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Saturday, June 25, 2011

The "R" Word

R-E-S-P-E-C-T…Find Out What It Means To Me…R-E-S-P-E-C-T…Take care, TCB!  Sock It To Me, Sock It To Me!

Who would have thought that a major league baseball manager with over 12 years experience would be quoting R & B Diva Aretha Franklin in the middle of the season…while his team was in the midst of their longest winning streak in years, and starting to gain  – dare I say it – the RESPECT of the rest of the National League?  

On Thursday, June 23, Washington Nationals' manager, Jim Riggleman, walked out of the clubhouse after his team had just won, completing a three game sweep of the Seattle Mariners, and resigned as the Nats’ manager.   As the stunned players were boarding a bus to begin their six game road trip, Riggleman was calling his agent, Burton Rocks, and giving him the news – he had just resigned from the Washington Nationals.  “Hi Burt…”  “Hey Jim, great game, you guys are on a roll…off to Chicago next…you must feel good after the sweep”  “Burton, I gotta tell you something…”  “What’s that Jim?”  “I resigned.”  “You’re kidding right?”  “No Burton, I resigned…I couldn’t take it anymore.”  “Jim, why?  “I felt DISRESPECTED!”  SOUND OF CRICKETS! 

The Nationals have won 11 of 12 and are above .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2005. Players are beginning to feel good about the team and themselves, and the Nationals are the buzz of the National League after years of being cellar dwellars in the NL East.  And the manager resigns?!!!  Heck, there was even talk that Riggleman was going to be chosen by San Francisco manager, Bruce Bochy, the National All Star Manager, to be one of his coaches during the Mid Summer Classic in Arizona this year. 

Is it me or is the word RESPECT overrated and overused?  In sports, in business, and in life!  I mean come on Jim, you left your team in the middle of the season because you weren’t getting the RESPECT you deserved from the front office.  Whatever happened to putting your team first before your own dreams, wants, desires!!!    There is a word for this type of action, and it certainly isn’t RESPECT.  I wonder what Riggleman would say if one of his players, lets say, Jayson Werth, the free agent turned 18 million dollar man during the off season, said to his manager, "I want to bat third or I’m taking my bat and glove and going home."  Since when is RESPECT a prerequisite for doing your job – a job that pays fairly well (Wait, did I just say a $600,000 job is a fairly well paying job…strike that thought!)  A job that pays damn well!    

I understand having pride and self worth – I admire those attributes.  I understand having a strong self belief, and being guided by your principles - I think we all want to live by those values. But quitting your job, and afterall, managing the Nationals was Riggleman’s job, because he felt wasn’t getting the RESPECT he deserved, I don’t understand.  It’s been stated that Riggleman felt he couldn’t get the RESPECT of the team if he didn’t stand up for what he believed in.  If he didn’t take a stand and let Nationals General Manager Rizzo know how strong he felt about his contract (or lack thereof), how could he lead his team and get them to play hard for him.   But to quit on your team during the season…during a streak where you’ve won 11 of 12 games and starting to gain momentum…what does that say to your team?!!  (Jim's overall managing record with the Nationals was 140 wins and 172 losses.)

We’ve all been through it during some time in our professional career.  We feel undervalued, unappreciated, underpaid…DISRESPECTED!  And we all want to take it out on our bosses, and stand up for what is right.  Show them, they can’t push us around anymore.  I get it.  But to get up from your desk in the middle of the season, in the middle of winning streak, and quit over RESPECT?  There has got to be a better way.  Has Jim Riggleman proven anything here by quitting?

Perhaps, just perhaps, Manager Riggleman should’ve have watched the classic movie, The Network, before he made his decision to resign…

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