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Colby Rasmus seeking answers from home, won’t find them

Jul 11, 2011, 5:23 PM EDT

rasmus little league

If you’ve played, or coached, or simply been around little league baseball, you’ve probably encountered the creature known in American society as the “baseball dad.” An overbearing parent, living vicariously through his child’s accomplishments, strutting around amateur baseball complexes with a bag of balls, a taped-and-ready fungo bat, oversized Oakleys, and a misguided sense of accomplishment.

Most “baseball dads” fizzle out. The kid gets tired of playing year-round, rebels against sports in his early teens, and decides to spend his summers working at Hot Topic instead. Dad goes back to his second and third-favorite hobbies: building model airplanes and preparing scripts for sports radio call-in programs.

But what happens when the kid doesn’t rebel, and instead becomes one of the top high school outfield prospects in Alabama history? How does “baseball dad” celebrate that success and how does he spend his free time thereafter with the golden goose — his son — off and playing in the big city?

Tony Rasmus, the father of Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus, is providing us with a horrific Exhibit A.

In December, the elder Rasmus popped up on a blog called The Cardinal Nation and suggested that new Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire was trying to turn his son into a slap hitter, “like Skip Schumaker.” It was a jab at the organization, and McGwire specifically. Schumaker has a .381 career slugging percentage and is one of the least productive regulars in the sport. There was never a plan to mold Rasmus into Skip.

In March, the elder Rasmus appeared on this very site and made a comment about his son being underpaid. Tony Rasmus also stated that he “wouldn’t mind [Colby] playing for the Braves” and that his “preference,” as a father, would be for his son to wind up with the Yankees. Colby, mind you, hasn’t even hit arbitration.

In June, the elder Rasmus was back at it again, this time with a more straightforward approach. He wrote under a post on The Cardinal Nation: “I believe its fairly obvious that Colby needs to be somewhere else. I don’t think Colby will ever be good enough to play in St. Louis. But I knew this way back.”

Distraction after distraction. Headache after headache. But what can the Cardinals do?

He is Colby’s father, and he can’t be forced out of the equation.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Colby is spending this year’s All-Star break at home in Alabama, working with dad to correct his swing in attempt to break out of the worst prolonged slump of his three-year major league career. Rasmus has hit just .220 with a .297 OBP since May 1. Despite a reputation for having a well-developed eye, he’s drawn just 24 walks and fanned 49 times in that span.

Tony Rasmus has helped his son work through slumps in the past and the two may have success again, but this issue runs deeper. The Cardinals are the most successful franchise in the National League and employ two hitting coaches in McGwire and assistant Mike Aldrete. And yet, Colby is taking directives from home.

Colby has issued two trade requests since arriving in St. Louis in 2009. Were those also directives from home?

The Cardinals aren’t going to ask Tony Rasmus to pipe down on internet message boards or to stay out of his son’s baseball career. And they shouldn’t. But they can request that the 24-year-old begins taking some onus. Colby’s poor plate approach is his own fault. His current slump is his own fault. And it can all be fixed in St. Louis, with video, and hard work, and even the help of a certain Big Mac.

Accepting hints from a relative is fine. As Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains, slugger Albert Pujols has credited his wife, at times, with helping him find mechanical flaws in his swing. But the game’s greatest hitters don’t run to the missus or to daddy in Alabama every time there’s a challenge.

It’s up to Colby to tell his father, for once, “I’ve got this.” It’s time for Rasmus, at the age of 24, to rebel.

  1. skerney - Jul 11, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    His dad is a smother mother. NO WIRE HANGERS!

  2. sportsdrenched - Jul 11, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    Helicopter Parent: It’s becoming more common in corporate America with The Millenial Generation. (We used to make fun of those kids) Tony Rasmus is just a high profile example.

  3. trevorb06 - Jul 11, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    Really, I hope his dad really just messes his swing up and he does worse just so MAYBE he’ll realize that his dad is hampering his career at this point and he takes his advice from the PROFESSIONALS. I like Colby and he has potential but his dad doesn’t have the key to unlock that.

    • trevorb06 - Jul 11, 2011 at 5:38 PM

      On a side note if I had Big Mac available to me to ask for advice at any time about my swing I wouldn’t hesistate. Heck I’m sure he could even talk to Pujols for some swing advice and he’d be more than happy to throw some advice in.

