St. Louis Cardinals Photo Day

No, the Cardinals aren’t trying to change Colby Rasmus. But his father is taking shots at the organization…

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“Not satisfied with the current product, the Cardinals are trying to change center fielder Colby Rasmus.”

That’s how I headlined my piece Thursday night — a piece that detailed a new contact-oriented hitting approach for the young Cardinals outfielder with direct quotes from his father, Tony Rasmus.

After a bit of digging I learned that the comments were made in a tongue-in-cheek manner, meant as a joke for bloggers and message board types that are prone to jump on any kind of juicy bait.  I jumped.  I bit.  Whatever.

The comments were indeed made by Rasmus’ father — that has been confirmed — and I had no way of knowing they were meant facetiously.

That’s not the end of the story, though.  Far from it.

Here is one of Tony Rasmus’ more revealing comments from the original story on Brian Walton’s The Cardinal Nation Blog:

“I’m curious to see this new hitting style at work. What they’re telling me is Colby most likely won’t hit 10 jacks this year but will be more consistent. I’m told that he will look alot like Jon Jay without all the pre swing motion. More like the Skip Schumaker and Jay stuff to left field. IT will be curious to watch.”

This isn’t light humor.  What we have here is the father of a prominent Cardinals player publicly mocking the organization on a message board.  Tony Rasmus jokingly said that manager Tony La Russa and hitting coach Mark McGwire are attempting to turn his son into more of a Skip Schumaker-type batter.

To be more like Skip,” is exactly how the elder Rasmus put it later in his diatribe.  Anyone with a baseball almanac or a desktop computer knows that Schumaker is one of the least productive regulars in the game of baseball.  Tony Rasmus is well aware of that fact and was taking a shot at the Cardinals’ braintrust.

La Russa has talked frequently about pushing Colby to use his legs more on the basepaths and to drive balls gap-to-gap rather than shooting for the fences.  Tony Rasmus, high school baseball coach and overbearing parent, clearly disagrees with that strategy and made a mockery of it on a Cardinals-centric internet forum with about five paragraphs of tongue-in-cheek commentary.  It was meant to reach a lot of eyes, with the St. Louis front office included.

Cardinals fans were appalled Thursday when the “new hitting approach” story came out.  Why are they putting a leash on one of baseball’s best young hitters?  They’re turning Colby into Juan Pierre!

The story isn’t true.  If there’s a leash, it’s not all that tight.  And Rasmus certainly isn’t being asked to stay out of the weight room.

But what’s worse?  The Cardinals asking a young power hitter to become more contact-happy or that power hitter’s father taking public jabs at the hitting philosophies of his son’s big league ball club?  Remember, Colby has made more than one trade request in the last two years.

You think someone — a parent, perhaps — might be in his ear?

What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 16: Starting pitcher J.A. Happ #33 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on June 16, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
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Did you know J.A. Happ is in the thick of the American League Cy Young Award race? Of all the contenders, he may be the biggest surprise, even ahead of Drew Pomeranz. Happ leads the league with 17 wins and only has three losses to go with it. He’s holding a 3.05 ERA and a 133/44 K/BB ratio in 150 1/3 innings.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Happ was struggling to stay in a starting rotation. In 2011, his first full season with the Astros, he finished with a 5.35 ERA. In 2012, he put up a 4.79 ERA with the ‘stros and Blue Jays. The next year? 4.56 followed by 4.22, both with the Jays. Then, with the Mariners, he continued the mediocrity with a 4.64 ERA before he was traded to the Pirates.

Under the tutelage of Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, Happ turned his career around. In 11 starts in Pittsburgh, the lefty had a microscopic 1.85 ERA. That came with significant improvements in his strikeout and walk rates. Even the ERA retrodictors like FIP and xFIP, which had so often agreed with his uninspiring ERA’s, agreed that he had thrown like an elite hurler. So that’s how we arrived at J.A. Happ, Cy Young Award contender.

Among AL starters, Happ is fifth-best in ERA behind Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana, Aaron Sanchez, and Steven Wright. However, his 17-3 record is equaled only by Rick Porcello. As there are still a significant number of voters in the Baseball Writers Association of America who consider won-lost record, Happ is sitting in a good position and will be even better if he can cross the coveted 20-win threshold. He’ll get a bit of a boost as well if he can help the Jays return to the postseason for a second consecutive season.

Happ’s Jays will host the hapless — and Happ-less — Angels on Thursday evening. He’ll take on veteran Jered Weaver in a 7:07 PM EDT start.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez) @ Washington Nationals (Max Scherzer), 7:05 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez) @ Miami Marlins (Tom Koehler), 7:10 PM EDT

New York Mets (Seth Lugo) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), 7:15 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Josh Tomlin) @ Texas Rangers (Cole Hamels), 8:05 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates (Chad Kuhl) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Wily Peralta), 8:10 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (James Paxton) @ Chicago White Sox (Anthony Ranaudo), 8:10 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Matt Wisler) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray), 9:40 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Matt Moore) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Ross Stripling), 10:10 PM EDT

Let’s play the “how long has it been since the Cubs won the World Series?” game!

1908 Cubs
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It started with a no-good St. Louis Cardinals fan being a troublemaker. That no-good Cardinals fan was Drew Silva, who began things innocently enough, noting that, despite their dominance this season, any team can theoretically beat the Chicago Cubs in a short series because that’s just how baseball goes:

Cubs fans started giving him guff for that, so Drew gave some back:

And with that it was on like Donkey Kong (a super old video game which was not invented for another 73 years after the Cubs last won the World Series). I tweeted this:

And with that, my followers went crazy. Here’s a sampling of some of the best ones:

And, for that matter . . .

Too soon. Unlike the last Cubs World Series title.

Like I said, this was just a sampling. I’ve retweeted a ton more on my timeline and those I didn’t retweet can be seen in the replies here. My favorite one may have been “literally the invention of sliced bread,” which debuted in 1912, but I can’t find that tweet.

Please, Cubs fans, have a sense of humor about this. You have a wonderful ballpark that is not named after a third tier mortgage company, a grand history that is fantastic even if it hasn’t featured any championships and a future that is as bright or brighter than any other team out there. Maybe even come up with some of your own in the comments! History is fun! As is self-deprecation! What I’m saying is don’t be salty about this sort of thing. Salty is a bad look.

In other news, the Morton Salt Company was incorporated in 1910, two years after the Cubs last World Series victory.