In 1957 the minimum wage was $1 per hour, a gallon of gas would set you back 24 cents and the average cost of a new house was $12,220. It’s also the last time Clemson baseball suffered a losing season (13-13 in 1964).
Sixty-four years later the Tigers are struggling to keep that streak alive as they head into the stretch run of the 2021 season.
It’s easy to find reasons for the Tigers struggles and those on the field are the most obvious – inconsistency at the plate with men on base and in scoring position jumps to the forefront, though there have been times the fielding has been less than stellar and don’t get me started on the base running.
There’s some off the field things – injuries and less mid-week games than normal, but many teams have faced and overcome similar obstacles this season.
A sweep of Wake Forest last weekend with dramatic, hard fought, wins on Saturday and Sunday has the Tigers sitting at 18-18 and 12-12 in the ACC, with momentum seemingly in their corner and a chance to salvage the long streak at hand.
One look at the Tiger’s remaining schedule however, makes clear the task Monte Lee’s team faces to do so.
|USC – Upstate||5/5||Clemson||27-9||33|
Eleven of the remaining 14 games are against teams in the top 50 in RPI and Clemson is currently 5-12 against teams in the top 50 in that metric.
Records are meant to be broken and streaks eventually come to an end. If the Tigers are to defy the odds and keep the streak alive they’re going to have to do something they’ve failed to do through the first 36 games of the season – beat good teams consistently.
Eight of the 14 games are scheduled to be played in Doug Kingsmore Stadium and last weekend left a crack in the door for the Tigers to keep the streak alive, albeit a small one.
Baseball’s a funny game though. A bad hop single here, a dropped fly ball there and games and seasons can change in the blink of an eye. Fans remember Virginia’s 2015 National Championship team, but few remember that the Cavaliers needed to win the season’s final series just to get into the ACC Tournament.
I’m not suggesting a similar run for Clemson, I’m suggesting there’s better odds for a baseball team that’s struggled for a good part of the season to get hot than in other sports. The Tigers have played well in spots and have talent, but they haven’t been able to produce consistently.
Maybe more important than keeping the streak alive or hoping to defy the long odds of a run to end the season, is this team finding its footing and feeling positive and confident as we look forward to 2022.