Randy Smith: Wishing For A Kinder, Gentler Vols Baseball Squad Next Season

Monday, June 20, 2022 - by Randy Smith
Now that the pain of the Tennessee baseball team's loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA Super Regionals has subsided a bit it's probably time to reflect on what exactly happened.  The Volunteers dominated college baseball as no other team has done in years, finishing 57-9. That's an amazing record for sure but in a two out of three series in baseball, anything can happen. The Vols obviously didn't bring their "A" game to the Super Regionals and it cost them.

When teams that have been that successful don't finish strong it's considered to be a failure in most cases.
After all, to build a record of 57-9 only to fail to make the College World Series is a huge disappointment for coaches, players and fans alike. However, the way the Vols showed arrogance and cockiness along the way leaves anyone who is not a Tennessee fan with a really happy feeling.     

Giving opposing players the finger, donning a mink coat and a hat with "Daddy" written on it following a homer run certainly doesn't sit well with the opposition. Of course bumping umpires and getting tossed out of games also doesn't sit well with anyone.
 
National Coach of the Year Tony Vitello is as disappointed as anyone in the way the season ended for Tennessee and the biggest job he faces in the off-season is to avoid the same thing happening in 2023.

As mentioned above, a lot of Tennessee faithful seem to think 2022 was a failure. But the bottom line is....it's anything but a failure.The interest created in the last two seasons of Tennessee baseball is phenomenal. Coach Vitello has received a big raise and contract extension and the plans have been put together for a complete remodel of Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The plans feature luxury suites and sky-boxes and the increased seating will bring the home of the Vols up to par with other SEC programs. 

With all the negativity surrounding the team's bad behavior, the fact that these players dressed in orange are really fine young men has gotten lost in the process. They take time to visit sick kids in the hospital, they take time to sign autographs for fans after each game, no matter how long it takes. They are actually doing some great things to help grow the program.  

As the popularity of college baseball continues to grow and expand every team in the SEC is looking to upgrade their facilities. As the league is getting prepared for Texas and Oklahoma to join next year it's as important as ever to move forward with the remodeling of Lindsey Nelson Stadium and increase attendance.
 
I do wish the Volunteers would be a bit kinder and gentler in 2023. No ejections, no chest bumping umpires, no finger flipping and please tone down the home run celebrations. Just give us great baseball like we've seen the last two years.  
 
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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com


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