David J. Phillip / Associated Press
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Pitcher Sean Doolittle was a critical part of the Washington Nationals’ World Series victory, closing out the team’s game-one victory and anchoring the bullpen in the regular season. But he won’t be going to the White House with his team to celebrate their victory alongside President Donald Trump next week. In an interview with the Washington Post on Friday, he explained why:
“People say you should go because it’s about respecting the office of the president,” Doolittle said. “And I think over the course of his time in office he’s done a lot of things that maybe don’t respect the office.”
“The rhetoric, time and time again, has enabled those kind of behaviors,” Doolittle continued, referring to racism and white supremacy. “That never really went away, but it feels like now people with those beliefs, they maybe feel a little bit more empowered. They feel like they have a path, maybe. I don’t want to hang out with somebody who talks like that.”
That’s about as good an answer as you’re going to get, and it cuts right through the “respect the office” scam people like to deploy to shame people who have reservations into attending such events. Respecting the office doesn’t carry an obligation for a championship pitcher to participate in photo-op, especially not one where, if history is any indication, Trump very well might use the opportunity to say something bonkers.
Respecting the office doesn’t mean baseball fans have to stifle dissent, and it’s certainly not about whether you can wear jeans to the White House. To Doolittle, it’s about adhering to a basic standard of decency. Disrespecting the office would be demanding anything less than that from the president.