Lou Piniella (left) doesn’t think so — he stuck up for Dusty at the Cubs Convention today by arguing that his predecessor and the hurricane that devastated New Orleans were equal in damage, at least as far as I read Chicago Tribune staffer Paul Sullivan’s report. And World Series or not, it also sounds like Lou is going to remove the “lovable” tag from the Cubs, by God, making them sore losers if nothing else:

“Look, the perfect example of what we’re talking about here is the New Orleans Saints,” Piniella said. “They were 3-13 last year, and on Sunday they’re playing for a trip to the Super Bowl. That’s how quickly things can turn around in sports, and that’s what we’re going to look forward to in Chicago this summer with the Cubs.”

The biggest cheers during the introductions went to Piniella, Cubs icon Ron Santo and a trio of popular players: Lee, Carlos Zambrano and newcomer Alfonso Soriano.

If not for the presence of Soriano, the Cubs could not so easily bury the bones of last year’s performance, a long-running nightmare that lasted from mid-April to October. When the Cubs spent $136 million to reel in the free-agent market’s biggest fish, the fog of ’07 began to lift. They’ve spent more than $300 million on free agents, a staggering change in philosophy.

“I’m like, `Spend more,'” Lee said. “I don’t know where they got it, but I was liking it.”

The Cubs’ survivors of ’06 are renewing acquaintances this weekend, while Piniella is spending time getting to know his team. So far, he likes what he has seen.

“I spent two days with six players, and my impression was, `What a good group of young men,'” Piniella said. “I hope they’re all not this nice.”

Piniella was joking, as he pointed out in case anyone accused him of preferring nasty boys over nice guys. In truth, he won’t have a shortage of either.