Donald Trump! The World Series! They’re the two biggest things happening right now, and since Trump doesn’t like to be elbowed out of the spotlight, they could be on an inevitable collision-course.
Will POTUS start a feud with another sports league? Will the MLB draw his ire with football-like anthem protests? Does Melania have any idea what baseball is?? We set the odds on all these pressing questions, and focus very little on actual baseball, below.
The President doesn’t usually go to the World Series. The last time a president attended, it was seven weeks after 9/11, and George W Bush wore a bulletproof vest onto the field as he threw out the first pitch. However, this isn’t a normal presidency, by any measure.
The president isn’t the biggest fan of his job, but he really likes travelling and ceremonial displays of his office. He’s also something of a baseball fan, having played first base while a student at New York Military Academy and by all accounts impressing other players and scouts. Couple all that with Houston’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey and it seems plausible that the president would show up for a game in Houston.
Sure, it could happen! Again, the Astros making the World Series just weeks after not being able to play in their stadium on account of a hurricane is the kind of inspiring story that politicians love to stand next to and absorb through osmosis. Pence’s odds are shorter than Trump’s because his role seems to be entirely ceremonial. If the president can’t make it, it seems very likely the VP could make the trip.
Highly unlikely. Players don’t usually kneel in baseball, which is the only reason Trump would walk out, and while he talks a big game about packing-your-things-and-leaving, it’s unclear if he would hold himself to the same standard.
Again, not likely, but more likely than Trump. Pence walked out of an Indianapolis Colts game in protest of players kneeling in protest, and the response from the GOP base was broadly positive. Travelling to sporting events and walking out could become his schtick, like getting booed at musicals was shortly after the election.
Buying a baseball team is a huge transaction, the likes of which Donald Trump has likely never done in his life. You can’t license your name to a baseball team and have somebody else build and run it.
Pittsburgh Pirates: 4/1
New York Yankees: 6/1
Miami Marlins: 8/1
Donald Trump owning the Miami Marlins would have been a perfect marriage of franchise and owner. The big, ridiculous home run statue would have been replaced with a bigger, more ridiculous home run statue.
Well, his Yankees were denied a spot in the World Series and with his feud with Justin Verlander still at a low boil, a disappointing outing for the Astros’ ace could spark some kind of dumb tweetstorm about how Verlander’s a bum. Also, the GOP is trying to pass tax reform this week, which means that the big man is going to lash out at someone to get a little attention back on himself.
If the Yankees had come through in the ALCS, it would have been almost immediately. For now, though, the World Series will have to find some way to be a talking point on Fox and Friends, the president’s #1 source of material. Striking out against baseball would be a classic weekend tweet for the president, and an early morning one at that. Set the Over/Under at Saturday morning.
There’s that feud with Justin Verlander, but Kike Hernandez is the most likely to draw the ire of the president, both for reasons discussed below and reasons we’d rather not get into.
Donald Trump isn’t known for his sensitivity, but lashing out against a Hurricane stricken community while they’re still in the process of rebuilding seems excessive, even for him. Or wait.
Melania knows what baseball is, she visited Steve Scalise in hospital after he was shot at a GOP baseball practice.
Kind of an outside shot, because kneeling isn’t common in baseball and players won’t want to be perceived as a distraction from the task at hand. With all eyes on the World Series, however, some socially-conscious player may be too tempted by the spotlight, particularly if Donald Trump or Mike Pence are in attendance in liberal La-La Land.
Less likely, nobody has problems with those amber waves of grain.
If only to protest the brutally exploitative peanuts and crackerjacks industry.
