Something strange is going on between Tony La Russa and Colby Rasmus

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Colby Rasmus hasn’t started a game in two weeks, in part because of a calf injury and in part because of what appears to be an increasingly sour relationship with manager Tony La Russa.
Rasmus made it clear that he was healthy enough to play over the weekend and he was initially in yesterday’s posted lineup, but was removed just minutes before the first pitch. La Russa made no mention of the decision during his pregame media briefing and after the game said: “When a guy’s ready, you give him one more day just to have that peace of mind.”
Which doesn’t sound weird, except for the part about Rasmus being in the original lineup that was posted for two hours. Rasmus didn’t make it an issue after the game, but reading between the lines most writers covering the Cardinals seem convinced that his relationship with La Russa has gotten very bad.
La Russa has said some things negatively comparing Rasmus to Jon Jay and reportedly doesn’t like that Rasmus’ father gives him hitting coaching. Officially the explanation given for Rasmus being scratched from yesterday’s lineup was simply “non-medical reasons,” but St. Louis Post Dispatch beat writer Joe Strauss described that as “for the Kool-Aid set” and later wrote that “it’s a fair guess either La Russa or Rasmus is gone from St. Louis before the 2011 season.”
Those are pretty strong words coming from a beat writer and Strauss is one of the best in the business, so I tend to think there’s plenty of fire behind the smoke. Beyond that, yesterday veteran Post Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz tweeted: “I have no idea what’s going on between La Russa and Rasmus, but this is very strange, and it must end.”
La Russa has feuded with players before and in some cases those players have left town because of it, but in this case the 23-year-old Rasmus is seemingly more important to the Cardinals’ future than their 65-year-old manager. After a solid rookie season he’s emerged as one of the game’s top all-around talents this year, playing good defense in center field while hitting .268/.352/.501 to rank second among all MLB center fielders with an .853 OPS.
If it’s true that St. Louis isn’t big enough for the both of them, the Cardinals better think long and hard about whether keeping La Russa is worth giving up a 23-year-old stud center fielder.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.

 

Minor league teams prepare for a “total eclipse of the park”

Salem Volcanoes
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The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.

This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.

Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.

There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.