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Rehashing The Whole Lance Berkman, C.J. Wilson, Rangers Thing

Lest you find yourself watching C.J. Wilson face Lance Berkman Wednesday night in Game 1 of the 2011 World Series and remember that something went on between the two of them, but you can't quite recall exactly what went down, here's a summary of Berkman's interactions with the Rangers since his Yankees were defeated in the 2010 ALCS by Texas.  

It all started when the Rangers, cooled on the notion of bringing Vladimir Guerrero back, showed some interest in the Texan, who had spent most of his life in his native state. A little more than a month after opting to sign a one-year deal with St. Louis instead, Berkman went on KGOW in Houston and talked casually about his opinion of the Rangers. 

I felt like if they didn't re-sign Cliff Lee that they were going to be an average team and I feel that's probably what's going to end up happening. It's all about your pitching. I feel like last year was one of those special years where you kind of catch lightning in a bottle and they got hot and they had some guys that I felt like were pitching better than their talent level and consequently they had a great year.

They were itching to spend some money. I probably could have gotten the best deal out of them, especially in light of what they gave Adrian Beltre, which I think is pretty much of a reach for him. 

If you're keeping score, Berkman managed to criticize the Rangers' pitching, their 2010 season, their offseason approach, their 2011 outlook, and Adrian Beltre all in just a few sentences. It was almost as efficient as his performance at the plate this season. I have always not cared one way or the other about the Astros, but I've been a fan of Berkman's since his Rice days. This stupid interview did end that.

CJ Wilson couldn't let it go by, so he called into Ben & Skin on KESN and offered his thoughts.

I think it's funny. He was contemplating retirement, so I'm not going to take anything too seriously. I'm not going to get offended by anything he says. If that's a representative idea of what people around the league think, that's better for us because they're going to do the same thing and they're going to not take us seriously. If we end up stomping through the playoffs again, everyone will be like, 'Wow, what a bummer.'

We have a lot of pride on our team. We're very proud of what we've turned our team into. It's about the players and what we've done on the field. We've gotten better. Now the organization is somewhere and we have direction.

If someone is going to slam us, that's going to be something. ... You hold little grudges like that. I hope the fans understand and when Lance comes to play at some point in Texas, I hope our fans boo.

You can listen to all of those comments from Berkman and Wilson here. For the record, Wilson and his teammates have backed up those comments about what they thought that they had become.

Berkman then admitted what I think underlies his whole attitude toward the Rangers, and that's that folks in Houston don't like the Rangers and, for whatever reason, generally have a hang-up about DFW teams doing well, as if that somehow reflects poorly on them. Berkman presumably did believe everything that he said, but in his head his audience was a bunch of people who don't like the Rangers. 

[The response to Berkman's comments] really kind of surprised me to be honest with you. The comments were made in the setting of a local Houston radio station, and then I forgot they have the Internet. That kind of thing would play well in Houston, but not so well in Dallas.

So, he didn't really regret his actual comments, but he didn't enjoy the backlash in Texas. 

Certainly the last thing I want is to have the entire state of Texas to be mad at me. I don't want to disrespect any players the Rangers have, because they have a fine baseball team. I think if you say enough things publicly, eventually you're going to say some things that are probably not great, and that's the case here.

At any rate, Berkman did defuse the the conflict, hand writing Wilson a note at the All-Star Game. 

Hey man, just wanted to say congratulations. The team has been doing really well, and you've been pitching great. This isn't the first time I've been wrong about something. No hard feelings, I hope you guys go all the way this year again.

Wilson appreciated it, and despite more rumored negative comments from Berkman in August, Wilson lobbied the Rangers to bring Berkman in then.

You have to think about the needs of the team and the needs of the other teams that would potentially (be) going after him as well. It'd be great for us to get him because the Angels could use him a lot. ... Lance Berkman is a good player. He can play first base. He can play the outfield.

Jon Morosi tweeted Tuesday that Berkman confirmed that the Rangers were the only team with which he actually would have accepted a trade.  

It may be a failed smile friendship at this point, but everyone's now playing nice. 

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.