President Trump Will Not Throw Out The First Ball Of The Baseball Season

News Item: Donald Trump has declined the Washington Nationals’ invitation to throw out the first pitch when the Nats begin the 2017 season. The club said that the White House blamed a “scheduling conflict.”


1.  In the abstract, this is too bad—for baseball, for the Presidency, for the country. Traditions are healthy for cultures. Thirteen U.S. Presidents have thrown the season’s ceremonial first pitch at either a Nationals or Senators catcher  since 1910.: William H. Taft (1910-11), Woodrow Wilson (1912, ‘14), Warren Harding (1921-22), Calvin Coolidge (1924, ‘27-28), Herbert Hoover (1929-32), Franklin D. Roosevelt ( 1933, ‘35-41), Harry S. Truman (1946, ‘48-50, ‘52), Dwight Eisenhower (1953-58, ‘60), John F. Kennedy (1961-63), Lyndon Johnson (1964-65, ‘67), Richard Nixon (1969), George W. Bush (2008), and Barack Obama (2010).” The rest since 2010 found time to throw out at least one opening day pitch in other ball parks.

2. President Trump’s pass is wise, unfortunately. Herbert Hoover was roundly  booed every time he threw out the first pitch, and it was a profound embarrassment. (He kept coming back, though. Bravo. Guts.) Hoover, however, didn’t have to deal with endless videos, internet cruelty, TV show comic mockery, and a political party dedicated to undermining him and respect for his office. Washington DC voted against Trump by a 96%-4% margin. People in D.C. want the President to throw out the first pitch purely so they can abuse him. He has a duty to protect the office and his dignity. The President was right to decline, even though it represents handing another victory to those who want to isolate him, “otherize him,” and undermine his leadership. Trump could be defiant, but it would spoil the tradition. Sometimes the assholes win. This is one of those times.

3. Trump, unlike the previous President, enjoys and played baseball, indeed well enough that he was scouted by the Red Sox and Phillies. There are many snarky blog and web articles up today suggesting that Trump wouldn’t be able to throw a pitch without embarrassing himself, and that’s why he declined.  One article joked that he couldn’t hold a ball because of his “tiny hands.” Funny. It is likely that if the toxic, nation-rending hyper-partisanship and hate currently infecting the U.S. wasn’t being intentionally ramped up by “the resistance,” making the prospect of  a traditional first pitch by this President a looming public relations disaster and an excuse for more hatred and abuse, he would have acquitted himself well.

4. Baseball is a beautiful game that transcends politics and time. It allows fans to bask in a pastoral alternate universe with a long and fascinating history. The game is linked to fathers and kids, hot dogs, cow pastures, golden summer days and excited voices over the radio; the National Anthem, memories, and the United States of America. That’s where the President fit in, and before Democrats decided to smear the office because they didn’t like the office-holder, it was a good and mutually beneficial match. Now, thanks to their relentless efforts and the journalists and pundits assisting them, the President of the United States cannot even throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the baseball season without subjecting himself, and his office, and baseball, to vicious partisan ugliness.

5. An important part of the U.S. President’s role has always been purely symbolic and ceremonial. Democrats have succeeded in making fulfillment of that part of his job impossible for President Trump.

Shame on them.

32 thoughts on “President Trump Will Not Throw Out The First Ball Of The Baseball Season

  1. 1: Yes
    2: Supposition, and you’re assuming the scheduling conflict is a lie. Do you think this white house would casually lie to the American people? If yes, is that a cause to think ill of the president.
    3: Irreverent and currently infesting the US? Where have you been for the past eight years? Ever heard of the Tea Party?
    4: Democrats decided to smear the office? Do you remember the past eight years?
    5: Supposition based on number 3 and the man is not the office. If faced with Donald J Trump, I would stand, I would address him as Mr President if he deigned to address me, I would hold my tongue if he did not, and when either he or I departed I would thank him for his time. And I would still hate him and everything he did and said in 2016.

    If we were to assume an unfriendly crowd, why then not do it in San Diego or Houston? They have baseball, they’re Trump country, he’s clearly content to hop on a plane and leave the white house whenever and a phone call would get him the invite. If we were to assume an unfriendly crowd why would we assume it’s because of a political party? His pre-election behavior alone was enough to earn him disdain even from you.

    • “Supposition, and you’re assuming the scheduling conflict is a lie. Do you think this white house would casually lie to the American people? If yes, is that a cause to think ill of the president.”

      I think that if you ask the president how he’s doing today, he’ll sometimes say good — or even great! — when he actually doesn’t feel all that great.

      I think that he will sometimes speak positively about other politicians or public figures that he actually doesn’t know or like very much.

