Just minutes after the Nationals beat the Mariners with a walk-off sacrifice fly in a 1-0 game to move above .500 manager Jim Riggleman announced his resignation.
According to general manager Mike Rizzo this morning Riggleman expressed displeasure about his contract, which includes a 2012 option that the Nationals haven’t picked up, and said he would step down from the job if it wasn’t handled by the end of this afternoon’s game.
It wasn’t and he did.
What an odd situation, particularly with the Nationals playing their best baseball in … well, ever. Riggleman was clearly extremely frustrated by the entire situation, but to quit 75 games into the season, with the team winning 11 of their last 12 games, is shocking. Or maybe he’s just a huge George Costanza fan and a big believer in leaving on a high note.
By quitting now Riggleman does finish a season with a winning record for just the third time in 12 years as a big-league manager. His overall career mark is 662-824, which equals a .445 winning percentage that ranks as the fourth-worst in baseball history among managers with 10 or more years of experience.
UPDATE: Riggleman held a press conference and said he approached Rizzo requesting to “just have a conversation” about the contract and Rizzo refused, at which point Riggleman felt it was clear “I’m not the guy they want to go down the road with” and quit with three months remaining on his current contract.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.