The New York Mets are considering hiring former Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman to serve as their bench coach for the 2012 season, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Riggleman notably resigned as the Washington Nationals skipper this season in the midst of the franchises biggest winning streak when general manager Mike Rizzo refused to discuss a contract extension.
“Riggleman, 58, was in his third season managing the Washington Nationals this year when he resigned 75 games into the season in a dispute with the front office over his job status and coaches undermining his authority. He could be a particular asset to the Mets because of his familiarity with the National League and particularly division.”
What makes this most interesting is the assumption by many, not just within the beltway, that Riggleman would never work in baseball again following his stunt with Washington. While even this blog noted that he had a right to be frustrated with the Nationals organization, by and large the way he handled the situation was considered unprofessional at best. It was a shot through the heart to Nationals fans who had seen their team come together for the first time since 2005, and it was a solemn reminder that in baseball, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong in D.C.
This is another example of how as a society we all too quickly say the word “never.” We were sure that Jim Riggleman would never get a job in baseball again, just as we were sure that Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record would never be broken. It seems we’re always sure of things until we’re not. Perhaps it was our way as fans of feeling better about being walked out on by our manager. To both a team, and a fan base, a manager is a very paternal character who provides not only technical, but emotional guidance throughout the season. Perhaps by saying that Riggleman would never get a job again, baseball as an institution was trying to feel better about one of their paternal characters acting so damn selfishly.
The bottom line though is that this would be the third gig in baseball that Riggleman has picked up since his shocking resignation this summer. Shortly after he walked away from the team he worked as a color commentator for CSN Chicago. Later in the season he worked as a special assignment scout for the San Francisco Giants, and now he potentially could have a full time job in the dugout next spring.
To me what would make this hiring all the more upsetting is that he will be taking one of the coaching vacancies left behind after New York fired longtime first base coach Mookie Wilson. Wilson, one of the most beloved Mets of all time, hit the ball that went between Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 World Series, 25 years ago this month. Something just seems wrong in that. A man who has been a loyal New York Met, and has stuck with the team despite being let go several times, will be replaced by Riggleman, who is best known for walking out on his club in a matter of self interest.
Riggleman will probably never be welcomed back to Washington with open arms, but then again, who knows what to believe anymore.