      I think he’ll tell people their homes or babies are beautiful even though they aren’t.

      And I think, if his reason for declining an invitation would be insulting or draw negative attention to an innocent third party, he’ll say there’s a scheduling conflict.

      In other words, I think that this white house will occasionally be polite. Less often than other administrations, of course… so I guess you’ll have less reason to think ill of them?

      Personally, I’ll take any instance of it as a reason to think better of them.

    • “Schedule conflicts” is firmly in the realm of socially acceptable white lies, and you know it. It would be nice if intractable Trump haters had some self-awareness when they trotted out blatant double standards. “Schedule conflicts” means “rather than insult you, I’m pretending that the event I’m declining was higher in my priority list—like, say, above organizing my Readers Digest atchive—than it really is. This isn’t “lying to the American people.” It’s called etiquette.

      You know that stupid TV ad about how great it would be if people said what they really were thinking? It wouldn’t be great. But by all means, ignore what you understand to take cheap shots at the White House.

      You also know there is neither comparison with GOP treatment of Obama with what is going on now, nor justification for the Democratic tantrum. I’ve documented it: you make yourself ridiculous by making statements like that. Plots to hijack the electoral college? Boycotts? Riots? Elected officials saying that the President isn’t legitimate? Absurd party-supported conspiracy theories? Across the board partisan voting on nominees? Impeachment talk in the first 100 days? A “resistance” pushed by both members of the defeated ticket? Embedded partisan lawyers breaching ethics rules to sabotage policies?

      Don’t peddle that tit-for-tat nonsense here. It’s a lie, or its ignorant and biased. Fact: Hillary and Democrats declared Trump’s (stupid ) statement that he might not accept the results of the election as unAmerican, irresponsible and treasonous, and then did exactly that themselves. It is a level of disruptive anti-Democratic irresponsible conduct never seen since George Wallace and the Southern governors in the late 50s and 60s, a total disgrace.

      Cut it out. This isn’t a partisan issue, it’s an ethical one. The justification is, and you know it, “Trump justifies suspending decency, fairness, civic responsibility and ethics.” Translation: “Keeping power for the Left justifies suspending decency, fairness, civic responsibility and ethics.” Despicable.

      Try winning with successful policies, competence, honest candidates, non-divisive rhetoric, tribal warfare, and without calling legitimate criticism racist, sexist and xenophobic.

      • “Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naïve, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as ’empty,’ ‘meaningless,’ or ‘dishonest,’ and scorn to use them. No matter how ‘pure’ their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best.”
        –Robert Heinlein

        Seems like better advice the older I get…

  2. Someone compared me to Mr. Hyde or a werewolf, so I have to make sure I’ve taken my potion before I respond. Unfortunately, the jerks win a lot more than a lot of us would like to admit, as every kid who took the long way home to avoid the class bully, every girl who didn’t attend dances because she was marginalized by the queen bees, and three quarters of people who quit jobs (75% of resignations are due to not getting along with one’s immediate supervisor) can testify to. In the past the grown-up culture of this country had moved past jerkiness, now it thrives on it.

    Part of it is the ease with which now anyone can say anything about anyone and have it cross cyberspace in the blink of an eye. Not only that, but now anyone with a couple of apps or Photoshop (if you spring for it) can easily make anyone look bad or create an image that can’t be unseen (I just got Photoshop, and a friend who serves me in the same role as Jiminy Cricket warned me to use it wisely and NOT to combine my photographic and rhetorical skills to cook up tasty, quickly digestible morsels of hate, bias, or disdain) . However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

    Another part of it is the mainstreaming of jerkiness. Late-night comics and mainstream comics used to do some political humor, political humor has been around since the beginning of this country, but usually it didn’t take the form of all-attack all-the-time the way it has lately. Heck, in the wake of 9/11 Saturday Night Live actually portrayed Donald Rumsfeld as being more patient than he needed to be with wacky media types. Now every late-night comic, more than a few mainstream news anchors, and a whole network (MSNBC) do nothing but attack, attack, attack, and their audiences cheer them on. They cheer them on because civility is disappearing everywhere else in life. You just have to scroll through your social media feed to see a half-dozen videos of someone acting like a jerk to someone going viral. Why should anyone swallow their pride and keep the peace when he can curse someone out or get physical and get his 15 minutes of fame? Meantime kids with cameras on their cell phones show even worse judgment.