  4. Kevin S. - Jul 11, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    I wonder how much of the anti-TLR sentiment emboldened Rasmus the Elder. I know I bought in hook, line and sinker when he said they were trying to turn him into Skip Schumaker, and I definitely wore out the #freecolby hashtag last August.

  5. Old Gator - Jul 11, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    I thought what Pujols said was that his wife helped him correct his stroke.

  6. metalhead65 - Jul 11, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    right he should just disregard the advice of the guy who got him to the big leagues and go with whatever st. larussa tells him to do. why would he go against what got him to the major leagues?

    • Utley's Hair - Jul 11, 2011 at 6:14 PM

      Considering he is being paid handsomely to do what he does, and the guys around him know a bit more about hitting, then yes, he should listen to the guys the Cards have set up.

    • geshtahl - Jul 11, 2011 at 6:49 PM

      There is a reason that “the guy who got him to the big leagues” isn’t employed as a coach by any MLB club.

    • birdsonbat4life - Jul 19, 2011 at 2:01 PM

      I’m not 110% sure, but I would think that most players would want to EXCEL once they get to the majors. Using what got you there isn’t always what will help you excel once you’re there. The young country boy needs to realize that the guys that are around him are there for a reason. Use EVERY tool you’ve got available to you.

  7. randomdigits - Jul 11, 2011 at 6:02 PM

    So its OK to bypass the Cardinals hitting coaches to talk to your wife about your swing but not your father?

    • Andrew - Jul 11, 2011 at 6:14 PM

      Pujols’ wife isn’t taking shots at the Cardinals.

    • ditto65 - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:01 PM

      I doubt Pujols is relying exclusively on his wife to fix his swing. His stroke, however…

      • birdsonbat4life - Jul 19, 2011 at 2:06 PM

        Also note that Colby Rasmus isn’t even remotely close to the caliber hitter that Albert Pujols is. When AP’s major league coaches come out and say that Albert know’s his swing better than anyone, it’s a pretty bold statement. When have we ever heard Big Mac or TLR come out and say that Colby knows his swing better than anyone else? And obviously, if he’s seeking help from his dad at this point, it’s not getting the job done. His average just keeps going in the tank.

  8. dparker713 - Jul 11, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    Chipper Jones still takes hitting advince from his father, this might not be the worst thing.

    • paperlions - Jul 11, 2011 at 6:21 PM

      Exactly. The problem isn’t that Colby takes advice from his father, the problem is that his father is a domineering jackass that can’t keep his mouth closed, even for the good of his own son. Colby seems like a shy and sensitive kid, who is prone to distraction. The best think his father could do would be to shut up, but he’s not interested in his son succeeding, he just interested in getting his way or being proven right about something (he’s actually a lot like LaRussa in that respect).

      I’ve been a Rasmus apologist since he first came up….but I’m pretty much done with him. I don’t think the kid has the mental make up to make the most of his talent, and I think that is primarily his father’s doing.

      • Drew Silva - Jul 11, 2011 at 6:23 PM

        #FreeJonJay?

      • spudchukar - Jul 11, 2011 at 7:18 PM

        Exactly, PL and Drew. I actually kinda feel sorry for Rasmus. He doesn’t seem like a bad kid, just remarkably unsure of himself, which I, too, attribute to his dad. He is so afraid to make a mistake that his decision-making process is stuck in neutral. As we have all agreed before, no one in this game has more talent, but at some point patience becomes false hope. Both Atlanta and Washington need Centerfielders and have bullpen help that is expendable. As Drew alluded to, the emergence of Jon Jay, should cinch the move.

      • paperlions - Jul 11, 2011 at 8:34 PM

        You put it perfectly….at times, he is too afraid to make a to just play, he starts to think too much, and is instantly hesitant in every he does on the field (how funny that the only thing he doesn’t hesitate to do is become hesitant).

        I think he’s a good kid that has had too much pressure put on him by his dad pulling him this way and that and now by his dad’s regular public comments. What is he thinking when he speaks up? Does he really think there is any way that his public comments could be good for Colby? Is he really so selfish that he can’t swallow his own pride for the good of his son?

        It is just sad.

        ….and the Yankees? Seriously? NY would eat that kid alive.

  9. foreverchipper10 - Jul 11, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    I want to post a clip of “Bat Dad” from South Park but the last time I tried to put media on here it did not work. Le sigh.

