Tuesday, February 18, 2014

GAMECOCK BASEBALL: What a fun first weekend!

I know it was just an opening weekend series against an overmatched opponent.  I also know that we will have to see how Wil Crowe and Joel Seddon handle the Tiggers and the SEC before booking any flights to Omaha.  Regardless, you still had to leave the first three games of 2014 excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.  

Carolina has struggled like everyone else in the last couple of years to produce runs.  We top 40 in the first weekend set!  Pankake, Martin, Greiner and Schrock are an intimidating group of bats in any lineup.  So we have more power complementing our lightning speed on the base paths.  Then there are our starters on the mound.  Jordan “Gumby” Montgomery opened up looking every bit the ace we need him to be.  Jack Wynkoop and Crowe really could give us one of the SEC’s best starting rotations.  

I am usually not one to get ahead of things with bold predictions and I won’t start that here.  But I will say that based on what we have seen and what we expect, this should be a VERY tough baseball team to beat.  Are there land mines out there that could blow that up?  Of course there are.  Clemson looks like they have their best team in a while and the SEC is loaded as always with 8 in the top 25 this week. 

One intangible I am happy this team has is that bad taste in the mouth from giving away the Super Regional last year at Chapel Hill.  We were CLEARLY the better team and lost, but remember my favorite Frank Howard quote… “I don’t want the best team to win.  I want my team to win.”  So I sense that we will play with extra fire and intensity this year. 

Another intangible is that Coach Holbrook has to be eager to take his first Omaha trip as a Head Coach.  Every Gamecock fan on earth is thankful he is the guy who replaced Coach Tanner.  But that spot brings with it the extra pressure of continuing what Coach Tanner built in Columbia.  Coach Holbrook is the man to make sure that happens.  He will get us back to Omaha for sure and I hope it’s this year. 
After all, in College Baseball, the difference between total failure and complete success can be a couple of runs and bad bounces as we saw with the Heels last year.  We are due for a couple of fortunate bounces this year in my opinion.

But even though I am cautiously optimistic and excited, I will keep it calm for now.  Before we start dancing around and boasting, let’s see how that weekend against the Upstate Udders goes and then watch a couple of conference weekends.  Then we can start discussing things like Super Regionals and Omaha. 

It is a great time to be a GAMECOCK! 

More MOO U News: Top 10 potential new In-State Rivals for Clemson

Since the Tigers have thrown in the towel on the rivalry by rewarding Dabbles with a big new contract, here are our suggestions for their new in-state football rival. (One they could beat sometimes):

10.          Eleven Bassett Hound Puppies
9.            A bunch of silk pillows
8.            Richard Simmons
7.            Calhoun Academy
6.            The S. C. School for the Blind and Deaf
5.            A Groucho’s STP Dipper
4.            The ball-pit staff at Chuck E. Cheese
3.            The 5 year old “Upward” squads at Millbrook Baptist Church
2.            Regis Philbin
1.            Any 5 PM Yoga Class at Curves

MOO U News: Jack Leggett excited about Dabo’s new contract!

Coach Leggett claps for joy after hearing of the new contract given to Dabo Swinney.

When Clemson formally embraced losing to South Carolina as a good thing by giving Dabo Swinney a huge new contract, no one was more excited than Tiger Baseball Coach Jack Leggett.  “Shoot, I’ve been losing to the Gamecocks for years so I should get one heck of a deal now,” said Leggett who has been working under the apparent misconception that he should be upset about failing against his in-state rival.  “I don’t blame my agent because I honestly thought Tiger fans cared about getting embarrassed by South Carolina.  Since they actually don’t care, you can look for some hard negotiations coming from old Jack-Leg.”  

In related Tiger news, Brad Brownell has been told he will have his salary reduced in a big way if he keeps beating USC.  “I apologize to the Clemson fan base for not going ‘all in’ to the new rules about our rivals.  I promise to join Dabo and Jack’s way of doing things starting next year.  I never meant to cause disunity or turmoil by defeating the Gamecocks.”  

Friday, February 7, 2014

USC BASEBALL - Are you ready?


Gamecock Baseball is back!

Connor Bright #4

As the Cockabooster awakens from a winter hibernation, one of my favorite topics will get the new year started:  The Yard Cocks!  I know, I know!  I have missed several great chances recently to launch into old Dabo and the upstate crazies.  That insanely short-sighted contract; the pretending that losing to Carolina is now okay, etc, etc.  Don’t worry I’ll have fun with those soon. 

But for now let’s focus on the Diamond.  Coach Chad Holbrook’s boys enter the new season looking strong and talented as usual.  USC will start out at #7 in Baseball America’s rankings and #14 in the USA Today Coaches poll.  Returning are some familiar names including Joey Pankake, Tanner English and Grayson Greiner.  We will need big years from all of them to maintain our high-level of expectations.   

The most notable “holes” to fill in my opinion are the infield and bullpen.  There is NO doubt that replacing LB Dantzler will be difficult.  LB led us in on-base percentage and slugging percentage and will be missed.  With Pankake moving over to third and Max Schrok returning at second, that means two new faces in the infield.  Most likely you’ll see Kyle Martin at first.  Short is still a question mark with Marcus Mooney and D. C. Arendas battling for the nod.  And to close out the infield, how great is it to have the “monster” Greiner behind the plate again? 

More good news is that Gumby is back!  One of my favorite Gamecocks, Jordan Montgomery, returns as the Ace Friday night starter.  The #2 spot in the rotation comfortably belongs to Jake Wynkoop.  So we’re good and seasoned for Fridays and Saturdays.  The third spot is usually somewhat of a question mark and that’s okay. 

More concerning is wondering who our closer will be?  Perhaps outside of how Kyle Martin fills in for LB, this could end up being the big factor in how far we can go.  Freshman Will Crowe could be given the shot, which would likely move either Josh Reagan or Joel Seddon into the Sunday starting spot. 

Finally, with English in Center and Connor Bright in Right, 2/3 of the Outfield is in fine shape.  I’m looking forward to seeing JUCO transfer Elliot Caldwell in left.  If he is as good as we hope, we will have a tremendous group back there.  

Finally there is the schedule.  If you think football is tough in the SEC, take a look at baseball!  Baseball America has eight SEC teams in the top 25 and four in the top 10!  The Gamecocks play 10 SEC weekends, and you can add in 3 games against #13 Clemson as always.  As you can see, it will be the normal “grind” to get to the top. 

But we’ll be ready.  We play at the best stadium in the nation after all.  “The Ray” is intimidating and as good of a home atmosphere that exists in the sport.  So get the peanuts, popcorn and coca-cola ready!  It’s time for Gamecock Baseball!  

Joel Seddon