Though it’s not a widely appreciated fact, we right-winger sports nuts have long known that the sports press is among the media’s leftiest precincts. So I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at how little was said (as in nothing at all) about the reception President Obama received last night when he came out on the field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the baseball all-star game in St. Louis. It was a packed house (over 50,000 in attendance), and the jeers were easily discernible.
Don’t get me wrong: There was more cheering than booing. But that’s to be expected: It was a festive national occasion, and most of us who disagree intensely with Obama’s policies would be more apt to stand and cheer our president respectfully. That’s what made the booing all the more noticeable to anyone — other than a sports journalist — who heard it.
The media fawning really is so shameless it’s become self-parody. Take ESPN, for example.
Put aside the unacknowledged booing for a moment. The other embarrassing fact is that my six-year-old throws a baseball better (far better, in fact) than Obama. Yet the media went out of its way to obscure that, too — no doubt wishing to avoid unfavorable comparisons to the strike President Bush famously fired from the mound at Yankee Stadium at the 2001 World Series. In its live broadcast, Fox (and remember, this is Fox Sports, not Fox News) covered Obama’s first pitch at a very weird angle that conveyed his spastic motion but didn’t do justice to how pathetic the toss was. But that’s nothing compared to ESPN’s laughable coverage. Here’s the clip. Besides reporting only that there was a “standing ovation for the commander-in-chief,” the announcer made a point of noting that Obama’s pitch “didn’t bounce” before reaching home-plate (though the announcer did cop to the “horrible camera work that made the trajectory of the pitch impossible to see).
Now, take a look at this clip from MLB.com, about 24 seconds in. It’s the only decent footage I’ve seen, and it shows that Obama’s first pitch did bounce. In fact, the pitch did not even reach home-plate — and they evidently knew it wouldn’t. The player who was sent out to catch Obama’s pitch (more on that in a moment) was crouching on top of home plate, not behind it where catchers always set up. And even so, he had to reach out a couple of feet in order to short-hop the ball, which otherwise might have bounced all the way to the backstop.
Now, about that player who caught Obama’s pitch: It was none other than the Cardinals’ great first-baseman, Albert Pujols. What does that matter? Well, the tradition is that the first pitch is tossed to the catcher, not the first-baseman — and, in fact, the starting catcher for the National League last night was the Cardinals’ own Yadier Molina. But while Molina is popular, Pujols is like God in St. Louis (in fact, a fan in the stands either last night or the night before was holding a banner that said, “In Albert We Trust”).
I think Obama’s people knew he would get a very mixed reaction last night. His entrance was shrewdly orchestrated. The cheers and boos started as soon as he came onto the field, but he was steered immediately over to shake hands with Stan Musial — the most beloved player in the history of the Cardinals. No true St. Louis fan would boo Satan if he was shaking hands with Stan the Man. The president then went straight to the mound, where today’s Stan the Man, the great Pujols, took good care of him — quickly embracing Obama right after making sure his heave looked borderline respectable . . . with a little help from the cameras. Finally, Obama moved was ushered quickly over to the third-base line, where Cardinal legends Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, and Lou Brock (among others) were there to share warm-handshakes.
In the box score, as reported by the Obamedia/Sports Division, it will read like a standing-O for The One as he hurled a bull’s-eye before strutting off to warm waves of adulation. If you were watching, though, Obama looked like the guy who bowled a 37.