Everyone reading this knows the details: Rizzo says there was an ultimatum; Riggleman says he just wanted a meeting. Initially, our reaction was pure, unadulterated anger toward Riggleman for making such a selfish decision. After cooling down for a bit, though, our frustration shifted toward Rizzo. Why hadn't he chosen pick up Riggs' option? Furthermore, why wouldn't he just sit down and have a conversation with him on the trip, even if there was no plan what-so-ever to sign him just to help the fantastic play?
It's hard to dissect the real background of the resignation without being a fly on the wall during Rizzo's and Riggleman's conversation at 12:35 pm on Thursday, and it certainly seem to us that there is an untold part of this saga, but we're going to do our best to create some accountability here and let you know how we see the Nats going forward.
We'd like to say that Mike Rizzo is innocent here, but he may not be. If what Riggs has said to the media is true, and all he wanted was a meeting about the 2012 option, then it seems inexcusable that the Nats' GM was unwilling to grant that request. But we have a hard time believing that was it. Furthermore, even if it was, as brilliant minds have pointed out over the course of the last 18-24 hours, it is still inexcusable for a professional manager to walk out on a team in such an odd manner with literally 9 innings notice. Not to mention, Riggleman's dismal 140-172 record as Nationals manager should hardly place him in a position to make immediate contractual demands. As such, we place the vast majority of the "blame" here on Riggleman's, and perhaps more importantly his agent's, poor decision making during the ordeal.
Several beat writers and national baseball media have quoted executives that said they wouldn't even consider hiring Riggleman as a minor league manager after these shenanigans. Riggleman comes off as selfish, and that doesn't look good in a sport where teamwork and clubhouse cohesion is so important.
Former bench coach John McLaren has already been named the Nationals short-term interim manager, and short-term is bolded because CSN's Mark Zuckerman seemed to make a point to emphasize that in his announcement. Here's hoping it remains short term. From there, though, the Nats have some options that CapBall will go into in more detail should time allow before the Front Office's official announcement, but there does seem to be a consensus on the leading contenders for the full-time manager's job: Davey Johnson, Bo Porter, Randy Knorr, and John McLaren.
Two of those four candidates (McLaren and Johnson) would likely only be short-term solutions to finish the season, but that's a hard decision to make. From there though, the future is wide open. Jim Bowden wrote yesterday that the Nats managerial job is a top 10 job in baseball that Riggleman literally gave away. And for once, we agree with Bowden. It's gonna be a fun couple of months in NatsTown as this epic saga resolves itself.
One thing that shouldn't be lost in the drama, though, is the players' resiliance; they didn't miss a beat. In interviews after the game, players wished Riggleman the best, but reiterated that the team would go on, and that they played for the team not any individual. Talk about advice Riggleman could have used before his brash decision: team, not individual. When Drew Storen said, "I don't think it's going to be as big as everybody's making it. I trust the veteran guys. I know that all the guys down here know what they're doing, so they're going to figure it out," we got the impression that this clubhouse really does know what they're doing. The veterans command the respect of the young guys. And things might actually turn out alright.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comments. Enlighten us, CapBallers!