    The last part of it is the intense political polarization in this country. I’ve talked about this a bunch of times, but the short version of it is that the line between the two political parties has been widening into a crack, then a chasm, and finally a canyon since the end of the Cold War. Now we’re reaching the point where it’s going to become a Biblical great gulf that no one can cross. We’re also reaching the point where political disagreement has become dislike, then despising, and now finally hatred. Neither side is completely blameless. Both parties have overreached, then retaliated, obstructed, and attacked. Bipartisanship is dead, and I think Gorsuch will, willingly or not, be the man who buries it. Once it’s buried, the next thing to go will be comity. Once that’s buried the ability to work together is next, and then the government will grind to a halt until one party or the other gets a supermajority.

    What’s more, no official will be able to appear where the other party holds sway, or even appear at all, without getting slimed. It’s too bad, because there are some important historical anniversaries coming up in the next few years, including in two months, when we will have the centennial of the US entering WWI. Next November we will have the centennial of the victory in WWI, and, by all rights, the President should be standing on the battlefield in Flanders or Picardy with the President of France and British and Belgian royalty, to give a rousing speech honoring the fallen and reminding the world a century later what it was all about. It should be a speech fit to stand next to Reagan’s speech on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. At least he should deliver one from the Capitol before the assembled military, including some in uniform of the time, and at the very least he should deliver one from the Oval Office. At this point I’m willing to bet he does none of the above. He won’t be able to go to Europe because the local security services won’t be able to guarantee his safety, and he won’t deliver one here because it’s just going to be one more chance for the opposition to throw mud. Pathetic, and disrespectful to our history and traditions. Then again, history and tradition mean nothing to the left unless they are their history and traditions.

  3. Jack,

    “Baseball is a beautiful game that transcends politics and time. It allows fans to bask in a pastoral alternate universe with a long and fascinating history. The game is linked to fathers and kids, hot dogs, cow pastures, golden summer days and excited voices over the radio; the National Anthem, memories, and the United States of America.”

    If you’re auditioning for the role of James Earl Ray in the next “Field of Dreams” reboot, you’re on point. If you’re speaking about the real world, you’re waxing a tad poetic. Baseball is a game. The tradition, history, and all those emotional goody-goodies you speak of are not inherent to the sport itself, but largely result from the place it’s taken up in American tradition. Millions of Americans in my generation and younger go to baseball games and all we feel is … boredom. Luckily, there are things in this era which hold the same sway over our (supposedly limited) attention spans and fill us with every bit the same amount of joy as watching people in uniforms run around in circles (diamonds).

    I don’t mean to belittle baseball itself or the role it’s played in this nation’s history. However, if Abner Doubleday had decided to re-appropriate some other sport, and some modified version of tennis was now the national pastime, I still feel confident the American spirit would nonetheless remain in tact. My experience with the game, like yours, is subjective. Moreover, though I realize you’re speaking from personal experience, that’s not necessarily the “ideal” experience or idea of baseball. If the sport died tomorrow, only to be replaced by Cricket or La Crosse, it would not turn the world upside down or cause the British to come marching back into Yorktown.

    This is only an observation that you seem to frequently bemoan the waning popularity of old musicals, cinematic classics, and cultural references and, while I’m sympathetic, they’re not necessarily symptomatic that American culture is going down the toilet. Every new tradition comes from some other tradition’s end, after all.

    Also, as a complete side-note, the President is a major dweeb and not someone I would want within spitting distance of any game I respected.

    • You’re wrong. I feel sorry for you. But its impossible to explain this to resolute philistines. Baseball is game, The wizard of Oz is just a movie, Moby Dick is a book, and love is just a pre-programmed hormonal reaction.

      I’ll just leave you with Roger Angell, who is much better than Jones, and expresses my feelings precisely:

      “It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitive as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look — I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”

      • Interesting exchange. I think we would lose something if we were essentially a nation of Vulcans, who felt no emotion at anything. Yet there is no explaining any of it. Either you feel something or you don’t. Generations of girls have broken into tears at the part in Little Women where Beth dies…and generations of boys have rolled their eyes at it as sloppy sentiment. Generations of fans have cheered as twenty-two men slam into each other to get a brown, oval-shaped ball…and generations of non-fans have shrugged at it as dumb. In 2015 thousands cheered and hundreds of military personnel from many nations saluted as 50+ vintage planes passed over the Mall to honor the 70th anniversary of WW2…and I have never been able to explain why to the nearest thing to a gf I have, who said that it was a waste of time and money at best, honoring mass murder at worst.

      • Jack,

        “You’re wrong.”

        Already we’re off to a bad start.

        “I feel sorry for you.”

        I hope you’re being a little tongue-in-cheek, because that sounds extremely condescending.

        “But its impossible to explain this to resolute philistines.”

