Thursday, January 26, 2012

The “Price” will always be right!

Has there ever been a more intimidating figure at South Carolina than Matt Price?  I have only followed Gamecock sports since the mid-70s, but in that time only a few other names even compete.  (And let’s remember I am talking about intimidation as opposed to results or raw numbers)  He doesn’t do much talking or self-promotion, and neither is necessary.  His chilling presence, timely strikeouts and fierce “holler” as he closes out big innings are more than enough.  As my Father of 67 years likes to say, “he’s a man’s man in a time when there aren’t many left.” 

I believe it was Gamecock Central’s Scott Hood who tipped his cap to Ozzy Osbourne’s 1997 compilation album and coined the phrase “The Priceman Cometh” to describe when #22 enters a game from the bullpen.  That’s an accurate way to describe it.  Whether you think of Price as the intimidating force that eliminates all hope for Gamecock opponents, as a magician working his team out of impossible situations, or just the USC version of “Rick Vaughn,” Sumter’s shut-down save King has been incredible to watch.

You all know the great moments for Price.  Among them are the bases loaded, no out appearance against Coastal in the Supers of 2010, shutting down UCLA in the finals from that year, neutering the UConn pups in 2011, his epic performance against Virginia at the CWS and closing out the Gators to win title #2.  Yes, there are 100 others but you get the idea.  He’s awesome.  

Because of this deep legacy of success, Matt’s move to the starting rotation for 2012 is in the spotlight.  Now I have no doubt that he will be just fine starting on the weekend.  If his 5 2/3 innings scoreless innings against Virginia in Omaha are any indication, we’re in for a treat. 

But what about the bullpen?  You’re only being honest by admitting there is some concern about it without him.  Don’t misunderstand, he has earned the right to be a starter and improve his draft stock.  I’d rather have him there than not in Columbia.  And the truth is that even if Price was still in the closer role this spring, replacing John Taylor alone was going to be a significant task.  So just like in the batting lineup, a new look and feel to the bullpen is the reality we face as USC defends its national titles. 

The good news is that Ray Tanner is a wizard at reloading instead of rebuilding.  Gamecock fans can also take comfort in the fact that there are many experienced arms on the roster, and this depth will help the transition take place.  In the meantime, it has been fun to make the fans of our opponents wince just by mentioning our weekend rotation.  I’ll take Roth and Price against any other pair in college baseball. 

If a few other questions get answered the right way, we could be talking about three titles when “The Priceman Leaveth.” 

1 comment:

  1. the Iceman Cometh is a play written by Eugene O'Neil ..



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