Jim Rigleman is a quitter. Plain and simple, he left his team in the middle of the season. But it’s not plain and simple is it?
After asking Washington National Gerneral Manager Mike Rizzo if they could discuss his 2012 contract option, and after essentially being told no, Rigglemen quit after two seasons with the Nationals. And he is getting killed for it in the court of public opinion. But is that really fair?
Jim Riggleman felt he was not getting the respect he deserved. He was guiding a perennial loser to a winning record. In fact, the Nationals are over .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2005. He was part of a buzz in D.C. not seen since the World Series-bound Washington Senators of 1933.
Riggleman was part of it and felt he deserved more than a string of one-year deals.
Maybe he had a point, but you wouldn’t guess it by reading ESPN.com or listening to Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth.
David Schoenfield of ESPN.com wrote in his blog, “Riggleman wasn’t the reason for the recent surge; the players were. Players win and lose games. All you want is a manager to not screw things up.”
Really? Casey Stengel, Tony LaRussa, Sparky Anderson, Joe Torre, and many other great managers were just sitting in the dugout with the goal of not screwing up? The player must execute. Absolutely. But the manager is the driving force. The manager sets the line-up, pulls the pitchers, makes a double switch.
In 2003, was it Pedro Martinez who is blamed for not executing deep into Game 7 of the ALCS? No, Grady Little had to answer for his decision to leave Pedro in.
Jayson Werth echoed Schoenfield’s sentiment with his quote, “It’s not going to change anything in here. We’re the ones that have been making the pitches and hitting the balls and winning the ballgames, so we’re going to keep going.”
It’s tough to find credibility in Werth’s statement considering Mike Rizzo is the one who signed him to a ridiculous $126 million contract. He and Jim Riggleman have had trouble all year, so I wouldn’t expect Werth to step up in Riggleman’s defense.
Right or wrong, Jim Riggleman did exactly what many of us have wanted to do at one point or another in our lives. Almost all of us have felt disrespected at work. Almost all of us have felt under appreciated and worth more. And almost all of us have had day-dreams of walking into the boss’s office, quitting, and walking out.
This was probably something Riggleman had been thinking about for a long time, and contrary to speculation and stories from those with “inside knowledge,” only Jim Riggleman and Mike Rizzo know exactly what was said during their meetings.
But consider this; Jim Riggleman has not had the luxury of even a subsequent year guaranteed on his contract. When operating as essentially an interim manager, how can anyone expect to earn the respect of their team?
Jim Riggleman walked away in the midst of a successful run. Yet the success was that of the organization. Riggleman can be proud of what he helped accomplish, but pride only goes so far without reward. In life, most people expect compensation, promotion, or some other reward when they are doing well and helping the organization succeed. When they don’t get it, often times people look for employment elsewhere. Yet, when Jim Riggleman does this he is a pariah. He is on his way to being blacklisted from management.
But don’t worry about Riggleman. He knew what he was doing and the consequences that would come with it.
As fans of the game it’s easy to forget this is a job for those involved. When a job loses its value and causes stress, it’s time to move on. Whether you agree or disagree with Jim Riggleman’s decision, at least respect the fact that he had the fortitude to walk away on his own terms.