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Ozzie Smith, Lance Berkman make ESPN list of worst baseball breakups

A pair of Cardinals players have made ESPN's list of the worst breakups in major league baseball history.

At the top of the list was former Cardinals superstar Ozzie Smith who has held a grudge against skipper Tony La Russa for 15 years following his retirement at 41 years old.

The Wizard was peaved that the Birds brought in Royce Clayton to take over, not recognizing that his once remarkable range wasn't exactly what it used to be and that his bat speed was greatly diminished. Ozzie called La Russa a liar and a coward for not telling him in more obvious terms that Clayton was going to get the bulk of the playing time at shortstop and it all went downhill from there.

"My relationship with Tony isn't going to be mended,'' ESPN quoted Smith as saying at the 1999 All-Star Game. "There's no way. The club understands I have no interest in being part of it as long as he's there. Once that situation is over with and they resolve it, I'll be more than willing to go back and find my place in Cardinal history.''

La Russa wan't thrilled, to say the least.

"When my time is up, they can welcome him with open arms, but I don't want to be anywhere that he is,'' La Russa said, according to ESPN. "I won't ever be around when he's around. Cardinals fans can embrace him all they want to, and it won't be uncomfortable because I won't be there. I won't be in the area. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror."

While Ozzie still lives in St. Louis and participated in the 2009 All-Star Game festivities and well as the opening day parades that have followed, he has refused to participate as a spring training coach or in any other official capacity.

Lance Berkman's split from the Astros counted as number nine on the bad breakup list. Which I found to be something of a surprise.

Although it's no secret than Berkman wanted to go back to Houston as a free agent after being traded last year to the Yankees, the Astros had no room at the inn. What followed was some ill-conceived comments from Houston broadcaster Milo Hamilton and a bunch of speculation about nothing.

Berkman doesn't seem to hold any ill will toward the Astros. And it wouldn't surprise me even a little bit if Houston tries to bring him back next season when the club is under new ownership that is eager to mend fences with the fan base.

What surprises me even more is that former St. Louis third sacker Scott Rolen was left off the list. His split from St. Louis made the Berkman situation seem like child's play.

La Russa and Rolen got into it as a result of Rolen's play in the 2006 post season. The manager thought the player was holding back information relevant to his ability to play and the player seemed to think the skipper was wrong in benching him while he was hurt and playing poorly.

Rolen let on last season that he felt like he over-reacted in his demand for a trade away from the Cardinals and La Russa. It's a shame he ended up with those loud-mouthed punks in Cincinnati because I imagine with his workmanlike demeanor that all the un-necessary bluster and noise probably drives him up the wall.