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Lessons from Manny

12/07/07 5:55PM By Brian Porto
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Brian Porto, commentator
(HOST) This year's World Series victory by the Boston Red Sox is now fading into history, but commentator Brian Porto is still thinking about outfielder Manny Ramirez, and the storm he stirred up with his comments about winning.

(PORTO) The Red Sox were trailing the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series when Ramirez told the press that he would not be terribly disappointed if Cleveland prevailed because Boston would have another opportunity next year to win the brass ring.

Some fans and reporters thought that Ramirez's comment showed a shocking lack of the "will to win" that we assume (and hope) motivates great athletes. I also had a strong reaction to Manny Ramirez's comment, but I never doubted his will to win. He has played too well for too long in the Major Leagues for me to question his love for baseball.

I think his comment is noteworthy primarily because it exhibits a young person's perspective on time and the prospects for future success. Only a young person would think to say that losing the playoffs this year would not be a "big deal" because he and his teammates would surely be back next year.

Manny Ramirez is a veteran ballplayer, but he is evidently still too young to know what older people know, namely, that there may not be a next year. Life is short, and golden opportunities are, by definition, rare, so one must either seize them now or be content in the conclusion that they were not worth the sacrifices that would have been necessary to take advantage of them. Older people know this, often because they regret not having seized in their youth opportunities that are no longer available.

Opportunities come and go more quickly in athletics than in most other professions. Indeed, it is one of the cruelest of professions, allowing its practitioners only a narrow window of time within which to display their rare talents. In contrast, much of the nonathletic world is positively charitable to late bloomers, allowing me, for example, to become a lawyer at 35, a first-time book author at 46, and a law professor at 54.

Still, if athletics is cruel, it is also instructive. Whatever one's dreams and talents are, the window of opportunity will close on them all too quickly. So, like Manny Ramirez and his teammates, we should seize our opportunities now in case next year never comes.

Brian Porto is an attorney and a free lance writer.
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