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Riggleman’s career-killing decision

Jun 24, 2011, 12:56 AM EDT

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Jim Riggleman resigned with a 140-172 record as Nats manager, 662-824 overall.

This was Jim Riggleman’s dream job, and he knew it.

Unfortunately for Riggleman, the Washington Nationals also knew it. Which is why they were able to treat him like the lowliest manager in the big leagues. They held all the cards in the relationship. He held none, a fact he knew the moment he agreed to his initial contract in November 2009, and a fact he even spelled out to the front office at the time.

“I made it very clear that, you know, I can’t say no to this, but this is a bad contract for a manager,” he said. “There’s no option for Jim Riggleman. It’s a one-year option that the club decides on. That’s not a good way to do business. I made it very clear that I didn’t like that. But you know I can’t say no to it. So there I am. And two years later, I’m realizing: You know what? I was right. It’s not a good way to do business.”

So Riggleman did what he felt was the only thing he could do, even if there wasn’t another soul in the universe who would agree. He walked away from his dream job, quitting on a club that had won 11 of 12 games and had suddenly become the darlings of Washington and the
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  1. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:06 AM

    This whole thing makes me feel bad. Riggleman is a good guy, a classy guy. He got mixed up with a very unclassy guy – Rizzo. The above article says it all and Riggleman had the guts to be true to himself and tell Rizzo to f' off. Riggs just got tired of being crapped on.As riggs himself said: he wasn't Casey Stengle; but he was a decent manager — the best we've had since Robinson. Rizzo treated him badly and fairly much bitched him publicly.Good luck, Riggs: Between rizzo and you, you are easily the better man.

  2. Wally - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:06 AM

    Mark – good article. There is logic in it, but I hope Riggs comes out better than that. He seems like a good man despite doing this, which I don't agree with.The McLaren naming reads like Davey has been asked to take over but hasn't agreed yet. Is that your sense?

  3. FS - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:11 AM

    Mark Zuckerman, I love you. Thank you for putting the way it is for both sides.It must be very tough on Riggleman to walk away from this since it was his dream job. But knowing that you will eventually be left out of the long-term plans, is even worse.I would feel bad when Rizzo signs all those top picks with money that they probably do not deserve. If you can overpay those draft picks, why not pick up his option and if he does not live up to your expectations, then part ways?It should not have come to this.

  4. Grandstander - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:13 AM

    Wally, that was my impression as well. I thought that article was a very assessment of the situation. There's just no possible way Riggs thought Rizzo would agree to pick up his option with a gun to his head like that. I doubt any GM would but especially Rizzo.As someone who doesn't really like the way Riggs managed and is not terribly torn up over seeing him go in light of how he chose to exit, I do think he kind of got crapped on. And there's a certain time when you have to say enough. But that was either in ST or during the ASB, not in the middle of an historic hot streak.In the end, it's just a scummy situation all around that could have been settled better. But Rizzo clearly had no intention of keeping Riggs next season, so let's just get someone to finish out this season and we can start looking forward to the future.

  5. JaneB - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:16 AM

    This articlenis a prime example of why we love reading Mark Zuckerman.This is me shouting GYFNG.

  6. Nats Outsider - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:19 AM

    What, exactly, does Davey Johnson do for the team now, as "senior advisor"?

  7. Unkyd - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:26 AM

    Nicely done, Mark. Thank you.

  8. baseballswami - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:26 AM

    People have been saying that he was selfish – but look how much he gave up – riding a winning team,with lots of publicity – managing at the all star game. Right or wrong , he is a man of principles and he stood up, told the truth and accepted the consequences. Washington D.C. could use a few more people like that. He may not ever manage a big league club again, but Rizzo also may have trouble getting a big league manager to trust him.

  9. SCNatsFan - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:27 AM

    I felt Riggs was the guy who got us to decency then another guy would take us to the next level. I feel bad for him but had the Nats shown real improvement then I believe he would have been back; sucks for both sides.Riggs wanted to know his future, now he does; he can play a ton of golf.

  10. D'Gourds - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:32 AM

    It just makes no sense! He did a good job with the Nats in my opinion. But with a career losing record as a manger with many clubs, why not wait out until the end of the season to quit? He didn't have the leverage yet to make an ultimatum. If the Nats continue to play well the rest of the way, he might have gotten manager of the year! Unfortunately he'll probably regret this the rest of his life. It's just so strange–he seemed like such a controlled, mild mannered guy. This decision seems so rash and un-thought out.

  11. dj in Fl. - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:32 AM

    I hope that Riggs gets a chance with an organization with more class. Even your dream job reaches the breaking point when someone has you by the short hairs and will not even sit down and talk with you about your future. That is arrogance plain and simple.A report says that Rizzo was surprised and tried to talk him out of this. Shame on him for letting it reach a point that a good person feels so disengaged to their company that they feel they can only leave.I dropped my season tickets after 5 years because they were rude and had a we don't give a hoot about you folks upstairs even if you are here every night. They haven't come to far in basic management practices.I hope they catch on before they ruin baseball in DC. Cancel the GYFNG t-shirt, fun has left the building.

  12. slodge - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:34 AM

    Let me say first that I wish the Nats had extended Riggleman’s contract and given him a raise. I liked him, the team was doing great and it was icing on the cake that he was a local boy.While Riggleman had a right to be upset, the fact is he had a contract to manage the Nationals through 2011. When a player is upset that his contract doesn’t get extended, he tests the free agent market AT THE END OF THE SEASON. He does not quit in the middle of the season. He does not leave the team high and dry just as they are hitting their stride, potentially snuffing out their momentum.The bottom line is that Jim Riggleman put his interests above those of the team and for that I’m much more upset with him than with the Nationals.

