Friday, June 24, 2011

WorkPlace 101: Jim Riggleman Shows You The Gangsta Way To Quit Your Day Job.

In the 20-some years that I've drawn a paycheck for my labor, I've only held maybe 8-9 jobs total. I've always made a habit of leaving those jobs in good standing, because as my Mom always says "you never know when you might have to go back." It's better to not burn bridges on your way out. That said, I did royally stiff a couple of my former employers. I quit an ice cream shop in college while cursing out the manager and my fellow teenaged colleagues out on my way out the door. There was also the temp summer job I had in a sweltering factory. After 3 days of working in that oppressive environment, I clocked out for lunch one day and never came back. That's how you stick it to da' man.

Eff' yo' paycheck!

As a "young urban professional" with private schooling and iPhone monthly data plans to pay for, I obviously can't pull those sorts of jack moves anymore. I also happen to really, really, really love my day job, and I don't just say that because my boss occasionally reads this blog. Still, something in me admires when people with grownup responsibilities tell their bosses where to shove it. But I'm not so sure if I like Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman's startling gangsta move.
Joy swelled through every corner of Nationals Park late Thursday afternoon, following a landmark victory by the winningest Washington Nationals team in six years. But before the 21,161 ecstatic fans could reach the exits, and the players could change into their street clothes for their flight to Chicago, euphoria faded into shock, then shattered into a jumble of emotions.

Manager Jim Riggleman had chosen this heady moment — the day the Nationals moved over .500 in June for the first time since 2005 — to resign abruptly, taking a principled stand against what he saw as an unfair contract situation: the team’s refusal to pick up the option that would have kept him in place for the 2012 season.

The stunning news caught the Nationals completely by surprise. Riggleman had informed his boss, General Manager Mike Rizzo, only 45 minutes before first pitch of his intention to resign after the game if his contract situation were not addressed in a substantive way.

Riggleman’s unhappiness over his contract situation had been an open secret around the team almost since the day it was signed, Nov. 9, 2009. Although the Nationals called it a three-year deal at the time, it was more accurately a two-year guaranteed deal with a low buyout after the first season and a team option for 2012 — effectively keeping Riggleman on a year-to-year basis, and at a salary, $600,000, that ranked among the lowest in the game.

“I’m 58,” he said. “I’m too old to be disrespected.”
If you're baseball illiterate, here's a little context. The Washington Nationals have stunk to high heavens since moving here from Montreal a few years ago, and routinely play in front of audiences smaller than the line outside Georgetown Cupcakes. They were in the midst of another awful, forgettable season until a month ago when team suddenly caught fire and went on an amazing run that now has them with a winning record at the latest point in the season since they first arrived here. For even a casual (okay, disinterested) baseball fan like me, this is enough reason to pay attention to the team and maybe even consider going down there for a game. With the NFL and NBA locked out, this was finally the Nats' chance to win over DC fans.

And in the midst of all that, Riggleman decides to quit because he felt the team's ownership was jerking him around over a contract extension. Nobody knows how this will effect the team since they've yet to play a game since he abruptly quit, but if they suddenly go on another losing streak, it'll be fair to say him quitting was the cause. The team's one chance to reel in a fanbase will probably be out the window as well. So, honestly, the non-baseball fan in me looks at this and says Riggleman quit on his team. I don't think this was the right move. He should have dealt with his contract situation in the offseason. If the team kept winning, he'd have had more leverage. As is, he has probably turned off any other team that may wanna hire him since he's shown himself to be more about money than winning.

Since everyone's not a sports fan, I'll pose the questions to you in layman's work terms.

Question: Would you quit a job because you felt you weren't being appreciated in the midst of a big team project? Leaving abruptly would probably be a setback for both the company and yout fellow employees. Is there ever a right time or way to quit? Did Riggleman do the right thing, or did he put his personal agenda above the team's? Will he get hired elsewhere?

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