Gil Meche is quitting baseball and he's not taking the $12 million left in his contract. He says he hasn't earned it.
The Kansas City Royals pitcher Gil Meche is retiring from baseball this season thanks to a chronic shoulder problem. Meche is 32 and he's been in the majors for nearly 12 years, a lifetime for most professional athletes.
Like every MLB player, Meche is guaranteed the money in his contract regardless of whether he plays or not, which means he should be getting $12 million in 2011 without having to play a single game. But Meche is not getting that money. He's refusing it, because, in his own words, he "hasn't earned it."
"When I signed my contract, my main goal was to earn it," Meche said this week by phone from Lafayette, La. "Once I started to realize I wasn’t earning my money, I felt bad. I was making a crazy amount of money for not even pitching. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I didn’t want to have those feelings again."\n
People often call the salaries paid to actors and athletes "crazy," but rarely are those people the actors and athletes themselves. In a way, Meche seems remarkably old-fashioned for refusing something he believes he hasn't earned. Increasingly, the world feels like a place where people expect huge rewards for small efforts—Kim Kardashian, for instance, is paid thousands for simply tweeting that she likes a certain product, and some reality stars are paid exorbitant fees in return for appearing at nightclubs.
People, celebrities especially, seem strikingly comfortable with getting something for nothing anymore. So when Meche stepped back and said, "No more," we couldn't help but stare in awe a bit. It was his last great curveball.