  13. Constant Reader - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:37 AM

    Great story Mark. Very thoughtful.Facts are pretty stubborn things. His career winning pct in nearly 1500 games as a manager is .445. After being 26-26 on the last day of May last year, the Nats were 24 games under 500 the rest of the season. Two weeks ago this team was nine games under 500. I am/was a fan of Riggs and thought he was the right guy. But if he had given Rizzo an ultimatum two weeks ago (and forgive me if you don't agree that he did give an ultimatum), I am pretty certain everyone on this board would have laughed their butts off. I really feel bad for Riggs that he worked himself to the point that, after this hot streak, Rizzo's unwillingness to give him an extension left him wanting to walk away. I am sure everyone on this board knows someone who has or maybe even some us have gotten so sour or worked up over a job situation that they just had to leave. I do feel bad for him.But the facts remain: he's a well below 500 career manager; we tanked badly under his leadership the last four months of the season last year; and had we gone into a losing streak the last two weeks instead of a winning streak, he could have been justifiably fired by now. That he thought today was the day for an ultimatum is mind boggling.

  14. HHover - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:38 AM

    I'm still not quite getting the Rizzo hate here. He signed Riggs to a one year contract with a 2d year option, and without a mid-season deadline by which the option had to be picked up. All of this, Riggs agreed to.Rizzo said the time wasn't ripe to decide on the extension–that he wanted to see how Riggs managed the team over the season. Maybe that's true, maybe it's not. If it is true, it certainly seems a prudent thing for a GM to do–to judge the manager on the whole, grind-it-out 162 games, and not on a hot 10-12 game stretch.But let's say it's not true–that Rizzo already decided not to renew/extend Riggs. Still, how is it "crapping" on Riggs to expect him to honor his contract and serve out the season? If Rizzo had had the conversation now and said, sorry, Jim, no extension, wouldn't that be "crapping" on Riggs just as much?It seems to me that Rizzo looks bad in this only if you had already decided that Rizzo looks bad, period.

  15. Dave - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    I am just not getting why so many people seem to be characterizing Rizzo as some kind of shyster or shady character in this deal.As Mark's article clearly elucidates, Riggleman knew the score from the very beginning. He knew when he signed the contract he was not the Nats' long-term manager. Rizzo never led him to believe otherwise.Nonetheless, Riggleman signed the contract and led the team. Today he decided to walk away from it–from the players, from the fans–on their most triumphant day since 2005.The timing really feels like a bit of an unnecessary "F-you" from Riggleman to the aforementioned Nats nation. Even if he got a raw deal, he agreed to it. He should have been man enough to wait until the All-Star break to do this.

  16. Dave - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    HHover, you and I were sharing the same thought at the same time.

  17. WhatsaNattaU - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    I am sorry Riggs felt he had to do this, but he signed the contract, and he should have honored it. I do not see this as a an example of the management forcing his hand, being cheap, or acting dishonorably. I think it would have been folly to sign him long term prior to the end of this year. I think he is a fine manager, but not a great one. It would however be very disappointing if this change led to a whole sale change of the coaching staff. I am very appreciative of McCatty, Porter, and Eckstien in particular. I suspect Lett has been part of the bullpen success as well. Davey Johnson is one of my favorite managers of all time, but I would be shocked if he took the job. I will not be shocked if the interim choice is Pat Corrales. Good Luck Jim. Great job Mike. Go Nats!!!

  18. HHover - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:43 AM

    Dave – Yes–great minds, thinking alike, and typing those great thoughts at the same time!

  19. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:46 AM

    Mark-Followup articles could use:1. a fuller and more thoughtful consideration of Riggleman's position and the negatives he felt were inherent in it for the team;2. an explanation of the Lerners' role in the failure to communicate with him so far and how much freedom/authority Rizzo actually has in the manager decision;3. a consideration of how the Nats should have handled Riggleman to (a) project the image of a professional organization and (b) be fair to all parties and (c) insulate the players from the disorienting distraction this causes.These would be worthwhile assuming that you have access to better sources or more in-depth information than the average blogger.

  20. masnstinks - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:47 AM

    Riggleman seems like a true, old-school gentleman. Big time sports are a business first. I really don't think he would have been here next year no matter what he did – similar situation to Adam Dunn – he just wasn't part of the future "plan". I hope he lands on his feet – I think he would be an outstanding college coach. And now the organization can move on with their plans a little sooner. Just rip off the band aid and start to heal. Maybe he did us all a favor – now we will have the entire off-season to get ready for 2012. Hopefully they won't drag the decision out for too long.

  21. Gonat - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:53 AM

    Great article Mark. I have been gone for several hours so don't know if anyone has called this Castaway on Giggleman's Island or Riggleman's Walk-Off, but he created career suicide. How will he ever convince anyone to hire him on a Major League team.Back to the year 2000 for Riggleman. He spent 8 years in the Minors before he got the Seattle job as Bench Coach and then Seattle didn't retain him after McLaren was cut loose and Jim finished the year as interim manager then he becomes the Nationals bench coach and eventually manager. I was a Riggleman supporter. I can't be after this because I feel almost betrayed the more I ponder on this. So many wanted him fired in mid-May and some of us saw him for what he is and came to his defense. Wah wah, you were not a lame duck unless you saw yourself as that. Clearly the heir apparent for 2012 if you continued doing the job. Jim, you really screwed yourself, your team, and your supporters. Good luck in "A" ball.

  22. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:54 AM

    If he been fired when they were 9 games under .500, I doubt there would have been much of an uproar (I saw quite a few posts on this site advocating just that). He had a contract to do the job this year and he walked. Whether he was going to be the long term guy here doesn't really matter, he was being paid to do the job now. Jim Leyland of the Tigers doesn't have a contract for next year and has no idea if they want him back. Anybody think he's going to quit on his team this year? Leyland has accomplished more as a manager than Riggleman will ever dream of and if he can be a professional and do his job, our guy should have as well.

