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History is not on Jim Riggleman’s side

Jun 24, 2011, 8:25 AM EDT

Jim Riggleman

As I mused yesterday, two competing explanations for Jim Riggleman’s departure from the Nationals are (1) a fit of pique or genuine disgust which forced his sudden resignation; or (2) a calculation that, if he wasn’t going to be the Nats’ manager in 2012, he’d have a much better shot at landing a new job by leaving now than waiting out the year as a lame duck.

Only Riggleman can say which explanation — or a third one we haven’t thought of — is the correct one.  But if it was a calculation about setting himself up for future employment, he may be in for a rude awakening. That is, at least if historical precedent controls.

Over at The Platoon Advantage, The Common Man runs down the experiences of several managers who, like Riggleman, just up and quit in the middle of the season for whatever reason.  A few of them got jobs again, though they weren’t exactly treated as hot properties. Many of them didn’t get jobs again.  The fact that, as The Common Man notes, there are only a few managerial jobs and many, many men who would like to fill them tends to mitigate the efficacy of the dramatic in-season resignation as career enhancer, you see.

  1. paperlions - Jun 24, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    I don’t think Riggleman is that calculating….as he said himself, you pretty much know what you are going to get in Jim Riggleman, and a calculating schemer he is not. I think he quit because he doesn’t like Rizzo or working for Rizzo, and that those issues were exacerbated by Rizzo’s unwillingness to even talk to him about the future…which Riggleman interpreted (as most would) that Rizzo has no trust in him. If you have a boss you don’t like telling you he doesn’t trust you to do the job….you probably aren’t sticking around either (assuming you don’t need the money, which Riggleman probably doesn’t) at age 58 regardless of the future implications.

  2. purnellmeagrejr - Jun 24, 2011 at 8:44 AM

    Sometimes people do what they do because they want to – not because they’ve thoroughly analyzed the consequences of their actions. That’s one of the things that makes life on this planet fun (if somewhat messy from time to time.)

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Jun 24, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    I agree with the previous two posters. Sometimes people do things without much thought. In this case, I think Riggleman tired of being disrespected by a man, Rizzo, who is not well-liked in many circles from what I have read, and he had enough of it.

    And your suggestion that Riggleman loses either way…if they win, they do it without him and if they lose, they do it because of him…is ludicrous and takes Rizzo 100% off the hook. The fact remains that if Rizzo had just given the guy the courtesy of a face-to-face meeting, which could have EASILY happened since they had an early game at home. Rizzo could have taken 10 minutes out of his busy day to meet with the guy running his frigging team, but he chose to be an asshole and now he lost the manager who had the team above .500. No matter what happens from here to the end of the season, it’s Rizzo, not Riggleman, who should be on the hook. If the team does well, it helps Rizzo. If the team does poorly it HURTS Rizzo for screwing up the relationship between GM and Manager. Riggleman did his time, got the team above .500 this late into the season, and is now gone.

  4. takemytalentstosoutheuclid - Jun 24, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    Charlie Manual is an example of one who went on to not only manage elsewhere, but be extremely successful. Although the official line was that he was fired, make no mistake. He did the same thing as Riggleman. he asked for an extension, or a guarantee from the Indians that they wanted him to manage the team through the rebuilding process, and they refused. Went down in early July of 2002….

  5. The Common Man - Jun 24, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    Regardless of his motives and of whether he had a grander plan in mind, it doesn’t change the fact that history has not been kind to guys who quit mid-season for anything other than health problems.

    • paperlions - Jun 24, 2011 at 9:30 AM

      Not disputing that at all…..most managers that don’t get a 2nd chance don’t get one because they managed crappy teams, not because they were crappy managers….there isn’t much that makes sense about the hiring/firing patterns of MLB managers and coaches.

  6. klbader - Jun 24, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    I can’t help but remember when I quite my crappy fast food job when I was a teenager because the manager was a jerk. My dad was so upset with me. We had a LONG discussion about how sometimes our bosses will be jerks, but if you agree to do a job, you can’t just walk out on it. I suspect I will have that conversation with my son and daughter at some point in their lives. Not liking Rizzo is no reason to abandon his players.

    I just can’t feel too sympathetic to Riggleman, and I still think that this is a case of him trying to force the Nationals hand while the team was playing above their heads and making Riggleman look really good. As for Rizzo being in trouble at the end of the season, I don’t think that is likely. He has done a pretty good job of assembling talent in Washington, and the future looks very good for that franchise. I am sure he will be just fine.

    • paperlions - Jun 24, 2011 at 9:33 AM

      I don’t buy the “abandoning his players” angle. The Nats aren’t serious contenders this year anyway…but down the road they will be….Rizzo was telling Riggleman that he is good enough to manage when there are no expectations, but not when there were expectations…and that the players (and job) weren’t his, he was just leasing the job for the rest of the year.

      • klbader - Jun 24, 2011 at 9:49 AM

        His players are now without a manager, and so he seems to have abandoned them. I don’t know if he talked to the team at all about his departure, but I am sure the players were taken a bit by surprise. I don’t think it will affect them too much though.

        As for Riggleman not being good enough to manage when expectations are higher, maybe that is true. He has never had much success in his managerial career. Maybe the Nationals are looking to hire a “big name” manager, to draw more attention to the team. The Nationals/Expos have been pretty much irrelevant since 1994. We sure are talking about them a lot more now then we used to. So maybe Rizzo and company know what they are doing.

      • paperlions - Jun 24, 2011 at 10:41 AM

        Again….look at the talent on the rosters he has managed. Talent wins baseball games, not managing….the best you can hope for in a manager is one that checks he ego at the door, puts the best players on the field, and stays out of the way.

    • The Rabbit - Jun 24, 2011 at 11:32 AM

      if you agree to do a job, you can’t just walk out on it
      Interesting. I had the same conversation with my father; however, he was a corporate officer in the 60’s and 70’s in a mid-sized, family owned business that demonstrated loyalty to its employees at all levels. Of course, when it was sold, new ownership fired everyone and brought in its own management. No surprise there. “Don’t take it personally. It’s only business.”
      The older you get (and I’m in Riggleman’s age group), the more you realize that life is too short to live in limbo. He’s also spent a lifetime moving from place to place. It really does get old.
      I recognize that I’m sacriligious, but it’s still just a job….even if it is baseball. If Riggleman were not in a enviable, high profile position and this were another “industry”, he’d be congratulated by co-workers for having the financial means to get out on his own terms and have the time to spend with family or pursue whatever other interests he may have.
      The players are not children (well, most of them) and they will be fine no matter who is the manager.

  7. IdahoMariner - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    I think the players are big boys who will be fine.

    I think life is too short to work for a$$holes. It sounds like Riggleman was working for someone who couldn’t even bring themselves to show him the respect of having a conversation (so, a 4 year old, or an a$$hole). The best move is almost always to walk away.

    The team would not have thought twice about firing him next month if the “talent” he had been given to manage went on a 15-0 bender. Why should he think twice about walking away when they can’t even talk?

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