I’m not going to change my view of Jim Riggleman’s move — I think it was the wrong move to make and a bad one for his future for him to resign like that — but I’m also hesitant to bury the guy too deeply. The reason? We don’t know what brought the situation to a head with the Nats’ front office. Riggleman has never done a rash thing in his professional life, and all of a sudden he snaps? There’s got to be more to the story, right?
Ken Rosenthal helps shine a bit of light on that this morning. In his column — which starts out by noting that Riggleman’s resignation was not the right way to handle this — Rosenthal reports that the communication from the Nats’ front office was poor at best and not in keeping what people expect to go on behind closed doors with a major league team:
Most GMs talk with their managers every day; Rizzo rarely spoke with Riggleman, according to numerous sources. Most teams understand that a manager’s authority is compromised when he is in the last year of his contract; the Lerners proceed along their merry way, seemingly ignorant of conventional baseball wisdom … Stan Kasten worked 24 years for Ted Turner, one of the most eccentric owners in sports history. He lasted only four years with the Lerners. Gee, wonder why.
Apparently Nats’ scouts have complained about Rizzo’s lack of communication skills too.
Again, none of this makes Riggleman’s move the right one. But even if he was still wrong to quit like he did, it’s not totally inexplicable either.
A Solar Eclipse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
In that great journey of the stars through space
About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.
Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
See only that the Sun is in eclipse.
Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union — launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.
Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:
“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”
As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.
I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.