  23. Dave - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:57 AM

    At this moment on the MASN replay, all four commentators are commenting on the great work Riggleman did in-game today.I feel like I'm watching a movie and waiting for a violent murder that I know is coming soon.

  24. JayB - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:57 AM

    Interesting turn of events……I guess June 1 was wrong but the fact that Riggs was not the guy for this team has been confirmed….Njack…what is you take on this…..Riggs looks bad in how this went down….Maybe getting fired on June 1 would have been better for his future chances….as it is…he will never get a MLB job again.Still a good person….by the book manager who did not keep up with the times.

  25. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:08 AM

    HH & Dave-Rizzo looks bad because of what he said at the press conference. He said Riggleman gave him an ultimatum and implied strongly that Riggleman gave him 9 innings to pick up his option. Riggleman, in a much more detailed and believable account, said that he asked for a meeting and Rizzo turned him down. That, together with the royal plural that Rizzo hid behind when talking to the press, made Rizzo sound like a liar.

  26. FS - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:09 AM

    Mike Hargrove resigned for similar reasons or not? The point is he has a job now, so can Riggs. I will not wish on him otherwise. Good luck in your future endeavors.

  27. oldguyjim - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:13 AM

    Welcome, Riggs, to big time business. You should never give your Exec VP an ultimatum unless you are the President. There is no chance you will come through it in good shape. I wish Riggs the best but this is a sad day for all!

  28. Mr Old Style - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:15 AM

    Still not clear to me what the 'ultimatum' was. Did Riggs ask for a conversation about his future and was told no? Or did he ask to know if he was being considered for an extension or not? Or did he ask for an extension and was told no? Can anyone clarify?

  29. Constant Reader - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:16 AM

    The interview with Mark on the CSN story is worth watching for two reasons:(1) Mark speaking the words he wrote really makes how he really feels about the situation clear, and(2) Leaves you wondering if Kelli Johnson really is a foot taller than Mark.

  30. paulkp - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:16 AM

    The Lerners have been incredibly penny-wise and pound-foolish when dealing with their managers. You absolutely cannot have a manager with a one-year contract, with the players and everyone else in the Natosphere wondering if he will be around the following year.His timing was fine. The team is playing very well and should continue to do so, unless John McLaren (another bad decision by management; it should be Porter or Knorr or almost anyone else) imposes himself too much.Rizzo is stuck between ignorant owners and an extremely principled man who has exposed the Lerners for what they are. "Not the right time" to discuss his contract, my arse.

  31. natsfan1a - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:17 AM

    Well said, JaneB. I think Mark's mad writing skillz are something on which we can all agree.GYFZG! (Oh no, I didn't.)JaneB said… This articlen is a prime example of why we love reading Mark Zuckerman. This is me shouting GYFNG. June 23, 2011 9:16 PM

  32. Feel Wood - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:17 AM

    Rizzo says in his statement on MASN.com that he told Riggleman before the season started that there would be no decision made on his extension until after the season. So when Riggleman asked for a conversation about it today, isn't he basically asking if Rizzo has changed his mind about not making a decision until after the season? And when Rizzo told him that now is not the time, isn't he basically answering the question about changing his mind with a "no"? How is Rizzo the bad guy in this? Riggleman would have been happy if they got to Chicago and "had a conversation" in which Rizzo re-iterated that no decision would be made until after the season, just like he said all along? I don't think so. Riggleman may say he just wanted a conversation, but he's lying. He wanted an extension or he would quit. Rizzo called his bluff.

  33. natsfan1a - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:25 AM

    Agree with Slodge, HHover, Dave, and FeelWood.

  34. Dave - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:25 AM

    FeelWood, I think that's a reasonable analysis.I just saw Rizzo's comments after the game. He didn't look like a liar to me. And he didn't seem to be hiding behind anything.And he actually had a name attached to his comments, which is something.

  35. Wally - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:26 AM

    I am rewatching some of this on MASN again, and I have to give it to Phil Wood. A lot of the team owned networks go soft on the team, but he really offered up his honest thoughts, regardless of where they came out. Criticised Werth and the team generally, among others.

  36. BobFromBoise - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:26 AM

    Everyone who thinks Riggs is classy is fooling themselves. He not only walked out on his dream job, he walked out on a lot of young men who were looking up to him including Espinosa, Ramos and others. Many people, actually most people, don't like their jobs or their situation at their jobs, but they still don't walk out on their job. Especially when you're working for an organization that's hitting its stride, you've got to ride that out. If he did get renewed at the end of the year by Rizzo, he'd have any job he wanted for leading a .500 Nationals team. Now he's blackballed.That's not class, that's stupidity.

  37. rmoore446 - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:27 AM

    This is all so sad and so unnecessary. Both Rizzo and Riggleman overplayed their hand. Rizzo doubtless underestimated his manager's determination. Riggleman's smoldering anger led him to issue and complete an ultimatum which ends his major league career. Hard to see anyone hiring him after this. He could have continued the good record through this season and perhaps gotten another job when Rizzo and the owners let him go at the end of the year.But as for me, I am sick of this story and ready to turn the page. I love this team and while I respected Riggleman, he chose to leave and I am ready to move on. Let's go Nats and keep the wins coming!!

  38. Mr Old Style - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:30 AM

    Feel Wood:I think that's about right.

  39. natsfan1a - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:35 AM

    No disrespect intended to the Z-man. :-)natsfan1a said… Well said, JaneB. I think Mark's mad writing skillz are something on which we can all agree. GYFZG! (Oh no, I didn't.)

  40. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:35 AM

    And just think, Riggs was just about to be named Nats employee of the month.He was a decent manager, and even a better person. A stand-up guy who obviously stands out in this bunch.GNFNG, except you Rizzo.

