Jim Riggleman will return to an on-the-field position next spring, when he manages the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the AA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Many baseball observers would probably say Riggleman is now destined for a life in the minor leagues, having resigned one of the 30 big league managerial jobs that exist in the universe.
But Riggleman would not agree. In fact, he told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern of SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio that his explicit goal is another crack at an MLB job.
“I’m honored to go back to Double A,” Riggleman said. “My goal is to manage in the big leagues again, and when I managed Double A back in the day, that was my goal, to manage in the big leagues. But as I reflect back, my time in Double A with the St. Louis Cardinals...were the most enjoyable times of my career....
“I don’t look at it as I HAVE to go back there, I look at it as it’s a pleasure to go back there. You know, you don’t want to get stagnant, you don’t want to say this is where I’m at, this is where I’m gonna be. I have every intention of managing in the big leagues again, and if general managers are afraid of me, then they have to look at that list of people who have also resigned. And I’m not gonna name names, but there are some pretty good Major League managers — a couple of them are going to go to the Hall of Fame — who have resigned during their time in baseball.”
Of course, most of the interview was focused on that decision Riggleman made to resign, and he seemed willing to admit that probably it wasn’t the most career-savvy thing to do.
“The way I’ve explained it to people, I think I did the right thing, probably not the smart thing,” Riggleman said. “You know, sometimes there is a difference. And I think for my own situation I did do the right thing, but certainly it’s not a smart thing to do to give up a Major League managing job....
“Because people are not gonna have all the information. And I certainly am moving on and am not really gonna disclose information, because I have great respect for the Nationals and what they have achieved and what they will continue to achieve. But when all the information isn’t out there, there’s gonna be a lot of people who think how dare you do that! And believe me, I would probably be one of those people who would be thinking that way.”
Which eventually led to Bowden giving Riggleman a little speech about how to manage one’s career.
“I know all the people that are involved, I totally understand what you were in, because I know all of them extremely well,” Bowden said. “And I understand not wanting to have the one-year deals that Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda had their whole life. But the reality is, had you continued to play well — at the time you left, you had the Nationals at their highest mark of the year, when you walked away.
“And had you continued that year, and just say played .500 ball the rest of the way, if they had decided not to bring you back — which I don’t think was gonna happen, I think you probably would still be there — but even if they had decided to have you walk away, your position in the industry for your next manager’s job would be in pretty good shape.
“Because they’d look back and go wow, look how he helped turn Washington around. And with the amount of openings that were there this year, you probably would have had a better shot. But now you’re in a situation where you’ve got to go back and manage Double A and build yourself all the way back.”
Cold water Bowden.
“Well, you know, you’re making my point for me a little bit,” Riggleman conceded. “As I said at the beginning, it might not have been the smartest thing, But as these things build, and you’re going through it, you do what you think is the right thing. And one of the right things you’ve got to do is look in the mirror and feel like there’s things that are right and there’s things that are wrong, and I felt like I did the right thing.
“Again, you just painted a great picture of how other people may perceive me, so that would give credence to what I said, it probably wasn’t the smart thing to do.
“The one thing about it is to do that job...if you’re not [committed], if your mind is somewhere else, then you’re stealing money. You’re taking their money basically under false pretenses. You’re in a mood that you’re not gonna be able to connect to players, you’re putting too much thought into things. And I just thought you know what, I’m not gonna do that, I’m not gonna take the money. And I could have stayed and been unhappy and taken the money, but I didn’t do that.”