We live as multitudes of ourselves. While the fabric of who you are remains the same, minute variables change depending on the setting. How you act with friends differs from behavior in front of a significant other, your family, or colleagues in the office. Your current environment doesn’t necessarily control you, but it certainly has influence. A productive co-worker may be a bad person in his personal life; just as, incongruously, a poor co-worker could spend his weekends working at a homeless shelter. For most people in the world, that projection is controlled or, at the very least, hidden; whereas, these days, iterations blend into other facets in a professional athlete’s life.
I often wonder how Babe Ruth’s infamous partying would’ve altered his career arc had Deadspin been around to capture the magic. Along the same lines, how different is Mickey Mantle’s legacy if photos of his legendary benders were documented on TerezOwens.com? I’m posing these questions because the Bruins cleverly leaked concerns over Tyler Seguin’s lifestyle to the media days before trading the former second overall pick of the 2010 NHL Draft to Dallas.
Organizations used to fear players showing up on the web surrounded by girls that weren’t their wife, with beer(s) in hand, and an ice luge in the background. But Seguin’s circumstance isn’t Brett Favre sending his Green Bay Packer to a team employee via text message. He was a 21-year-old being, well, a 21-year-old. And what I fear is how the curious leak of “professional problems” prior to Seguin’s exodus from Causeway Street marks a paradigm shift in how teams deal with New Media (the blogosphere).
No one is arguing the Bruins got good – or even fair – return on Seguin’s potential, yet no one is grabbing their pitch forks and questioning the move neither. Strangely enough, the trade of the most polarizing athlete in Boston sports history since Antoine Walker was met with overwhelming neutrality. Never has “indifference” felt so poignant. The Seguin Experience was confusing like that, I suppose, right up to its conclusion.
But talking about a 21-year-old’s legacy feels foolish. He struggled in a lockout season and amassed just 8 points in 22 games in the playoffs (for perspective, as a rookie, Seguin had 7 points in just 13 postseason games), but The Kid is only a year removed from an All-Star appearance, and two removed from raising Lord Stanley’s Cup. In three years his progression fluctuated. He’s what happens when “good enough” is “not enough.” A victim of the Now! Now!! Now!! Generation, Seguin was a good player who was paid to be great. And he still has a chance to be with time on his side. Just not for the Bruins.
Follow Ryan Hadfield on Twitter @Hadfield__