The man is manager in the big leagues again and there is no "interim" tag placed next to his title.
For two straight seasons, Jim Riggleman was asked to take over impossible situations and make the best of them.
In 2008, Riggleman took over a floundering, underachieving and disappointing Mariners squad after manager John McLaren was fired on June 19th with the team 25-47.
The team was horrible. The attitude was dysfunctional. And several of the players were just mailing it in. Riggleman came in tried to at least put a band aid on a gaping flesh wound.
He got rid of Richie Sexson, who was not only not producing but not listening, participating or playing. Since Yuni Betancourt and Jose Lopez weren't inclined to take extra ground ball work before games, he had mandatory infield practice daily to make up for it.
Obviously those things didn't lead a great rebirth for that team, when he took over, but they went 36-54. Not a great improvement but some improvement.
Perhaps, his best moment came in the handling of a newspaper report about a possible mutiny against right field Ichiro Suzuki. It was one of my favorite moments from him. This old blog post has a recap of that day, including several memorable quotes, including this one. ..
Rats are the first one of the ship. When the ship is sinking the rats are the first ones off. They’re the ones scavenging everything on the ship when it’s floating good and going good, but when it’s sinking the rats are the first ones to abandon the ship.
Last season, Riggleman joined the Washington Nationals as bench coach to then manager Manny Acta. The Nats weren't expected to be good like the 2008 Mariners. They finished dead last in 2008, edging out Seattle for the title of worst team in baseball. And they were expected to be the worst team in baseball again this year, which they achieved. Yet even with the bar set so low, the Nats managed to slide below the minimal expectations and Acta was fired after the team went 26-61.
Riggleman took over and the team played respectable, if not winning baseball, going 33-42 with him at the helm, including the team's longest win streak since 2005.
And he will be rewarded for that by being named the Nationals manager today.
This will be his third full-time big league managerial stint.
Sure being named the manager of the Nationals is kind of like being valedictorian of a three-person class (no jokes about my Montana roots). But Rigg is a good baseball man, who's paid his dues, works hard, believes in discipline for himself and the team he manages and deserves another chance at managing again. He always treated me fairly. And I know he understands the way the game should be played and expects his player to do just that.
I wish him nothing but the best of luck. He's going to need it.