The Washington Nationals have won 11 out of 12 and after a few years of pain, suffering, and down-right grinding it out, they are now finally one game over the .500 mark at 38-37. And yet this is not the headline surrounding this team. The headline is the selfish decision by Jim Riggleman to step down, and resign from his position of manager. Are you kidding me Riggs? The report is that the Nationals did not want to sign Riggleman to an extension (right now) so he became that little kid at the field who didn’t get his way, grabs his glove and goes home. What are your players supposed to think Jim? This team has fought their asses off to get to point they are at now, and their manager just up and quits because the front office won’t extend him right at this moment? I agree that Riggleman is underpaid, but I’m sorry Jim can you not afford to live off the $700,000 you are making this year? I understand that you want to protect yourself and your family financially, but you have really shown your ass here. The front office is probably trying to sign the draft class, that everyone agrees, is probably in the top three in all of the Major Leagues, basically trying to give YOU better players so you can rehab your managerial image. Trying to capitalize on a one game over .500 record, and then walking away after not getting an extension is just juvenile. You no longer have the Nationals job, nor will you ever manage a big league team again. No player in that locker room has any respect for left Riggleman, and no other GM can trust their team in the hands of Riggleman again...
The previous paragraph was written last night when the news first broke about Riggleman stepping down. It was also written as we watched the Wizards draft Jan Vesely over Kawhi Leonard OR anyone else not named Jan Vesely so emotions were very raw! The dust has settled a bit, and some more information is coming out on what went down between Riggleman and the Nationals. So it’s only fair to allow some time for cooler heads to prevail. Jim Riggleman was grossly underpaid by major league standards and definitely deserved to at least have his option picked up. He took over this team from Manny Acta in the middle of the 2009 season when no other manager would go near that roster. The Nationals were a pedestrian team under the Riggler for the most part, but he really instilled a team-first attitude (isn’t that ironic? Don’t cha think Alanis?), and finally got the Nats playing winning baseball. He had every right to be upset, and feel disrespected, but come on Jim how do you walk out on your team midseason over a contract?
Jim Riggleman is a local guy and claimed that managing a professional baseball team in D.C. was his dream job, so there must be some underlying aspects to this situation that we don’t know about. Had Riggleman gone to ask Rizzo multiple times for a contract extension? Does Mike Morse hit bombs that take longer to land than a MIR shuttle mission? The answer to both questions is yes. Some of the quotes that filtered out yesterday made it easy to believe that maybe there was unrest in the locker room and Riggleman may have been losing his grasp on the team.
From Riggleman (about his resignation) on MASN: "You know, some of 'em, it's probably the best news they could've got today..."
There could be something more to that, but we are not the ones in the locker room so that is all speculation for now. What we do know is that Riggleman felt disrespected by Mike Rizzo and the front office because they never would commit to him for more than a year, and as many of us can relate, that is not a good working environment. Would you feel comfortable at your job if your boss refused to commit to you for more than one year at a time? This is where we can start to understand Riggleman’s decision, but we still do not agree with walking out on 25 people who went to war with you.
Riggleman is a strong self-respecting guy who stuck to his guns, you’ve gotta respect a guy with balls like that. Riggs believed so strongly that he was being disrespected that he was willing to walk away from his dream job in the midst of a very promising season. He was very proud to call the Nationals job his dream job and maybe Rizzo and the front office took advantage of this by knowing they could continually low ball Riggs and continue to have a manager at a discount. So in that sense we respect Riggleman for standing up to a front office who disrespected him (cough* cough* Jim Zorn) and clearly did not appreciate him.
There are going to be a lot of blogs, articles, etc. written that rip Riggleman (like our opening paragraph!), and rightfully so because this truly was a selfish decision and there are 25 players in a locker room who were feeling really good about themselves and now they are stunned. Talk about a glass case of emotion! I really hope this isn’t a distraction for this team for too long, and they can turn the page on the whole situation and keep up this winning baseball that has been so much fun to watch.
