A short nine months ago, Lance Berkman, a native Texan, criticized the Texas Rangers on Houston's John & Lance radio show. The Yankees had decided not to exercise their option for Berkman only months earlier and Berkman was out shopping for a brand new team to play for.
Berkman was discussing his motivations for signing with the St. Louis Cardinals for 2011 when the obligatory "why not Texas?" question popped up.
Berkman's response was harsh. After calling the yet-to-debut 2011 Rangers "an average team," Berkman bashed several Rangers pitchers and their most exciting offseason acquisition, Adrian Beltre.
I felt [some guys] were pitching better than their talent level and consequently they had a great year... 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.
Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson later called into The Ben & Skin Show and claimed he knew nothing about Berkman's comments the previous day. After the station played key sound bytes from Berkman's interview, Wilson was put on the hot seat.
A slightly amused, slightly perturbed Wilson started by defending his team and Beltre, speculating that the Rangers would be happy to accept the label of "average." Wilson communicated his pride in the Rangers organization and noted that a dark horse characterization might work to the advantage of the Rangers.
After a little prodding, Wilson opened up and candidly admitted that Berkman had created unnecessary turbulence.
If someone is going to slam us... 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.
Perhaps with his last comment, Wilson also contributed to the turbulence.
In August, seven months removed from Berkman's first comments, Wilson returned to The Ben & Skin Show. This time, Wilson called the feud "water under the bridge," explaining that he and "a good dude" named Lance Berkman had made amends during the 2011 All-Star Game.
Now in October, nine months since January and three since July's All-Star Game, Wilson and Berkman are set to meet for the first time as foes on the diamond.
In a sport well known for the tendency of its pitchers to throw the occasional intentional bean ball for the most minor of unwritten rule infractions, will something minor that happened nine months ago come into play?
Was August's story a cover-up or did Wilson genuinely forgive Berkman for trashing his team?
When Berkman steps in for the first time against Wilson in St. Louis Wednesday evening, we'll find out.
My guess is Wilson is the kind of guy more than smart enough to refer to sticks and stones. Wilson is the kind of guy who knows the one way to prove Berkman wrong is to win on the field.
As Berkman hits his first single or strikes out swinging for the first time, the mild Berkman-Wilson feud will officially be put to rest.
Even so, something tells me that Wilson's lower-90s fastball might just creep up a few miles per hour when Berkman comes up to bat.
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