Thursday, May 31, 2012

What's at Stake in the Armpit

The first weekend in June is typically wrought with excitement. Watching brackets, discussing teams, figuring out lineups, planning for Omaha.

But this week feels different. The excitement that usually precedes the NCAA baseball regional is just not there.

Not sure if it is expansion talk, lowered expectations, or being placed in a regional with two other state schools, but the fervor is missing. At least from the good guys.

I'm sure the armpit (Columbia) and USC are abuzz. The chance to take down your rival and step-brother in the same weekend is probably causing our feathered friends many a Bob Costas moments:

In many ways, I'm glad. Let USC have their fun. Let them soak it in. They've earned it. Back to back championships is huge. And they are currently in the midst of their finest 2-3 years ever. They'll need these memories for the next 100 years once they return to mediocrity.

And maybe Clemson or Coastal can start that process this weekend. Let's take a look at what's at stake, who has the most to gain, the most to lose, and what will probably happen.

What's at Stake?
If they win they will host the winner of the Charlottesville Regional, a regional in which every team looks beatable, and advance one step to closer to a return to Omaha for a shot at a three-peat.

This would be USC's 10th overall Super Regional, all within the past 13 years.

There is also this little NCAA-best winning streak, which currently stands at 16 games. Though I think USC would sacrifice the winning streak to advance through the regional, keeping it intact while sending Clemson and Coastal home would be icing on the cake.

If Clemson should win the Columbia regional, they would likely be forced to travel again for the Super Regionals. Should UVA, the #1 seed in their home regional win, they would host the Tigers, a team they've already beaten four times this year.

By winning the Regional, Clemson would reach the Super Regionals for the 10th time in 14 years.

Clemson would also have the satisfaction of ending USC's season, winning streak, and chance for a three-peat, along with sending Coastal home and keeping them in their place.

Coastal Carolina:
Should Coastal win the regional, they would also likely be forced to travel, unless a major upset occurs.

This would be their 3rd Super Regional, which is quite an accomplishment.

Coastal would also gain national exposure and major bragging rights as they carry the state banner forward, without being in the shadow of USC or Clemson.

And in doing so, they would end USC's winning streak and start a long offseason for Clemson fans and their coach.

What would a Manhattan win in this regional mean?

To quote Bubba Watson: "I don't know. I never got this far in my dreams."

Who Has the Most to Gain?
The number one seed and host school is expected to win. And while performing up to, or even exceeding expectations, is great, it doesn't gain you much.

Emotionally, Clemson has the most to gain. They can exorcize the demons of past Omaha failures all the while ending USC's win streak and chance for a three-peat. They would have the opportunity to celebrate on their hated rivals field and do Cadence Count all through Columbia.

But Clemson already has respect and a national presence. And while winning this regional makes the fans, and maybe even the coaches, feel better, it doesn't drastically change the series of their program.

No - that opportunity rides with Coastal. Coastal has an opportunity to become a major player in college baseball. Clemson generally owns the upstate and USC the midlands. But the coast is wide open. And Coastal can lay claim to it.

If they can pitch their way through the weekend, they have the chance to make their first College World Series. And they can say they did it on the backs of the big boys.

This may not be a Hickory story like Hoosiers, but for this state, it would be close.

And it's theirs for the taking. And they have the chops to do it.

Who has the Most to Lose?
In the same way USC has very little to gain, they have everything to lose. Clemson and Coastal are supposed to be minor speed bumps on the way to Omaha. And if they falter, not only will their streak and chance for three-peat be over, they will have to watch one of their rivals play in their place.

Also, USC has made great strides in the last decade against Clemson, if not surpassing them. For many years, Clemson has had a comeback for any USC jab.

But no more. Now USC is doing the jabbing and Clemson is against the ropes.

And all that could be gone in a weekend.

For Clemson and Coastal, expectations are not high. They are hoping to play well, but have no ideas of grandeur. They'd probably both settle with eliminating the other and ending USC's winning streak.

What Will Probably Happen:
Clemson fans have a tendency to be rough on their boys. To get down on them a bit when things don't go our way. But as I said earlier, this week feels different. And in this case, different may be good.

The Clemson fans haven't fully vested themselves in this weekend. It feels like the pain of the past still lingers. And without them being vested, the pressure is off. And with the pressure off, I expect Clemson to be loose and play well.

But how well? Well enough to defeat Coastal's ace, and potentially the best pitcher in the nation? Well enough to then defeat Roth, who first made his name against Clemson in 2010. Well enough to then defeat one of these two a second, and final time?

I'm not so sure, but I'm afraid the lack of quality bats and pitching depth may be too tough to overcome, especially with quality pitching abounding in Columbia.

My Prediction:
Clemson finds a way to defeat Coastal on Friday, but loses a close game to Roth on Saturday and then again to Coastal in the nightcap. USC then defeats Coastal on Sunday to keep their winning streak alive along with their chance for a three-peat.

Can the Tigers win this regional? Maybe. Potentially.

Will they? Doubtful.


