Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo responded Monday to the complaints from some fans about his team’s decision to visit the White House after winning the World Series.
The Nationals came away victorious in a winner-take-all Game 7 against the Houston Astros on Oct. 30.
The following Monday, the team visited the White House and met with President Donald Trump, sparking outrage among some on the left.
Many liberals were particularly incensed by Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki, who donned a “Make America Great Again” hat and got a hug from Trump.
I love you all. Thank you Mr. President,” Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki says, putting on a “Make America Great Again” hat and prompting an awkward hug from Pres. Trump. https://t.co/35Zg7cQ9nU pic.twitter.com/3wmyPJdrAM
— ABC News (@ABC) November 4, 2019
Not everyone was as excited as Suzuki. A list compiled by WRC-TV revealed that 18 players from the Nationals’ 40-man roster opted out of the White House visit.
Among the more vocal players who chose not to go was relief pitcher Sean Doolittle, who said he didn’t want to go because “my wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance.”
Whether to attend was each player’s choice, Rizzo told USA Today.
“Obviously, each player could make their own decision whether they wanted to attend, but most of the players were excited by it,” he said.
The Nationals general manager said he viewed the trip to the White House as apolitical.
“We weren’t trying to make a political statement, whatsoever,’’ Rizzo said. “We just thought that the honor and the tradition of champions being invited to the White House and the office of the president, and especially us being the hometown team in their backyard two miles away from the capital, is something that should be done.”
Rizzo went on to emphasize that making the trip was about respecting the office of the president.
“The office of the president is something that we respect,” Rizzo said “We felt we should be there. We also felt we should do it with everyone still in town there, or not do it at all.”
And he indicated that no matter what the team had decided to do, there would have been controversy.
“You’re in a situation where you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” Rizzo said.
“I don’t have a political bone in my body,” he said. “I vote for who I want. I don’t care what the party is. I vote every election. I’m listed as an Independent. My dad was a city worker in the city of Chicago for 45 years. We voted Democrat for the [Richard] Daleys a lot. I voted Republican sometimes.”
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