Let’s be clear about something from the get-go: the Chicago Cubs have suffered through a brutal 2010. They’ve had on-field and off-field headaches, and they’ve been profoundly uncompetitive. So when I say I’m taking pleasure in the recent dust-up in St. Louis, you’ll not think me a hypocrite – at least not the worst kind.
I’m taking pleasure in the recent dust-up in St. Louis.
Over the weekend, word spilled out into the national media that the relationship between Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and centerfielder Colby Rasmus has been strained for sometime – so much so that, both last year and earlier this year, Rasmus requested a trade. For a young guy in his only organization, such a request counts as big news. Subsequently, Rasmus took to some private hitting lessons with his father in July, something that raised the ire of La Russa.
Things came to a head on Sunday when the duo was peppered with questions about their relationship, and neither had a particularly good, deflective response.
Before Rasmus’ spoke Sunday morning, La Russa had done his best to deflect any suggestion of conflict. The longtime manager, who has clashed with numerous players during his 15-year tenure in St. Louis, confirmed that Rasmus had requested a trade last year as well as this season. Still, La Russa said, “he’s grown up this year quite a bit. He’s on his way. … I think he’s thinking that probably the grass is not greener other places. This is a good situation, a great organization, teammates, everything. That’s what I think. You can ask him.”
When a small throng of media did, Rasmus said everything by saying nothing.
Asked if he wants to be in St. Louis next year, he said: “I’m not going to say either way. I’m just going to come in and play hard every day.”
Told that by not answering yes, it could be interpreted as a no, Rasmus said: “But I didn’t say that, though. You can interpret what you want. You can write whatever you want. But that’s not what I said. It’s not saying no, either. I mean, yeah, I’d like to be here. But there’s no telling what’s going to happen. I’d rather say nothing, so that way you’ll write nothing.”
Which, at this point, is impossible. Rasmus’ relationship with the Cardinals’ organization has been contentious for much of his career with the Cardinals, who drafted him with the 28th pick in the 2005 draft out of high school in Alabama. His father, Tony, criticized La Russa in 2008 on message-board postings after Rasmus was sent to the minor leagues after an excellent spring. La Russa reportedly chafed this year when Rasmus met with his father for personal hitting sessions in July….” Yahoo! Sports.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Cardinal star – and St. Louis favorite/bellwether - Albert Pujols had some harsh words for Rasmus.
“If he doesn’t want to be here next year, we need to figure out a way to get him out of here and find somebody that wants to be here and play,” Pujols told Yahoo! Sports on Sunday. “That’s a reality. That’ll show you right there a young player that doesn’t respect what he’s got.”
“He needs to find out the talent and ability that he has and pretty much keep his mouth shut and play the game. Let the organization make those decisions, not himself.”
Speaking from our own experience, fences can obviously be mended. As recently as a month ago, did you think it possible that Carlos Zambrano could return to the Cubs in 2011 with smiles and happiness all around? Yet somehow, it’s now possible. So it is likewise possible that Rasmus and the Cardinals could patch things up.
But while the stink continues to seep out of the Cardinals’ clubhouse, I’ll continue to take pleasure.