The interviews came really rapid fire today. Lots of big names in a very short amount of time. Standing in the interview with Matt Holliday, I turned around to see the door open and Lance Berkman start walking towards me. That will catch a person off guard. Trust me.
Admittedly, I resisted the Lance Berkman Fan Club hullabaloo for a long time. After being called out on it for probably the millionth time (might be a slight exaggeration), I promised Miranda that if LB got the Cardinals to the postseason, that I’d go ahead and jump on board.
Well, you guys remember what happened.
So here I am. Berkman’s interview today showed me precisely why everyone was so very correct about him being worth the Fan Club Hullabaloo.
Before we get into what he said, we’ll go through Holliday’s interview, which was unfortunately really short due to him needing to be downstairs signing autographs.
On the off-season:
“It’s not too different than a normal off-season. Shorter. I’m feeling 100%.”
On Tony LaRussa:
“He was willing to do what he thought was best for us.”
On Albert Pujols:
“We all have to step our games up and fill that void. It’s disappointing he’s not coming back, but we’ve got to move on. My role is to go out there and play as hard as I can…and offer advice where need be. I’m willing to do whatever it takes. I’ve played on teams without Albert before.”
Now onto Lance Berkman. I’m absolutely serious, he had the entire room rolling nearly the whole time. So funny, so awesome.
On the World Series:
“It was a great experience. I probably don’t give it enough credit for as great as it is.”
On this year’s team:
“I still like our club. We have a better pitching staff, our bullpen is more settled. Add a guy like Carlos Beltran, we’re going to be good. I’m still excited about this team.”
On hearing Albert was leaving:
“Well, my first reaction was that I was going to be playing first again…But you know, championships are won by not just one guy, but by twenty-five. We have a lot of high character guys remaining. It takes a while for everyone to settle in.”
On his post-season workout regimen, which he’s called the “Lance Berkman Off-Season Program”:
“Well, I can just kind of relax now, and now that I’m playing first, I can get huge. Ha, bottom line is I’ll be ready to go.”
Berkman was quite possibly the most laid back guy ever. His personality absolutely shone through in every word he said, and he didn’t hesitate to crack jokes and make everyone feel comfortable, even as people jostled for the right position to get a picture or a recording device in place.
I’ll admit it. I am fully on board with his being a Cardinal. He impressed me with his candid discussion of enjoying being a one-year contract kind of guy, explaining that if he plays well, he’d like the paycheck, but that he “doesn’t want to be the guy making a bunch of money and not pulling his weight.”
These two guys are being pegged to be the continued face(s) of the franchise in the absence of Albert. Both are willing to do whatever necessary to make that happen. With a young team, and even younger guys coming up, Cardinal Nation is relying on them to do just that.
2012 is going to be an awesome season.
That’s all for today, but some more big names will be around tomorrow. Tony LaRussa (possibly), Allen Craig, Kyle Lohse, Kyle McClellan, and World Series MVP David Freese, plus many others. Should be a great day.