'America Fell in Love with Nats Baseball' and 'Impeachment,' Trump Quips as He Honors World Series Champs

The worlds of politics and sports once again collided when the Washington Nationals visited the White House Monday after winning the World Series. President Donald Trump sprinkled a few political jokes throughout his remarks made to the thousands of people gathered on the White House's South Lawn, but largely managed to steer clear of politics as he and First Lady Melania hosted the team to honor its win.

"Throughout this season, the Nationals captured the hearts of baseball fans across the region and across the country. America fell in love with the Nats baseball, they just fell in love with Nats baseball. That's all they wanted to talk about, that and impeachment," Trump quipped, earning laughter from attendees. "I like Nats baseball much more."

For the first time in its history, the franchise team clenched the World Series title in Game 7 Wednesday by defeating the Houston Astros in Texas 6-2. D.C. had gone seven decades without winning a World Series. The Homestead Grays of the Negro National League last snagged the title in 1948 and before that, the Washington Senators in 1924.

"You worked every count, hustled for every base, you fought for every run and produced a comeback story for the ages," Trump said of the Nationals' season.

The city held a parade for its team Saturday, which featured the players, coaches and their friends and families celebrating atop buses that wound through downtown before ending in front of the U.S. Capitol building.

The Marine Band opened the event with a live rendition of 'Baby Shark,' the children's song that's become the team's unofficial anthem, and several Nats players gave praise to the support they've received from the city.

Washington Nationals honored at White House
Catcher Kurt Suzuki wears a "Make America Great Again" hat as he is hugged by U.S. President Donald Trump as he welcomes the 2019 World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals, to the White House November 4 in Washington, DC. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty

"What an unbelievable honor to be here, to be in front of you guys, this is stuff that you dream about, to see all the fans show up, the parade. Look at this crowd here, we couldn't have done it without you," first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. Zimmerman was the Nationals' first draft pick when it came to D.C. in 2005. "This was an incredible honor that I think all of us will never 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."

At least one player—pitcher Sean Doolittle—was absent from the White House visit over his opposition to Trump. There was no mention by the president of Doolittle's absence.

In an interview with The Washington Post over the weekend, Doolittle cited Trump's past controversial rhetoric as the reason he was boycotting the visit.

"At the end of the day, as much as I wanted to be there with my teammates and share that experience with my teammates, I can't do it. I just can't do it," the relief pitcher said. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we've done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the 's------- countries.'"

Doolittle was referring to Trump in 2018 characterizing Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as "s------- countries" and questioning why the U.S. offered protections for immigrants from such nations.

Doolittle cited race relations as a strong issue of disagreement with Trump, pointing to the president's comments about the Fair Housing Act, the Central Park Five and the deadly white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Doolittle's wife, Eireann Dolan, also has two mothers who are involved in the LGBTQ community, according to The Post—another reason the World Series champion boycotted the White House.

"I want to show support for them," he said. "I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can't get past that stuff."

Doolittle further suggested Trump has "done a lot of things that maybe don't respect the office" throughout his presidency and said his rhetoric has emboldened racism and white supremacy.

"I don't want to hang out with somebody who talks like that," he said.

Doolittle is not the first professional athlete to have boycotted a White House visit.

In May, several Boston Red Sox players skipped their White House trip for winning the 2018 World Series. Half of the players on the New England Patriots, including quarterback Tom Brady, didn't show in 2017 for winning the 2016 Super Bowl. And Trump publicly withdrew an invitation to the Golden State Warriors for winning the 2017 NBA championship after player Stephen Curry said he would not attend. Teammate LeBron James subsequently labeled Trump a "bum."

In recent days, Trump faced vocal oppositions from crowds at sporting events, including boos and chants of "Lock him up!" at Game 4 of the World Series in D.C. and a Game 7 watch party at the stadium, as well as boos at an Ultimate Fighting Championship in New York Saturday night.

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