Kate and I went to Felix Hernandez’s “last game” yesterday. In a season with little else to celebrate, Felix roaring and pointing to the crowd with every “K” was the memory we needed.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the beginning of the sixth inning, as he walked alone to the mound – the rest of his team remaining in the dugout to give him his well-earned moment. Somehow the field didn’t feel empty, with #34 alone in a white jersey warming up for his last battle. Certainly the city filled it up with cheers for the most ferocious player to never make the playoffs.
That he stayed in Seattle through the Mariners most dismal years is incredible. Nowadays players switch teams so often it’s hard to track which team you’re rooting for.
It got me thinking about all this “churn” in the workforce, where 5+ years at a single company is a lifetime. It’s a sad fact that the easiest way to get a raise is to find a new company. What’s that say about the respect shown? Is it laziness or arrogance that allows a organization to compensate their own less than others happily will. And, by not taking care of their own, companies invite employees to treat the organization as disposable in return. The smartest (or perhaps most money-driven) will bounce from employer to employer, chasing the opportunity to renegotiate their earnings entirely instead of just receiving a 3% bump.
How many folks and how many organizations will stay loyal to each other and treat each other with enough respect to earn the sort of goodbye that Felix received last night?
I’ve worked for three different employers and was lucky enough to find two that believed in this loyalty and found it, for the most part, reciprocated. Only the middle organization, nearly ten years ago, didn’t exercise this opportunity to build trust and their workforce showed it. With the job-market what it is now, I can’t imagine the mindset of the executive who doesn’t obsess over how to better take care of their people.
But, back to baseball! There’s no such thing as storybook ending and Felix didn’t get a win. His last out was a pop-up to left field, not some wicked changeup to catch a guy swinging. But it didn’t matter. Felix will be a legend for his resolute loyalty. His fidelity somehow more tremendous than even his pitching.
All in all, I think that’s how a fellow would prefer to be remembered.