Before Mike Rizzo was hired as Washington's full-time general manager on Thursday, August 20, 2009, after serving on an interim basis for the Nationals throughout the '09 season, there was a bit of drama in the nation's capital.
For a time, at least according to published reports, it appeared as if someone else might get the job.
Once he was officially announced as the full-time GM, Rizzo was asked about the week he went through leading up to the final decision and the published reports which said he would not get the job.
"The information, the mis-information... was unfortunate," Rizzo told reporters, "but it didn't affect me nearly as much as the people who knew me and were rooting for me, because I knew on Tuesday that I had the job.
"The Wednesday stories were, at first -- it was a little comical, and then as the day drew on and it seemed to kind of snowball into more of a 'for sure' thing that I wasn't going to get the job, and uh... you know, family members and friends were a little more vocal in their displeasure."
Rizzo got the job, of course, but the lead-up to his hiring as the General Manager was unpleasant.
The scout turned scouting director, assistant GM and eventually General Manager has since completely rebuilt the organization from the ground up, reshaping the front office, scouting department, international and domestic, and putting together a team that has enjoyed success at the major league level with a system that's producing talent that can fill needs and provide options in terms of trades.
Anyone who has followed the organization from the start can see the difference between the organization he inherited and the one he's running now. Even people who are just getting to know Rizzo are impressed with the work he's done.
Nats' skipper Dusty Baker was asked for his thoughts on Rizzo during the last homestand. He admitted that he didn't know Rizzo well before he was hired as the Nationals' manager, but he said they had a lot of friends in common.
"I knew a lot of people that knew him," Baker explained.
"Most of the people respected him that I knew. Shooty Babbitt and guys like that who had worked with him and the Diamondbacks. Matt [Williams] really respected him and Matt had spoken about him and talked to me about him.
"Oh, and [Nats' VP of International Operations] Johnny DiPuglia, good friend of mine also. I knew Johnny years ago. Word gets around about certain people."
In the short time they've worked together, Baker said, he has learned a lot about Rizzo.
"What I learned is he's very compassionate. He's easily excited. He knows baseball from a players' standpoint which is different than most general managers that you're going to run into.
"He's a former scout and talent evaluator, which I think about half my job is evaluating talent and what I think talent might become and so he has a heck of an idea.
"I really like working with him and he trusts me, trusts my judgement on things, which makes it easier to work with somebody that trusts you."
After Rizzo was hired as the full-time General Manager in 2009, he signed a three-year extension in October 2010 on a deal that included club options for 2014-15.
He signed an extension in August of 2013 and was given the title of GM and President, Baseball Operations.
The two-year deal included a club option covering 2017-18, which Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga noted this Spring, must be exercised or declined by June 15, 2016.
"According to major league sources," Svrluga wrote, "Rizzo’s contract has a June 15 deadline to pick up a two-year option that would keep him in Washington through the 2018 season.
"So if this seems like an important season for the Nationals – what with the disappointment of last year still fresh – it is, from the top on down."
As of now, however, with a little over a month to go before that mid-June deadline, and with the Nationals off to a strong 19-9 start under Baker, there has been no word of the option being exercised beforehand to guarantee that Rizzo remains at the helm in the nation's capital.
Will the two-year option be exercised? Will Rizzo get a longer-term extension? What are the Nationals owners waiting for? If it comes down to the wire, will things turn ugly and uncomfortable again in the nation's capital?
In Rizzo We Trust?