colby rasmus and tony rasmus

Tony Rasmus goes to Toronto, talks St. Louis

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Tony Rasmus, the father of Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus, was an endless source of intrigue and entertainment for the St. Louis media during the two-plus years that his son spent with the Cardinals.

And now the Toronto press is getting a taste.

The elder Rasmus made his first-ever appearance at Rogers Centre on Sunday afternoon, joining 12 other dads of Blue Jays players in a pregame Father’s Day celebration before taking in the team’s 6-2 win over the Phillies in a reserved box along the right field line.

Tony Rasmus also spent a little time with John Lott of the National Post, discussing topics that revolved primarily around last year’s eight-player blockbuster trade between the Jays and Cardinals, and the events leading up to it. We’ll attempt to package the craziness into easily-digested bites, but Lott’s entire interview transcript is worth perusing.

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Tony Rasmus on his first visit to Toronto:

I was lucky enough to have my passport ready. My wife still hasn’t got hers. When they called and invited me up, I had to go over and say, ‘I’m sorry, baby, you don’t have your passport; I’ve got mine, so I’m going to have to go ahead and leave you here.’ She called me a thousand times. You know, ‘be careful, be careful walking around, that’s a big town.’

On why things went south at the end of Colby’s run with the Cardinals:

Looking back on it, maybe 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. 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.

On how things played out the week the trade was finalized:

Some stuff came out in the [St. Louis] newspaper that wasn’t accurate from Tony and we called [Colby’s] agent and said, ‘Man, he’s not going to keep saying all that stuff without somebody responding to it, so y’all need to get him out of there.’ That was about the way it went. So whenever they called and told me [about the trade], I was dancing the jig around the house. I called [Colby] first thing and he was like, ‘That’s an answer to a prayer. Thank goodness.’ Everything since that day has been absolutely awesome here.

We’ve been happy ever since the trade.

On the active role he’s played in Colby’s career — a point of contention in St. Louis:

My involvement’s really basically a batting-practice pitcher. It’s not like I get in there and go, ‘Hey, move your hands up here, do this.’ I’m not really a technical [coach]. But the fact is, I’m 46, but I can still throw about 90. So I can back up 60 feet and throw BP versus having to soft-toss to him. And I can throw breaking balls and changeups and that kind of stuff.

And obviously Colby had a hard time [in St. Louis]. I always told Colby, ‘Don’t mention my name, let me go ahead and throw to you, man, and go in the newsapapers and say Mark McGwire is my man, he’s the reason I’m hitting.’ But he don’t know how to lie and I think that’s a key to making it in this business, being able to not tell the truth a lot of the time.

To summarize: Colby Rasmus isn’t a good liar. And Tony Rasmus throws 90 mph with pinpoint control.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.