Cheap Seats

La Russa vs. Colby, Part 2

As the Cardinals have their hands full trying to find their way back into the playoff

picture, I can’t believe the club is allowing itself to be distracted with this whole

Colby Rasmus mess.

To be honest, I really don’t care if Rasmus is happy to play for the Cardinals. Not

only is he a millionaire ballplayer, but — as Albert Pujols said — he gets to play for

one of the greatest teams in the game, both historically and lately. So, if, he’s not

content with what he has, that’s his problem.

Personally, I think it is pretty disgusting to hear his whining about how the manager

isn’t nice to him and the players don’t like him. Get over it. Almost everybody has a

tough boss. We deal with it and do jobs that can be back-breaking, boring or even

dangerous 12 months a year for eight, 10 or 12 hours a day just so we can pay our

mortgages, groceries — and for our Cardinals tickets. We don’t ask to be traded to

another business where the bosses are nicer and the demands are less. It’s called

the real world.

He’s not paid to be happy and make friends. He’s paid to hit the ball, score and drive

in runs and play defense. Like Whitey Herzog says, it’s not the manager’s job to be

a player’s pal. If a player wants a friend, buy a dog.

Besides, it’s not like Rasmus is being singled out and treated unfairly. Major league

managers have always been tough on youngsters. It’s called paying your dues. You

earn respect, you don’t snap it up for free like Halloween candy.

In the early 1940s, youngsters who made errors or who didn’t hustle often found

themselves up close and personal with team captain Terry Moore. Moore would put

his arm around the young player and subtly pinch him on the back of the neck

— hard — while letting him know what he did wrong.

The story goes that Enos Slaughter was walking off the field, drenched with sweat

during a minor league game in Columbus, Ga., when manager Eddie Dwyer

approached him. Dwyer sarcastically offered to find someone to take over in the

field for Slaughter if the poor kid was too tired to run. Today there would be a

hearing complete with agents and representatives of the players association. But

what did Slaughter do about it? He learned a lesson and he ran — for the rest of

his career. It became his trademark.

If Rasmus isn’t tough enough to play for the Cardinals in 2010, what would have

happened to him in 1934, 1942 or 1967?

We all stand and applaud manager Tony La Russa as he scales the all-time wins

list. But suddenly everyone is critical of his methods because he has had problems

with a handful of players of the couple of thousand players he has managed over

the last three decades?

The accusation that La Russa can’t manage young players is bunk. Albert Pujols

made the transition from minor leaguer to superstar under La Russa. Jaime

Garcia, Jon Jay, Jason Motte, Kyle McClellan and David Freese have all seemed

to do alright playing under La Russa.

It’s Rasmus who has something to prove in this case. Not La Russa.