BENJAMIN WEY: Lessons on Quitting From Derek Jeter and That Foul-Mouthed Alaskan Reporter

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KTVA news reporter Charlo Greene and the quitting cuss heard 'round the world.
KTVA news reporter Charlo Greene and the quitting cuss heard ’round the world.

When I, Benjamin Wey, came to America, I encountered countless new ways of expressing ancient wisdom. “Winners never quit, and quitters never win” is a uniquely American way of saying what Confucius meant by “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” There is another saying “Quit while you’re ahead.” In recent days, we have been treated to two very different ways of quitting: baseball great Derek Jeter and TV news reporter Charlo “F–k it, I quit” Greene.

Jeter hangs up his Yankees hat

In the case of Jeter, he has had a storied career playing shortstop for the New York Yankees, the team captain. Back in 1992, the Yankees used its first-round draft pick to secure his services, and he was 6th over all in that draft. He’s never played for another team, and to hear him and the fans tell it, there never was a thought in his head or in their hearts that he’d leave. He played his first game in pinstripes on May 29, 1995, and his last was Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. In all, he played 20 seasons wearing number 2 on his back.

This year, Jeter signed a one-year contract and announced on Facebook that this would be his last season. Athletes more than most people know that, as much as they want to, they can’t go on forever. Jeter, like everyone else in pro sports, had to decide just how he was going to go out. He decided to leave before his body forced him out, to leave on top or close enough to it. And he gave everyone plenty of warning. The result has been more of a love-fest than a baseball season.

As the Yankees toured the ballparks of America, the opposing teams all honored him with plaques, special ceremonies and donations to his charity, the Turn 2 Foundation. The most profound visit was to Boston, home of the Yankees arch-rivals the Red Sox. People in Boston with Yankees caps on are not safe, nor are BoSox jerseys welcome in the Bronx. I don’t think the players on either team dislike each other, but some of the fans can be said to hate one another.

ESPN’s Ian O’Connor described the scene better than I, Benjamin Wey, can:

“It all started with a pregame ceremony Jeter would call ‘unbelievable.’ He jogged out to shortstop, waving his cap to all corners of the crowd, before the Red Sox paraded out the
golden-oldie likes of Carl Yastrzemski and Luis Tiant to stand with him. Bobby Orr headed out there in his old Bruins jersey, and Paul Pierce followed in his old Celtics jacket.

“The Red Sox put Jeter’s name on the old school scoreboard beneath the Green Monster, and they made a $22,222.22 donation to his Turn 2 Foundation. Peter Frates, the ALS victim
and former Boston College baseball player who inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge, entered the field in his wheelchair; Jeter, an Ice Bucket participant, ran from his position onto the infield grass to greet him.

“Boston was responding to Jeter as if he’d helped Orr win the 1970 Stanley Cup. Before the game, Red Sox manager John Farrell called it ‘a special day’ and went on
about Jeter’s integrity and dignity and bar-setting ways.”

That’s going out in style. As Major League Baseball’s slogan for him this year said, “RE2PECT.”

Charlo Green goes off the air in a blaze of ‘glory’

Then, there was Charlo Greene, a news reporter in Alaska with KTVA television. She had been covering the Alaska Cannabis Club, which connects medical marijuana cardholders with local growers. In a huge breach of journalistic ethics, she failed to mention her connection to it — she’s its president and CEO. Then, on the air and live, she said, “Now everything you heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all of my energy toward fighting for freedom and fairness which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska.

“And as for this job, well, not that I have a choice but, f–k it, I quit.”

A stunned anchor back in the studio could only manage, “Alright, we apologize for that … we’ll … we’ll be right back.”

Greene defended her actions by saying that if she has simply handed in her two-week notice, no one would have noticed.

Of course, as any parent can tell you, there is good attention and bad attention. This is bad attention. If you were a reporter, what are the odds you’d be kind to her in any future stories? If you were watching her live, what would you think of her professionalism or her simple sense of what is right?

Greene even managed to burn bridges with people in the legal marijuana business. Ryan Fox, the CEO and president of Kindman, one of Colorado’s oldest cannabis companies, said in a statement, “If she and her supporters are trying to publicize the cause of marijuana legalization with voters in Alaska, they certainly need to speak about it and they certainly need to get the information out. But Washington and Colorado accomplished this two years ago without anyone behaving like that.

“Cursing, throwing your hands in the air, walking away from a career, walking away from a job and causing your employer disruption; all those things she’s going to regret doing that at some point in the course of her having a cannabis business,” he continued, adding that her action was “self-indulgent and glory-seeking to meet her personal agenda.”

Quitting on your own terms is always preferable to quitting on someone else’s (that’s called getting fired), but if you do it right, even your rivals cheer for you. And if not, people who should be on your side want nothing to do with you.

Benjamin Wey is a financier, investigative journalist, professor and a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine and other media outlets.

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