By William Qualkinbush.
By William Qualkinbush.
How’s this for a buzz kill heading into a major baseball series this weekend?
Imagine a world in which Clemson beating South Carolina didn’t really matter all that much. Imagine a world in which a three-game baseball series meant very little in the grand scheme of the rivalry. Imagine a world in which the accomplishments associated with beating a hated adversary look much better today than they do tomorrow, or the next day, and on throughout the season.
Now open your eyes and look upon that world.
No matter what happens this weekend between the Tigers and the Gamecocks on the baseball diamond, there will be a very similar big-picture discussion on Monday. The results of three solitary baseball games will serve to sway the discussion for about 24 hours, until reality sets in.
Clemson can’t flip this series with three wins, though it may try. This series can’t flip until postseason play.
If you don’t believe me, fast forward for a minute to Monday. Clemson has swept South Carolina in dominating fashion. Tiger fans should be crowing, and the first few days may result in some trash talk. But then the conversation shifts to the lopsided nature of postseason meetings within the rivalry.
Everyone stops talking. There’s nothing with which to respond to those claims.
Don’t get me wrong: This weekend’s series is enormous for Clemson, probably more than it is for South Carolina. The Tigers can put a small dent in their rival’s momentum, setting the stage for big things on the national stage this season in the process. The Gamecocks can continue to build on a decade’s worth of accolades earned at Clemson’s expense.
Either way, the season will go on, and the balance of power in the rivalry will be virtually the same.
Clemson fans are eager to hit the reset button in the rivalry. It’s been a long time since the Tigers felt superior to their in-state nemesis in Columbia. Even in years when the regular season series goes Clemson’s way, it seems like South Carolina achieves more.
That’s the crux of the argument. Clemson fans are eager to lord over South Carolina again, but it will be a longer process to get there than this weekend. It may take years. It may take sitting atop college baseball for a couple of offseasons.
Don’t mistake my argument. This series does matter in the context of this weekend. It does matter in the context of this season. It does matter in the immediate aftermath of college baseball’s most important showdown.
But in the scope of the rivalry, it won’t change much. South Carolina will still have the upper hand even if everything goes Clemson’s way this time around. That’s frustrating, but that’s the truth.
Sorry to be such a buzz kill, but I like making sure life is viewed in its proper context. Clemson can change its season this weekend, but it can’t change the rivalry—yet.