Many are saying Riggleman has committed career suicide and he will never work in baseball again. This decision may have cost him another shot at being the manager, but he is a baseball lifer and has a lot…I repeat, a lot of friends still involved in pro ball and he will undoubtedly be on someone’s staff next season.
Now on to the major problem here, Mike Rizzo. That’s right we’re taking on the General Manager of the Washington Nationals. If you have read any of our other articles you would have noticed that we are always taking personal shots at the Riz and with no explanation. Well now is the perfect time to reveal our reason for such venom towards the General Manager of D.C.’s baseball team.
It was a balmy summer night in 2010, and we ventured into the heart of downtown D.C. to an awesome little irish pub aptly named “Irish Times”. Bryce Harper had been drafted a few weeks before, and Strasburg was carving up the N.L. and vibes around the Nats were very positive. We were sipping on some beers, catching up with some college friends, when we see this group of older dudes saunter into the bar. They were loud, raucous, and clearly a bit tuned up. Then all of a sudden, a glare hit us right in the retinas like when the sun bounces off someone’s watch. But it was night time so that glare was not from the sun, but a combination of an overhead light and one very bald cranium. This cranium belonged to none other than Mike Rizzo. We got pretty pumped and decided we would buy the Riz a beer, shake his hand, and just thank him for the hard work he was putting in with the Nationals. I mean does anyone need a pat on the back for having the balls to select two phenoms in back to back drafts? Of course not, but we are avid D.C. sports fans and we just wanted to show our appreciation for a job well done. We purchased the beer and were walking towards the Riz when his geriatric entourage stepped in front and stopped us. We tried to reason with these guys and told them we were Nationals’ fans and just wanted to buy Rizzo a beer and let him know we appreciated his effort. Rizzo looked up and just waved his hands as if to say, “Nah guys move along.” His posse relayed the message as if we did not see the direct slap in our faces and we were shell shocked. Words were exchanged, fingers were pointed, and eventually Rizzo’s cronies told us that the Riz did not have time for us.
Doesn’t have time for a couple of fans? That’s absurd! No one in the bar, nay the town could pick Mike Rizzo out of a police lineup, yet we recognized him and thought it was so cool that he would be in the same bar as us. From that point on no matter what Rizzo did he could never redeem himself in our eyes. That just sends a bad message to the fan base, that the fat/bald general manager did not have 30 seconds (at the most) to spare to drink a free beer and humor a couple of fans. His buddies began pushing us aside and Rizzo was forever a lost cause. This is exactly what Rizzo did to Riggleman, Riggs asked to have a conversation about a new contract after the game and Rizzo stonewalled him like he did to us. We wouldn’t be surprised if Rizzo didn’t even acknowledge Riggleman, and he sent the same old fogey cronies down to Riggleman’s office. Hypothetically speaking here, If Anthony Weiner had a love child with John Edwards; Silvio Berlusconi then had a lovechild with O.J. Simpson; then these two lovechildren had a child, this kid would still not be as big of douchebag as Mike Rizzo.
So when Mike Rizzo goes out to a bar, he ignores fans and does not have time for them. But when Jim Riggleman goes out to a bar the same night he resigned from his dream job, well that’s a horse of a different color.
(Photo courtesy of Eric Bickel’s twitter account @EBJunkies. Bickel is a co-host of the Sports Junkies on 106.7 the fan)
|"Yea, I was at Caddie's solving the world's problems." -Jim Riggleman on the Sports Junkies this morning|
In summation, Riggleman wanted at least to have his $600,000 option picked up for next year and maybe discuss a contract discussion, and Rizzo continually rebuffed and refused to discuss the extension with Riggleman. The writing was on the wall for Riggleman so he stood up for himself put all his chips on the table and went all in.
And Mike Rizzo is a colossal d-bag, who stiffs his fans, and disrespected his manager by never removing the interim tag on a guy who did in fact deserve an extension. All in all just another day in D.C. sports where nothing ever surprises us anymore.
This article was written with more emotional mood swings than a pregnant chick, but thank you for sticking with us throughout!
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