Greed is…gone?

Gil Meche screen grab from a video on

It’s tough for me to wrap my mind around a 32 year-old having to retire due to health-related issues but that’s exactly what Gil Meche is doing just before the final season of his five-year contract with the Kansas City Royals begins.  Over those first four years, Meche made $43 million and in breaking his contract to retire, he leaves $12 million with the Royals.  That’s a lot of money to leave behind, especially when you consider he didn’t have to retire, he could have stayed on with the team, collected his money and possibly ended his time with KC on the disabled list – or at least being ineffective while he stayed on the roster.  Instead, he decided it was better for him and for the team to just retire and move on.  Amazing.

Okay, so we know that, barring Meche going on a massive bender, he’ll never have to worry about money again and $12 million is kind of a drop in the bucket when put up against $43 million…but he STILL walked away from $12 million.  It’s not something you hear about every day.

I’ve long argued that there are plenty of people in the world, especially those already making a lot of money, who can make decisions without making money the most important factor.  Johnny Damon famously argued that he couldn’t turn down the extra money the Yankees offered him just so he could stay in Boston.  Yet Tim Wakefield, coming off his career season, took what many considered a contract smaller than what another team might have given him, to stay in Boston.  Both Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia, while signing lucrative contracts, still went the way (somewhat) of a “hometown discount”.  Away from Boston, Cliff Lee decided on the team he’d sign with long-term by going to the team he wanted to go to, not the team that threw the most money at him.

Again, these guys are all making incredible amounts of money already without the extras but that’s what has always been my point.  If you have $50 million you are in a position to say that you don’t need an additional $5 or $10 million if it means you have to sacrifice your principles.  It is not ridiculous to believe that there are people who can walk away from money.  It isn’t unrealistic to hope that there are people out there who can understand that they already have more money than they will ever be able to spend they don’t need to keep foraging for more.

So you’re a young man with a hell of a lot of money and you can’t do the one thing you’ve worked your entire life to do…what do you do now?  Broadcasting?  Open your own business?  Do incredibly rich, young people just hang around all day and count their money?  He’s only 32…if he can’t play baseball what can he do…and what does he want to do?  These are the questions that come racing to my mind whenever I read about a baseball player having to retire/quit long before his career cycle should be over.

It saddens me to see pitchers retire because of arm injuries.  I am unrealistic in my wishes for players to be able to play as long as they want, I know.  So I’m sad that Gil Meche will no longer be in MLB as an active player even if I’m also so very pleased that he decided to go out in such a classy way.

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