You only have one chance to make a good first impression.
That’s the old saying, right? The one that’s used when trying to convince someone that the first job interview he or she has can ultimately be the most important. Or not just for a job interview, but even a casual meeting with someone you may or may not become friends with. Anyway, what I’m getting at is the first impression you make, or someone leaves with you, can be very important.
When the news came out this afternoon that the St. Louis Cardinals had traded Colby Rasmus and others to Toronto, it reminded me of the former’s first impression he left with me.
When the Cardinal Caravan came around a few years back, many in the area were really excited because Quincy had the best group of current and former players attending. The list of players consisted of Daniel Descalso, Lance Lynn, Mitchell Boggs, and Rasmus, who was at the time the No. 1 prospect and future star of the organization.
The Cardinal Caravan is nice because as a member of the media, you have the opportunity to spend 30-40 minutes with the group of players to conduct interviews, record audio liners for the station, or just chat about whatever comes to mind. For example the year prior I spent 15 minutes recapping every Family Guy episode with Brendan Ryan. (I see why some thought he was a tad immature in the clubhouse.)
Many things we hear for part of the reason why Rasmus was traded was because he struggled grasping the meaning of being a pro — the being aggressive, listening to coaches, and paying your dues part. What’s funny is when I walked away from the Cardinal Caravan event that night years ago, the first thing I thought was how introverted Rasmus seemed to be around people. He just didn’t seem to be the kid who enjoyed what he was doing. I would ask him an easy open-ended question and I would get a one-word response. I tried adding a fun question to get him going on something he may be more interested in off the field, but that got me nowhere. He could have cared less.
I’m not saying I saw this coming with Rasmus, because I truly thought his talent would trump any other problems he had. But it never did. From the problems with him not being able to tell his father to stay away from the batting cage to not extending a little more in center field to save a run with more effort on a catch, the lefty never showed all five tools plus that mental X-factor one needs to be successful in the big leagues.
Going to Toronto and playing in front of a crowd that may be less demanding could be exactly what Rasmus needs. Or playing for a team that has finished near the bottom of the division the past 10 years could be a quiet blessing. You just hope that if he ever does reach star level that he will be able to handle it. If not, Toronto may not be the last stop for him … or his dad.