The Slatest

Nationals Pitcher Declines Trump’s White House Invitation and a Handful of Others May Too

Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle throws a pitch against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in Game Five.
Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle says he will not attend White House celebration. Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals capped a dramatic World Series run Wednesday night with a championship, setting off a celebration that will continue Saturday, as the team parades through the nation’s capital. The newly crowned champs will then try to maintain the celebratory mood all the way to the White House and a scheduled visit Monday afternoon. Despite getting booed when showing up for Game 5 in Washington, Trump invited the franchise to the White House for a traditional champions celebration and the team accepted.

The lone holdout—so far—is Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle who said he “respectfully declined” a meeting with Trump. Doolittle and his wife have been outspoken advocates for gay rights, refugees, and veterans, along with a host of other political and social issues. “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,” Doolittle said. “I just can’t do it.”

“People say you should go because it’s about respecting the office of the president, and I think over the course of his time in office he’s done a lot of things that maybe don’t respect the office,” Doolittle told the Washington Post. “I feel like there are a lot of issues, a lot of things that have been said, a lot of things that have been said by the president, a lot of things that have been done by the administration that I can’t, no matter what, I can’t reconcile with what I believe in, what I feel very strongly about. . . . 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.”

The previous season’s MLB champs, the Boston Red Sox, accepted Trump’s invitation after winning the 2018 World Series, but actual attendance at the ceremony split the team down racial lines, as most of the minority players opted out of attending. It’s not clear if any other Nationals players will skip the White House visit, though the Post reports that a handful are considering not attending.