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Shocker: Unhappy with contract, Jim Riggleman resigns as Nationals manager

Jun 23, 2011, 4:13 PM EST

Riggleman

Just minutes after the Nationals beat the Mariners with a walk-off sacrifice fly in a 1-0 game to move above .500 manager Jim Riggleman announced his resignation.

According to general manager Mike Rizzo this morning Riggleman expressed displeasure about his contract, which includes a 2012 option that the Nationals haven’t picked up, and said he would step down from the job if it wasn’t handled by the end of this afternoon’s game.

It wasn’t and he did.

What an odd situation, particularly with the Nationals playing their best baseball in … well, ever. Riggleman was clearly extremely frustrated by the entire situation, but to quit 75 games into the season, with the team winning 11 of their last 12 games, is shocking. Or maybe he’s just a huge George Costanza fan and a big believer in leaving on a high note.

By quitting now Riggleman does finish a season with a winning record for just the third time in 12 years as a big-league manager. His overall career mark is 662-824, which equals a .445 winning percentage that ranks as the fourth-worst in baseball history among managers with 10 or more years of experience.

UPDATE: Riggleman held a press conference and said he approached Rizzo requesting to “just have a conversation” about the contract and Rizzo refused, at which point Riggleman felt it was clear “I’m not the guy they want to go down the road with” and quit with three months remaining on his current contract.

  1. Jack Marshall - Jun 23, 2011 at 8:30 PM

    The support for Riggleman here is beyond belief. A club option exists specifically so the team can evaluate the manager after the season…there is no upside at all to making the call early. What if he shows up for games drunk? What if the team collapses and the clubhouse is in revolt? Trying to use a winning streak as leverage should have been one strike against him in Rizzo’s calculations—nobody likes to be forced to the bargaining table. Riggleman’s job was to manage the team, not jockey for a contract mid-season. A manager who quits on his team mid-season for purely selfish reasons is not a trustworthy leader….he WILL NOT get another chance at managing, and should not.

  2. wjm20155 - Jun 23, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    This is unfortunate for the team and Nats fans. It’s hard to feel sorry for or even understand Riggleman’s stance in this, unless there is something we don’t know about the situation. But if this is only about his option year, then shame on him. One thing I think Riggleman learned today was that he was not well thought of by the club.

  3. kinjirurm - Jun 23, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    I think that if the account of the events can be trusted, an important point is being overlooked. Riggleman asked to sit down and discuss, and Rizzo refused to even have a discussion with him. That is a staggering amount of disrespect, and would certainly make most of us consider quitting I believe.

    • Jack Marshall - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:44 AM

      That’s ridiculous. An option means, “let’s see how the year turns out, and then we’ll decide.” What’s there to discuss? That’s not disrespectful, that’s common sense. The season isn’t over yet. Imagine if every player with a one year contract quit on the team if they wouldn’t have contract discussions with him mid-season. Riggleman’s foolish conduct just proved that the Nationals were right to have doubts about him.

      • kinjirurm - Jun 24, 2011 at 3:12 AM

        You’re missing the point. He should have sat down with Riggleman, even if it’s to have a polite “you’re appreciated, but it’s too early to get into serious talks” discussion. If he’s too busy to even be polite, I wouldn’t feel welcome or appreciated either.

      • gmsingh - Jun 25, 2011 at 10:39 AM

        Saying Riggleman deserves all the blame doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. He’s a good manager and a nice guy, so there is certainly the strong possibility that Rizzo acted like a hard ass and Riggs decide to bail out. Baseball has really become kind of joke since Selig has been in charge: it’s all about big business. If someone has a disagreement with “the company” it’s gotta be that guy’s fault. Screw it. Screw the steroids, the interleague play, the “All Star game that counts” and the 400 rounds of playoffs. Baseball was fine before Selig got there, and now it’s all about the Benjamins. Riggs has already proven his mettle and I hope he gets another chance to manage with an organization that is all about the mutual respect.

  4. haggisbingo - Jun 24, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    How hard would it have been to just meet with Riggleman? The Nats are winning and this is fun in DC which is a very rare thing here. Why not throw Riggleman a bone Rizzo? I don’t want another Dan Snyder Redskins debacle here. Just keep the winning formula going and keep your fricking ego in check Rizzo!
    As soon as the Nats start losing again, I’ll be the loud one you hear at the ballpark: “BRING RIGGS BACK!”

  5. haggisbingo - Jun 24, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    Respect winning and respect the FANS, Rizzo and Nats management! Nobody in this town wants to see in the Nats the petty bickering and office politics they see in their own lives everyday. If you can pay the players 10 mill a year, you can sit down and talk to the head guy about extending his paltry contract. There just is NO excuse for this petty bs in my opinion. We just want to see the Nats win games NOW ( not stay in some sort of stupid planning stage)…

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