        I’m not from Palestine, thank you, and nothing in your explanation answered my objection. Your argument is subjective on it’s face and in a court of law, it would be inadmissible hearsay. I didn’t suggest those who derived more from the game were wrong or misguided, only that their (your) experience isn’t (and need not be) universal. Besides, *I* hate the look (or tone) fans of any sport give when you they find out you aren’t one I know this look — I know it by heart, and it’s pretentious every time.

        “Baseball is game, The wizard of Oz is just a movie, Moby Dick is a book, and love is just a pre-programmed hormonal reaction.”

        Those are a lot of words you just put into my mouth. But, while we’re on the subject, yes — all of those things are what you said. The fact that we derive so much more from them speaks to the wonder of the human experience and what makes being alive fun. On the other hand, to argue (even in the abstract) that there’s something inherent to the things themselves borders on religious and philosophical nonsense. Especially when you seem to suggest those who don’t see what you see are less for the experience.

        I could go on for hours about the art, literature, and athletic pursuits that have made my life worth living, and likely you wouldn’t find value in most of them — does that make my mortality worth less than yours?

        • As I said, I feel sorry for you, just as I feel sorry for anyone who can’t enjoy Casablanca, Christmas, Gilbert and Sullivan, or oysters right out of the surf and sand. These, like baseball, are among the brilliant joys of life. It’s not condescending at all. I have something that has given me decades of fun, drama, wisdom and joy, as well as pain, but the good kind, the kind that deepens you and makes you appreciate the special moments even more. You can’t have any of this. I’m sorry. And you can’t even know what you’re missing.

          • I could say the same for you. There are lots of things in my life that bring me joy, but I don’t assume that mine are worth more than yours.

            Do you really believe yours are worth more? That your experience is worth more?

            • Sigh.

              You know, joyful things are not a zero sum game, Neil. You can have them all. The issue with baseball is ignorance, usually, or a lazy mind. Very, very few people who take the time to understand it are not hooked. In that it is like jazz, chess, John Wayne movies and Robert B. Parker.

              • Jack,

                “You know, joyful things are not a zero sum game, Neil.”

                We are not immortal, so yes, they are. The time I spend enjoying one thing is less time I have to enjoy something else. This is why people prioritize the things which bring them happiness.

                “The issue with baseball is ignorance, usually, or a lazy mind.”

                Or, they just don’t care. Even if you understand the intricacies, the strategy, and all the history, there are still those who have no interest in filling their heads up with such information. After all, to thoroughly love baseball would have required me to spend less time feeding the hungry, reading Les Miserables, or falling in love. You were able to squeeze baseball into your life; I wasn’t. I just don’t see how that makes me less for the experience, especially since I could point to countless things that you’ve never bothered with that have brought myself (and even lots of smart people) happiness and joy.

                None of this matters, by the way, as my ONLY point was that the wonderful things about baseball exist only to those who enjoy it or make the effort to (subjective experience). There is not some divine law or universal precedent which makes it wonderful.

                Finally, and I feel like you have to be intentionally ignoring me, how can I get in touch with you to apologize. Fourth time.


        • Philistines don’t come from Palestine. They come from Philistia, which was not the same thing. (I’ll see myself out now.)

          • Philistia is located in modern-day Palestine/Israel, depending on who you speak to. I was using the modern cadence for convenience.

            • Still no. Only part of those lands overlapped, and no one knows what exact borders there were, if any, to Philistine territories, therefore it’s pointless to describe them as the same place as Palestine.

              More to the point, the Philistines were probably Aegean Sea People, not related to Arabs at all, and there is no actual race of Palestinian people, whereas there were actual Philistines. The Philistines were never referred to as Palestinians as that term has only ever recently been used to describe any people group. Thus if someone calls you a Philistine in jest, and you say “I’m not from Palestine” it’s analogous to someone calling you an Indian Giver, and you replied, “I’m not from America.” (though the latter exchange would be more racist.)

  4. A nation of assholes. Indeed. 96% to 4%? Holy cow, as Harry Caray would say.

    “Scheduling conflict’ is a damnable lie? I guess “I have to shampoo my hair” was as well.

    Don’t presidents just toss a ball to a player on the field from the stands? People think Trump couldn’t do that?

    Bill Clinton was a notoriously bad golfer who would fabricate low scores. I had assumed Trump did the same but having seen his swing, I think he’s actually very athletic and may actually be a low handicap golfer. Come to think of it, I’m not sure the public has ever seen either of Bill Clinton’s or Barack Obama’s swings. Unlike Trump, I doubt either of them played as kids so they are not likely to ever be any good. But hey, they’re Dems, so they get a pass.

    A nation of assholes. I think that should replace “E Pluribus, Unum.”

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