  10. jimatkins - Jul 11, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    So when is building model airplanes a mark of loserhood? I can even do it in my den when watching baseball. BTW, I ALWAYS know what’s in the Opening Day flyover.

    • Drew Silva - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:54 PM

      You’re right, an unfair jab. I’m too dumb, too clumsy, and far too impatient to be able to put together a model of anything. If it’s any consolation.

      • okwhitefalcon - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:29 PM

        I think Raz should fire his dad as personal hitting coach and hire Robinson Cano’s father.

        Yes, that was sarcasm..

    • sportsdrenched - Jul 12, 2011 at 9:35 AM

      I am also “Opening Day Fly Over Guy”. Usually down to make, model, and service time, but not squadron or air base. That would just be too dorky.

      Because there is nothing cooler than a Jet Fighter/Bomber. (excpet when the fly-over is a tanker….lame)

  11. trasmus3 - Jul 12, 2011 at 1:18 AM

    Sometimes the mass of humanity simply amazes me. The Internet has just pushed the edge of stupidity to the front of the line. It allows every idiot, jerk, and know nothing to exist on the same level as people with knowledge, experience and skill. For a father to manage to have 3 boys drafted to professional baseball is a statistic. For a father to win the little league world series is another. For a father to coach his High School team to constantly perform at an exceptionally high level is another statistic. I can go on and on with statistics but I seriously doubt a very high level of the readers of this post and most others actually know what this level of math is about. They all shout out their emotions which is not a very accurate measurement when compared with the level of math statistics requires. It might actually be a great idea for the Cardinals to give Tony a job offer and see if his knowledge just might compare with or improve on the level already in place. It would definitely take care of the doomsayers. lol I can’t wait for the next round of “I can’t stand Tony Rasmus”.

    • geshtahl - Jul 12, 2011 at 2:40 AM

      I love the fact that, in the middle of a temper tantrum, you said this :
      “They all shout out their emotions which is not a very accurate measurement when compared with the level of math statistics requires.”

      Did you actually think about that one? As I said before, if said: “knowledge, experience and skill” was really worth anything… why is Tony NOT working as a coach in the major leagues?

    • paperlions - Jul 12, 2011 at 7:11 AM

      I was waiting for you to finally post after giving the thumbs down above. When you can’t help yourself, you just can’t help yourself, can you?

      There are a lot of things that would be great ideas. For example, if trasmus really thought working for the Cardinals was a good idea, he might want to….oh…..I don’t know…..stop the long string up public jabs at the franchise.

      Of course, I clearly don’t have the level of math statistics required to shout out an accurate measurement of my emotions…..so, you know, I would just disregard anything I say…..but you might want to add a variable to your “math statistics” that measures the level of proximity to a situation and associated inherent bias in assessment.

      You might also want to consider that proximity to a situation and knowledge are not the same thing. For example, anyone with half a brain would know that publicly ripping on your son’s employer would not help your son’s situation….especially when the “math statistics” show that said son has a rather fragile psyche.

      Keep up the good work pops.

    • Jonny 5 - Jul 12, 2011 at 9:40 AM

      I really like Colby. And am not a fan of the Cards. I think Colby has as bright a future as any other out there. With that said, i also feel that Dad needs to fall back to “Dad mode” and stop trying to be “coach” and or “manager”. As a Father I see how easy it would for this line to blur as nobody wants to see their son excel than dad does. I know Dad was a major part of his development. I know Dad is a smart baseball guy. But Dad just isn’t cut out to be a professional baseball coach. Be there for your kid, but this is his career, his path, and there are few places that will teach him to be better than where he is now. Dad, stop filling his head with crap about the team and let him concentrate on what matters now. Dad, step away and let your boy be the man he needs to be.

    • ditto65 - Jul 12, 2011 at 10:45 AM

      “It allows every idiot, jerk, and know nothing to exist on the same level as people with knowledge, experience and skill.”

      Yeah – it let you on here.

      Your statistics are impressive – on a high school level. The problem is, your son has far surpassed that level of play. You may have been able to coach him how to hit the best 17 year old pitchers in Russell County, but he is now facing the best pitchers in the world. Your statistics do not match the level of skill your son is playing against now.

