UPDATE (12:15 PM EDT): According to a report by Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga, The White House has declined the Nationals’ invitation for President Trump to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day:
Nats say the White House has declined invitation for President Trump to throw out ceremonial first pitch Opening Day.— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) March 28, 2017
White House has announced due to scheduling conflict, President Donald Trump will not be throwing out 1st pitch at Nats opener on Monday.— John Gonzalez (@ABC7John) March 28, 2017
*Original Story*: The Washington Nationals are reportedly in talks with President Donald Trump for the businessman-turned-politician to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day, next Monday, April 3rd, when the Nationals will start their season against the Miami Marlins.
Playbook’s Palm Beach correspondent Luke Russert sends in this dispatch: President Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nats Park on Opening Day. He also might spend an inning in the announcing booth with MASN. The Nats open the season next week against the Miami Marlins. Multiple White House aides did not reply to a request for comment.
FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported on this possibility back on March 9th, though it didn’t cause much of a stir in the nation’s capital at that point:
“While Orioles ownership has suggested it may not invite President Donald Trump to throw out the first ball, it is believed the Nats wouldn’t buck what’s for Washington a century-old trend (missing many years where there was no baseball). It wouldn’t be a political statement, but they are believed to look at throwing out the first ball as a presidential right. (Trump also claims to have been a pretty fair ballplayer in his day.)”
As Heyman mentions, and the Nationals note in this year’s Media Guide, if he were to throw out the ceremonial first pitch next week, President Trump would be the 14th sitting President to do so:
“13 U.S. Presidents have thrown the season’s ceremonial ﬁrst pitch at either a Nationals or Senators game since 1910...The 13 Commander in Chiefs to open the season with a ceremonial first pitch: William H. Taft (1910-11), Woodrow Wilson (1912, ‘14), Warren Harding (1921-22), CalvinCoolidge (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).”
Throwing out the first pitch at Nationals Park would be an interesting move for the current President.
President Trump would be facing a crowd in Nationals Park that, statistically speaking, voted overwhelmingly against him.
Most Nationals fans reside in the District of Columbia (where 90.48% of voters chose Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and Trump only received 4.07% of the vote), Maryland suburbs of the District (where Clinton also defeated Trump overwhelmingly) and Northern Virginia (where Clinton defeated Trump in counties such as Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax and Loudon by a considerable margin).
Although some fans/voters living in those areas may have preferred Trump, the data would suggest that many fans in the ballpark wouldn’t give the President a warm reception, which could deter President Trump from coming to the game simply from a PR and public image standpoint.
There’s also potential for some (less) serious controversy if Trump does indeed throw out the first pitch on Opening Day... because apparently he came out against the most controversial decision in recent D.C. baseball history: The Strasburg Shutdown.
Stephen Strasburg’s mid-September 2012 shutdown, in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, was a topic the current President weighed in on five years ago, and, of course, Strasburg will be the starting pitcher for the Nats next Monday:
When Strasburg leaves in a couple of years under free agency Washington will say " what were we doing".— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2012
Washington should have brought in Strasburg to relieve-- they would have won.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2012
So much for Washington shutting down Strasburg- they deserved to lose.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2012
When Strasburg leaves @Nationals for another team for more money, will Washington still like the decision to shut him down for his good?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2012
Strasburg, of course, did not end up leaving the nation’s capital for more money via free agency.
The 2009 No. 1 overall pick signed a 7-year/$175M extension with Washington last May, foregoing the opportunity to test the free agent market, and in doing so, he cited the Nationals’ treatment of him in 2012 as a motivating factor.
“As a competitor it was a very tough pill to swallow,” Strasburg said, when asked about the controversial shutdown decision, “but at the end of the day you have to really look at what their intentions are. I think their intentions are that it's an investment. They want me to be here pitching at a high level for a long time. Hopefully with this group of guys, we can have more opportunities to be in that spot again."
Even the best hot-take artists get it wrong sometimes...
[ed. note]: Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes inquired about the possibility of President Trump throwing out the first pitch:
Have asked Nationals about POTUS throwing out Opening Day first pitch, as Politico reports he might. As of Monday, were unwilling to comment— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) March 28, 2017