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A Baseball Manager Quits on His Team

From his point of view, former Washington National’s manager, Jim Riggleman, preserved his dignity and self-respect. He’ll have many years to enjoy the Pyrrhic victory from the sidelines because it will be a cold day in hell before he manages in the big leagues again.

“Talk to me about a new contract or I quit,” is not an advisable form of dealing with any boss. They generally don’t take kindly to ultimatums. Really, what Riggleman was complaining about- and why he’s not likely to work in baseball again- is that he was chafing at the very reality of what it is to be a major league manager. He wanted a sense of job security and support from the Nationals. But there are managers with multi-year deals who get canned all the time. There are few managers, no matter how long their contract, who aren’t one 10-game losing streak away from unemployment. It’s the nature of the business and if he can’t live with the tenuous nature of being a big league manager, he did the right thing to leave the Nationals and the game.

What was wrong was putting his self-interests ahead of the team. Nat’s GM Mike Rizzo is completely right about that. The hottest team in baseball has a huge distraction to deal with now. I think they’ll be alright. A new interim manager will take over but it’s the players who perform and they have now discovered how to win. After taking 11 of their last 12 games and getting above the .500 mark for the first time in six years– Mr. Riggleman’s bizarre approach to trying to win job security has certainly been a buzz-kill.

But this team has survived losing Stephen Strasburg to Tommy John surgery; being without its best player, Ryan Zimmerman, lost to injury for nearly two months; lost its starting 1st baseman to injury and responded by putting Michael Morse in the position and promptly becoming the best hitter in the game.

Losing a nice man who was probably, at best, an average manager—well, unless he was suiting up and taking the field—and he wasn’t….they’ll survive Mr. Riggelman’s exit as well.

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