Lance Berkman said late last month that he’s leaning towards retirement because of his knee problems. In an interview with FOX 26 on Thursday, he elaborated on that possibility, saying that if he does retire, he plans to return to Rice University to get his degree and serve as a student assistant for the baseball team.
Berkman has already reached out to Owls baseball coach Wayne Graham about the possibility:
“We make our home in Houston,” Berkman said. “I went to Rice. The program did a lot of for me. I would love to do something for the program.
All of those things make it sort of a no-brainer on my end. I’m just happy Coach Graham feels like that I would be enough of an asset to come in and try to help that team win. And really in a lot of ways it’s more exciting that trying to continue my own baseball career.”
Berkman is just 36 and he was one of the National League’s best players a year ago, so it’d be a shame to see him go so soon. However, he doesn’t appear interested in serving as a DH in the American League and he’s not sure he wants to put his body through another year as an NL regular. He’s played in just 30 games this season and hit .263 with two homers in 80 at-bats.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.