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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Lance Berkman and C.J. Wilson Traded Trash Talk Before Season, Now Meet in World Series

When players talk trash to one another we have a tendency to make a big deal out of it, then forget about it and move on. This all happens fairly quickly. Trash talk is only news when it’s news. Otherwise it becomes old, irrelevant information. However, the trash talk exchanged by C.J. Wilson and Lance Berkman seven months ago has never been more relevant.

This past offseason, Berkman contemplated retirement but decided he would return if he received an offer from a handful of teams. The two teams who showed the most interest in Berkman were the Rangers and Cardinals. As we know, St. Louis and Texas are set to face one another in the World Series. That makes Berkman and Wilson’s preseason smack talk that much more intriguing.

“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,” Berkman told the John and Lance Radio Show in Houston back in January. “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.”

In other words, Berkman felt that 2010 was a fluke for Texas.  That is why he chose to sign with the Cardinals, whom he believed gave him a better chance to win a championship.  As it turns out, Lance was 100 percent right and 100 percent wrong about that.  Berkman also said he thought the $80 million Texas spent on Adrian Beltre was a reach.  Beltre’s 32 homers, 105 RBI, and .296 batting average would probably have something to say about that.  At the time, it was instead Wilson who had something to say to Berkman.

“I think it’s funny,” Wilson told ESPN 103.3’s Ben and Skin Show over the winter. “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.’

“I think things really worked out well for us. Adrian Beltre is the best defensive third baseman in baseball, and he’s a pretty good hitter as well. I don’t know if anyone knows he hit .340 last year, which is definitely better than .220. I’m pretty stoked about having him on my team.”

Is this a rare situation or what?  Normally when trash talk like this is thrown back and forth between players or teams, someone has to be wrong.  Derrick Mason got into it with Bill Belichick a few years ago but ended up losing the game.  Chad Ochocinco challenged a boxer to a fight but backed down as expected, showing everyone he is all talk.

There are very few instances where both sides can be right, but this is certainly one of them.  Wilson was right to be confident in the 2011 Rangers and Berkman was right to feel the Cardinals gave him a shot at a World Series ring. The good news is Berkman realized where he was wrong and left a note in Wilson’s locker at the All-Star Game to acknowledge his error. The two have worked things out, but by October 26, one guy will be just slightly more right than the other.

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