The Washington Nationals were in a precarious public relations position after they won the World Series.
No, no one fell off a parade float or said anything that got past the dump button (that I know of). It involved one more team activity.
They could accept an invitation to the White House to be honored by a president who was resoundingly booed when attended Game 5 of the Series or they could forgo the visit as other professional and college teams have done since 2017.
Several players decided to go, and others decided to stay away. Simple enough, right?
Well, in today’s bitter political climate, the visit was likely to be criticized either way, but at least one player assured that when his team’s World Series crown was discussed during the off-season, he might catch the ire of those who disapprove of his embrace of a host who is known to belittle and verbally attack people of color, women as well as physically and mentally challenged individuals. It won’t surprise me if when he takes the field in the spring that Kurt Suzuki’s cheers morph into a few jeers than he heard when he helped lock the World Series against the Houston Astros.
On the opposite side of the field, relief pitcher Sean Doolittle, one of more than a reported dozen members of the Nationals who did not attend, said he would not go to the White House of because of what the current administration represents. He did say that he didn’t blame anyone that wanted to participate despite his emotions.
One human being’s opinion is just that when it comes to politics, however, when one teammate boasts the message for which other teammates identified as reasons to stay clear, even it is the White House, it’s bound to bristle some besides politically outspoken pundits and fans.
One of the things I liked most while watching the World Series was how from my living room, the Nationals looked like the dictionary definition of team. After all, they had to come from behind in enough elimination games during the postseason to have needed that kind of bond to help them crawl from Wildcard Wishful Thinking to Wildcard Wow You Just Won the Whole Whacky Thing.
I don’t know players on this team, but I know some of the people behind the scenes and I’ve loved every game I’ve worked with them as the visiting team in Milwaukee. I’ve known some long before the Nationals existed, and we’re still friends because of our different views. Well, that and because we’re just cool people. Ahem. The one thing we all want after the first pitch is thrown is a competitive game, one that ends in under five hours (!) and glitch-free show.
In this piece, I consider only the long-term PR side of the Nationals visiting the White House. I don’t know details, but it may be no coincidence that they made the “trip” so they could celebrate and move on as soon as possible. Here’s to a public relations staff, however, that may have to answer a few more questions before fans that disapproved, move forward.
©Gail Sideman, gpublicity.com 2019