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So what was Jim Riggleman thinking?

Jun 23, 2011, 5:13 PM EDT

Jim Riggleman

I’m still pretty stunned by the Jim Riggleman resignation.  And to be honest, I still can’t decide if it was a smart move by Riggleman or the dumbest thing ever.

On the one hand, Riggleman says that he’s been “disrespected.”  We’ve heard that from wide receivers and power forwards before, but we’re not used to hearing it from 58-year-old managers.  I can picture a level of disrespect from a boss that might make me snap like Riggleman appears to have snapped, but it would be pretty extreme. More than merely not acceding to my demands that a contract option be picked up, as is reportedly the case with Riggleman. I’m thinking more like Riggleman asking that it be picked up and Mike Rizzo giving him an atomic wedgie.

It’s also possible that this was totally calculated.  Perhaps Riggleman wasn’t treated with extreme disrespect but he nonetheless knew for certain that the Nationals were not going to keep him on after 2011 no matter what happened. Perhaps he viewed it as a good time to leave — with a team playing great baseball and the perception that he rallied them into over-achievement — thereby setting himself up as a bit of a hotter property on the 2012 managerial market than he’d otherwise be.  Risky — by this point I think people have a good sense of what Jim Riggleman is all about — but not inconceivable.

Ultimately, though, I’m thinking this was a bad play for Riggleman.  Despite the immediate F-You thrill that telling Mike Rizzo to shove it may have brought him, the perception from all of this is likely going to be that Riggleman quit on his team in a snit. A team that — against all odds — may have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

We tolerate the playing of the disrespect card from those wide receivers and power forwards a bit more because they’re special and rare talents and are given more leeway if they are, on occasion, temperamental. Not so with managers, who are supposed to be a source of stability.  As it stands right now, I don’t think I’d want to hire Jim Riggleman to manage my team based on this move alone. I think a lot of teams will feel that way.

Maybe Riggleman too will feel this way before he goes to bed tonight and the adrenaline wears off.  And maybe, just maybe, this will be the scene tomorrow afternoon in the Nationals’ clubhouse before they take on the White Sox in Chicago.  Can’t hurt, right?

  1. Jack Marshall - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:37 AM

    Having just heard Riggleman’s inarticulate, illogical, confused attempt to explain what he was thinking on Baseball Tonight, it is clear that the answer is “not much.”

    He kept saying, “When you know you’re not in an organization’s future, you should go.” He had a valid contract he agreed to that committed him to the organization’s present, and committed the organization to nothing more. The whole idea of a club option is “let’s see how it goes and we’ll decide on the second year then.” He knew it. Riggleman wanted to force a premature decision when his stock was high. The Nationals had doubts. Riggleman’s conduct proved they were right to have doubts.

  2. mgflolox - Jun 24, 2011 at 3:55 AM

    I’m currently in an organization where I feel that my experience and and skills are aren’t respected by the company owners. I wish I had the wherewithal to just walk away and just let them try to survive without me. I know that they probably would eventually manage to carry on without me, but I’m pretty sure it would be a struggle. i would just like them to appreciate how hard it would be for them to carry on without my particular brand of skills and experience.

  3. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Jun 24, 2011 at 7:57 AM

    Hooray for Riggleman. Nice to see Craig that don’t take a man at his word. Didn’t Riggleman deny that he demanded that the Nats pick up his option? I missed that in your rant but why let the facts get in the way of a good post. The dumb move was letting him walk. Perhaps Rizzo will pull a rabbit out of his ass and the Nats will make the playoffs. Or perhaps Rizzo will hire the perfect manager for the team. If I owned the team I have part of Rizzo that rabbit comes out of on my carpet and ask him how the heck this happened.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 24, 2011 at 8:01 AM

      So you’re not taking Rizzo at his word — and the many reporters he spoke to this effect — that Riggleman did make such a demand.

      How are we different here?

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:09 PM

        Not different at all. It does come down to judgement. I don’t believe anything that Rizzo says. On the other hand, Riggleman has always been a straight shooter so he gets the benefit of my doubt. Your later posts seem to reflect some of this. What I like about you the most Craig is that you are open mined and do often change your mind.

  4. haggisbingo - Jun 24, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    I totally disagree with you. 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. whytewulf - Jun 24, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    So, it’s ok for GM’s to fire their manager’s during the season, but not for Managers to quit. I have a feeling they have had several conversations. Here is my take.. So people say you were winning, you quit on a winning team. You don’t ask for a raise after failing, you ask while winning, it’s when you have the best leverage. At the end of the year, your leverage is much less. So ya, he may not be looked upon as managerial candidate, but sometimes you have to take your chances. It’s not like the NATs or Florida are great examples of how to “own” teams. Florida has gotten lucky.

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