ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 28: Lance Berkman #12 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates after defeating the Texas Rangers 6-2 to win Game Seven of the MLB World Series at Busch Stadium on October 28, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Lance Berkman's season is not yet over and neither is his career. Berkman underwent a magnetic resonance image study on Monday in St. Louis. BJ Rains of Fox Sports Midwest tweets that the scan revealed a torn meniscus but not a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which was the initial diagnosis by Dodgers trainers as reported by Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The final diagnosis is still up in the air, however, as Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch tweets that damage to the ACL cannot be ruled out until after a second test that will take place later this week.
Jennifer Langosch of stlcardinals.com reported after Berkman left Saturday night's game that the slugger felt the pain was different from his prior ACL injury. While leaving open any final diagnosis until after tests were performed, Berkman stated that he felt he had "a little meniscus ding." In his next breath, Berkman said, "How bad? I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see." After an MRI, the "meniscus ding" has been confirmed but we're still going to have to wait and see what the second test reveals for a final diagnosis.
Berkman's 2012 season has taken place in fits and starts. A nagging calf injury relegated him to the bench and then the disabled list. Berkman only played in 13 games and totaled a mere 49 plate appearances before his knee injury. In the few PAs he had, he showed no sign of slowing down by posting a line of .333/.429/.571. Berkman appeared to be entering one of those patented Puma grooves when he suffered the the knee injury. In the wake of his injury, Berkman openly entertained the idea of retirement if he faced another major knee surgery. After today's report, it seems that no such surgery may be necessary and Berkman may yet play again in 2012.
Signed for a mere $8 million before the 2011 season to play right field on his balky knees, Berkman was a steal for the Cardinals. The veteran switch-hitter played in 145 games and posted a line of .301/.412/.547 with 31 home runs and 94 RBI. His .402 wOBA led the Cardinals even if his poor outfield defense caused his 5.0 fWAR to finish tied for second-best on the team with Matt Holliday just one-tenth of a win behind Albert Pujols. It looks like the Cardinals may yet see his prolific bat return to the lineup this 2012 season. But, Berkman is more than just a good player.
In addition to the production, there are the intangibles. Berkman has a penchant for giving quotes to the media that are candid and often funny; it is a combination that is undeniably endearing. The man who once gave himself the nickname "Big Puma" also grew a stunning playoff beard and then joked that the gray-flecked beard made him look like a calico cat, which was cool.
The calico-bearded Berkman put together his best performance of the postseason against the Rangers in the World Series. While David Freese has deservedly been crowned the postseason hero, the Cardinals would not have won the franchise's eleventh World Series without Puma. Berkman hit .423/.516/.577 in the series and had his best game in the dramatic sixth game of the series. The veteran switch-hitter rapped out three hits (including a game-tying homer in the first), knocked in three runs, and scored four runs. With a Rangers series victory one pitch away in the tenth inning of Game 6, lined a single to center field that plated two runs, tied the game, and forced that fateful eleventh inning. Sandwiched between Freese's game-tying triple and game-winning homer, Berkman's single has faded in the memory of many fans, but the Rangers would be champions today were it not for Puma's heroics.In celebration of this positive development, here are some Berkman highlights from Game 6 of the 2011 World Series: