The Donald will not be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for the Nationals’ baseball season this year.
Big deal. There are more important things to worry about, like his systematic destruction of the EPA, the selling of your internet privacy, the fact that his campaign almost certainly colluded with Russia and Republicans in Washington seem perfectly happy to look the other way.
But for an image-conscious president (and the DT is nothing if not image-conscious), this bloody well is a big deal.
Throwing out the first pitch is just another in a long line of Things Presidents Do that Donny has given the middle finger to. His staff says he’s busy, which is weak tea. When you ask somebody out and they say, “sorry, I’m washing my hair that night,” you know there will be no hair-washing that night. Of course he’s busy. The president — and put aside the tepid list of his accomplishments thus far — is always busy. But you make time for things that matter, things that remind the country you’re a person, things which are symbolic. Which is why presidents have been doing This Thing for a century.
Baseball? The national pastime? As American as baseball? Nah. He’s busy.
I’ll put aside petty personal jabs about whether or not he could even get the ball across the plate (though for the record, my assessment there is: doubtful — tiny hands and all). The real reason?
He’d get booed.
Mercilessly. For an extended period. By a stadium full of people. On national TV.
Not by everybody, to be sure. There would be Trump fans in attendance. But a baseball game isn’t a Trump rally; he wouldn’t be insulated from the people who can’t stand him if he stepped out into the unfiltered masses of a ball game. He’d be stepping out of the warm, pillowy bubble of support that he lives in and going out into the harsh reality of the world.
He knows what his approval ratings are, even if he calls them fake news.
For Trump, it’d be stepping out into the desert.
He knows that if he steps onto that field and takes that mound, he’d be met with a chorus of boos unlike anything he’s ever heard in his life. And he can’t have it. His massive ego would blow out like the Snoopy balloon at the Macy’s parade. The narrative that “real Americans” support DT would unravel like a Christmas sweater the moment he met some real real Americans at a baseball game. Because unlike a Trump rally, a baseball game actually represents a pretty decent cross-section of a community.
And getting booed on a massive scale like that would shatter him, and shatter the cocoon he’s spun around himself.
Supporters can make all the excuses they want — this doesn’t matter, he has bigger fish to fry, etc — and they’re right, in writing. In the scheme of things, what this thing literally is doesn’t matter. But we also have to face reality.
Things always mean things, and it’s a “ceremonial” first pitch for a reason. This could be a humanizing moment for him. Symbols have that kind of power. Just being there would do wonders for his image, and who cares how the actual pitch goes? Obama’s was terrible, and he got booed, but he took it like a man. It’s not about the pitch, it’s about the moment, the optics. DT could do the same thing. Show some humility, some appreciation, some willingness to actually connect with people. Do a Thing Presidents Do instead of just letting Bannon take a dump in a blender and then turning the blender on in the middle of our democracy.
But no thanks. He’s busy.
And, come on. Odds are he couldn’t do worse than some of the worst first pitches in history.