  41. TheRube - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:51 AM

    A sad situation. I don't know if Riggs is classy, selfish or stupid, but I do know his personality endeared him to me and I am disheartened he let his feelings of disrespect smolder to the point the whole situation ignited.I wish him the best of luck, even if I can't completely solve his riddle in my head.Hopefully the Lerner's don't sue him for breach of contract. Surprised this hasn't been talked about more.But, like rmoore446 said, I just want to move on.

  42. TheRube - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:54 AM

    And one more thing: Do whatever it takes to keep your fire alive boys. GYFNG.

  43. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:56 AM

    Dave-Is yours a case of deciding your opinion and then looking for support? It doesn't sound like you actually listened to the two parties to the conversation in question before you had an opinion ready.It is worth pointing out that one of your statements is literally and demonstrably wrong: Rizzo did not associate a name with any of his comments: he consistently said "we" when referring to remarks or decisions by someone other than Riggleman.

  44. baseballswami - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:59 AM

    My support tomorrow goes to 25 athletes ( well, to be honest, I only really mean it for 24 of them). Their reunion with Adam Dunn should be interesting…I wonder what they will talk about?

  45. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 3:00 AM

    This is not career killing for Riggleman, not by a long shot. And he is right, dead right. Rizzo is wicked defensive right now; and Rizzo is more arrogant than he is smart, and he's pretty smart. Baseball is on to the Nats as being awful managers, and they have knows Riggleman is a qulaity guy, whatever anyone may think of his skipper skills. Long comment short — Rizzo is not the guy for this job. He needs to go. He cannot work a trade, he cannot handle assembly of a roster, he cannot handle the media unless they softball him, and squeal all he wants, Riggleman has been a company guy over and over and over and there is no reason to believe that he is now somehow some me-frist guy. The Nats refused to deal with the man on any terms other than their own (same way they treated Dunn last year) and he did what all Americans can do if they hate the way they get treated by the boss; he quit. I wish him well. And he'll have a job in 2012 on the bench as a coach with some club, beyond doubt.dfh21

  46. AndesAngle - Jun 24, 2011 at 3:03 AM

    What a stupid thing to do! Thinking only of himself. Very selfish.http://andesangle.blogspot.com/2011/06/riggleman-resigns-screws-up-my-blog.html

  47. Feel Wood - Jun 24, 2011 at 3:08 AM

    "This is not career killing for Riggleman, not by a long shot."Yeah, quitting out of the blue mid-season did wonders for Mike Hargrove's career, didn't it? How many major league manager mentions – let alone jobs – has Hargrove had since he pulled the same stunt Riggleman did today? That's right. ZERO.

  48. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 3:13 AM

    Feel Wood — Hargrove quit becasue he lost passion for the game. He walked away from the game. And he is back in baseball a la Davey Johnson with the Tribe. dfh21

  49. Dave - Jun 24, 2011 at 3:17 AM

    Did somebody address a comment to me? I thought I read some noise up the column somewhere.

  50. brian - Jun 24, 2011 at 3:30 AM

    The fact that rigs thought that this was the right move at the right time just proves to me why he was a so-so manager. He never seemed to make the right move. I thought he deserved some credit for realizing finally that they way he managed the first two months wasn't working,and then he goes and does something dumb like this. The Nats will be alright, read the player quotes… they don't care, they were the ones making the plays. Rizzo has done nothing but improve the club since he took over. Not that all his moves are golden either, but i believe he has a plan.

  51. Snopes - Jun 24, 2011 at 3:35 AM

    Mark, I think you're missing the point here.The key point is that there are two versions of events out there, Rizzo's and Riggleman's. Your article makes perfect sense if you buy Rizzo's version — Riggleman makes an ultimatum mid-season, give me the contract that I want or I walk.On Rizzo's version of events, I completely agree with you. Riggleman committed career suicide, for no good reason.But you've ignored what Riggleman said, which is that Rizzo is lying. Riggleman did not issue any ultimatum at all. He just said he wanted a one-on-one meeting in Chicago to discuss the situation and Rizzo said, "Well, that's not going to happen." On this "I'm the boss and you can kiss my derriere" version of events, the only response any self-respecting human being could give is, "If that's the way you treat people, I'm leaving … right now." So the real issue here is either Rizzo or Riggleman is a liar. Having watched the post-game interviews of Rizzo and Riggleman and listened to the long interview of Riggleman's agent (Burton Rocks?) on MASN, I have to say my gut strongly tells me that Riggleman is telling the truth and that Rizzo is a stone cold liar trying to cover up the ugly truth that he's such a bully that he can't retain talent. I hope I'm wrong because if the Nats have decided to put their chips on a bullying liar, we're doomed to fail. Either we'll have a losing team because no one wants to work for such a jerk or we'll hate the management even more than than Angelos or Dan Snyder.Let's hope Jim Riggleman is a liar (though I really don't think so). Otherwise, Mike Rizzo is a brazen liar and we're screwed. There is no middle ground. They're not both telling the truth.

  52. NatsLady - Jun 24, 2011 at 3:35 AM

    I never had much use for Riggleman, and I have even less after today. Here is an incident that showed me his character: He got ejected from a game and mentioned that after a previous ejection he had been "disciplined" for managing on the sly. Which shows you a) he didn't trust McClaren and b) he's a sneaky egoistic jerk who couldn't let go for even a few innings.Also I thought it was very odd that Rizzo had to come back from a scouting trip to nurse the team through a losing streak. Some people want to win, apparently Riggs isn't one of them.

