|Monday, June 3, 2013, 11:02 AM- -|
The best leader I have ever seen in sports is George Steinbrenner. I say this for three reasons. First, Steinbrenner said winning is second only to breathing. No one wanted to win more than this guy. Second, he gave his employees what they needed to be successful. Steinbrenner always held his employees accountable but not until he gave them what they needed to be successful. Finally, Steinbrenner paid attention to the fans. He always spoke in terms of the fans first. He would say things like, "We are spending this money because our fans deserve the best." Or he once said, "We are spending this much on the new stadium because our fans should get the best."
I understand why some get annoyed with message boards, twitter and sports talk at times. Put me in the category that sometimes. Irrational fans thrive on getting their opinions heard, no matter how outrageous they will can be.
However, fans are important and most fans are fairly rational people.
This morning on my radio show I heard from a lot of angry Clemson fans. This weekend I got emails and text messages from even more Tiger fans who were upset. They are hurt because they are disappointed in how this baseball season ended.
I share that hurt. I had big expectations for this year's team. In fact, I have said many times that my expectations for Clemson baseball are too high but I base them on the history, tradition, support and facilities we have here.Fans' Voices
Facilities are being upgraded and this will once again put us back into the elite facilities. The tradition and history are still among the best in the country. But the support has dropped off in recent years.
I don't blame fans for being upset with losing seven of the last eight games of the season. The only win in the last eight games came against a bad St. Louis team.
I don't blame fans for being upset about not hosting a regional again this season. That should be a goal every year and that was not the case again this year.
I don't think fans are wrong with being disappointed with not making it to a super regional again this season. That too should be a goal of every Clemson baseball season.
Fans are right to be upset that we did not make it to Omaha again this year. If you put it on your hats then that is certainly a goal worth striving for.
Personally I am hurt by the 0-3 record in the ACC tournament. I grew up with the ACC tournament being a big deal. From 1989 to 1994 Clemson won the ACC tournament four out of six seasons. I am disappointed that this program has won ACC tournament only once since 1994.
Fans don't like the idea that at this point our program is not ahead of Florida State, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Miami, Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech in the ACC.
But mainly, our fans don't like the idea that South Carolina is that much better than us in baseball right now. Liberty is a team that South Carolina put up 19 runs on while Clemson scored four in 18 innings.
Fans don't like excuses about youth. Sure they were young this year and I love this freshman class but a lot teams are young in baseball and fans don't like the youth excuse.
Fans don't want to hear about injuries. Sure John McGibbon missed the regional but that sounds like an excuse as well.
I am thankful that fans are upset. I am glad that many Clemson fans care this much about baseball. I would hate for it to get to the point where not achieving goals is acceptable nor do I want to lower the standards that have been set for this program.
The fans I heard from the last three days are mostly successful people in the business world who apply their situations to their favorite teams'. They know they have goals set by their bosses and they know they are held accountable for those goals. It's hard to tell a sales person that they are held to goals in their professional life, then ask them to not do the same for their favorite teams.
The good news is that the recruiting efforts have gotten better with the last class and the next one for next season. I feel good about where the program is headed with an injection of new talent coming again this next year.
Hopefully this next team can get back to where Clemson baseball fans expect it to be. Hopefully the fans will never lower the expectations for this proud baseball program.
The Brad Hughes All-State Insurance Agency
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