You know, Stros radio announcer Milo Hamilton was never in the same league as Gene Elston as a play-by-play man. But I always thought Hamilton knew something about baseball. Heck, he’s been around it for over 50 years.
“I want to know, if a guy gave you $85 million, and that’s what Drayton did in the last contract…and he said, ‘This is your team,’ and he said that…wasn’t in his persona, to be a leader. Yet last night, Tony LaRussa – when asked about Berkman – ‘He’s now the leader on this team, he is the inspiration to the older players, he goes around an inspires the younger players,” and he got in excellent shape by hiring a trainer. If he had done that the last couple of years that he was here, guys, he could have finished out a really fine career in Houston if he had given it that same dedication. I just want a simple answer – why did you think it wasn’t necessary to get in shape your last couple of years as an Astro, but now for team you didn’t even know, a manager you never played for, you felt it was your responsibility to get in great shape?…Lance, I love ya. You’ve got a great family, you’re one of the greatest ministers in all of sports…but wouldn’t it have been great to have given it that same dedication to the Astros and the owner here that you did in two short months for the Cardinals?”
It is indisputable that Lance Berkman is the second-best hitter in the history of the Houston Astros, behind only Jeff Bagwell. Given that Hamilton’s criticism is over Berkman’s last few seasons with the Stros, let’s focus on those.
He was injured in 2010 (bad knee) and had his first bad season of his 13-year MLB career. But I am aware of no evidence that Berkman could have done anything from a conditioning standpoint that would have prevented or lessened the impact of that injury.
By his standards, Berkman didn’t have a stellar 2009 season, either (31 runs created over league average/.399 OBA/.509 SLG/.907 OPS/25 HR/80 RBI in 136 games). However, that production was far better than any other Stros hitter that season. And in most other non-Bagwell seasons, for that matter.
And in the 2008 season, Berkman had one of the best seasons of any hitter in the history of the Stros (58 RCAA/.420 OBA/.567 SLG/.986 OPS/29 HR/106 RBI/116 R/99 BB/18-22 SB).
And let’s not forget that Berkman is by far the best hitter in Stros history in post-regular season play.
For that, Berkman gets trashed by his former’s club’s most well-known media representative.
Meanwhile, Hamilton continues to ignore the undeniable fact that Stros management mismanaged the once-strong Stros farm system for a decade after Berkman came up the MLB club. That management incompetence virtually ensured that Berkman would play out the final years of his Stros career on horrible baseball teams.
And let’s not even get started on Hamilton’s silence in regard to the grossly overpaid Carlos Lee, who Joe Posnanski deemed to be the worst everyday MLB player last season.
Finally, why hasn’t Hamilton said anything about the Stros’ disingenuous Craig Biggio Farewell Tour?
So, there you have it. The Stros are currently tied for the second-worst record (8-14) in MLB, which is frightening in that the team has actually over-performed (at least in terms of hitting) so far this season. There is essentially no rational hope that the club will win much more than 70 games, if that. The primary attractions that the club is touting at the ballpark this season are the new video screen (it’s really big!) and Brian Caswell-inspired food (don’t bother, it’s still mostly Aramark).
And Milo Hamilton is criticizing Lance Berkman?
The sad reality is that Milo Hamilton reflects what’s wrong with the Stros, not Lance Berkman.
The sale of the Stros cannot happen fast enough in this 25+ year field level ticketholder’s book.