  53. Section 222 - Jun 24, 2011 at 3:38 AM

    I'm with you FeelWood. The distinction between "pick up the option or I'm out of here" and "let's have a conversation about you picking up my option or I'm out of here" is a distinction without a difference. Riggleman wouldn't have been satisfied with a conversation that didn't end the way he wanted it to. He wanted to know he was going to be here next year and he thought that forcing the issue while the team had won 11 of 12 was the best way to get what he wanted. (Note that he didn't make the ultimatum before the game on May 31 when the team had lost 10 of its last 12 games.) Rizzo, smartly in my opinion, wanted to wait to see how the season turned out before deciding. I just don't see what's wrong with that.Riggleman thought it was clear he wasn't going to be rehired, but I don't get that either. Does anyone think if the Nats made the playoffs, Rizzo would let him go? It was all about results. And you assess that at the end of the season, not before the All Star break.Finally, what's all this about "one year deals" are untenable? Sure, everyone wants job security, but does that mean that everyone who is in the last year of a contract has the right to walk in the middle of that year if he's not renewed for the next year? That makes no sense. If Rizzo had caved to this ultimatum and had the "conversation" leading to picking up the option, what was to prevent Riggleman from making the same kind of ultimatum in the middle of next year? Riggleman was working on a contract that was paying him $600K per year. Sure, that's less than other managers, but it's still a darn good living and a really fun job (at least I think it is) that he's reasonably good at (I'll concede that even though I really hated his doubleswithitis, which, I will note has kind of subsided during this hot streak.) I just do not understand why he would leave now rather than stick it out for the rest of the year, which, incidentally, would have given him a decent shot at another job if the Nats didn't rehire him. Now he's pretty much done. Maybe that's what he wanted.

  54. Drew8 - Jun 24, 2011 at 4:03 AM

    After watching the replay of the game and all of the interviews, Riggs' move strikes me as petulant.I get that he felt disrespected, but why not resolve to say: "I'll show you!" and lead this club to a winning record? Going from 59 wins to 69 wins to even 79 wins would be a creditable achievement. But this?Watching the replay and knowing what would happen reminded me of Bill Cosby's bit in which he talked about watching "The Lone Ranger" as a kid.In one episode after another, Tonto got beaten up by bad guys and the Lone Ranger rode to the rescue.Cosby said he used to press his nose to the screen and yell: "Tonto! Don't go to town!"

  55. Manassas Nats Fan - Jun 24, 2011 at 4:16 AM

    I am a little confused where this term Ultimatum came from. I suspect it came from Rizzo's interpretation of the discussion.Riggleman clearly stated he would like a discussion. He said this not the first time he asked for one, but Rizzo basically ignored him. This could have been solved very easily if both persons wanted it to be resolved. Have a meeting in Chicago (Rizzo refused)or sometime in the near future, to create a time table, and a matrix of what would be needed to have the option would be picked up.However it appeared Rizzo was not willing to even discuss what would be needed to have the option picked up. (this gave the appearance to Riggleman (and many others))they were not interested in picking up the option under any circumstance. That to me is poor management style. A discussion is not a guarantee, but it can lead to creating the condition (or as I call it the matrix) of what needs to be accomplished to have the option picked up.On a lighter note it now is quite clear that Stairs is Rizzo's boy. I didn't get it at the time it happened, but in the 7th inning Riggleman threw his last salvo at Rizzo, by not pinch hitting Stairs for marquis. My rule thumb usually is in these conditions to take the person with less power's side and cheer for them right or wrong.Heard a rumor on Facebook that made no sense to me. They had Cal Ripken coming to manage the Nationals. That I could never believe.

  56. Natslifer - Jun 24, 2011 at 4:20 AM

    So let me get this straight… we've won 11 out of 12 with pretty much Rizzo's team. Everyone's totally starting to buy into the bandwagon and rightfully getting very excited. We can't wait to see Strasburg back and Harper hitting home runs and we're even hopeful that Rendon can do something special quickly here in DC… but all of the sudden Rizzo's a bad guy that doesn't do anything right??Even thinking for 2 seconds about what was going on under Bowden is like nails on a chalkboard to me. So Rizzo decided long ago that Riggleman isn't his guy? I'm totally ok with that. And Riggleman basically quits on his players on everyone else? That's totally unacceptable to me – see you later and don't let the door hit you on the way out.Now, maybe to be a little more objective – did Rizzo not tell the whole truth this afternoon? Probably – but does it matter? No. That's what you do sometimes when you're the boss.For me, this is classic lose-lose but primarily Riggleman's fault. The things to worry about here are:- The Lerner's hold all the money – did anyone (including Rizzo) tell them to give Riggs more cash because he deserved it for at least this year and then they'll let him go afterwards? It's been done before – but if Riggleman really wanted 3 years, does anyone here really think the Nats ownership should give that to him right now?- If anyone threw Rizzo under the bus it was Werth ("we're the ones going out there winning the games…"). Who else gets the sense that he's not happy with his situation? Our man Mark has wondered out loud how much influence Boras has with Nats management – how much of that is in play here and does it really matter? If there are other players that are really fans of Riggs, then Werth's comments are going to drive a stake through our great chemistry.A very strange day but one we'll get through.Go Nats!!

  57. A DC Wonk - Jun 24, 2011 at 4:21 AM

    I still just don't get it. Riggleman and the other coaches have probably been teaching their players, all their lives — play with a level head, don't let emotions mess you up. And then what does Riggs go and do?Riggs made his bed (signing a one year deal), he should have lived with it. If Riggs thought he was a good manager, and that Nats continued to play well and surprise everybody all season — Riggs could have easily ended up as manager of the year. And then if he still didn't get re-hired by the Nats, he'd have lots of other options.I just don't get it.===========The distinction between "pick up the option or I'm out of here" and "let's have a conversation about you picking up my option or I'm out of here" is a distinction without a difference. Riggleman wouldn't have been satisfied with a conversation that didn't end the way he wanted it to.Exactly. So, what if Riggs met with Rizzo, and Rizzo said: "we haven't decided anything yet." And supposed Rizzo was completely honest and said, "we want to see how this whole season goes before we'd consider picking up your option." Anyone think Riggs would have been satisfied with that?(How many seasons did Tommy Lasorda work with one-year contracts? Does anybody else do that anymore? (Genuine question — as I don't really know if Dodgers were completely unique in that or not) )

  58. Dave - Jun 24, 2011 at 4:27 AM

    Steve Berthiaume just interviewed Riggleman on Baseball Tonight. Bert asked why the decision was made now, why not go until the end of the season, did Riggs think he would ever manage again, etc.Riggleman did not seem to be able to answer any of the questions Berthiaume asked him. He hemmed and hawed and said "you know" a lot, but at bottom he sounded like he just was angry and made his decision based on his anger.Berthiaume asked him whether he thought he would ever manage in the big leagues again. Riggleman said that he had considered that, but didn't care.So that says to me that Riggleman just doesn't see himself as a big-league manager. Ah well.

