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Memorial Day Sunday Thoughts

Jeff Zelevansky

Happy Memorial Day to everyone out there.  While you enjoy hitting the pool or lake this weekend then breaking out the grill, remember the reason for this holiday.  On that note, STS would like to give a shout out to all military personnel.  Go shake a soldier's hand and tell him how much you appreciate what these folks do.  Also, remember those who served prior and appreciate the sacrifices that these people made so that we can live in an exceptional country and enjoy everything we a fortunate enough to enjoy.

As we sprint to the end of the collegiate spring sports' season, baseball obviously pulls the majority of the attention.  Clemson was able to win the first two games in the ACC Tourney before losing the opportunity to play for an ACC Championship on Friday against Georgia Tech.  Clemson got off to a slow start before getting into a groove Wednesday against Duke then walked off against Miami on Thursday.  That win put Clemson into the driver's seat to make it to the ACC Tourney Championship game needing just a win over the Yellowjackets to advance.  Again, pitching was great.  Crownover on Wednesday, Goose against the Cains, and Schmidt against Georgia Tech each gave the Tigers great efforts.  The issue once again was Clemson's inability to put runs on the board.  Clemson couldn't hit the ball in their shutout loss to Tech and left a boatload of runners on base Thursday night.  Clemson has been poor all year hitting with runners in scoring position so that was really not a surprise.  I'll admit I was extremely disappointed that Leggett pulled Gossett with two outs remaining and no one on base in the 9th.  Entering the inning I believe he'd thrown 111 pitches.  As well as he'd thrown all night, he did not deserve a no decision but that is the result of Clemson's offensive deficiency.  What he did deserve was compiling the complete game before potentially handing the game over to the bullpen in the 10th.  As you saw, Clemson almost gave away a run in the 9th following a hit then a very poor throw to first.  Clemson was lucky to get out of there with no damage then put the game away in the bottom half of that inning.

We'll find out where the Tigers land tomorrow for the NCAA Tournament.  There is no doubt this is one of the most disappointing baseball teams in recent memory from the Tigers.  Clemson's talent alone should have allowed the Tigers to cruise to 40+ wins and a regional host this season.  Instead, Clemson limps into the tournament needing a couple ACC Tourney wins to assure it gets a spot in the show.  This extreme under-performance is unacceptable and I fully expect D-Rad to make changes this summer.  I cannot recall such fan apathy towards the Tiger baseball program as there is now.  In my opinion, it would take a Tommy Bowden-like 2003 ending that results in a trip to Omaha for Leggett not to be replaced or a definitive coaching transition be put in place next season.

The coaching news last week involved Brad Brownell's contract extension / renegotiation.  While I definitely agree that Brownell deserved the extension and don't have as big a problem with the raise (though would like to have seen a smaller initial bump with more incentives), I do take issue with the exit terms.  Why Clemson would bear the brunt of early contract termination is beyond me.  This complaint is directly comparable to the one I had with the Swinney contract extension.  In this case, Clemson would again have to pay out a chunk of cheddar to fire Brownell where his exit costs are much, much less.  This contract negotiation strategy has me more concerned as I would have preferred different terms.  One probable cause, though, is that Brownell's folks pointed out that it will be difficult to recruit while Littlejohn is being renovated thus he needs some security that his career won't go down the crapper because Clemson will play its home games in Greenville or Anderson.

The PGA boys are out at Colonial this weekend.  Rory won the BMW PGA Championship across the pond earlier today.  Montie leads the Seniors.  The Senior PGA Championship is shaping up to be quite an event with big names at the top of the board.  Out at Colonial there is a leaderboard logjam with the biggest surprise being David Toms' name included in the four way lead tie.  I'll be watching to see what Jimmy Walker and Adam Scott do, as both are within a couple strokes of the leaders.  Obviously Scott is the best ranked player in the world and Walker won three tournaments already this season.

This is probably the one weekend I pay attention to the Indy Car series as they make their annual trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  It will be interesting to see if Kurt Busch can complete the double and run the entire race at both Indy and Charlotte tonight.  Don't ask me anything about the Indy guys...all I know is who the bigger names are and have a slight bit of knowledge about past 500 winners and guys named Andretti.  Neckcar does the day/night deal running 600 laps at CMS tonight.  This is a long, long race but is a tradition on the Cup Series.