In 2011, [Jim] Riggleman, in the final year of his contract, 75 games into the season, resigned as manager of the Washington Nationals when the team would not give him an extension. Riggleman believed then, and he believes now, that he was simply a lame duck manager. So he quit. The Nationals, with a 38-37 record, were possibly headed toward their first winning season since arriving in Washington and Riggleman didn’t want to be there anymore if he had no future in the organization. It was a puzzling decision that perhaps nobody but Riggleman really understands to this day.
“As I’ve told many people, it wasn’t the smart thing to do,” Riggleman said. “But it was thought out and it had been going for awhile, but it wasn’t the smart decision. But I thought it was the right decision. That’s the consequences sometimes. Things don’t work out perfectly as you hope. I got to live with my decision.”
In 12 years as a major league manager Riggleman compiled a 662-824 record (.445). One of his teams lost more than 100 games. Only once in the six seasons he managed for a full year did his team win more games than it lost. Only one of his teams made the playoffs. Yet three times Riggleman was asked to manage on an interim basis. It spoke of the respect people had for him in the game. He might not have been the guy to take you to the World Series, but he was a good caretaker. If there was a team in shambles, Riggleman was the right man to calm the waters. Hand him a mess and Riggleman was the man to clean it up. It’s a thankless position, but one that’s appreciated in the game.
Yet Riggleman’s chances at another major league managing job, perhaps even a major league coaching job, appear grim at best for the moment. Most of the goodwill he amassed seems to have washed away.
“I do know that there’s some people in baseball who are ‘Hey, Jim resigned and we have no interest in him,’” Riggleman said. “I knew that was going to be the case with some people. I respect their thoughts on that. I know why I did what I did and I can live with it.”