Commentary: Pre-Spring Cleaning Ye Olde Notebook


by - Correspondent -
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As the trials and tribulations of another basketball season waft away, only to be replaced by the unbridled optimism of another baseball season, I offer the following from Ye Olde Notebook:

***

Had the chance to talk to Jacoby Ford during the second game of Saturday's baseball doubleheader, just a short time after he had made a mockery - again - of the men's 60m dash at the ACC Indoor Track Championships.

One day after setting a new ACC record in the semifinals by running an incredible official time of 6.53 seconds, Ford - one of Tommy Bowden's prize football recruits from a year ago and a virtual goldmine for track coach Bob Pollack - was at it again. This time, in the finals, Ford dusted the field again and set yet another ACC record by running an official 6.52.

But when I spoke to Ford on the radio to congratulate him on running the fastest 60m time in the world this year, he was quick to point out that the time that's in the record books - 6.52 - is rounded up. He wanted to be sure everyone knew that the actual time he ran was 6.518.

The rounding up? That's the NCAA's deal.

In Ford's mind that third number will always be a one.

***

When we last left Doug Hogan at the end of the 2006 baseball season, the backup to Adrian Casanova struggled mightily at the plate whenever he got a chance to bat.

Breaking balls, in particular, seemed to give Hogan fits. His struggles led one to wonder if either Alex Burg or incoming freshman Buddy Monroe would easily take the catcher's job in 2007.

Seems someone forgot to tell Hogan.

Not only has Hogan been superior defensively so far this season, deftly handling pitchers while showing great arm strength and accuracy in throwing out would-be base-stealers, his offense has been an unexpected surprise, too.

Hogan wrapped up the first two weekends of play hitting .444 with four homers, seven RBI and slugging a ridiculous .963. Not bad for a career .130 hitter entering the season.

And while no one expects Hogan to hit .444 all season, the hunch here is that he turns in a better than respectable final set of numbers by season's end.

Why?

Because of his work ethic.

Three hours before games I'm in the Clemson dugout waiting to interview Jack Leggett for the radio pregame, and invariably Hogan will come sprinting out of the clubhouse, bat in hand, heading for either the cages or the field for early hitting practice.

It's that kind of commitment which had one coach tell me during the offseason he was improving tremendously. And it's why you have to keep pulling for the kid.

If hard work is the answer, Doug Hogan will be just fine.

***

Speaking of baseball, had a chance to catch up with Jason Berken before Saturday's twinbill.

The former Tiger and current Baltimore Oriole farmhand will be reporting to minor league spring training in early March, and seems to be primed for another good season. Now two years removed from Tommy John surgery his velocity is consistently back up in the 92-93 range, leaving him well-armed (pun intended) for his first full year of professional baseball.

Berken's presence at Doug Kingsmore Stadium is just another indication of Leggett and Co. doing things right. Berken and another former Tiger now in pro ball - B.J. LaMura - were on site to work out before heading to spring training, something that happens quite often at Clemson.

Think of the dual benefits. Former players are still made to feel like part of the Clemson family, while the current players are exposed to those who have made it to the next level - a dream they all have.

Think a kid like Ryan Hinson or Matt Zoltak can't learn anything from a guy like Berken?

Think again.

***

Finally, when the note came last week that President James Barker had followed through on his promise to further investigate Clemson's academic admissions policies, I looked with great interest at the list of folks who would be either on the committee or the resource group.

As interesting as the provided names were, I was more intrigued by a notable omission from the list.

No names here, but I'm sure some of you can put two and two together and get four in this instance. After all, there's really only one name that serves as a lightning rod amongst Clemson fans when the conversation turns to the inner workings of the athletic department.

I just wonder if there's anything to the name being absent?

I know a bunch of coaches who, right now, are wondering the very same thing.

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