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Tyler Seguin, and a lesson in patience

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  April 24, 2012 08:44 AM

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Question, Boston sports fans: How many times did you replay Tyler Seguin's winning goal in Game 6 immediately after it happened? Five? A dozen? Or are you still hitting the rewind/play combo on your DVR this morning, two days after one of the most beautiful big-moment goals you'll ever see and a day before one of the most delicious events in sports, a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

There were so many reasons to watch his game-winner, then watch it again and again and one more time again. The magnitude of it, for starters, for his OT score kept the defending champions' season alive against Alex Ovechkin and the gifted, enigmatic Washington Capitals. Milan Lucic's gorgeous, almost casual, pass that sent Seguin on his way. The roadrunner-on-skates beep-beep speed with which he left the defense in his wake and closed in on Caps goalie Braden Holtby. The shot itself, which was from an angle you didn't need to be a geometrician to appreciate.

For me, and probably a lot of you too, there was one aspect of the play that impressed me more than the rest: Seguin's extraordinary patience.

I mean, for a 20-year-old athlete to have the presence of mind in that situation to wait ... and wait ... and wait to shoot the puck until the goalie all but says, "Will you please *$*@*($@ shoot the puck already, eh?'' before committing and essentially leaving an open net ... well, the poise Seguin showed under those circumstances, when he could have shot sooner, is just an incredible thing. That's why I kept hitting rewind and babbling to my sighing 8-year-old daughter why the play was so special.

Pardon me if this strikes you as a stretch of a connection, but I don't believe it is. See, it hit me like a Zdeno Chara check in the aftermath of the Game 6 victory that there is something all of us can take from Seguin's approach to that moment when it comes to our approach to following professional sports:

The value of patience.

To me, it seems like it's in shorter supply among sports fans and media members nowadays than it has ever been. I'm sure a large part of it is due to the prevalent sports-radio culture, in which every loss and negative play is magnified and dissected beyond recognition, and two losses in a row guarantee that the carcass will be picked bare. Everyone has to have a take, and you're not going to get your 30 seconds on the air with your favorite over-caffeinated host by being reasonable.

I don't like that, but I do get it. What I don't understand is how it rewards you as a fan, or where the satisfaction comes from when patience pays off. What do fans who were yelping for Danny Ainge to "blow it up'' and trade Rajon Rondo just a few weeks ago -- usually without any logical solutions regarding what they could and should get in return -- think now that the Celtics are the team no one wants to play in the Eastern Conference playoffs and Rondo has played his way into All-NBA consideration?

Do they admit that waiting it all out is sometimes the best route? Do they find joy in watching this fascinating team, which bickers like family and has each others' backs like family? Or when the going gets good, do they just move on to the next projected crisis, finding more satisfaction in griping than in success?

I suspect the same people who were piling on Danny Ainge back in February are the same ones who will shriek when Bill Belichick passes up that outside linebacker/defensive end hybrid you just know is the perfect fit for the Belichick scheme, if only he'd see it himself, to take a defensive tackle or a guard in the first round during the upcoming draft.

And yes, of course this is about the Red Sox. They've been awful, no doubt. Hideous. Bobby Valentine has made more curious decisions in 15 games than Terry Francona did in eight years, and that's only a slight exaggeration. The bullpen is a Toby Borland Tribute Band. Proven players such as Kevin Youkilis and Clay Buchholz have been brutal, and it's natural to wonder whether they'll perform up to their expected levels. There are real issues to fret about.

Which is why it puzzles me that some fans and media seem to invent things to worry about on top of the real problems. Barring injury, Adrian Gonzalez is going to hit for power; his second home run last year didn't arrive until May 3. When he gets hot, he will carry them. Barring injury -- again with that caveat -- the starting rotation will be better than a season ago. Jon Lester has actually had a better April than he usually does. There's no reason Josh Beckett will not remain a top-of-the-rotation starter. Buchholz's command isn't there yet, but is that really unexpected for someone who didn't throw a meaningful pitch after mid-June last year?

And the back of the rotation will be better. Between them a season ago, John Lackey and Tim Wakefield gave up 202 earned runs. That's 31 fewer than Clayton Kershaw has allowed in his 738.2 career innings in the major leagues. Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard have both shown the potential to be more than back-end starters, and should Bard be called upon to rescue the bullpen beyond his start Friday, mediocre Aaron Cook and his career 4.53 ERA should still be an upgrade on what they had last year.

I know, you're probably not going to listen to me. Sometimes I'm too patient -- I was with my wife for 12 years before we got married -- and this Red Sox team is legitimate turmoil in some ways. But there's too much talent here for it to stumble for long, and the schedule ahead is favorable, with lots of Kansas City, Baltimore, Cleveland and Oakland in the near future. But you should listen to me, because reason is often proven right, and I'm still all right to smile.

What's that? Why yes, that is a line from a certain Guns 'n' Roses song. "Patience,'' as a matter of fact. Right, the one with the whistling.

And if it's going to prevent you from coming up with cockamamie sports problems to worry about, you bet I hope it's stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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