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Toronto Blue Jays new signing Corey Rasmus watches his shot go to short stop during the first inning of MLB baseball action against Baltimore Orioles in Toronto on Thursday July 28, 2011. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Toronto Blue Jays new signing Corey Rasmus watches his shot go to short stop during the first inning of MLB baseball action against Baltimore Orioles in Toronto on Thursday July 28, 2011. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Usual Suspects

Rasmus's father comes out swinging Add to ...

Fans always want to know what team a reporter roots for. For those harbouring a shred of objectivity in their DNA (you know who you are), the answer is, "We root for the story." On those grounds, let us now give thanks and praise for Tony Rasmus, the father of newest Blue Jay Colby Rasmus. Is there anything better for a slow day than a chatty parent of an athlete?

According to reports in St. Louis, Rasmus Senior was a source of irritation for Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who said Rasmus Junior was working on his game with people other than the coaches. (Read: Dad). With the arrival of his son in Toronto, Pater Rasmus decided to use the Toronto press corps (be still our restless heart) to send some tickle-me-Elmos at the legendary Cards manager.

On Jeff Blair's show on Sportsnet Radio The Fan 590, Tony Rasmus denied that he had been interfering. Saying 95 per cent of the problem-dad stories were "made up" he added, "To read the St. Louis newspapers you'd think I was going to have me a Blue Jays uniform and be sitting in the dugout."

The real culprit in the highly rated Rasmus being traded was La Russa, Dad said. "Tony kind of threw him in front of the bus for the veterans and then ridiculed him some, and then he never trusted much what they had to say. … When you do it in front of other players you kind of lose a little respect."

Which is why Colby's looking forward to a fresh start. "It's nice to go to the park and have a little fun [rather]than show up for a funeral procession every day. ... If they expect him to be a Hall of Famer [in Toronto]the expectations won't be any higher than they were in St Louis.

"Do I expect him to be a great player? Yes. I would expect from here on out he's probably going to have a jump in production at the plate and he's probably going to have a jump in production as an outfielder. Just getting out from some of the off-the-field tension from Tony it's going to be a positive."

As Bogey said in Casablanca, "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Block Party

To hear Sportsnet's Gregg Zaun, Pittsburgh catcher Michael McEnery could have saved embattled umpire Jerry (Not So Happy) Meals a lot of grief by simply blocking the plate, not swipe-tagging Atlanta's Julio Lugo in the 19th inning of Tuesday night's controversial Braves win. In case your YouTube was in dry dock, Meals missed the call as a result.

Asked if McEnery took the easy way out, the former major-league catcher told Usual Suspects on Wednesday, "It looked like [McEnery]had a shot [at blocking the plate] yeah. ... When the game's on the line you have to use the body. ... You don't want to leave it in the umpire's hands, because they're human and make mistakes."

If you haven't figured it out yet, Zaun's not a fan of catchers pulling the chute. "They're looking at their own personal safety and their own career longevity in front of the team's benefit. That's a selfish way to play the game, and I've never agreed with it. ... If guys aren't man enough to stand in front of somebody and take a hit with the game on the line, maybe they shouldn't be out there. If I'm a manager or general manager I probably don't want that guy catching for me."

While Zaun's a traditionalist about blocking the plate, he thinks there's a place for limited video replay. "I don't think there's any reason why there shouldn't be replay in that situation. It wouldn't take very long. ... There's no way a game should end like that on a blown call by an umpire. That would be one situation where I would believe in replay."

Football's lesson

American writer Fran Lebowitz hates football. But, she told NBC's Jimmy Fallon, Congress can learn something from the recent NFL labour settlement.

"The NFL settled their problems," Lebowitz told Fallon. "Why can't Congress settle their problem? Is this less important than football? Then I thought, what are the differences between Congress and the NFL? First of all, unlike Congress, the NFL has fans. Second of all, the people who play football have skills ... no football player has ever become a member of a pro football team by saying, "Me, I'm horrible at football. These two-party people in Congress, here's how they got elected. 'Washington? I never heard of it. Politics? I know nothing about it.' That's how they got elected. ...

"I heard [House majority leader]John Boehner yesterday say 'Let's not play politics.' But I never heard a football player say 'Let's not play football.'"

Quick, someone get Fran over to the NBA.

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