I really don’t want to write about Jim Riggleman.
First, he doesn’t deserve it, considering his actions yesterday; resigning only moments after the Nationals organization hit a peak after sweeping the Seattle Mariners and moving over .500. Second, he ruined my Thursday night because as a Nationals blogger I tend to have to keep on top of these sorts of news stories and it kept me from spending time with my daughter and eating out at Wayside Chicken. I love Wayside Chicken.
However, I figured I needed to put my two cents’ worth in on the situation on MASNsports.com because it just so happens Riggleman pulled this stunt the week Nationals Inquisition is guest blogging. Lucky him. I thought you might appreciate the perspective from a writer who isn’t held back by higher authority and can get away with calling Riggleman a prat who will never again manage a major league team.
Suffering with confusion, anger and paranoia over his contract, Riggleman put an ultimatum to the Nationals’ front office: Pay me by the end of Thursday’s game or else. He went from a baseball manager to bullfighter novice. He played a game of chicken with his job on the line and guess what? He won. The game ended and he quit. He did exactly what he said he would. He became a stonewall of convictions. He was Jim Riggleman. Boy, he sure showed us.
But he lost. He completely lost.
He threw a major league managing job to the side of the road like a soiled and stained mattress. He had no backup plan, there was no planned fallback in case Plan A failed. He acted recklessly and selfishly with numerous people from players to fans and a fragile baseball culture and community depending on him. You might as well have loaded him up on Wild Turkey and given him the keys to a school bus carrying children and gunpowder.
It doesn’t really matter if he is wrong or right. It doesn’t really matter if he instigated the beginning of the end of his career or if general manager Mike Rizzo really is an anti-social bandicoot in a Tommy Bahama shirt. It happens. It is a sad side effect of treating the game of baseball like a business. You have to deal with all this contractual nonsense from time to time and sometimes with scalding hot pliers. It doesn’t even really matter if Riggleman was a good or bad manager. But the fact Riggleman just walked out on his team is the ultimate betrayal. This man, this Benedict Arnold of America’s pastime was managing a Major League Baseball team in Washington and he walked out.
My mind just can’t wrap around it. He betrayed the very game he was paid to teach to the next generation of players. Riggleman’s agent, Burton Rocks believes Riggleman will manage a major league team again one day. He is sorely mistaken. The MLB fraternity can tolerate cheaters, crackheads and thieves. But traitors? It was the game he dedicated his life to, but he betrayed it, which means he also betrayed himself.
And over what? Crying about one-year extensions? He lost his job, the respect of the league, his dignity, the town he loved and a franchise he bled for - just for that? I’m sure there will be more reasons, but nothing will ever fully explain a manager with a team full of potential ditching the team and walking when he doesn’t get what he wants when he wants. The move lacks rationality, it is too aggressive in too short of time.
To me it sounds like a tantrum, a tantrum from a 58-year old man. A tantrum that cost Mr. Baseball Guy his job.
Drew Kinback blogs about the Nats at Nationals Inquisition, and has given his take this week as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.