  59. Manassas Nats Fan - Jun 24, 2011 at 4:35 AM

    I want to be clear I do not approve of Riggleman quitting. I do not approve of Rizzo not having a conversation of what it would take to have the option picked up. Why put the option in the contract if you didn't have a way for the option to be picked up. As I said get together and come up with matrix that needed to be filled for the option to be picked up. that would make both sides look good. Management refusing to even have a conversation on the requirements of how the option can be picked up make them look bad. Riggleman not biding his time to get the conversation going makes him look bad.

  60. rogieshan - Jun 24, 2011 at 4:48 AM

    I have little respect for players who hold out while still under contract and the feeling is no different here. Also, I was one of many who called for Riggleman to resign earlier in the year when the losses were mounting. Why didn't he address his emotions then? Sorry he felt disrespected by management, but you know the old saying, "Managers are hired to be fired."

  61. Joe Seamhead - Jun 24, 2011 at 4:59 AM

    Jim Riggleman is a good guy that made a bad decision. He had a contract. He gave an ultimatum, or did he? It doesn't matter. He was under contract, Rizzo could not allow himself, or the team to give in to threats. Rizzo, and maybe the Lerners, didn't want to talk extension at this time. I think Jim is a great guy, but he does seem to take losing too graciously, not unlike a certain first basemen that Rizzo let walk. Personally, I never thought that Jim was the long term answer for the Nationals to win with.He made what seems to be a very terminal move for his future in baseball. I wish him luck. Who's next? The king is dead, long live the king! Whoever it is going to be!

  62. Exposremains - Jun 24, 2011 at 5:12 AM

    I didnt always agree with him but he's a human being not just a character we see on TV. I feel bad for a guy that felt he's was being used until we bring the real manager. I know he had a great job but he has work all of his life to get this job. When he was hired everybody said he's just a placeholder. Hes not stupid he knew that. People say he abandoned his player I don't believe that, the proof is in Werth comment;he said we make the picthes and score the runs. The players don't have loyalty anymore, they have money.

  63. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 5:14 AM

    Just for the record, Terry Francona's record his first four years as a manager was .440. In his next four, he won two rings. Seems to me everything Rizzo said about where he wants the team to go was on track with Riggleman. In effect, by refusing to address the contract issue, Rizzo told him he was fired, if not now then at the end of the season. Riggleman knew he was a lame-duck manager, and I think he helped the team by recognizing that and getting out of the way. I agree with him that's it's tough to do your job every day when you know you're just a placeholder, and a poorly paid one at that.

  64. Nattydread - Jun 24, 2011 at 5:23 AM

    Sad, sad, sad, poorly handled by both sides … but not a tragedy. I'd like to hear what Manny Acta thinks!

  65. Grandstander - Jun 24, 2011 at 5:47 AM

    "Riggleman clearly deserved the club option to be exercised."-Jim BowdenI believe that settles the matter.

  66. Section 222 - Jun 24, 2011 at 6:09 AM

    @A DC Wonk asked about Tommy LaSorda and one year contracts. From FJB (in a great post called Riggleman Goes Postal):"Jim seems to believe that he was terribly mistreated because it's June 12, and he didn't have a contract for next season. But here's the list of MLB managers who do not have a guaranteed contract for next year: Brad Mills, Tony LaRussa, Bruce Bochy, Terry Francona, and Jim Leyland. Add to that list interim hires Jack McKeon and Bob Melvin, and that's more than one out of every four managers in baseball." I think he's probably including managers who are in the last year of a multi-year deal, but what's the difference? None of them are threatening to leave before their contract is up unless they are re-hired for next year "right now" (or unless the GM agrees to have a "conversation" about it.)

  67. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    "People say he abandoned his player I don't believe that, the proof is in Werth comment;he said we make the picthes and score the runs. The players don't have loyalty anymore, they have money."WTF?

  68. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    "If anyone threw Rizzo under the bus it was Werth ("we're the ones going out there winning the games…")."Don't forget Zimmermann, and pretty much all the other players. They've said about the same thing – they are the ones playing and they still have to perform on the field.

  69. natsfan1a - Jun 24, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Well said, 222.On a related note, reading the Boz piece confirms what I'd suspected, that Riggleman was lobbying the press about his situation. Nats Journal had a Riggleman piece on 6/20 that struck me as such. Hope our guys can pull together and keep it going tonight in Chi-town. Looking forward to seeing some (I hope) happy game results displace the Riggs picture above (sorry, dude, but you're totally harshing my buzz).

  70. Jeeves - Jun 24, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    The 'winning streak' should be put in perspective too. Except for two or three great offensive contributions, the team on the field, although better, are still not doing well (other than Morse and Espy). Riggleman was the beneficiary of some absolutely brilliant pitching. How many games during the streak did the offensive produce no more than three runs? It certainly wasn't brilliant managing that put the Nats one game above 500. It was pitching, at times worthy of Cy Young.

