Baseball fans are used to various community figures throwing out the ceremonial first pitches a few minutes before the game starts. While me might not know much about the people throwing the pitch or agree with all of their politics (if their a politician), fans usually show respect towards the person who’s there making the throw. Even as someone who couldn’t stand President Bush, for instance, I had to admit that I was impressed by his arm after I saw him throw out a ceremonial first pitch on TV once. Based upon what I’ve heard from people who were there and was able to gather from the coverage of the game, that tradition was followed yesterday as there was an overwhelmingly response to President Obama throwing out the first pitch at Nationals’ Park. A lot of people even got a kick out of him wearing a Nationals jacket and then whipping out his Chicago White Sox hat before making his throw.
Since presidents have been throwing out the first pitch at baseball games for generations (especially when we actually had a team in DC), this is simply a unique opportunity for fans to show their respect for the office of the presidency and for a game filled with tradition. That’s why I was honestly quite surprised when I saw that there were a number of right wingers who were using this as an opportunity to bash Obama. When a baseball blogger for the Washington Post reported that it was a “roughly 90 percent” positive response to Obama, for instance, the right tried to hijack the post and spin it as though this was the media supposedly trying to do anything to make Obama look good. Here’s what someone using the name “Thomas Payne” had to say about it.
Fortunately, there were a number of people who made the point that not everything had to be political and that it was simply wrong for his critics to be trying to spread their hatred in reaction to Obama’s appearance. As one person who referred to himself as “Lefty McLefterson” put it, he “did clap for President on Opening Day in Nationals Park […] because the president came to our ballpark as a guest.” Others insisted that baseball was a game where we could all come together and put politics aside.
Although I think there is definitely room to speak about baseball and American culture, I agree with the sentiments that the attempts to turn a blatantly non-political discussion into a thread of hate filled comments that bash the president is simply unacceptable. In my opinion, it’s simply a shame that there are some people out there who are filled with so much anger that they have to promote it whenever they see even a remote opportunity to do so.