Jim Riggleman has given new meaning to the expression "walk-off" on Thursday.
Minutes after the Washington Nationals defeated Seattle 1-0 to give them 10 victories in 11 games, Riggleman announced that he was stepping down as manager of the club. He was upset that Mike Rizzo, the general manager, wouldn't extend his contract beyond the end of this season.
The move came as a shock. The Nationals have never had a winning record since arriving in Washington in 2005 but were 38-37, third in the strong National League East and only four games behind Atlanta in the chase for a wild-card play-off berth.
"I just felt if there's not going to be some type of commitment, then there obviously never will be," Riggleman said. "I'm just not the guy that they thought they could move forward with."
Countered Rizzo: "I'm disappointed that this is a distraction, that this is not thinking of the team first, that it is thinking of personal goals, thinking of personal things first. "
Riggleman may have thought he was acting on principle, and perhaps the case could be made that he deserved a longer commitment given the surprising success the Nationals had under him.
But he owed something to his players, who had no idea their manager was about to walk away.
One thing is for certain: it's highly unlikely that Riggleman will ever get a chance to quit another major-league managing job again.