My President is Baseball

Yesterday I had the pleasure of watching the first six innings of the Major League Baseball All Star Game held in St. Louis before I had to retire due to my early work schedule. (I went to bed when after the score was tied 3-3, but I was told that the American League added to their string of All Star Game wins they have been piling on since 1996.) The highlight of the game came in those early innings despite not seeing the outcome of the Midsummer Night Classic. President Barack Obama was on hand during the festivities honoring the best that MLB had to offer, and there were several things that stood out to me, although I admit that they were also completely superficial.

The first thing that I noticed was that President Obama seemed to have genuine knowledge of the baseball players when he was filmed in the locker room meeting the players before the game. The President knew popular players by name and jested that New York Yankees all star Derek Jeter was always a favorite player of his, implying that the second baseman must now be considered an old timer in the clubhouse. Barack’s remarkable wit extended far beyond just flattery when Seattle Mariners center fielder Ichiro Suzuki appeared in awe when asking for a Presidential autograph when he departed with the comment, “here you go, Hall of Famer” before handing him the signed baseball. It is one thing to know the players in the big time markets in baseball (i.e. Jeter in NY) and another thing completely to have enough of an understanding of the history of the game to discern a big time player in smaller market.

For your information, the President is completely correct in his premature assessment and Ichiro will likely have the numbers to get elected when he finally retires. Students of MLB know that Suzuki’s stolen bases, batting average, and total number of hits has probably already put him on a path towards Cooperstown, but it is shocking to realize that President Obama knows that. I’ll put it to you another way, former president George W. Bush probably didn’t even know that and at one point he was the owner of a MLB team. I won’t even mention the fact that The W has had a lot of time of his hands recently –even if he was curious enough to figure it out. Baseball knowledge isn’t something that you can fake in America. Try it, if you dare. Americans invented the game and have become diligent stewards of entrenching the history into Americana.

Baseball is a seemingly benign subject until you realize that some Americans follow the sport feverishly, to the point of being completely maniacal and obsessed with accuracy. (I only count myself as someone who is mildly interested and I go to no less than 50 live MLB games every season.) The fact that a person should speak comprehensibly, without being prompted, on domestic and foreign policy can be reasonably expected when your job is being the President of the United States of America. What President Obama did was above and beyond the call because he was able to speak intelligibly, off-the-cuff, about baseball and once more, he managed to hold his own. During the ceremonial first pitch, Obama didn’t take the pansy way out and cheat the fans out of amazement, or a good laugh, by shortening his throw by tossing from that nether region between home plate and the front of the pitchers mound. There would be no Little League grass lob from the left-hander hailing from Hawaii despite the fact that he didn’t even play baseball growing up.

President Barack Obama isn’t afraid of a little dirt, and he didn’t appear to be overly concerned with failure or the grumbling din of boos when he charged out to the mound in St. Louis donning a Chicago White Sox warm-up. (Okay, maybe he trotted a little, rather than charged, and he might have waved to the crowd instead of acting like a relief pitcher.) Our President represented America’s favorite pastime well, while at the same time resisting the temptation to conform his apparel in some half-hearted attempt to hide his individuality or love for his personal favorite team. When President Barack Obama started his pitch motion wind-up it was a little awkward at first seeing him struggle with proper baseball mechanics, but the ball still made it to Albert Pujols’ glove for a strike. It is easier written than done, folks. Somehow, the man is able to make a way. I don’t know about you all but President Barack Obama sure made an impression on me at the game and it intimates at his knack for grander successes. I mean the man even spent time in the booth commentating the game and gave an interview with Bob Costas, afterwards –just like a true All Star. What can I say? Winners have a habit of winning.

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