The Washington Nationals are the newest World Series Champions for the first time in franchise history. For the most part, the World Series was only about baseball, until game 5.
Game 5 was played in Washington, and in attendance was the President. The start of every baseball game begins with the first pitch by some sort of celebrity. Instead of having the President throw out the first pitch, the Nationals had celebrity chef José Andrés throw the first pitch. Andrés has taken part in humanitarian work with World Central Kitchen, a non profit organization that provides meals for people after natural disasters.
Even though Andrés was a great candidate to throw out the first pitch, one would assume that the President would throw it out instead. At least, that is how it has been for over one hundred years.
Sports Illustrated stated that “every president since William Taft in 1910 has thrown out a ceremonial first pitch, either for Opening Day, the All-Star Game, or the World Series. Sports Illustrated also stated that “according to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, Trump did not throw out the first pitch ‘in order to make the fan experience as positive as possible.’”
The first pitch not being thrown by Trump was the beginning of his eventful night at Nationals Park.
Later in the game, Donald Trump was announced as being in attendance. A mix of cheering and boos were yelled, along with chants of “lock him up.”
Videos of that moment were quick to go viral, almost as fast as Trump’s facial expressions during the videos, where he was shown going from smiling to sudden sadness and disappointment in a matter of seconds. Other pictures and videos from that game also went viral, including two fans hanging up a big banner with the words, “Impeach Trump,” as well as a group of veterans who also had signs with the words, “Veterans for Impeachment.”
Trump tried again in game 7, and again was not successful with the fans. A campaign commercial for Trump aired on the big screen during the game and again was met with boos from those in attendance.
Even after the World Series was won by the Nationals, fans still had one more viral video of disappointment for the president. While being interviewed on live news TV, a reporter was talking to a Nationals fan, who responded with how big this win was for Washington. The fan said, “This is huge for D.C., D.C. needed this, we’ve got some huge ******* ******* in the White House.”
Fans were clearly not happy about the President, and some athletes felt similarly.
Not only has the tradition of the president throwing out the ceremonial first pitch been broken, but also the tradition of championship teams visiting the White House has been quite the controversy over Donald Trump’s presidency.
According to Business Insider, “(Over) 20 teams in major sports have won championships since Trump took office. Half of those teams either declined to invitation or were not invited for various reasons.” Teams who still decided to attend the White House celebration commonly had players individually refuse to attend the event.
Again, videos and pictures went viral when the White House had their championship celebration, but this time, in support of Trump.
Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki made headlines when he showed his support for Trump while at the celebration. Suzuki wore the trademark red MAGA hat as well as being awkwardly embraced by Trump in what turned out to look like a reenactment of the famous Titanic scene.
Nationals first baseman, Ryan Zimmerman also made headlines for being in attendance by presenting Trump was a Nationals jersey and later calling the visit an “unbelievable honor,” and then thanking the President for, “keeping everyone here safe in our country and continuing to make America the greatest country to live in the world.”
According to the Washington Post, “seven of the 25 players on the active World Series roster were absent, most of them minorities.” Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle was the most vocal out of the seven players who did not attend the celebration about his reasoning as to why he skipped out.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Doolittle stated, “There’s a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country.”
Going on, Doolittle added, “My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we’ve done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the ‘******** countries.’”
Doolittle’s wife, Eireann, has two mothers heavily involved in the LGBTQ+ community. The husband and wife duo have also been involved in the community, most notably in 2015 when Doolittle was still with the Oakland A’s.
The A’s hosted LGBT Pride night, and after receiving negativity online, Doolittle’s wife who was his girlfriend at the time wrote a blog post, offering to buy tickets from those who already purchased tickets, and offered to give those tickets to local LGBTQ youth center.
On top of that, Doolittle matched any tickets Erieann purchased. As a couple, the two created a GoFundMe page and vowed to match donations up to $3,000 from anyone interested in supporting the cause.
Doolittle also mentioned his brother-in-law as to another reason for not attending. “I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and Trump is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter,” Doolittle said. Adding, “How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked, or the way he moves his hands? I can’t get past that stuff.”
Doolittle also touched on Trump’s racist relations with the Fair Housing Act, the Central Park Five, and Trump’s comments post a white supremacist rally in 2017.
Other players who were not in attendance were Anthony Rendon, Victor Robles, Michael A. Taylor, Javy Guerra, Joe Ross, and Wander Suero.