Did Jim Riggleman do the right thing? No. His actions were fundamentally egotistical. His team deserved better.
That’s my call, at this exact moment, from the comfort of the hotel balcony as I gaze upon the Atlantic (am on a brief Florida trip). This judgment might be retracted if scalded by fresh information. But just at the moment, it looks like he made a fundamental misjudgment: He let pride, and the rush of success as his team surged up the standings, to fool him into thinking he was less replaceable than he clearly is.
Know thyself, friend. Do not let the results of the past two weeks obscure the broader picture of a lifetime.
Here’s the bizarre backstory in case you mised it: The famously hapless Washington Nationals, mocked by bloggers as a collection of losers, go on a June tear and vault above .500 for the season while inserting themselves into the conversation as a possible wild-card playoff team if not a challenger for the division title. And at exactly that moment, the manager, Jim Riggleman, quits.
He cites personal dignity. He says he’s too old to be disrespected — disrespected by the team’s management, led by general manager Mike Rizzo. Rizzo didn’t commit to Riggleman for the 2012 season. He strung him out, didn’t let him know if he’d be back, didn’t guarantee him any job security, and so Riggleman finally made a stand. There is some dispute over the precise nature of Riggleman’s demand, and whether he insisted on a contract extension or merely a meeting to discuss same. But he specifically demanded an answer of some kind immediately — not within days but within hours. When he didn’t get it, he followed through on his threat to resign. Rizzo accepted the resignation and now the surging Nats suddenly have no manager.
Boswell, who knows a thing or two about baseball, decidedly takes Rizzo’s side. Boswell mentions almost in passing, in the penultimate paragraph of his column, what to me seems like a rather stunning statistic: Riggleman has the worst record for a manager with at least 12 years of experience in the history of baseball.
Um, gee. That doesn’t sound good. Is there a way that’s not as bad as it sounds?
So, sure, he may specialize in taking bad teams and making them better. But if I were the baseball manager with THE WORST RECORD IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME I don’t think I’d be promiscuous with the ultimatums.
I might, instead, send flowers to my general manager on a daily basis, and pots of gumbo, and routinely wash and wax his car when he wasn’t looking.
Here are two basic truths that are worth remembering:
Life isn’t fair.
But over time, things tend to even out.
So you can rage against the momentary injustice of your situation, or you can summon some patience, and have faith in the invisible hand that some call karma.
The manager was probably going to get what was coming to him, good or bad. Flush with success ffrom the recent triumphs on the diamond, he suddenly tried to force the issue. He lost his cool. The sad conclusion: Winning went to his head.