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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. deathmonkey41 - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    Maybe he sees the writing on the wall and wants to get out while it’s still his choice?

    • nudeman - Jun 23, 2011 at 10:37 PM

      There has to be a profoundly personal aspect to this that we don’t know about. A manager just doesn’t quit on a team playing well; especially one with Strasburg coming back in a couple months. I don’t think Riggelman has a rep as a guy who goes off half cocked and does nutty stuff.

      So before we all trash him, I’d like to know more. I suppose it’s even possible he has an ace up his sleeve, like knowing another team (Florida?) has an interest in inking him for multiple years.

  2. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    “….against all odds — may have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.” I have only one thing to say here:

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:25 PM

      Seriously though. I’d like to know the real reason…if it is just the option thing, then I don’t think he made the right move quitting now. My guess is there is something more, deeper, sadistic, evil…or not.

  3. largebill - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    “Am I crazy, or didn’t you quit?”

    Completely agree with you that he is toast as a manager. Saw several reporters tweet that this was good maneuvering and he is in good shape for maximizing his position dollars wise this off season and I thought they were nuts. No sane executive hires someone to run their plant if the person up and quit in the middle of last job especially when there are dozens of candidates begging for a chance to manage. Makes me think those sports reporter never had to run anything.

  4. tuftsb - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    Were his players going over his head and directly to Rizzo? If that was happening, I can justify his tantrum, but it still looks like he had less motivation than his players.

  5. trevorb06 - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    This wouldn’t look good on any resume. I’m with Craig where I wouldn’t want to hire somebody if he’s just going to jump ship without any sort of warning. Who knows, maybe there was something going on inside the Nats’ club house we haven’t heard. I have a feeling some people are going to be talking in the days to come.

    • atworkident - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:51 PM

      there was a warning he gave them until today to decide on his option. it isn’t like they didn’t know about the deadline he had in place. rizzo isn’t exactly a saint. what other gm goes after an umpire post game?

  6. SmackSaw - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    He must have plenty of F.U. money.

  7. tolbuck - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    Could it be Riggleman is taking job career advice from Charlie Manuel? After all, Charlie did something similar in Cleveland in 2002 and look how well it worked out for him.

  8. vikesfansteve - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    He has people here in D.C. excited about the NATS. Good manager. If he had finished 10 games or so above .500 the guy probably would have got a 2 yr extension. Don’t forget though a couple of weeks back they were 6 games under .500. Looks like the NATS called his bluff. OOOPS. Hope you can hook up somewhere else Riggs. Wish this wouldn’t have gone down in such a weird way.

  9. Ari Collins - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Palin might be looking for a VP candidate next year.

  10. vikesfansteve - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    He should be like Larry David when he quit SNL & just show up at the game like nothing happened. I wonder would that work?

  11. Chris Fiorentino's Rash - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    According to Cot’s the National’s have $68m in contracts. Forbes estimates the club is valued at $427m
    I cannot find Riggleman’s contract amount, but with recently handing out $126m to Werth and $6.25m signing bonus to Harper, you would think Rizzo could at least have a conversation with Riggleman about the option. Even if it was going to be declined, it looks like Riggleman only wanted to talk.
    While its not the way I was raised to handle that situation, I can understand Riggleman’s decision.

    For all we know Riggleman could be in some of life’s crossroads like whether to buy a new home, or something like that.. May have been looking for security. Who knows.. fresh story right now..

  12. bcjim - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    He was reported making all of 600k. The nats should have absolutely picked up the option, if it didn’t work out, so what, fire him, 600 lousy K. Cheapos,i hope they go down in flames.

  13. royalsfaninfargo - Jun 23, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    Riggleman’s career line: 661-824, 0 playoff app., 1 winning season in 12 years. Outside of of the Nats playing better the last few weeks, this guy doesnt have much ground to stand on giving an ultimatum to any team.

    • bigxrob - Jun 23, 2011 at 6:37 PM

      Wrong. He went to the play offs as the cubs manager,

      • royalsfaninfargo - Jun 23, 2011 at 6:43 PM

        Good catch. Forgot about the Wildcard, but even adding 1 Playoff app. doesnt do much for his resume.

      • bigxrob - Jun 23, 2011 at 7:23 PM


  14. derekjetersmansion - Jun 23, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    He was going to to be fired anyway, at some point. Probably when Strasburg is a consistent MLB starter (around that time).

    Quote from Huffington Post made me laugh: “Jim Riggleman, apparently unhappy with his contract — or maybe unhappy that Teddy never freaking wins — told General Manager Mike Rizzo that he would drop the mic and walk off stage if his contract wasn’t improved before today’s game. He dropped the mic.”

  15. riverace19 - Jun 23, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    Sometimes you bluff and get called “all in”
    whoops! He was holding a pair of 9’s and got called.
    Too bad for him, even if he didn’t get an extension still could have improved his resume.

  16. bigharold - Jun 23, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    “.. by this point I think people have a good sense of what Jim Riggleman is all about ..”

    Up until this point he was a guy with a losing record of about 150 games under .500, .. now he can add quitter to it. Unless there is some undisclosed aspect this is a seriously stupid more.

  17. Jonny 5 - Jun 23, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    Maybe he already has a job lined up? Who has the audacity to make an odd ball request such as that with a due date mid season? A guy who’s got a job offer on the table, that’s who. Where? Chicago?

  18. rodneycompton - Jun 23, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    It’s his life. Sounds to me like he gave them ever opportunity to discuss the issue, and The Nationals elected to ignore his concerns. It might not end-up being the best decision for his pocketbook, but it shows resolve and backbone (probably the things that had his team performing).

  19. stairwayto7 - Jun 23, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    He will be at ESPN with the other bad managers!

  20. jimbo1949 - Jun 23, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    Riggleman requested a conversation with Rizzo about his contract tomorrow(friday). Rizzo told him the same thing he’s told him all year, not a good time. Riggleman tells Rizzo he should reconsider, Rizzo says no. Riggleman reads between the lines, says you can replace me now instead of later.
    In the words of former Gnat, Joey Eischen: You can just suck on that and like it.

  21. Ari Collins - Jun 23, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    I don’t really know if Riggleman is a good manager or not, but him being the manager for lousy teams doesn’t really tell you anything one way or another.

  22. mtreder1 - Jun 23, 2011 at 9:39 PM

    The Seinfeld clip is good, but even better would have been Michael giving Fredo a hug while looking past him at Rocco and giving him a nod.

  23. simon94022 - Jun 23, 2011 at 10:14 PM

    Riggelman says he wants security, but by quitting he walks away from about $300k left on his contract this year. Plus he’s probably ended his baseball career. How is that sane?

    Well, it figures that in a year when Bruce Bochy has lost half his roster to bizarre injuries he’s also now managed to lose one of his two NL All Star coaches under even weirder circumstances.

  24. stevem7 - Jun 23, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    Appears to me, as one who spent many years in management that RIZZO is the poorest excuse for a man to handle personnel situations as any I’ve seen. This started back in Spring Training, there was more emphasis (Apparently one sided) to get something done by Father’s Day. Finally, Rizzo was told in no uncertain terms this morning what would happen. And he has the gaul to say he was shocked after the resignation. This is a GM really out of touch with reality.

  25. scorch22 - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    I don’t blame him, why play for a team that made it clear they don’t want you. Life is too short.

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