Clemson Baseball

R-E-L-A-X: Clemson baseball will be okay

April 23, 2019
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Clearly, Clemson baseball is in a slump right now. In a sport that can be unusually cruel at times, the Tigers have lost seven straight games-- the longest losing streak under Monte Lee.

During this stretch, they have been swept by Atlantic Coast Conference foes, Florida State and Duke. Sandwiched between those series was a mid-week, 20 inning loss to the Georgia Bulldogs. Of those seven games, five were decided by two runs or less. Tiger Nation is panicking, and at times like these, you can often look to other sports to be the voice of reason in uncertain times.

In 2014, the Green Bay Packers and their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, found themselves with a 1-2 record to start their season. Their usually potent offense was one of the worst in the league, and face-of-the-franchise Rodgers found himself with the lowest completion percentage in his career. The team as a whole couldn’t catch a break, and fans that were used to greatness under Rodgers, and his predecessor Brett Favre, suddenly found themselves doubting their team. Rodgers joined a radio show in Milwaukee and delivered an iconic line:

“R-E-L-A-X”, Rodgers said. “Relax. We're going to be okay.”

Following their Week 3 loss to the Detroit Lions, the Packers ripped off four straight and won 11 of 13 games to finish the season at 12-4, earning a first-round bye and defeating the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional round.

Keep that moment in mind as we walk through Clemson baseball's problems.

Of the 15 players that appeared in Sunday's 9-8 loss to Duke on Sunday, seven were either freshmen or sophomores. Only three players were seniors or graduates, and that number drops to two if Jordan Greene doesn’t make a couple of appearances as a pinch hitter. That inexperience on the field was apparent over this rough stretch. These young Tigers have made routine plays look hard, committing errors to give opponents a "free 90" and as a result, runs.

The second problem may be a byproduct of Clemson's youthfulness. A lack of confidence during at-bats has been another constant during this stretch, with the team going 1-17 with runners in scoring position during their historic 20-inning loss at Georgia. In a week where bat flips grabbed headlines in the majors, Clemson's players took to ending at-bats with their bats on their shoulders as they slowly made their way back to the dugout. The lack of balls put in play with RISP is a scene that is etched into the dreams of Monte Lee.

“But even if it doesn’t, and the Tigers continue to tailspin towards the end of the season, remember this; it is still a young team, with plenty of pieces in place for the future. There’s no need to hit the panic button on the program as a whole.”
 

Their last issue is another nightmare for Lee, but is ultimately out of his control. The breaks just aren’t coming right now. Clemson was robbed of a walk-off home run against Duke on Sunday. Against the Bulldogs, their first baseman performed web gem after web gem, robbing the Tigers of runs. The ball just isn’t bouncing the way of Clemson right now.

The good news is that the first two issues are fixable. The greatest teacher in life is failure, and after a couple of weeks chock full of it, these players should be progressing. As they learn and grow, they will gain more confidence, and that leads to a team getting on a roll. Once a team has that momentum, suddenly they start catching breaks. There’s plenty of baseball left to play, and at some point, the worm will turn back in favor of Clemson.

But even if it doesn’t, and the Tigers continue to tailspin towards the end of the season, remember this; it is still a young team, with plenty of pieces in place for the future. There’s no need to hit the panic button on the program as a whole.

So take the advice of Aaron Rodgers; R-E-L-A-X. This team, and program, will be okay.

Tags: Baseball, Clemson
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