Trip to Toronto special for Rasmus' father
Center fielder's dad happy to see him enjoying baseball again
TORONTO -- Father's Day provided the perfect opportunity for Tony Rasmus to make his first trip north of the border.
The father of Blue Jays' center fielder, Colby, took a flight to Toronto as part of a special promotion with WestJet. The Canadian airline flew 13 fathers of Blue Jays players to the city for the series finale against the Phillies on Sunday afternoon.
"It's pretty cool, to bring all the Dads together and get a chance to meet all of them and, you know, tell all the stories we've all dealt with through the years of our baseball lives," the elder Rasmus said.
"It's a big deal. The first thing my wife said was, 'Did St. Louis ever do this?' So we were really excited about the opportunity to get to do this."
Life has dramatically changed for the Rasmus family since Colby was traded from St. Louis to Toronto in July 2011. Colby is a noticeably more upbeat person and appears to have moved past his tumultuous tenure with the Cardinals.
The differences have been noticeable not only at Rogers Centre -- where Colby has enjoyed a return to form -- but also off the field, where he simply has become a more positive person. It's something the entire family has been able to enjoy.
"I hadn't watched a baseball game in two years that [he] played in in St. Louis, because when I watched him I [felt] like I was watching a funeral procession," Rasmus said of his son. "It just wasn't fun anymore. ... It was painful to watch, and I didn't think he was playing to his capabilities much of the time.
"I've watched every game this year, just to show you that's the kind of difference a year's made in his life, as far as baseball goes -- to watch him smile. I watched him out there do a couple of out [makes hand gesture] things. I'm like, 'Wow, look at that: It looks like it's fun again.'"
Colby was placed under the media microscope in St. Louis immediately after being selected with the 28th pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. He was looked upon as the ideal player to team up with Albert Pujols and form the core of a championship-caliber team.
Success came during his first two big league seasons, but by 2011 things began to turn sour. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was critical of his young player in the press, and Colby didn't appreciate what he felt was a constantly negative environment.
There were a lot of heated exchanges between both sides. But now that it has been almost a full year since the trade that brought his son to the Blue Jays, Rasmus is able to calmly reflect on where things might have gone wrong.
"Looking back on it, maybe [the issues were caused by] the fact that he was such a big prospect and they expected him to be Albert Pujols in St. Louis -- and not too many people are going to be Albert Pujols," Rasmus said. "Maybe the expectations they had for him were just hard for him to live up to. Maybe that pressure just wore him down.
"Obviously, Tony wore on him a little bit, but Tony's a Hall of Fame manager, you know. Maybe everybody can't play for him. Maybe it's just a better fit here. He really loves John Farrell -- John's a more positive-type guy and that's probably what he responded to better than all the negative stuff he dealt with [in St. Louis]."
The differences between Toronto and St. Louis were obvious from Day 1. The elder Rasmus received a lot of criticism from both the Cardinals' media and coaching staff for what they felt were his meddling ways.
Rasmus was accused of interfering with Colby's mechanics at the plate. Rasmus insists a lot of that was overblown and that he never tried to tell his son how to hit. They would instead simulate scenarios during batting practice as Colby worked through his swing.
That was explained and welcomed by the Blue Jays before Colby even officially reported to the team.
"John called me early on, it was really funny, I was like star struck," said Rasmus, who is a high school teacher. "I was in chemistry class, my phone went off, I answered the phone, he's like, 'This is John Farrell.' I was like, 'Good gracious.' He said, 'You know what? We want Colby to hit, we want him to be comfortable, whatever we have to do.'
"And I went through the same story I just told you, 'I don't care what you've heard, it's not like I'm going to be working on X's and O's, as far as hitting goes with him. I just throw to him, he likes me throwing batting practice, been throwing it to him forever.' John made it known that whatever we needed to do to have him hit or playing good, that he was all for it."