Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Nationals Fans Didn’t Stick To Sports

Photo: Rob Carr (Getty Images)

Well, that went well, didn’t it? Donald Trump went to a baseball game, he got booed, the home team got hammered again, and the ratings are still, well, the ratings. 

But Major League Baseball can at least take some solace in the fact that Trump didn’t go to Twitter after Game 5 and condemn all Nationals fans, or call manager Davey Martinez a fraud, or bring up the ratings, or make some snotty remarks about the members of the postgame show, or call Lance Barksdale’s work behind the plate in Game 5 fake news, or promote Rob Drake to be Secretary of the Interior. The president came, he made some faces that photographers like to catch, and then he went back to whatever it is he calls work.

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In other words, Rob Manfred and all his associated employers, employees, wizards and sub-wizards ducked one this time—so far—after a week in which they caught everything flush on the mush.

(That this post doesn’t contain a heaping helping of political vitriol isn’t “sticking to sports” any more than inviting the president to a game, playing the national anthem, “God Bless America,” or the flyover is sticking to sports. Nobody sticks to sports, ever. The point here is simple: Not “sticking to sports,” as in Prez Don and the reaction to it, went well. Okay, well enough. Okay, not horribly. Baseball will take that.)

The series? Well, that’s another story. The Houston Astros, who have the best team of all the best teams, beat the Nationals as though they all had the papier-mache heads of the racing presidents, taking the fun of a potentially entertaining series and turning it into a time-delayed rout. Astros fans have stopped fretting about Games 1 and 2; Nationals fans have stopped thinking Games 1 and 2 were anything but an anomaly; and Mattress Mack is off oxygen and walking the hospital corridors like he will survive. In other words, no surprises here.

But Sunday could have been a nightmare of galactic proportions. Disapproval generally does not reach our president without a Twitter-based response of minimal thought and quality, and the boos and chants would have set him off under normal circumstances. His silence must then be noted, whether some aide stole his social devices, convinced him he has bigger fish to be struck by in the coming weeks, or he just went home and fell asleep, even though Game 5 was the fastest of the series to date. I do not come to praise him here, just to note that he hasn’t made the vibe around the series measurably worse than it already has been. And this isn’t really about his informational choices; I mean, he was there, right?

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Sure, he could rally, but I’m taking the quiet as a sign that the baseball season will end with a wince rather than a shriek. In these mostly hideous times, that’s a scoreless draw, a 1-0 loss at worst. The NFL and NBA felt his typing wrath, so if baseball avoided the shrapnel, baseball won.

Maybe not Leicester beating Southampton, 9-0, but a hell of a lot better than Southampton losing to Leicester, 0-9.

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Ray Ratto wishes baseball teams asked only children and amiable vagrants to sit in the suites. Baseball is really no place for adults.

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