Donald Trump was booed by Washington Nationals fans at Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday, and now, a pitcher from the champions is expressing his dismay with the President of the United States as well.
The Nationals came back to win the World Series against the Houston Astros earlier in the week, taking a wild seven game series in which the road team won every game. A champion in any league brings up the apparently dreaded intersection of sports and politics in America, as the winning team then debates whether to visit the White House and go through the pomp and circumstance of meeting with POTUS, exchanging personalized jerseys and jokes and whatnot.
For NBA teams since Trump took office, that’s been out of the question, with a number of public blowups about the issue basically rendering an invite nonexistent and no question about whether teams will visit or not. But in other sports, including baseball, that question isn’t as clear. The Boston Red Sox, World Series champions in 2018, visited with a number of prominent players missing, as well as manager Alex Cora.
That appears to be the track that the Nationals will follow, as a visit is likely coming but may not include some notable names. The first of those appears to be Sean Doolittle, a reliever for the team who was instrumental in overcoming a 3-2 series deficit. Doolittle told The Washington Post that he’d like to go celebrate with his teammates but can’t see himself going to “hang out” with a person like Trump.
“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. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we’ve done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the ‘shithole countries,’ ” Doolittle said, referring to Trump’s comments about Haiti, El Salvador and African nations in a January 2018 meeting.
“At the end of the day, as much as I wanted to be there with my teammates and share that experience with my teammates, I can’t do it,” Doolittle continued. “I just can’t do it.”
Doolittle, an apparent member of the Democratic Socialists of America, went into great detail about how he’s weighed the issue, which he said was surprisingly difficult for him. He wants to celebrate with the team, especially given that things can change over the offseason. But he can’t morally bring himself to appear to support Trump, saying “I feel very strongly about his issues on race relations” and other controversies that have occurred during his presidency.
“I want to show support for them. I think that’s an important part of allyship, and I don’t want to turn my back on them,” Doolittle said. “I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked, or the way that he moves his hands? I can’t get past that stuff.”
Doolittle made it clear that, at the end of the day, he came to the conclusion that going to the White House enables Trump, something he couldn’t bring himself to do.
“People say you should go because it’s about respecting the office of the president,” Doolittle said. “And I think over the course of his time in office he’s done a lot of things that maybe don’t respect the office.”
“The rhetoric, time and time again, has enabled those kind of behaviors,” Doolittle continued, referring to racism and white supremacy. “That never really went away, but it feels like now people with those beliefs, they maybe feel a little bit more empowered. They feel like they have a path, maybe. I don’t want to hang out with somebody who talks like that.”
The move is sure to get people riled up, especially given how these sort of things tend to blow up once a decision has been made. But Doolittle seems pretty confident he made the right choice.
“I don’t want to get mad online, as they say,” he said. “I want people to know that I put thought into this and, at the end of the day, I just can’t go.”