McTaggart addresses Berkman's players-only team meeting:
Oswalt, with the comments that started it all:
"The team atmosphere is dead. There's no fire. When you get on a streak, you come to the field expecting to win. When you're dead, you come to the field just hoping to get by. That's what it feels like around the clubhouse -- just a dead feeling. We've got so far behind it seems like we're going through the motions as a team. You've got to play it out. You've got to play all the games."
"I don't think that's the case. I totally disagree with that. I think this has been two of our better ballgames right here. We just haven't hit. One hit to the left or to the right and it's different ballgames. We win them."
"I don't like to talk about players-only meetings in the media, but it was good. You never like to have too many of those kinds of things. I just think that communication is really important, especially when you're dealing with 25 individuals and you're trying to come together as a team. Communication is essential...
...I think he's just concerned about making sure that guys keep playing hard, that we still have a month and a week left. It's just a situation where it looks pretty bleak in terms of our playoff chances, and in order to guard against complacency, sometimes you have to check yourself and say, 'All right, so what? Let's just keep playing hard and get after it.'
"This has been a tough season for us in a lot of ways. Since we were one game out a month ago, things have gone south in a hurry. We just haven't played as well as we would have liked, and I think there's a lot of disappointment and frustration, and you just want to make sure things are as they should be as we head into the final month of the season."
"When you're winning and you're in contention, you talk to any player in the history of the game and they always say, 'This year went by quick because we were in contention,' or if you're out of contention, 'Man, it drags by.' I think where you're at in the standings and how you're playing has a lot to do with the atmosphere of the club."
Thing is, from what I can tell by reading the Chronicle and Astros.com, the atmosphere of the club has never been good this season. They might tell fans it was a joke, but remember when Carlos Lee showed up two days late to Spring Training? Berkman sniped at him - I know, they're really friends and all - but from the moment this team got to Kissimmee, it's been one thing after another.