      Set your statistics along side those around your son, and you might see what I am talking about. And when talking statistics, I like remember what Mark Twain would say, “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

  12. cintiphil - Jul 12, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    The proof that this nut Tony Rasmus knows nothing about playing Big league baseball, if the fact that he wants his boy to play in NY (where the big money is). That town would eat him alive, the first time he strikes out with the bags loaded. After a half season like this one has been, he would be booed out of town, as he would in Philly or Boston or LA or San Fran, as well as some other cities. Towns like St. Louis, Cincinnati, KC, and Atlanta are generally kinder to their players. Even when the boo birds come out, they are generally a little muted and not as cruel as NYC. How would this guy handle that? He probably would need a full time shrink just to get up in the morning and go to the park.

    I think however the larger issue here is that I have heard the Cards signed Colby’s younger brother to a minor league deal. Why? Do they want the old man to interfere full time all the time? I made the comment before that if Tony Rasmus was a baseball genius, he would be coaching at a little higher level than High School!

  13. The Baseball Idiot - Jul 12, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    Tony Rasmus aside, Hal McRae was a much better hitting coach for the Cardinals, and there is a lot of disenssion around McGwire being the hitting coach.

    McGwire was away from the game for almost 10 years, and has no expirence coaching. What he can do is teach players how to hit like he did. Hit homeruns, draw a lot of walks, and strike out a lot.

    Last I looked at the Cardinals lineup, that wasn’t the make up of it. They have, as they have always had, along with every other team, a variety of hitters, who hit singles and doubles, steal bases, and take the extra base when needed by being agressive on the basepaths, and hit homeruns due to natural power, not because of a homerun swing.

    That sounds and looks exactly like Colby Rasums, as well as Holiday, Freese, and Pujols.

    The responsiblity of the team is to match the coaching to fit the needs of the player, not the wants of the coach.

    That being said, Tony Rasmus needs to unplug his computer.

    • cintiphil - Jul 12, 2011 at 9:09 AM

      I agree completely, however, trasmus needs to leave Colby alone too, and let the pros teach him to play at this level. What works in HS, may not work here.

    • thefalcon123 - Jul 12, 2011 at 12:02 PM

      You’re right. Coaches really only teach players how to play like they did. That’s why all the Cardinals pitchers who’ve helped by Dave Duncan pitch in so much of the same vein as he did in his career (dude had a 0.00 career ERA!).

      And McGwire must be doing a pretty piss poor job of teaching them anything, being ranked 15th in stikeouts and all….

    • spudchukar - Jul 12, 2011 at 12:25 PM

      Holy Crapola how can one single individual be so incredibly wrong, wrong, wrong. Hal McRae was dismissed for a variety of reasons but mostly because his communication skills were atrocious, he lacked a multiple approach strategy to hitting, and he had worn out his welcome. The notion that McGwire teaches players to hit like he did is so completely inaccurate that I hardly know where to begin.

      First off the players love him. Second, he works harder than any coach in baseball, and that comes from other Cardinal coaches who know how much preparation and time it takes to be a Tony LaRussa understudy. While he has worked with Holliday, Freese, and Molina regarding the long ball, it is to complensate for their overdependence on opposite field hitting. All three are pitched inside a lot because of their collective effectiveness to stroke the ball to right.(They are all right-handed swingers). So the work he has done with them is in regards to turning on inside pitches. Holliday and Molina have both benefited greatly, Freese still needs some work.

      To show how ridiculous your collective assumptions are, you need only to turn to Pujols and Rasmus. Here McGwire has helped them do just the opposite. Encouraging them to hit to the opposite field. Of course, teaching hitting to Pujols is like second guessing Einstein on the Theory of Thermodynamics, and yet Pujols has developed a strong bond with McGwire, and it may take someone of his stature to get Albert’s attention.

      Regarding the line about “the last time I looked at the Cardinal line-up” maybe you ought to take another look. They lead the league in OPS, BA, and RBI’s, and only the Phillies have struck out less, and that is only barely. It has been a long time since the Cards were among the leaders in Stolen Bases, and one of Rasmus’ biggest drawbacks is that with his great speed is his inability to steal.

      The clincher for bone-headedness comes from the second to last sentence. McGwire has repeatedly expressed his hitting philosophy to be the be diametrically opposed to the “one style fits all” approach.

      LaRussa’s addition of McGwire has been a godsend to the Red Birds who lead the NL in almost all offensive categories. The only this you got right in your comment is regarding Rasmus’ Dad. Yes, he should zip it.

  14. cptnew1 - Jul 12, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    Mr. Rasmus, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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