ST. LOUIS - Lance Berkman knew he couldn't run from the cameras. So the Cardinals outfielder looked straight into the first one that zoomed in on his face and offered a mea culpa to the entire state of Texas.
"I'm not afraid to say, 'Hey, I wasn't right,"' Berkman said.
One of the subplots to Game 1 of the World Series, which starts Wednesday night in St. Louis, is that Berkman never thought the Texas Rangers would be playing in it. That's why he chose to sign a one-year deal with the Cardinals in the offseason, even though the Rangers also pursued him.
Berkman told a Houston radio station in January that the Rangers were an "average team" without star pitcher Cliff Lee, and that they caught "lightning in a bottle and they got hot" when they made last year's World Series. He even denounced the rest of Texas' pitching staff, which performed "better than their talent level and, consequently, they had a great year."
The Cardinals, Berkman figured, had the pieces to make a deep postseason run.
Turns out the Rangers did, too.
"Certainly the last thing I want is to have the entire state of Texas to be mad at me," Berkman said before a workout Tuesday at Busch Stadium. "I don't want to disrespect any players the Rangers have, because they have a fine baseball team. I think if you say enough things publicly, eventually you're going to say some things that are probably not great, and that's the case here."
Berkman resurrected his career in St. Louis, hitting .301 with 31 homers and 94 RBIs this season. The six-time All-Star hit a combined .248 last year between Houston and the New York Yankees.
His performance over the first half earned him another All-Star nod, so he took the opportunity to apologize in person to Rangers ace C.J. Wilson for his comments about the Texas pitching staff.
"There was actually a note in my locker from Lance saying, 'Hey, congratulations on your guys' success. I guess I was wrong. Not the first time,"' Wilson said.
"They're in the World Series, I'm in the World Series. I'm happy for him. He's played great," Wilson said. "He's played a lot better than he did last year. So in that regard, he stepped up to his end of the bargain and we stepped to our end of the bargain."
"He was contemplating retirement, so I'm not going to take anything too seriously," Wilson said at the time. "I'm not going to get offended by anything he says. If that's a representative idea of what people around the league think, that's better for us because they're going to do the same thing and they're going to not take us seriously. If we end up stomping through the playoffs again, everyone will be like, 'Wow, what a bummer.'"
Berkman said his biggest regret isn't what he said, but that he rubbed some people back in Texas the wrong way. He was born and raised in the state and played most of his career for the Astros.
"I'm not afraid of the public scrutiny," he said. "I'm not afraid to say, 'Hey, I wasn't right in my opinions,' and it probably won't be the last time."