but now it’s official: Lou Piniella will retire from managing baseball at the end of the 2010 season.

From Piniella’s statement:

“I couldn’t be more appreciative of the Cubs organization for providing me the opportunity to manage this ballclub. I’ve had four wonderful years here that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I’ve grown to love the city and the fans, but at my age, it will be time to enter a new phase in my life. It will enable me to spend more valuable time with my family – my wife, my kids and my grandchildren. God has blessed me to have been able to work this many years in the game that I love.”

Good for you, Lou. The failings of the 2010 Cubs (and 2009 Cubs) were no more your fault than the successes of the 2008 Cubs (and 2007 Cubs) were your achievement. That is to say, generally you helped. For that, we thank you. And for moving on, we thank you, as well.

Let the Obsessive Manager Search Watch begin.