It never fails. You can always count on a baseball coach or a player saying this when a particular call does not go their way. “That’s baseball. Those things happen. It all evens out?”
Maybe it does even out, but right now it does not seem that way for the Clemson baseball team in recent weeks. Heading into Friday’s second game at NC State, the Clemson baseball team has had it fair share of bad luck when it comes to 50-50 calls.
Four times in last week’s series against Louisville there were bang-bang plays, tough plays for an official to call with the naked eye. On three of those calls the play went in Louisville’s favor and they all three turned out to be huge plays in the outcome of the games.
Against NC State in Game 1 on Thursday, the Tigers had four bang-bang plays go against them in the ninth inning alone, and two of them could have either tied the game or given Clemson the lead. There was K.J. Bryant’s play at second base (which was the right call, though the second-base umpire called it a force when it was really a tag), Reed Rohlman’s potential double down the line could have gone either way, but was called foul, Seth Beer’s home run down the line that was called foul and the called strike-three on the same Beer at-bat.
That’s baseball, right? It happens. However, would it have happened at the umpires had the opportunity to review the plays that are reviewable. One might think some of those calls would have been overturned, right?
Why weren’t those plays up for review? Especially when places like Clemson and NC State have the capabilities to review such plays and does so in non-conference games.
The reason is because schools like Boston College, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and a few other ACC schools do not have the capabilities to review plays in baseball so the league as a whole can’t use replay in conference games. And it will be that way for at least two more years.
“Once the ACC Network gets on every campus, they will have the same, and each campus will have a similar-like system that will allow the umpire to do their job consistently,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich told The Clemson Insider this past week at the ACC Spring Meetings in Amelia Island, Fla. “I think at that point and time you will see a discussion as to how replay will be used.
“It really has to be done consistently throughout the league for it to be accepted by the coaches and the administrators. I just think we are a little away from that right now.”
ACC Commissioner John Swofford says league teams have to get in line with the video technology for replay because of the new linear network which is scheduled to launch in August of 2019. Some schools are spending millions and millions of dollars in facility improvements just to catch up.
For instance, Clemson is expanding its video production area so it can show multiple broadcasts of different sporting events at the same time. This is line with the request from ESPN when the ACC and the cable network partnered up last summer.
Obviously, because it already had video production capabilities in place since the start of the decade, Clemson is spending less money in video production upgrades compared to a school like Boston College.
“Our schools knew well in advance,” Swofford said on Thursday. “That was all part of the decision and understanding that there needed to be some on-campus investment in order to appropriately have the channel and the quality it needs to come out of the events that are produced on each campus.
“That was not a surprise to the schools. They all don’t have to do the same thing. You will see the equivalent of an 80,000-seat stadium at a 40,000-seat stadium. There is a standard that has to be met. What the schools choose to do beyond that needed standard is up to the schools and there will be some variations of that. Some of our schools are pretty much finished with what they will be doing there and others still have a ways to go, but they will be ready when the time comes without question.”
Until that time, Clemson baseball just has to hope those bang-bang calls start to even out at some point.