Wednesday, September 08, 2010

8 SEP 10: Rasmus-tazz

There are days when it's not easy writing a humor blog. This is one of them (scroll down for the reason why) -- but at least I found a little positive news Tuesday. A potential war involving a Columbus-era celebrity apparently has been averted. And it was settled without the Carter Center intervening....

The celebrity in this storm is Colby Rasmus - who went from Phenix City Little League baseball star to the St. Louis Cardinals' outfield in a mere ten years. His body has matured, but some people don't think his attitude and emotions have. They say Rasmus should "grow up" - but they're smart enough NOT to suggest he follow Bobby Cox's example of mouth control.

The storm around Colby Rasmus erupted over the weekend, when St. Louis news reports revealed he demanded a trade earlier this year. He wants to be traded away from a World Series contender?! Has Rasmus been studying old videotapes of Ricky Henderson?

On top of that, the St. Louis reports revealed Colby Rasmus called in his own personal hitting instructor in July. That instructor just happened to be his dad, Russell County High School baseball coach Tony Rasmus - so a trade to Atlanta could save his father a lot of wasted hours in line at airports.

(It turns out the personal hitting lessons by Tony Rasmus actually started during last year's National League playoffs. If they worked for his son in St. Louis, why didn't his Russell County High School team go undefeated last spring?)

One argument between Colby Rasmus and St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa reportedly became so heated that LaRussa threatened to send Rasmus back to the minor leagues. That WOULD be a trade, in a way - swapping airline flights and nice hotels for bus rides and weekend specials at Super 8.

But as we say, the Rasmus-LaRussa Redbird rancor was resolved (seemingly) Tuesday. Tony LaRussa said his relationship with Colby Rasmus is good, and "we've had a lot of great conversations." Who knows - they might have debated whether Caffe Amici is better than Country's Barbecue.

Tony LaRussa says there's no reason to presume Colby Rasmus will be traded before next season. But both manager and player agree that decision is up to the Cardinals' top management. For instance: if St. Louis decided to have a Rasmus "bobblehead doll night," how many fans would try to punch his head completely off?

Several thoughts came to my mind as I considered all these reports. If Colby Rasmus really asked to be traded away from a continual contender in St. Louis, he qualifies for a phrase ESPN has applied to some football players - "diva receiver." Rasmus catches fly balls in the outfield, after all....

And we dare not overlook the possible role of Tony Rasmus in all this. While he's a state champion high school baseball coach, he's also a proud sports dad - perhaps a little too proud. Don't you wonder if he suggested the personal hitting lessons to Colby? And is his real goal to be hired as Cardinals batting coach, so the family eats together every night of the year?

(The current Cardinal hitting instructor is the notorious Mark McGwire - who may spend most of his time telling Colby Rasmus how to get around steroid tests.)

I've read a few message board posts where Tony Rasmus expresses frustration over all the national media attention St. Louis superstar Albert Pujols gets, compared with his son. Asking for a trade doesn't seem to be the right way to turn that around. Colby Rasmus could be the top star in Pittsburgh or Cleveland, but would that really be an improvement?

Colby Rasmus is 24 and became a father last fall -- so isn't it time Tony Rasmus backed away a little? Otherwise, Colby may get a reputation as a grown-up "Daddy's boy." Having your father around all the time for moral support helped Danny Manning bring Kansas a national basketball title, but these are the major leagues....

Let's sail from the Mississippi River back to the Chattahoochee River, and check other Tuesday topics....

+ Fort Benning Sergeant First Class Jack White received the Army's Distinguished Service Cross, for actions in Afghanistan two years ago. Fewer than two dozen military personnel have received that cross in the last decade - and some fundamentalist Christians should notice the Army has yet to hand out any crescents.

+ Auburn University's chapter of the Young Americans for Liberty set up cards on campus, showing the amount of the national debt. Some freshmen probably walked by and presumed that would be the final payment on their student loans.

+ Muscogee County School Board candidate Mark Cantrell held a "Campaign Press Party" on Macon Road. From what I saw on TV, it consisted of supporters waving signs and standing around Cantrell during interviews -- so the "party" apparently was designed to get news reporters to pay attention to him.

(Mark Cantrell planned to hold his press party outside the Muscogee County Public Education Center - but school district officials apparently vetoed it at the last minute, so Cantrell moved across the street. Yes, incumbents on the school board DO have some privileges.)

+ The Atlanta Dream drubbed the New York Liberty 105-93, to advance to the WNBA Finals. The final-round series with Seattle will.... what's that? You've never heard of the Atlanta Dream? You didn't know Atlanta had pro women's basketball? Don't worry about that -- only about 9,000 fans showed up at Philips Arena to watch the game.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: The jokes for today have concluded. But you're welcome to read on, for personal thoughts about another Tuesday news item.)

BUT SERIOUSLY: Police believe the recent wave of homicides in Columbus is random. But when the victim is a familiar local name, it becomes shocking. And that happened Tuesday afternoon, when Heath Jackson was found dead outside his Lakebottom home.

Jackson was the morning host on WBOJ-FM "88.5 the Truth" - a Christian radio station. I never met him, but know he was a church worship leader. He was scheduled to be part of a worship night Tuesday at Christ Community Church on Milgen Road.

A Facebook statement posted by WBOJ General Manager Brian Hite says Jackson came upon a burglar at his home. The burglar was armed, and shot Jackson - then Jackson ran him out of the house, before collapsing in the driveway.

From what I heard Tuesday afternoon, Hite was absent from his air shift on WBOJ. Perhaps that was understandable, considering the sudden loss of his Program Director. "Tuesday Night with Teen Advisors" went on as scheduled, but the host had little to say about Jackson's death. Even in a city with the crime problems of Columbus, this may have been too stunning to grasp.

I thought WBOJ had taken all its promotional announcements with Heath Jackson off the air. So it was shocking to hear one Tuesday night, where an announcer jokes about Jackson "wrestling a bear" in exchange for donations -- or even a chicken. What happened on Carter Avenue was far more serious than that.

The burglar who shot Heath Jackson probably had no idea who he is, and didn't really care. If only that criminal had listened to Jackson's station. Hopefully many people did, after hearing of his death -- because "The Truth" kept playing songs which provided comfort, and even some perspective on the day's events. Truly this case shows we live in a "Beautiful Broken World."

I'd already planned to take a break from blogging Thursday -- and the reason involves an event which will fix that world. Some Christians mark the Biblical Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah in the Jewish tradition) to celebrate the coming return of Jesus to this earth. May Tuesday's death remind many in Columbus about what the prayer "Thy Kingdom come" really means.

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