Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Opening Day jitter: Did Obama desecrate White Sox’ image with his first pitch?

Tuesday is the day that drives me crazy every spring. Specifically, it is the Day after Opening Day.

Which means now that Major League Baseball has got everybody worked up with the regular season , they’re making us sit through a day without games. William H. Taft was the first president to do the "first pitch" honors, although he had the sense not to try to dress up in ballclub gear.

NOW I UNDERSTAND the reason for doing this. Had the Chicago White Sox Opening Day ceremonies fallen through due to inclement weather on Monday, they could have re-scheduled for today. But since we got Opening Day on Opening Day, now we have nothing to look forward to but an off-day.

The same, of course, goes with the Chicago Cubs, who now have an off-day in Atlanta after losing Opening Day to the Braves. Which means the bulk of us are going to have to watch the New York Yankees try to avenge their Opening Day loss Sunday to the Boston Red Sox – they got their Off-Day after Opening Day on Monday.

Part of what I enjoy about professional baseball is the fact that it is a daily exercise. Lose a game badly today? Shake it off tomorrow. There’s a heck of a chance that by week’s end, the team that got humiliated today will get to thoroughly bash somebody’s brains in.

But on this quirk of a day, the teams that have spent the past six weeks prepping themselves for a 162-game season now have to take a day off at a time when they can’t be the least bit fatigued. If they are, then maybe they’ll soon be back playing ball in the International League.

SO ON THIS day when Chicago baseball fans have no fresh games to observe, we’re just going to have to rehash Monday’s activity, although I suspect many fans are going to be paying more attention to the Opening Day activity in Washington.

The Washington Nationals had a Presidential Opener – specifically marking the date in 1910 when then-President William H. Taft became the first president to throw out the first pitch of the season, before heading back to his extra-wide seat at Griffith Stadium where the old Washington Senators played.

Which means that Barack Obama got to do the honors of the first pitch. And just as he insisted on doing when he did the “first pitch” honors at the All-Star Game, he wore something depicting the White Sox logo.

Last year, it was a White Sox warm-up jacket. Monday, it was that battered, ratty White Sox cap he owns that he refuses to replace with something less ragged.

THAT ACTUALLY HAS some people p-o’ed. They think he should become a full-fledged Washingtonian and adopt the Nationals as his team, instead of sticking to South Side ties and supporting the Sox.

The Chicagoan in me wants to tell those people to stick it. Except that I have to wonder about Obama – since his first pitches have left a lot to be desired. At the All-Star Game, his pitch nearly went in the dirt, while Monday’s toss (to quote the “Harry Doyle” character from the “Major League” films) was, “Just a bit outside.”

Considering that the White Sox this season actually get respect for the quality of their pitching – particularly their starting rotation – I’d say Obama’s tosses while wearing White Sox garb are an embarrassment.

If he’s going to keep throwing the ball like that in public, we ought to require him to wear Chicago Cubs gear. Then again, the Cubs management would probably mistake him for a real ballplayer and sign him to a several-million dollar contract with a big signing bonus. It’s not like Carlos Zambrano threw any better in his Opening Day start against the Braves.

THEN AGAIN, GETTING those presidential first pitch honors is one of the perks of being the nation’s Commander-in-Chief. I always wondered if George W. Bush considered the highlight of his presidency to be his first pitch duties in 2001 during the World Series at Yankee Stadium – just a few weeks after the World Trade Center was reduced to rubble.

But “first pitch” duties for the Nationals is all about the National League, which I could care less about. So let’s swing back to the South Side, where U.S. Cellular Field was officially filled to 95.9 percent of its capacity as the White Sox started out the season with a 6-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

Mark Buehrle gave us his eighth Opening Day start (the most in ballclub history) and seven shutout innings, although Paul Konerko gave us every ballplayer’s fantasy start to the season. He smacked the first pitch he saw into the bullpen beyond the right field fence.

It gives White Sox fans two days (Monday and Tuesday) in which we can dream that Chicago really will finish ahead of the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers to win the division title – which doesn’t mean a whole lot of anything if they lose in the American League playoffs.


EDITOR’S NOTES: Is it possible to be sent back to “first pitch” minor leagues for a series of lame (http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/scoring-obamas-baseball-opening-day-pitch/19427330) tosses?

Only 99 more victories are necessary (http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2010/04/buehrle-konerko-power-sox-to-opening-victory.html) for the White Sox to have a 100-62 record – en route to a division title. Will we wake up from that dream come Wednesday?

1 comment:

Naperville Plumbing Guy said...

Haha man that pitch was so painful to watch. Great post!