Clemens hopes son has as much fun as he did at CWS
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Baseball great Roger Clemens spent Monday re-living some memories as he watched his son Kacy play first base for Texas at the College World Series.
Clemens pitched for the Longhorns in the CWS in 1982 and ’83, winning the national title the second time. He went on to win the Cy Young Award seven times and world championships twice but never forgot his days wearing the burnt orange.
Before the CWS, Roger said, he told Kacy to appreciate the accomplishment of simply making it to Omaha.
“I told him to try to pick your head up away from the park and look at everything going on and enjoy the sights and sounds and smells of everything,” he said. “And then when the lights are the brightest, try to focus on what you’re doing and take that in and try to slow the game.”
Rogers said he doesn’t meddle in his sons’ baseball endeavors. In addition to Kacy at Texas, Koby Clemens plays in an independent pro league, and Kody Clemens was a standout high school shortstop.
“I’m just Dad to them. I’m not the ‘Rocket.’ And that’s the way I go about it,” Roger said. “I give them little tips. If they come to me for detailed information, I give it to them.... Koby once was asked if his last name helps you or gives you opportunities, and Koby said absolutely not. He said, ‘My play helps me get opportunities.’ So it’s a good answer.”
ESPN’S 35th YEAR AT CWS: While some people in college baseball are concerned the entertainment value suffers because of a shortage of offense, ESPN officials say they are as committed as ever to the sport.
“It’s not just an audience play for us. We feel like baseball is a healthy and growing sport and the more exposure we give it, then the higher the audiences is going to become year over year,” ESPN director of programming and acquisitions Brent Colborne said.
ESPN is in its 35th year of televising the CWS. ESPN’s family of networks carried more than 200 regular-season games this year, and this was the second year every game of the NCAA regionals and super regionals leading to the CWS were televised.
“We are not taking a step back,” Colborne said. “We’re continuing to be more aggressive each year.”
Viewership statistics for this year’s NCAA tournament were not available Monday. Last year 45 million people viewed at least one minute of the tournament, Colborne said. The average audience for 2013 CWS games was 948,551, an 11-percent increase since 2010.
Colborne said CWS telecasts draw viewers who want to see the next generation of big-league players. He pointed out that Michael Wacha pitched for Texas A&M in the CWS in 2011, was drafted in the next year and made his major-league debut 11 months later. Sonny Gray, who pitched for Vanderbilt in 2011, was in the majors within two years, as was UCLA’s Gerrit Cole.
“There are more guys playing in the college landscape that are becoming very valuable MLB players,” Colborne said. “Look at Wacha last year. The kid didn’t come out of nowhere. We saw him in the College World Series. Where did this kid come from? Well, he was pitching in the college ranks not that long ago.”
LOOKING FOR A HOMER: For the first time since metal bats entered the college game in 1974, there were no home runs hit in the first four games of a CWS. That streak reached six games Monday.
Winds have blown in at 25 mph with gusts to 35 mph two of the last three days at TD Ameritrade Park, which in 2013 yielded three home runs in 14 games and a total of 22 in 49 games since the event moved to the stadium in 2011.
Vanderbilt’s Dansby Swanson came close to homering Monday night. He drove a ball high off the wall in the left-field corner in the sixth inning against UC Irvine and had to settle for a double.
“I knew I should have done those push-ups last night,” he said, laughing.