In a divided Washington, Nationals’ World Series run unites both GOP and Democrats

WASHINGTON – As I am on the metro headed to Nationals Park for Game 5 of the World Series I see something very encouraging going on. Congressional Democrats and Republicans as well as their staff members all sporting Washington Nationals gear getting to cheer as one for the Nationals to beat the Astros and win the first World Series in DC since 1924.

The Lerner family owns the Nationals reached out to the White House and inviting President Donald Trump to attend Game 5 and he has accepted. Despite the fact that Managing General partner Mark Learner and his family are major supporters of the Democratic party they feel that baseball is a bipartisan safe zone where everyone should feel welcome.

“Well, he has every right to come,” Lerner said. “He’s the president of the United States whether you like him or not. It’s a special event. He should be at it.”

Trump will not throw out the first pitch at Game 5, a decision Lerner said the Nationals made. They offered to chance to do it on opening day this season he declined so it was thought that President Trump would feel more comfortable watching the game from a private box with members of Major League Baseball and hosted by Commissioner Fred Manfred.

Lerner said that he was happy that President Trump would be attending the game and that the team worked out the details with White House staff.

“His view was that in order to make the fan experience as positive as possible, he would arrive at Game 5 sometime after the game began so it wouldn’t interfere with fans getting into the stadium. Quite frankly, we were very grateful for that. We thought it was a great decision on the President’s part, Lerner told the Washington Post.”

A quick and final note on Presidents and the Nationals who have been in DC since 2005. Both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, the only other presidents during the Nationals’ existence, threw out an opening pitch at Nationals games.

At a recent press briefing acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney started off with a Nationals reference.  “I did want to come out here with my Nationals hat on but they told that would violate some type of rule,” he joked.

For their part Democrats are on the Nationals train as well and case in point was last week when the fourth Democratic presidential debate went head-to-head with the Nationals’ game 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Normally the bars of Capitol Hill would have been packed with debate-watching parties, but instead, baseball seemed to decisively dominate politics with red Nationals hats and shirts were seen all over Capitol Hill.

Recently, it has been Washington sports that have served a common ground for everyone who works in the many governmental agencies around DC. We saw it in 2018 when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup after years of near-misses, and the Washington Mystics won their first WNBA title in September.

I could not put it any better than legendary New York Yankees and Mets manager Casey Stengel put it. “When Abe Lincoln was shot at the Ford Theatre he told a young soldier who was there to help rush the dying president to the hospital that America will need something to bring it together. So, I want you to invent the game of baseball to save the United States.” According to Stengel that young army officer was none other than you guessed it, Abner Doubleday.

Never mind that Doubleday had already invented the sport and was a Civil War hero long before the death of the 16th president of the United States was assigned. I will go with Casey’s quote with the idea that never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Let’s hope the Nationals can continue to bring the Republicans and the Democrats together.

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.