  71. Tim - Jun 24, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    Section 222 said…"Sure, everyone wants job security, but does that mean that everyone who is in the last year of a contract has the right to walk in the middle of that year if he's not renewed for the next year? That makes no sense."That's it right there.Riggs had his dream job. If I'm in my dream job and this could be my last year, I leave it all on the field, as the saying goes. And if I'm not re-hired, then at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that I did the best job I could. If the team succeeds and I'm not rehired, then the front office looks bad and I come out smelling like a rose and I'm hired somewhere else, without a doubt.He must've had a meltdown to make such a rash decision, even if it had been building.He knew this was the way it was going to be when he was hired. He said he didn't have a choice back then. BS. He could've said no. He could've stood on his "principles" then, instead of trying to leverage an epic streak.Makes me sad and mad. This is NOT Rizzo's fault.

  72. masnstinks - Jun 24, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    About a year ago, my boss resigned abruptly when the company was doing extremely well, shocking the staff. A year later we are still finding out things that we did not know that obviously contributed. The manager is between the fo and the players – was he supported about the Marquis dust-up? Was he forced to play Stairs? When you get fed up and it's a chore to go to work everyday, then you just can't continue to sacrifice yourself. I know it seems like such a great job with great money, but he was making almost as low a salary in the baseball world as the lowest paid bench guys. We may never know all the things that chipped away at Riggs during his tenure. Wish him well and wish the Nats well – growing pains. By the way, our new boss is fantastic and the company is doing even better, but not without some adjustments by all of us. Word for today – perspective.

  73. joemktg - Jun 24, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    This brings Matt LeCroy one step closer to managing in the bigs. The thought brings tears to my eyes.

  74. A DC Wonk - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    Anybody read Boswell this morning? He brings up a point that I completely forgot:In Rizzo, Riggleman couldn’t have found a worse boss to nag about a new deal or one who would respond worse to his lobbying in the media (me included) for help.Why? Because Rizzo faced the same obstacles when he became GM. Instead of whining about a longer deal, he did such a strong job that the Nats did what was obvious: They gave him a five-year contract. Rizzo replaced Jim Bowden on an interim basis in 2009. Then, the next year, he was on a short leash like Riggleman this year.Rizzo said ex-president “Stan Kasten told me, ‘Forget the [expletive] contract. Own the job. Just be the [expletive] GM. Prove you’re the guy.’ ”And Rizzo, even though he’d spent his whole life working up the baseball chain to be a GM, swallowed and did it. Talk about playing the wrong card with the wrong guy.

  75. natsfan1a - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    If memory serves, FeelWood made the same point yesterday. Fess up, FeelWood, are you Boz? (Or is Boz stealing your thunder?) ;-)

  76. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    It's not often that I totally agree with Tom Boswell but he pretty much expressed my take on the whole thing this AM. Riggleman signed a contract and was told the option would not be addressed until the seasons end, yet he persisted in wanting it discussed now. And soliciting help from the press was a major mistake.Just finished listening to him discussing the situation with Dibble and Menlo on MLB radio and he sounds like a guy that maybe wishes he hadn't acted so petulantly. Why he felt that when Rizzo received his 5 year contract last October (one in which Rizzo labored for well over a year and a half as an "interim" to EARN) his option would be picked up, is beyond me. Rizzo earned his contract and expected Riggleman to do the same. A 69 win season does not normally warrant rewarding.I'm from the school of "we are where we choose to be". Rigglemans choices placed him in the situation he found so hurtfull and he should have fully expected to become miserable once he signed a contract the he himself described as "not good".By the same token Nats management, once hearing his complaint at signing, should have (and probably did) realize that yesterday was inevitable. And lastly, Riggleman finally realized what most of us have known all along. His stewardship was as "caretaker" for the next guy. The club he managed till yesterday is in an upward transition and his only chance at recieving the option year would be to finish out the season and exceed all expectations. And even then, his days were numbered.

  77. joemktg - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    Riggs coming up on 106.7 at 8:30.

  78. BowieNat - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    I read this because I love Mark Zuckerman’s writing. “Riggleman could not have picked a worse time or manner in which to issue his last-ditch ultimatum to Rizzo. In the middle of the Nationals' hottest stretch in six years? With his team oozing confidence and the rest of the baseball world taking notice of the major strides this previously woebegone franchise had made in recent weeks and months?”I agree with all that has been said by Slodge, HHover, Dave, FeelWood and especially Sec 222. I cannot add anything more other than something my father used to say, “A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits.” Go Nats!!! Now on to read Bos since it looks interesting.

  79. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    I've been trying to find the quote but can't – I distinctly remember reading two days ago, I think Mark Z wrote it, that when Jayson Werth was asked why he tried to barehand the single that he muffed and turned into an extra base which became the 5th Mariners run in Tuesday night's game, he said (with a smirk) that he had a reason but he wouldn't say until Thursday.Did I dream that? What did he mean?

  80. A DC Wonk - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    FWIW, Kilgore's post (called "Assorted thoughts on Jim Riggleman’s resignation") does a nice job of explaining it from Riggs' point of view.He also gives the full quote of Werth, and, we can see, Werth didn't throw anybody under a bus, despite what some commenters here have written.

  81. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    Anon… you didn't dream it. I heard FP say the same thing Wednesday night.One more note on Riggleman… if anybody thinks he will recieve any job of importance in professional baseball in the next decade, they do not understand the Brotherhood that is MLB.

  82. A DC Wonk - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    Sorry for the multiple posts, I'll rest a bit after this one ;-)I just read a great quote:“I had told Mike, ‘I’m going to show up one day and just say, ‘I’m done,’ ” Riggleman said late Thursday afternoon. “His answer at that point was, ‘Hey, go win enough games, and we’ll talk about it.’ There’s too much of a feeling that if it doesn’t go well, that you’re going to be out of here. And that’s no way to operate. There’s got to be a little commitment from their end, some incentive from their end to go through the bad times.Look, I really like Riggs. I thought he did a good job. I never agreed with the criticism that were the in comments here.But it seems to me that Rizzo's response, above, is honest and perfect. As the Riggs detractors like to point out: Riggs has a long record of losing teams. Given that background, Rizzo is entirely correct in saying: "win some games and we'll talk."A real shame.

