Tonight, President Barack Obama will be throwing out the first pitch at the 2009 MLB All Star Game. Â Last night, ESPN ran an entertaining package in which this year’s All Stars provided tips and pointers for President Obama, with the consensus being the most obvious point of all: don’t bounce it (like this guy did).
It made me think about just how much pressure is on people of President Obama’s stature when they step onto the mound to throw the first pitch. Â I know, I know…what he deals with in the White House and as The Most Powerful Man in the World is far more important and pressure-packed over the long haul. Â Still, this ‘aint reading off a teleprompter. Â This is a physical action, one that is relatively difficult, which is being done in front of millions. Â And as the President, you have an image of greatness to uphold.
Bouncing a ceremonial pitch certainly does not project an image of greatness.
I expect President Obama to do well tonight, mainly because this isn’t his first rodeo (as “we” say down here in Texas). Obama threw out a first pitch during the 2005 playoffs, and seems to have the right mindset about the whole process:
Obama is no stranger to the pitching mound. Â In 2005, his first year as a senator from Illinois, Obama threw out a first pitch at a White Sox playoff. Â The devout Sox fan admitted afterwards that he was feeling the pressure.
“Had I thrown a one-hop, I think, whatever aspirations I had, they would have shown that clip over and over again,” he said in an interview with the Springfield State Journal-Register that year.
“I was more nervous than I was before the Democratic National Convention” the year before, he said.
So he understands the importance of not bouncing the ball, which is his first step to success. Â Now he just needs to warm himself up properly and do his best Mark Buehrle impression and exhibit pinpoint control. Â (Actually, he doesn’t even need to be pinpoint…just somewhere in the area of Albert Pujols’ mit. He could settle for John Danks’ control.)
Update: Well, he didn’t bounce it…but he came close. It was a nice save by Albert Pujols. Follow the link to watch the video of Barack Obama throwing out the first pitch at the 2009 MLB All Star Game.
But any president throwing out a first pitch will always, for me, harken back to the greatest single presidential first pitch of all time. Â And I’d imagine that nearly everyone reading this knows exactly which first pitch I’m talking about, even if the headline and pitcture didn’t give it away at a glance.
Back in 2001, not long after the horrors of 9/11, George Bush threw a perfect strike in Yankee Stadium before Gam3 of the World Series. Â This was, almost undoubtedly, one of the high points of his 8-year term in office. Â
I’m not trying to get political here, just stating facts: as a nation, we all were behind President Bush then, and his steely resolve in the face of the terrorist attacks inspired a nation. His ability to throw a perfect strike before Game 3, with the world watching and with admitted nerves, was a symbol of his ability to be a steadying and rallying force in the months after 9/11.
What happened in the ensuing years is for everyone to have their own opinions on, but what happened that night proved that George Bush was capable of Rivera-like clutchness at a time when our nation needed it, even if only symbolically. Â And it’s fitting that such a moment would come for Bush on the baseball field. Â He used his tenure with the Texas Rangers to propel himself into the Texas Governer’s mansion, and we have never had a more unabashed baseball fanatic in the White House. Â
So forget politics for a moment and just watch the video below. Â It’s a great behind-the-scenes look at the build-up to Bush’s first pitch at the 2001 World Series, and the strike he fired with the lights shining bright. Â
Now hopefully President Obama can do White Sox fans and America proud tonight by piping one similarly…right down the middle.
And now some other links from around the web to carry you through the rest of this beautiful Tuesday afternoon. Then it’s back to work for me, then to the airport to pick up KVB, who will be spending a week down here in Dallas. Â Get ready for a podcast…
Who Will Shoot the Three? — (by The Zoner at Pippen Ain’t Easy)
Senator Hatch Wants BCS Investigated — (The World According to MoonDog)
15 Horrible Places to Be High — (Hail Mary Jane)
Tribute to Cinema’s Best Slugging — (Screen Junkies)
MLB All Star Game: Making Memories — (Josh Q. Public)
Browns, Maiava Agree to Deal — (Orange & Brown Report)
Former UT Kicker James Wilhoit is now Coach Wilhoit — (SEC Rivals)
A.I.: Memphis or Miami? — (My Sports Rumors)
How moods trigger the panties your GF wears — (Regretful Morning)
The Future for Ric Bucher — (Zoner Sports)
Really Interesting Bob Gibson Take — (Sharapova’s Thigh)
Why the AL West is better than people think — (Dallas Sports Fans)
ESPN’s New Ombudsman: Don OhlmeyerÂ — (Real Clear Sports)
Bob Costas Didn’t Think Judge Sotomayor Was an All Star — (Hugging Harold Reynolds)
‘Cause it’s root, root, root for that guy’s girlfriend — (Great Moments in Christory)
Thoughts and Observations on Cubs’ 1st Half — (The Friendly Blogfines)
* – George Bush photo credit: ESPN.com