The Washington Nationals were given a very warm welcome to the White House on Monday. President Trump quite literally embraced the team that won their World Series title just five days prior. Trump gave catcher Kurt Suzuki in a bear hug in a moment of celebration on the South Lawn.
It is not a hidden fact that 7 out of 25 players declined to appear at the White House with their teammates, and speculators say it’s due to how incredibly political sports have become.
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Trump embraces Suzuki pic.twitter.com/Bh9Fm48Jy9
— Neil Greenberg (@ngreenberg) November 4, 2019
Suzuki received the president’s affection when he took to the lectern on the South Portico of the White House at Trump’s invitation and donned a red “Make America Great Again” hat, raising his arms as the president hugged him from behind. The moment came before a crowd of more than 1,000 on a sunny fall afternoon and punctuated an unlikely season for a team that won a seven-game series over the Houston Astros last week. It was also perhaps a measure of vindication for a president who was booed by the home crowd at Nationals Park when he attended Game 5.
But even as most of the players joined Trump, several thanking him for the invitation, seven of the 25 players on the active roster for the World Series were absent, most of them minorities. Relief pitcher Sean Doolittle, who is white, had declared publicly last week that he would opt out over objections to Trump’s rhetoric and policies. All-star third baseman Anthony Rendon, outfielders Victor Robles and Michael A. Taylor and pitchers Javy Guerra, Joe Ross and Wander Suero also were not present.
Their absence appeared to mark the latest example of the highly politicized nature of such sports ceremonies during Trump’s tenure. Several teams have declined to visit the White House, and others, including the 2018 World Series-winning Boston Red Sox, have been sharply divided. Most of Boston’s minority players opted out during a ceremony in the spring.