  83. MGG - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Just heard Riggs on the fan with the Junkies. He came off sounding petulant and bitter about not getting what he wanted, when he wanted it. "You don't keep your people on a one year contract it's not done that way these days" I don't care what others do, this was the FO's decision and even if you didn't like it, you don't quit! you force them to rehire you.

  84. natsfan1a - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    DC Wonk, I was just making the same point to my husband. Not big on taking quotes out of context, and it seems that happens a lot on the Interwebz/Twitter and what-not.A DC Wonk said… FWIW, Kilgore's post (called "Assorted thoughts on Jim Riggleman’s resignation") does a nice job of explaining it from Riggs' point of view. He also gives the full quote of Werth, and, we can see, Werth didn't throw anybody under a bus, despite what some commenters here have written. June 24, 2011 8:30 AM

  85. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    Everyone likes it when a guy takes a stand and puts it to the man, but Riggs is wrong here. Let's not forget that the guy has lost for years and three weeks ago we were thinking (if not saying) he had to go. The strength of this team is in the players – they were not winning games because of Riggs. Good riddance. We will get past this and continue to win.

  86. N. Cognito - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    Anonymous said… "Jayson Werth was asked why he tried to barehand the single that he muffed and turned into an extra base which became the 5th Mariners run in Tuesday night's game, he said (with a smirk) that he had a reason but he wouldn't say until Thursday.What did he mean?"My guess is that the Mariners might have a habit of taking wide turns at first base and Werth didn't want to let the Mariners know what he was thinking. Did anybody take notice of whether or not this might be true? Werth has thrown behind runners at first before.But we know the real reasons he did it:1) The Lerners are cheap and they're trying to cut down on the cost of gloves.2) Werth hates Riggs and wants to force Riggs into some strange resignation scenario.

  87. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    Riggs just said on the Sports Junkies that his relationship with Werth the last few weeks could not have been better. You can't put it on Werth.

  88. Jim Webster - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    Sarah Palin, meet Jim Riggleman.

  89. N. Cognito - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Walking out on your team trumps whatever shared blame belongs to Rizzo, and there is some.Riggs is DONE.Hargrove walked out on the Mariners on July 1, 2007 and only this year got a front office Special Advisor job with Cleveland, the team he took to the postseason 5 times, including twice to the World Series. Riggs doesn't have that on his resume.

  90. natsfan1a - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    NCog, yeah, I figured at the time it was some strategic info on the Mariners, which is why he wouldn't say until Thursday, after they'd faced them for the last time in the series (and this year).That said, loved your alternate (universe) scenarios. And now there's a new post, with a different pic. Yay!

  91. Manassas Nats Fan - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    As I said this could have been resolved rather easoly had their been a discussion and that discussion drew up what needed to be done to have the option picked up. RIggleman got the feeling no matter what happened he would not be picked up. That is not a good feeling to work under at all, and is usually counter productive. All Rizzo had to say was we have to win x games and the option is picked up. How hard would that be. It wouldn't have to publicized, it just had to be said.

  92. rmoore446 - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    The only time I can recall a negotiating tactic similar to Riggleman's working was by Cleavon Little in the movie "Blazing Saddles".

  93. A DC Wonk - Jun 24, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    To Manassas Nats Fan — I quoted earlier (from Riggs' own mouth) that, apparently, earlier in the season (or pre-season?) Rizzo and Riggs did discuss, and Rizzo said "win some games and we'll talk."

  94. Manassas Nats Fan - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    They won some game, now he want to talk, Rizzo was way to vague. I am not say Riggleman should have walked. He shouldn't have. I am saying Rizzo could make the working conditions much better, and wasn't even trying to. As an employee I want specific requirements that are needed to renew my contract. That is the discussion Riggleman wanted. I can feel more empathy for Riggleman than Rizzo in this case.

  95. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Riggleman is coming off as tinny and spoiled. He had a signed contract, an inviolable commitment in my value system, and he broke it. He gave his word and he broke it.He stabbed his own team in the back.

  96. FOTB - Jun 24, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    Jim Webster … priceless.rmoore446 … great comparison.My two cents … You don't give an ultimatum to your boss when you're not Casey Stengel or you don't have a few rings in your back pocket. Dumb move, Riggs.

  97. Anonymous - Jun 24, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Riggs quit on his team. I lost a lot of respect for him. He chose personal gain over the team and that is simply unacceptable.Rizzo may not have handled this very well and as always the Lerners look cheap and disconneted. But at the end of the day, Riggs quit on the 25 guys in that locker room and didn't honor is commitment to them or his contract. I say don't let the door hit you on the azz on the way out.

  98. Natslifer - Jun 24, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    Since I was the one who suggested that Werth might have "thrown Riggleman under the bus" and a number of folks are taking offense to it, I'll take it back for being too aggressive – it was late and I believe very strongly in team chemistry which I believe this team has much, much more than any other Nats team we've seen.I think the spirit of my point was that Werth (appeared to be) one of the first to speak on record and his first quote wasn't "holy cow, Riggs is a great manager and I can't believe he did this – we're really going to miss him". It was basically something like "we're doing the work here and we'll be ok."As I said, I believe in chemistry and that it's hard to win 11 of 12 without it. So now it's a variable – maybe it gets better, maybe worse, maybe the same. Maybe it wasn't so good to start given the things reported in/around the Marquis story. We'll see – but I'm a big fan of Rizzo's and believe that our current optimism is almost entirely due to him. So I'll trust him to make a good decision here.

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