Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Last week’s New York Times feature on Lafayette’s Gil Meche explains why the retired Major League pitcher is a shining star in today’s world of professional athletes — where concern over money and fame often overshadows just about every aspect of the game. The 32-year-old former Acadiana High standout, who planned to attend LSU until the Seattle Mariners surprised him with an $820,000 bonus offer right out of high school, retired last week — forfeiting $12 million. Meche was a starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals and in 2007 signed a five-year, $55 million contract, but he suffered through a shoulder injury much of last year. And while he’s certainly taking the road less traveled, Meche said he wouldn’t have it any other way: “When I signed my contract, my main goal was to earn it,” Meche told the NYT in a phone interview from Lafayette, where he is buying a home. “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.” Earth to Brett Favre: That’s called retiring with dignity.

The Lafayette Parish School System’s Schools of Choice program is unquestionably neat-o. It gives students the opportunity to focus their learning in areas that appeal to them and helps deliver more racial diversity and balance to our public-school campuses, something Uncle Sam needled us to do for four decades. Superintendent Burnell Lemoine was even quoted by a local TV station likening SOC to charter-school innovation when he attended The Ind’s public screenings of the documentary Waiting for Superman a few weeks ago. But is the program delivering academic success to the students lucky enough to win a lottery and be accepted into their school of choice? Is it helping close the achievement gap? Those are good, unanswerable questions, since the LPSS apparently doesn’t track such niggling details, according to a recent investigation by The Daily Advertiser. We do know the program has driven the parish’s transportation budget through the roof, since the system must bus SOC kids to their schools, which are often on the other side of the parish. Kudos to the Advertiser for asking some questions we should have asked long ago.

Erstwhile Gov. Buddy Roemer is like our favorite flavor of ice cream: vanilla. He has no name recognition outside Louisiana — and probably very little in the state as he’s been out of office for 19 years — yet the former four-term congressman and holder of a Harvard MBA is floating the idea of seeking the Republican nomination for president. Buddy needs to get his cracker ass onto Fox News ASAP if he wants even an unrealistic shot at upstaging the other former Southern governor who covets the Oval Office, Mike Huckabee, who also possesses an evangelical pedigree that is crack to the Republican base. Roemer saw the writing on the political wall long ago, switching from Democrat to Republican during his final year as governor, so maybe his is the longer view. But maybe — and we’re being cynical here — the Beau of Bossier is looking at a future statewide run here in Louisiana and realizes he needs to get his name back into the news cycle. Either way, could he have any chance of facing Barack Obama in 2012? Highly unlikely.

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