No one saw this coming.
After the Nationals swept the Mariners in a 1-0 victory yesterday afternoon, Jim Riggleman resigned as the Nationals manager. He expressed his unhappiness about not talking about his contract option for next year with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. He mentioned about the lack of respect, and how he is not going through a one-year deal again.
Talk about a manager who feels entitled. This does not sound like a man that people know.
Riggleman has been used to managing on a year-to-year basis in his managerial career, and all of sudden, he decided to go on a paradigm shift. Something stinks.
Apparently, Riggleman and Rizzo haven’t been speaking to each other for awhile. It reached the ugly stage yesterday afternoon.
The Nationals should have seen it coming when Burton Rocks, who is Riggleman’s agent, wanted to go talk contract extension few days ago. The two-week success by the team gave his client leverage for him to negotiate, but the organization said no.
Riggleman made an ultimatum about talking about his contract after yesterday’s game or he would resign. He did the latter, and Rizzo accepted his manager’s resignation.
Don’t blame Rizzo for not giving what Riggleman wants. Offering an extension for two weeks of good play is an irrational decision. For the manager to earn his extension, the Nationals had to sustain this great play for four months.
That’s fair, especially when Riggleman lost 93 games in his first full season last year with the Nationals.
Riggleman hasn’t experienced success as a manager, which he is 662-824 in his managerial career. He only had one postseason appearance in 1998 as the Cubs manager, and he did not have a chance to enjoy it with the Braves sweeping the Cubs in three games.
What made him think he was worthy of getting a deal? It took him nine years to be a manager again after being fired by the Cubs in 1999. He was the interim manager for the Mariners in 2008, and he was promptly replaced by Don Wakamatsu in 2009.
He was fortunate the Nationals tabbed him to replace Manny Acta in 2009 as an interim manager, and he finished 33-42. Now, that did not merit him coming back, but the Nationals needed a caretaker to be part of their rebuilding process, so they stuck with him by naming him a full-time manager in 2010.
Considering there is no one seeking his service, Riggleman was better off just staying on and making the most of the season. If the Nationals made the playoffs or win 81 games, he would have the power of getting a new deal by the team or some other team.
Now, if the team gave him an insulting offer of a one-year deal in the offseason, it would have been understandable if he rejected it. After leading the Nationals to a fine season and getting an insulting offer, he would be a fool to stay.
Riggleman should be ashamed of himself for what he did. There is a good chance he will not manage a major league team again. He can’t erase the stigma of him being greedy for accomplishing little. No one can get over him quitting on his players.
Then-Mariners manager Mike Hargrove quit after a seven-game winning streak in 2007. He claimed he couldn’t give his best to his players anymore. There was speculation that Ichiro did not want him around, so he probably left on his own accord. That decision did not work out. Teams noticed what he did, and they couldn’t hire a guy who quit on a team in the middle of the season.
That is going be the case with Riggleman now. He admitted it to the writers, but he was not going to regret what he did.
When he made that decision and spoke those words, there’s no question he made it based on pride. When someone makes decisions in that type of manner, it never works out.
Rizzo or one of the Lerner families should have spoken to Riggleman before this got out of control. If one of them did, maybe the Nationals manager would board a flight to Chicago yesterday evening.
Still, this is on Riggleman. If he wanted the job so badly, he would have managed. He should know better than talk about his contract at this time of the year. No manager focuses on that issue where there is a lot to play for. It showed insecurity of his part.
If this was bothering him so much, maybe it’s time that he moved on.
This is his loss, not the Nationals’ loss.