  1. Good stuff. Coastal and/or Coots will pitch around Richie Shaffer(?) and it will be really tough to beat any team in the regionals playing "small-ball" like the Tigers have been doing of late. For the Tigers to advance, somebody has to have a MVP tourney, and I like of Kikki-Boom guy,,,,,,

    1. Thanks for checking in.

      It will take a monster effort from some of the other guys, and the pitching staff, for us to make some noise this weekend.

  2. That is a great column Sir. Really enjoyed reading it! Your blog is awesome!

    1. Thank you.

      Unfortunately, I was a little too correct on the games so far. Maybe tomorrow will break the predictions.

  3. Keep calling us, UCS....It's a great time to be a Gamecock!
    U S C !!!

    1. It certainly is a great time to be UCS. Things have never been better.

      Thanks for checking us out and following our road to recovery.

  4. Carolina has their 100 years of sucking behind them....Clemson has about 97 more to go. Carolina and Clemson both set an NCAA record this year. Carolina has the most consecutive post season wins in the history of NCAA baseball (and still going), and Clemson gave up the most points in the history of college bowl games. At least we both set an NCAA record this year.

    1. Well at least you acknowledge your program sucked for 100 years. That's better than most UCS fans.

      Maybe now we're even. Here's a quick snippet from your ONLY SEC Championship game appearance:

      Auburn broke the SEC Championship Game records for most offensive yards, most points scored and largest margin of victory.

      So - how'd that go for you?

      63-17 - an even worse beatdown than we received.

    2. Living through what Auburn did now? CAROLINA CURRENTLY OWNS Clemson in EVERY sport. How's that history workin' for ya'? NOT TOO GOOD.

    3. How is living through Auburn any different than living through West Virginia? I only bring it up to show how useless it is.

      You actually made my point for me.

  5. I'm a USC fan and I will readily admit the Gamecocks have a dismal past in athletics but the keyword is PAST. What would you rather have; storybook history and a bleak future or vice versa? I think I'll take the crappy past with all predictors and indicators pointing to more ownage of Clem by USC. Nobody outside of Clemson is objectively predicting a football victory for the Tigers in the next couple years.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful response. The past is certainly more romantic, but the present more exciting.

      For us, the past helps us cope with the present.

      One thing this rivalry has never had is something on the line - nationally. And I think both programs will be bringing that to the table in the next few years. They should have similar pre-season rankings and schedules that could produce a Top 10 matchup.

    2. Here's an honest question; how long will the romance fill the void and compensate for losing in the present and the future. To me, relying on the past to feel good about my team would be like someone telling a good Pee Wee Herman joke; you might smile for a moment but it's not as good as it once was and you're certainly not gonna go telling anyone else about it. Even if you do tell someone, they're gonna think you're a weirdo for talking about something irrelevant.


    3. Not sure how long the romance will last. The good news is we've put plenty of romance in the bank and are just now starting to withdraw. Hopefully, our athletic department doesn't think we're in retirement and our fan base doesn't blow it all on one big Vegas weekend.

  6. I guess if we're the armpit, it makes you the rectum.

    1. You need a geography lesson. Worst case is we're the boogers or ear wax.

    2. No, boogers and ear wax is what Tater coaches get caught eating on live TV.

    3. Maybe - but nothing like this guy:


    Suck it, Tater Swag.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Nice having you.

    2. Thanks for stopping by the home of the champs this past weekend. Nice spanking that Tater ass again.

  8. So I see you're now censoring comments. Typical Tater, can't handle reality.

    1. Not censoring per se, just doing some cleanup from the other night.

      The goal of this site was to provide a different place. One we could look at things objectively and have a serious, thoughtful debate.

      And after the weekend, we all said things (myself included) that did not portray that kind of atmosphere. And after sitting on it for a day, I decided to remove any comment that was not appropriate - including my own.

      Thanks again for checking us out. Hopefully between Cockabooster and myself, we can create that space.

  9. "cleanup" is what you Taters call it when all opinions other than those that fit your twisted worldview are quashed? Good to know there's a word in Hooterville for mass denial of reality and shared delusions of grandeur.

    Have fun watching Big Brother in the Supers this weekend. We'll see you around Thanksgiving for Beatdown #4.

    1. It wasn't the differing opinions I didn't care for, it was the slow trek down a path of incivility.

      I want this to be a place where we can discuss all things, but do them in a better manner.

      I wasn't pleased with things I said or those said to me, so I felt it best to remove those comments.

      Trust me, I liked the idea of having 50+ comments for a post, but I wasn't willing to leave that level of vitriol (mine included) on this site.

      I look forward to the time between now and Thanksgiving, as we'll have plenty to write, think about, and discuss. So please join us. I hope it will be enjoyable for all.

  10. Oh, and here I thought it was the part where you made boastful claims that were demonstrated to be utterly false and wanted to remove such embarrassing slip-ups from public view.

    At any rate, I'll let you get back to watching the History Channel.

    1. Yeah - forgetting about UCS' run in the 50's was an egregious error on my part. Sorry.

      Right now - the History Channel is all we have. It's a whole lot more enjoyable than any of the live TV shown on the 4-Letter.


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