It’s a small thing, sure. But it’s also a really big small thing. The president refuses to step up and do the one symbolic thing that presidents have done for more than a century. To be a kid again. To stop and hear the crowd’s collective whisper shiver to a roar. To walk inches above the earth in the somehow freeing confines of a perfect diamond. To help us realize, together, we can make it better and keep it going…because tradition and sanctity and, well, because that’s what we do.
Donald Trump can’t throw a baseball.
Our current president. Cannot. Throw. A baseball.
Maybe he never has.
Maybe he can’t even lift one, doesn’t know how to hold it, is curious whether it just got hurt—why all the stitches?
Maybe he’d have too tough a time explaining to Vlad why he took time off from pushing Mother Russia’s agenda to “throw little white ball into little brown glove.”
Trump certainly never had a Ray Kinsella catch with his father and passed that no ball-throwing tradition on to his sons. I mean, look at him. Look at them. There’s no way Don Jr. and Don Jr. Jr. could ever even grip a ball what with their hair dripping like that.
…That said, I’m sure Ivanka can crank it up past 80, though husband Jared probably won’t allow himself to be on the receiving end anymore because “it stings. It stings so hard.”
It’s a devastatingly sad day when your president refuses to throw out the first pitch—especially during his first term, especially when he sites a “scheduling conflict” which I guess means Judge Judy is on immediately following Fox & Friends or he’s going to try to squeeze in an additional 18 at Trump International West Palm on Monday.
Besides Jimmy Carter, who didn’t believe in stepping on grass because it too is a living thing, every president since William Howard Taft has thrown out a first pitch on Opening Day at some point during their tenure.
Trump’s decision not to, like everything else during his first three months, is patently un American. It exposes the fact that someone who talks so tough is held together with spittle flecks and gristle probably would have difficulty scale to the top of the mound without requiring assistance. And certainly that would be the first rubber he’d ever touched.
The boos in a town where he has a less than 4-percent approval rating would be overwhelming, deafening—enough to send the stadium into a Candlestick Park-sized seismic conniption. But he shouldn’t worry about that. All those polls that say nobody likes him are fake anyway.
To be clear, the humiliation that would take place if he attempted to throw a ball 60 feet six inches Opening Day would do something to continue the narrative of the Muslim Ban, the American Health Care Act and trying to convince us to pay for a southern border wall nobody wants or needs. It would simply be yet another counter-narrative to whatever bloviated bluster he’s fooled a vocal and hopeless minority into believing, sorta.
Since we’ll never see him throw a first pitch, I’m going to venture a guess that it would—in form and function—be something akin to the first pitch of Monique Evans (2014 Miss Texas) but with less flash on the follow-through:
To be clear, Obama couldn’t pitch for shit either. He rolled out of the dugout in his Dad Haggars and threw the biggest Eephus ever prior to a Nats game in 2010 (wearing his airport-bought ChiSox hat no, less…at least they’re in opposing leagues.) But look at the way he runs out of the clubhouse, greets everyone with open arms and mouth agape, takes in the adulation and the joy of spring. The gangly southpaw made us all feel like the unlikely child selected from the crowd.
George W. Bush, whose own father was a starting first baseman at Yale, threw what is perhaps the most important presidential first pitch in US history. Hell, they made a mini-documentary about his ceremonial turn on the mound for the first game played at Yankee Stadium after 9/11. It was a brave thing, a ballsy thing, an essentially presidential thing to do.
…And he fucking stood all the way up on the actual rubber, not the first-pitch pretend one, and threw a strike, knee high over the outside corner.
Because that’s what throwing a first pitch is about. It’s about being there. It’s about stepping up on the mound, the top of the mound, and looking at the crowd. It’s about their belief in you and yours in them.
It’s about glancing down at the shoe tops and taking that breath, holding it and firing with abandon. It’s about showing that you’re the man, under pressure with everyone’s gazed fixed: those who agree with you, mightily, those who disagree with you, courageously. Those who are cheering and those who are arm’s crossed in doubt. It’s everyone. It’s everything. It’s all of us.
It’s about taking the energy of a sell-out crowd who are boiling over with the promise of something new, something good and building on it.
You’re our leader. You’re our President for Chrissakes.
Act like one. For once. For once in your spoiled and ultimately small little life, do something to make us believe. Do something to make us want to listen. Do something to show you’re human. Hell, bounce the ball like a pebble across a still lake and shrug. Just show up. For once in your life, Jesus Christ, just do something that makes you vulnerable, that makes you a person. Do something to make us believe.
But you won’t. You won’t even try.
Because for many reasons, more than I care to know, you can’t throw a baseball Mr. President.
And it breaks my heart.