Clemson baseball: Time for a change in leadership?

Clemson sophomore Cooper Ingle (12) is congratulated by Clemson Head Coach Monte Lee during the bottom of the first inning at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson Friday, February 18, 2022.Clemson Vs Indiana Baseball Home Opener
Clemson sophomore Cooper Ingle (12) is congratulated by Clemson Head Coach Monte Lee during the bottom of the first inning at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson Friday, February 18, 2022.Clemson Vs Indiana Baseball Home Opener /

Clemson baseball flopped in the ACC Tournament in Charlotte and change may be needed.

If you’ve ever managed people, you know how difficult it can be to make personnel decisions, even when its obvious performance is not up to snuff, as has been the case with Clemson baseball the last two years.

Sometimes you’ve hired the person in question, invested significant time and effort to give them the best opportunity to be successful.  You’re personally invested in their success or failure.

Other times you haven’t hired the employee, but “inherited” them and you’ve grown close to them and their family over the years and they’re nice and good people.

Many times, you dread starting over with a new employee, having to train them from the ground up, while production suffers during the learning curve, so you stay with what’s comfortable, overlook shortcomings of the current employee, assure yourself and others they’ll do better in the future and stand pat and hope for the best.

I’ve been there and it wasn’t any fun, but it had to be done for the long term betterment of the organization. In at least one case that I dealt with it ended up better for the employee, too. It sucked at the time and for a while afterwards, but eventually everyone was better for it.

The Clemson athletic administration finds itself in a similar situation as they look towards the future of the once proud baseball team that now slips into the 12 team ACC Tournament as the twelfth team.

The bar has been lowered for a once proud program that now struggles to make its conference tournament.

Just a few short years ago, this was a team that vied for Omaha often, hosting Super Regionals were a regular occurence and hosting Regionals was almost a yearly event.

I’m not sure what went wrong, but this program looks to be a shell of its former self.

I like Monte Lee.  I was all for his hire and his approach.  It just hasn’t produced results over the course of his tenure and I wonder if it’s time to try something else.

I’ve had baseball conversations with Monte and enjoyed those immensely, thrilled that he would take the time and make the effort to talk baseball philosophy with a fan, so I was invested.

My investment hasn’t paid dividends.

At one point this season, Clemson was 14-0, only to finish 35-23, which math tells us is a 21-23 record in the last 44 games.  For three fourths of the season they were below .500.

For me, that 14-0 start is now a curse, because the trust has been lost.  If they start 14-0 or something similar, next season there’ll be no excitement because, well, remember what happened in 2022.

If things can go this wrong this quickly, for this long, then nothing’s out of the question, whether its 14-0 or 0-14.

I’m not a fan of the “got embarrassed” take in sports, no matter the sport.  If you lose a football game you were “embarrassed”, or maybe you lose a basketball game to someone you should’ve beat and it becomes “embarrassing”. It’s an overused cliche.

That said, the performance of the baseball team in the ACC Tournament with the season on the line was embarrassing.

I love Clemson, but I’m not a guy who’s self-worth is tied to a sport the Tigers play.  I’ve got a family that loves and depends on me no matter what Clemson does on the field, court, or soccer pitch.

For the first time since I was about 8, Clemson baseball was not a priority as the season slipped away.  For as long as I can remember, when possible I scheduled my days around Clemson baseball games every spring and into June.

I watched the 2010 CWS in the hospital, just hoping to make it long enough to see the Tigers rally.

The Tigers didn’t rally, but I did, thankfully.

Fans that have been following the program for 40 or more years are starting to check out.  That’s how you know this is a serious issue, and I’m not just talking about me.

No one expects perfection.  Winning is hard and you learn to live with the roller coaster that is baseball, where the best teams lose double digit games every season.

Something changed for me this year, though.  Somewhere along the line I lost belief that the ship would get righted and stay righted. I lost faith.

I said, “Sure”, when my wife suggested we go to lunch mid-game, I did chores when I used to be sitting in front of the screen and I occasionally watched something else when the team was playing.

I lost hope and I don’t know if it’ll come back unless something changes.

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