Kike Hernandez (Dodgers): 3/1
Justin Verlander (Astros): 9/2
Brandon McCarthy (Dodgers): 6/1
Jose Altuve (Astros): 8/1
Justin Turner (Dodgers): 10/1
George Springer (Astros): 15/1
Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell was the only Major League player to kneel during the national anthem this season, and that’s unlikely to change during the World Series. However, if anyone does take a knee, we believe it will be Justin Verlander, who may kneel just to spite Donald Trump. POTUS has criticized Verlander on Twitter in the past, belittling his postseason ERA and calling him “very beatable.” Those sound like fighting words, and they could prompt a protest if The Donald dares to attend a World Series game.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 1/3
Houston Astros: 3/1
Los Angeles doesn’t just bleed Dodger blue, it also bleeds Democrat blue. The city was a major stronghold for Hilary Clinton during the Presidential election, and resulted in one of the most decisive victories of her entire campaign. It’s unlikely every player on the Dodgers is a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party, but they can’t help but be swayed by the pervasive political vibe of the city. If any team kneels during the anthem (and that’s a very big if), it will be L.A.
Dave Roberts (Dodgers): 2/3
A.J. Hinch (Astros): 3/2
It’s really just a matter of when, not if, Dave Roberts or A.J. Hinch is asked about the prickly topic of player protests. Roberts has already been very vocal about his stance on the subject, telling reporters that he would “have a problem” with players kneeling since his father “served this country for 30 years.” Roberts has encouraged players to think long and hard about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, before using the game as a platform to air their grievances. Given his well-documented views on the subject, it makes sense that he’ll be questioned about the topic again by an eager young reporter.
Kneeling is certainly a trending topic, but we don’t anticipate that Roberts or Hinch will be inundated with questions about player protests prior to the first game of the series. It’s far more likely they’ll be asked to field questions about line-ups, pitching match-ups, and player health.
That would be a surefire way to create controversy, something that baseball is allergic to.
Protest t-shirts have become commonplace in the NBA, where players like LeBron James and Chris Paul have used them to raise awareness about a wide spectrum of important political issues. However, they’re far less common in baseball, where players typically toe the corporate line. Expect that trend to continue during the waning days of October.
Spit in the air at a Dodgers game and you’ll hit a local politician angling for some free screen time. Less so for Houston, but the World Series quickly becomes a who’s who.
Spectators getting hit with a foul ball is surprisingly common. According to a lawsuit from 2000, a spectator is hit with a foul ball at Fenway Park every three or four games, which would make somebody getting hit not just plausible but probable. The odds of that person being a politician of some kind are roughly 20/1, because everyone at a World Series game is either a city councillor or a state senator or there with someone who is.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 3/7
Houston Astros: 7/3
In addition to playing in a blue city in a blue state, the Dodgers also have a significant number of players who have publicly clashed with Donald Trump. Utilityman Kike Hernandez has questioned the President’s humanity, reliever Brandon McCarthy has mocked his response to the violence in Charlottesville, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez refused to stay at the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago during the 2016 NLCS. Given their dissent, it seems far more likely that the Dodgers would skip out on a trip to the White House than the Astros.
Kike Hernandez (Dodgers): 7/2
Brandon McCarthy (Dodgers): 5/1
Justin Verlander (Astros): 7/1
No player has been more critical of Donald Trump than Dodgers utilityman Kike Hernandez. The Puerto Rico native was deeply offended by the President’s lighthearted actions during his trip to his hurricane-ravaged homeland and shared his views in no uncertain terms. “This is serious. This is not a joke,” Hernandez said at the time. “To see him throw paper towels out there like those people are inferior. … It’s like going to Vegas right now and starting to throw Band-Aids to the public, you know?” Hernandez further admonished the President, telling him to “Show some humanity. Show some heart.”
If the Dodgers do indeed win the World Series, it’s easy to imagine Hernandez skipping out on the team’s subsequent trip to the White House.
Trump is a huge fan of un-inviting teams and players who weren’t going to come anyway, as he did with the Golden State Warriors. If the Dodgers make a big hoopla about not wanting to go, he’ll pre-empt them, because this is all middle-school birthday party politics.
Unless the Astros do something truly remarkable, starting a feud with Houston after Hurricane Harvey just seems unnecessarily hostile.
It’s the World Series! Everyone wants the attention of the TV cameras and the millions of eyeballs behind them. Halloween places are selling Donald Trump masks like nothing else. Minute Maid stadium does not allow costume masks through the bag check, but Dodgers stadium does, and how thorough are those bag checks, anyway?
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