Lance Berkman returned to Houston yesterday for the first time since being traded by the Astros last season and was met with some pretty harsh criticism from local announcer Milo Hamilton.
Appearing on a radio show, Hamilton rhetorically asked of Berkman:
Why did you think it wasn’t necessary to get in shape your last couple of years as an Astro? And now to a team you didn’t even know, a manager you didn’t play for, you felt it was your responsibility to get in great shape? And it’s paying off. Lance, I love you. But wouldn’t it have been great to have given that same dedication to the Astros and your owner here that you did in two short months to the Cardinals?
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Berkman responded by calling Hamilton’s words “ludicrous” and “falsehoods.”
I have no idea how hard Berkman did or didn’t rehab his knee injury and he certainly didn’t earn the “Fat Elvis” nickname by being in wonderful shape, but as Craig has documented so thoroughly in this space the whole “best shape of his life” thing is hardly uncommon for veteran players coming off injuries or sub par seasons. Or in Berkman’s case, both.
Beyond that, Berkman hardly pushed his way out of Houston and after playing a dozen seasons for the Astros as one of the greatest and most well-liked players in franchise history it seems like ripping him immediately upon his return is a bit much, especially coming from someone who surely spent the past decade praising him at every turn because he played for the home team.
Berkman went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI yesterday, but the Astros won 6-5.