Matt Ryan And Me

This ESPN article is titled, “How one Super Bowl loss helped define Matt Ryan’s legacy.” In case you don’t know, [everyone chime in] or even if you do, Ryan was a quarterback selected in the first round by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2008 NFL Draft. He had a very good career, but as ESPN’s Seth Wickersham writes, the loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl 51 (sorry, I don’t use Roman numerals) in a game where the Falcons once had a 28-3 lead, is the defining point of his career, both in terms of achievement and how that loss prevented Ryan from becoming what he had wanted most: being “an undisputedly great quarterback.” (Ryan has unofficially retired and will be working in TV this upcoming season. The retirement is unofficial so the Colts, his second and last team, will have no basis not to pay the $12 million guaranteed to him for 2023.)

Wickersham writes, “His drive was addictive and seductive and inspirational, helping him transcend limited physical gifts. And he was so close, better than 98% of quarterbacks in NFL history. But that final 1% — well, Ryan and I spoke many times over the years, and the subtext of every conversation was how to take the last step, from very, very good to great.”

I did not achieve anywhere near as much in pro sports as Ryan did, but I did accomplish a lot. One thing that eluded me, though, was being part of a team that won the World Series. Three teams for whom I worked, either full-time or as a consultant, played in the World Series, but all three of them lost.

The one loss that sticks with me the most is the New York Yankees losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001. I was a consultant for the Yankees that year, my first in my consulting business, but the only year I worked for them. (All three of my clients made the playoffs in 2001.)

The series went to a seventh and deciding game. The Yankees took a 2-1 lead to the bottom of the ninth inning and sent out their All-Star closer Mariano Rivera to secure the win. Rivera would later become the first, and so far only, player to be unanimously elected to the baseball Hall of Fame.

As many of you know, the Diamondbacks scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth off Rivera to win the game and the World Series. I don’t know if I would have received a World Series winners ring, I didn’t start putting a World Series ring clause in my contracts until the next season, but I would have always been a part of a World Series champion.

When Luis Gonzalez blooped the game-winning single over the Yankees’ Derek Jeter, somehow I knew I would never be a part of a World Series winner. I was a consultant for the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, who won the American League championship and were favored against the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, but lost four games to one. I never expected the Rays to win that series.

Is it better to have achieved much, lived a dream of sorts, but fall short of an important goal than it is to have never been “in the ring?” That’s a philosophical question to which I would give a different answer depending on my mood and maybe the day of the week.







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“Thoughts” For Sunday

Posts having to do with sports are almost always read less frequently than posts about cars. Although I hardly follow sports at all anymore, they will always be a part of my history and I will write about them from time to time. Even though I never bagged the “ultimate” prize, very few people have even one of these rings, let alone two.



I have been told I am unnecessarily pessimistic, that I have much for which to be thankful and much of which to be proud. (Maybe I should stop writing…we’re getting lightning and thunder [and heavy rain] here in the desert as I write this.) As I have written, though, I was a “high achiever” for most of my life and just cannot get used to being relatively inactive in terms of a career.

Still, I do take pleasure in some things. Take a look at this:



As shallow as this may sound, if you had told me 30 years ago that one day I would be the second owner of a car that had a six-figure sticker price when new I would have asked what you were smoking, especially since the car still had the original bumper-to-bumper warranty when I bought it, meaning it wasn’t an old car, at all. (Yes, another Rules Of Logic run-on sentence!)

Of course, I didn’t pay anywhere near the sticker price as I was able to take advantage of new car depreciation to buy the Z06. I remember when I was floored by the notion of a $50,000 car when I was in high school. I think a Rolls-Royce model (the Camargue?) was the first new car that I had ever heard cost that much. Actually, with a little research I have unearthed that given the £/$ exchange rate when the Camargue was introduced, and the “premium” Rolls-Royce charged US customers, the Camargue was about $75,000 when new in 1975.

Anyway…it is often difficult to appreciate significant changes in one’s life because they are usually not the result of a discontinuous change in what I can only call “life function.” I didn’t win the lottery to be able to afford my Z06. It’s like if a person loses some weight over a period of a couple of years. They and their significant other won’t notice the change as much as someone they have not seen for five or ten years.

The loss of my baseball consulting business, on the other hand, was a discontinuous change. As I have recounted before, in the space of 11 days in October, 2010 I basically lost my business. In some ways, I have never recovered from that experience, especially given I have never found an interesting and fulfilling work situation since. I really enjoy writing this blog, but it’s not paying me a living wage. Again, I don’t need the money, but part (and only part, IMO) of the boost in self-esteem that comes from a job is from the compensation. Besides, unless your last name is Buffett or Bezos or Gates, you never have enough money.

On the topic of money…part of me (notice I wrote “part of”) would prefer to win $2 million or $4 million in a lottery instead of winning $200 million. Why? One reason is that Arizona does not allow winners to claim their prizes anonymously. Even if one sets up a trust or series of trusts, the attorneys and their staff would know as well as lottery officials. Remember Mark Twain’s famous line, “The only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead.” Many winners of huge prizes have become targets including one man in West Virginia who was murdered because people wanted his lottery money.

Also, winning a nine-figure prize would be a discontinuous change that would inevitably lead to some behavior that would be a tip-off to one’s newfound fortune. On the other hand, winning a seven-figure prize would not really change much about the life my wonderful wife and I have. We already have no debt and have a healthy net worth. As I have told her many times, I think we could keep such a jackpot a secret from EVERYONE in our lives. I sure would love to find out if that is true…

What do you think? I would very much like to read your thoughts.







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