Rather than visiting President Donald Trump Monday at the White House, the World Series Champion Washington Nationals should have stuck to sports.
They should have known the fans who jeered the president at World Series Game 5 would be harmed.
The Trump-supportive actions of Kurt Suzuki and Ryan Zimmerman shredded the Nationals' generation of goodwill and harmed those who oppose this president.
These are the negative reactions of WTOP FM sports editor Noah Frank, in his story, "Maybe the Nationals should have stuck to sports."
Frank admits his headline is a joke because so much in sports now is political, and the team's championship celebration was "as political as it gets," he writes. "The Nats were clearly unprepared for the ramifications of their actions, on a fan base still reveling in their unexpected World Series title."
Which actions? Frank is appalled that Suzuki, the team's catcher, came to the podium wearing a Make America Great Again hat and drew a hug from President Trump. He's disgusted that Zimmerman (see photo), the face of the franchise, delivered "careless remarks" that echoed President Trump's campaign slogan and thanked him for “keeping everyone here safe in our country.” Frank says "a good many people have serious grounds to contest."
Monday was a sad day for fans who learned the painful truth that some of their baseball heroes have harmful, conservative convictions (and a sad day for media who mistakenly think that being a pro athlete is synonymous with being a lefty):
"This much was always going to be true: A lot of fans were going to learn something they didn’t want to learn about their heroes. Still, for some, Monday’s display unnecessarily shredded a generation’s worth of goodwill for no good reason.
"The whole idea of everyone being able to have different beliefs without any backlash rests on a faulty assumption that the political manifestation of those beliefs aren’t actively harmful to others. But even the incredibly sheltered life of a ballplayer — in which your peers range from somewhat to incredibly famous, and somewhat to incredibly rich — is no excuse, given what just happened at Nats Park."
Frank says Zimmerman should have known better, that he's either oblivious or willfully ignoring how Trump's policies have affected millions who don’t look like him, "One implication is worse than the other, but they’re both problematic." Frank accuses Zimmerman of basically cutting a campaign ad just a year before the 2020 election.
So Suzuki and Zimmerman are free express their beliefs, but are also fair game for those who detest Trump? Does anyone recall sports media saying this of LeBron James, who was approached at a White House visit to do a PSA for Obamacare?
At Game 5 of the World Series, Washington fans booed the president and chanted "lock him up." But none of that was harmful. None of it shredded goodwill.
Frank gives a pass to the eight Nationals who weren't in attendance Monday at the White House. He wants to know why, if the district's baseball team represents its local Democrat fans, weren't the others made to justify their presence. Though we didn't hear this kind of media talk when former President Barack Obama was cozying up to his jock friends, a White House invite now gives the resident an opportunity "to glean some shine off the accomplishments of others, and tap into the goodwill and joy that only sports bring."
The Nationals surely had to know what many of their fans think of this president who's hated by many in the media as well. "To visit the White House now made no sense, except for a president trying to bury that (Game 5 anti-Trump) moment," Frank complained. The team should have visited Trump in the spring.
The damage is done, and D.C.'s celebration of a baseball championship was spoiled, Frank contends, "But willingly standing with a deeply divisive president for a photograph, a jersey presentation, and using the power of your accomplishments in service of political power amid a citywide celebration was something the team probably should have thought about beforehand."