Texas Rangers

How one hat, one hug and some kind words turned some fans against Series-winning Nationals

The World Series luster remained brilliant only five days for a segment of the Washington Nationals’ fan base, who weren’t happy with the Nationals’ Monday trip to the White House.

It has become custom for all championship teams to receive an invitation to the White House, a tradition President Donald Trump has continued despite players from all sports publicly declining visits.

One Nationals player, left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle, declined the visit because of the president’s past rhetoric. Others did not attend, though none have come forward saying it was in protest.

Catcher Kurt Suzuki, though, enthusiastically made up for all absences.

Suzuki donned a red Make America Great Again hat, which earned him an awkward embrace from the president. It also earned him a pile of hate, some of it too vulgar for a family newspaper like the Star-Telegram to print.

It all came from the left side of the political aisle, many of whom were thrilled when the crowd at Nationals Stadium loudly booed the president as he attended Game 5.

“Not gonna lie: Having spent the past decade cheering on the Nats and the last several months obsessed w/ their playoff journey, it’s pretty heartbreaking to see Kurt Suzuki and company go far beyond polite reception and cozying up to a monster who hates people like me,” Charlotte Clymer, press secretary for the LGBQT civil rights organization Human Rights Campaign, tweeted.

First baseman Ryan Zimmerman, now a free agent, also lost some fans after he presented President Trump with a Nationals 45 jersey.

“What an unbelievable honor to be here,” Zimmerman said. “This is an incredible honor that I think all of us will never forget, and we’d also like to thank you for keeping everyone here safe in our country, and continuing to make America the greatest country to live in the world.”

That, plus Suzuki, was too much for Norman Ornstein, a contributing editor at The Atlantic.

“I live Kurt Suzuki as a player,” he wrote on Twitter. “But he wore a MAGA hate to the White House, so I will not cheer him. Not quite as bad for Ryan Zimmerman, but his praise for Trump is hard to take.”

Of course, the players made new fans on the right, which continued to downplay the left’s supposed compassion for all kind.

“Your daily reminder that liberals think wearing a MAGA hat is ‘literal violence’ & Kurt Suzuki should be banned from MLB because he supports President Trump,” tweeted Liz Wheeler, a host on the right-leaning One America News Network.

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After 12 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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