In one of the most bizarre stories this season, Jim Riggleman resigned as the Nationals manager, after his team won a game over the Mariners. I wanted to let the story develop a bit more, because at first glance it didn’t make any sense. Why would a manager whose team had won 11 of its last 12 games quit?
The reason Riggleman quit was because of his contract. There was an option the Nationals could have picked up going into 2012, and Riggleman wanted to talk about it. He called Nationals general manager, Mike Rizzo and asked if they could set up a meeting Friday to talk about it. Instead Rizzo declined, and that’s when Riggleman told Rizzo that he wouldn’t be joining the team if the meeting didn’t happen. “If you don’t extend me,” Rizzo said Riggleman told him, “I’m not getting on the bus after the game.”
This of course seems like an extremely selfish move on the part of Riggleman, and it is a little bit but there is more to it than that. Jim Riggleman wanted to know where he stood with team. If the team was going to let him go at the end of the season he wanted to know. Riggleman had actually tried to adress the situation before the beginning of the season, but Rizzo kept delaying any conversation. So the $700,000 dollar question is, was Riggleman right to quit?
Yes and no. The reason Riggleman quit had less to do with money and more to do with respect. He felt disrespected according to his agent. He thought that with a ten years under his belt as a manager in the big leagues, that if he wanted to have a conversation about his standing with the team that he should at least be given a conversation. Instead Mike Rizzo refused to have any talks on the issue whenever Riggleman brought it up. However, Jim Riggleman signed a contract. Once a contract is signed it has to be honored. That’s all there is to it. He let his personal issues with the team get in the way of his job. He let the players in the locker room down as well. Typically this flies in the face of everything that sports are about. Put the team first and don’t quit.
The Nationals didn’t treat Riggleman right, but that doesn’t justify his actions. He called out his employer and gave them an ultimatum, and they called his bluff.
I think that this is either something that’s going to discourage players or give them something to rally around in the locker room. They’re currently in fourth place in the NL East and within striking distance of the Mets and Braves. If the players can pull together and go on a run, maybe they can use this negative to take the Nationals higher than they’ve ever been. Or they could just be the Nationals.