A year ago today, Jim Riggleman decided he’d had enough.
The then-Nationals manager wanted to have his contract option for the 2012 season picked up. He was tired of working under one-year contracts and having to worry about his future. He wanted some sort of long-term security, even if another year was as long as that security would get at the time.
His team had won 11 of its last 12 games. He and his players had fought their way above .500. They had just earned a walkoff win over the Mariners. He felt he had earned some more security in his professional life. And when the Nationals were unwilling to guarantee that security, to guarantee his 2012 option, Riggleman stepped aside.
It was probably the most shocking moment in Nationals history.
Given where the team was at that time, riding the streak that it was riding, Riggleman’s decision to tender his resignation was an incredibly dramatic turn.
When some reporters got word of what was happening, they thought they had been given incorrect information.
You don’t mean he resigned, they said. You mean he re-signed.
Nope. Riggleman had stepped aside.
Since that dramatic postgame scene, the Nationals have kept on rising.
They’re 82-72 overall since the day after Riggleman stepped down. John McLaren went 2-1 in his brief tenure as interim manager. Davey Johnson then took over, and under his direction, the Nationals are an impressive 80-71. They currently sit atop the incredibly competitive National League East and appear to be one of the top teams in the majors at this point in the season.
Riggleman shocked even those within the Nationals organization that day a year ago. His team went from celebrating a walkoff win and another victory in a successful run to wondering what the future might hold. Things went from stable to uncertain in a matter of minutes.
But with Johnson leading the way over nearly the last calendar year, this organization has only taken more positive steps, moving further towards a playoff berth and a division title.
June 23, 2011 was a tumultuous day in Nationals history. But it’s clear that despite all that happened, the organization has continued to rise since that bizarre series of events a year ago.