July 15, 2009


All-Star Game proves national pastime a unifying event: Presidents, All-Stars remind us why America loves baseball (Phil Rogers, July 15, 2009, Chicago Tribune)

Wearing a White Sox jacket, blue jeans and sneakers, Obama softly tossed a pitch that Albert Pujols caught just as it was about to hit the ground in front of home plate.

As a pitch, it wasn't much. But as a symbolic gesture, this ceremonial pitch before the All-Star Game, a 4-3 American League victory on the strength of Curtis Granderson's eighth-inning triple and Adam Jones' sacrifice fly, spoke louder than the roar from the pregame flyover.

So, too, did the joy with which Obama carried himself for his few minutes on the green grass, when he greeted Stan Musial and other St. Louis Hall of Famers, at one point trading salutes with Lou Brock.

During his half-inning in the Fox television booth, Obama said that the experience was "such a reminder of what's great about our country."

In regard to its role within the framework of America, baseball gets it. And perhaps more to the point, America still gets baseball.

All five living presidents were happy to participate in a pregame video tribute honoring exceptional work in public service.

Bush was cheered so loudly by the crowd of 46,760 that his words were practically drowned out.

Okay, so that first pitch was a lollipop, suggesting a dangerous lack of testosterone and wearing a Sox jacket was a transparent way to pass off the booing (which shouldn't occur to begin with). The President nevertheless carried himself with class and got off one great self-deprecating line. When he was discussing why the NL is the inferior league with Tim McCarver and Joe Buck, the latter asked: But no bailout for the National League, right?

The President: We're out of money.

Meanwhile, that opening with all the presidents was very moving, but I was surprised by the depth of one reaction. First, Mr. Obama came on. He's a hard guy to not like, even if awfully hollow, and there's still a certain pride in electing our first black president. Then W, and he's done such a good job of leaving the stage to his successor that he already induces nostalgia. Then Bill Clinton and it's sort of like, hey, randy Uncle Billy showed up! Then GHWB and he seemed especially appropriate to the occasion, having played 1b at Yale, met Babe Ruth, and played in a Cracker Jack Old-Timers game. Then Jimmy Carter....and waves of revulsion....

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 15, 2009 6:14 AM
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