What a difference it was back in 2001. The image of George W. Bush standing on the pitcher’s mound before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks in engraved in my mind. The President walked out to the mound and stared into the roaring Yankee Stadium crowd. It was as though he wanted to look each ticket holder in the eye to provide assurance that it would be ‘okay.’ ‘It,’ of course, being the September 11th attacks witnessed by the Stadium crowd, and others, less than two months beforehand.
Todd Greene, the Yankee’s backup Catcher, crouched behind home plate awaiting President Bush’s delivery. Toeing the rubber, the President fired a 2-Seam Fastball to Greene—a perfect strike. Flashbulbs flashed, the crowd roared, and President Bush sauntered off the field waving to all the New Yorkers in attendance.
Today, less than 7 years later, George W. Bush was set to toe the rubber once again. The Washington Nationals, who originally played their home games at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, hosted the Atlanta Braves in ESPN’s national baseball game. The hype leading up to their match-up was the new Nationals’ ballpark, the optimism each Major League team possesses on Opening Day, and the President throwing out the first pitch.
George W. Bush stood in the tunnel waiting patiently for his introduction across the public address. Donning a bright, red Nationals wind-breaker, Bush heard the intro and made his way up the steps of the Nationals’ dugout. The crowd reaction was something much different than the one he received all those years ago…
Boo’s reined down unmercifully from the upper tiers of Nationals’ Park. Those cheering were completely drowned out, despite attempting to compete with the boo’s throw at the President. Talk about visual and audio aids for the President’s approval rating.
Bush’s body language took the cake, though. After making his way to the field, he quickly shook the hands of three Nationals and quickly made his way to the mound. The boo’s, however did not die down. In fact, it seemed as though the volume of the crowd's booing increased the longer the President remained on the field. There was no staring out into the innumerous fans in attendance tonight. No eye contact providing assurances that it would be ‘okay.’ All those in attendance received was a quick, over-the-shoulder wave.
Just as soon as President Bush toed the rubber, he fired another two-seamer in to Manny Acta; the pitch was high and outside.
After Acta caught the ball, he had to chase after the President, who already began to walk quickly back to the dugout. There was no sauntering to be seen, a brisk walk back is what everyone saw…
It’s just interesting to see how quickly and viciously public opinion has changed over the past six-plus years. If anyone was unaware of the incredible 180-degree about face that a majority of the President's supports took over that time span, they surely were made aware of it tonight.