Major League Baseball’s opening night saw the Washington Nationals host the New York Yankees last Thursday, in what turned out to be a rain-shortened beginning to a pandemic-shortened season. To open the festivities in the otherwise empty Nationals Park, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institutes of Health, threw out the first pitch to a rather disastrous result, as the pitch scuttled well short and wide of the plate.
Ahead of that game, the president spoke on ESPN and claimed he would be throwing out the first pitch at a Yankees home game on August 15. However, according to the New York Times, neither the Yankees nor the White House had planned on him throwing out the first pitch on that date, as he was apparently incensed over Fauci getting the nod in Washington and decided to make that proclamation on his own.
There was one problem: Mr. Trump had not actually been invited on that day by the Yankees, according to one person with knowledge of Mr. Trump’s schedule. His announcement surprised both Yankees officials and the White House staff.
But Mr. Trump had been so annoyed by Dr. Fauci’s turn in the limelight, an official familiar with his reaction said, that he had directed his aides to call Yankees officials and make good on a longtime standing offer from Mr. Levine to throw out an opening pitch. But no date was ever finalized.
What resulted was a scramble drill from Yankees PR as well as the White House, with the result ultimately being Trump saying he had to cancel his appearance to throw out the first pitch due to needing to continue spending time on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has killed over 140,000 Americans. In the end, Giancarlo Stanton’s response when asked about it of “That’s in August. We don’t need to worry about that right now,” turned out to be prescient — both in the swift cancellation by Trump and also the fact that baseball’s season lasting that long now seems in serious jeopardy amid an outbreak on the Miami Marlins.
The Times piece outlines the contentious relationship between Trump’s administration and Fauci, which has led to the nation’s top expert on epidemiology being marginalized at a time when the country has failed to mitigate the virus’ spread in the way nearly every other country has through sweeping national protocols and lockdowns.