Lance Berkman pregame interview
First baseman discusses playing at Busch Stadium
You guys were up 3-2 last year when you came back here; how does it feel, similar or different to last year?
LANCE BERKMAN: I think it's totally different because of the pitching situation that we have this year. You know, two totally different teams, so it's different, I mean, it really is.
The way you've been swinging the bat, it seems to us that your intensity level is exactly where you would like to have it. Did the day off tend to diminish that, and can you speak about how you keep it up, the way you were brought up and the game especially?
BERKMAN: These games, there's so much adrenaline and there's so much excitement that surrounds them, that the atmosphere in the stadium, all of that helps get your concentration back where it needs to be.
I think the day off was good for us, actually. Kind of regroup after Game 5, and kind of get our head on straight and to get ready to play this game tonight. So I would imagine that the focus will still be there, for everybody, and that's a product of just the environment I think.
Curious what you did yesterday after you guys got here to decompress after that Game 5, and how much discussion of Game 5 was there on the team flight?
BERKMAN: Well, I mean, there was a lot of discussion. You always discuss the previous game. We were talking a lot about Game 4 up until Game 5. You just kind of rehash how the game went, the sequence of events. Last night, my wife came with me on the trip and we just went and saw a movie and tried to get a good night's sleep.
BERKMAN: Flight Plan; pretty good. (Laughter.)
No matter what happens tonight, Roger Clemens pitches the next game for you, be it Game 7 or the start of the World Series; can you talk about what it means to a team to have a guy like that ready to pitch?
BERKMAN: Yeah, I think last year, we asked him to start on short rest twice during the playoffs, and people say last year, he pitched Game 7, but it was on short rest. For a guy that's 50 years old, you know, (Laughter), he needs his five days.
The Astros and their history are 0-for-5 in games that could send them to the World Series. At any point does that start to weigh on you, is that something that you think about heading into these games now?
BERKMAN: Well, I guess the more chances you give yourself, the better chance you've got of actually winning one. Same thing last year, "Astros have never won a playoff series," you hear that, and I wish I could change it, but I had nothing to do with 30 years ago or whatever. And so from a player's standpoint, yes, you have, you recognize that the history is there, but really, I feel like I'm 0-for-2 instead of 0-for-5. I had a hand in two of those games and we didn't come through and do it.
All you can do in baseball, it's just like the runners in scoring position thing; if you keep giving yourself chances and keep putting yourself in that position, eventually you're going to come through and whether it's this year or ten years from now, if the Astros organization continues to play LCS games and gives itself a chance to win and go to the World Series, it will happen at some point.
You kind of joked a minute ago about Clemens being 50. How much joking is there or teasing of him, and how does he take that?
BERKMAN: As much as possible. When he's there, we try to give him a hard time. (Laughter.) It's back and forth. He's great. He's a great teammate.
The way you guys have had to battle back the last two seasons and the second half, has that helped you handle the pressure of the postseason, and can that be an advantage over the Cardinals since they have been on cruise control since the All-Star Break?
BERKMAN: You know, I think there may be some merit to that in terms of playing a lot of games that come right down to the wire and playing a lot of "must win games." I think the more you do it, the more comfortable you get with it.
As far as the Cardinals not being prepared to play those, I don't think that there's anything to that. They are a very professional group of guys, they have a great organization, and those guys play ball. They play hard, regardless of the circumstances, and I don't think that anybody on their team is panicked in big situations or anything like that.
So I think that as far as who has the edge there, it's probably a break even deal. I think both teams are equally qualified to play in these big games.
Let me ask you the same question I asked Tony: They may have some famous ghosts who have played for this team coming out of this ballpark tonight and the crowd is really going to be into it. This ballpark has meant a lot not only to the team but to the fans. How do you prepare yourselves to turn it off, and has there been discussion about probably the noise tonight?
BERKMAN: Well, you know, this place is I guess it doesn't have maybe a reputation, but certainly in my opinion it's every bit as noisy as Minute Maid. But the thing about it is like if you're hitting or pitching in a big situation, the crowd is always screaming, so it really has no bearing on whether they are screaming for you or against you. If you're in the batter's box here and it's a big situation and they are going crazy because they want their pitcher to do well, but if you're at home and you're on defense, they are going crazy because they want their team to do well. So the noise is always there.
It's not like these fans just boo you. I don't think that that is going to come into play. It's more like just playing a game on an airport runway. It's just like background noise of jet engines and whether you're hitting or playing defense, the noise is constant. It's always there in those 3-2 counts in those situations where fans, they tend to get more excited or more into the game.
For me personally I find it easier to play on the road, because if I do bad, I feel like I didn't embarrass myself in front of all my friends and family. (Laughter.)
Yesterday somebody had a line on the charter about Pujols ball almost hitting the plane as it took off, and it sounds suspiciously like something you would say.
BERKMAN: No, that wasn't me. I know who it was, but it wasn't me. (Laughter.)
Would you liked to have said it?
BERKMAN: No. I mean, that's kind of a delicate deal because you want to make sure that everybody knows, it's a light hearted, all you can do is laugh about it at that point. I know Brad still hurts about that, and we all do, so you don't want to inflame anything like that. But that just shows the kind of bounce back attitude this team has. We'll just joke around about it and hopefully get the job done here.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.